I have told this story in start-up events and to the journalists several times. Let me recount it here too – in its most authentic form. The beginning of Pothi.com.
I was few months in to my job at Google (April 2007). Initial excitement had subsided down. It was still a good place to work, but I had started wondering if this is what I want to do with my life. Like all of us wonder at some point of time or the other in our professional lives. And no, I was not thinking about Entrepreneurship. While I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I’d do so only when an idea to live for struck.
What I was thinking about then was how to do something meaningful in life. Meaningful to me that is. And the idea struck – why not publish a book of my poetry? One was published long back by a publisher in Patna. This had come out when I was in class 11th and contained all the poems I had written before class 9th. I was a hostel dweller at that point of time and my maternal uncle was handling most of the stuff. I, personally, did not have any idea about how publishing works. So, when the idea of publishing struck, I decided to find out more. And what I found out was not encouraging. I had no intention of making a living out of my writing. I wrote just because I could and I wanted to publish it just for the people around me who enjoyed it and who may want the book. I did not care about becoming famous or a best-seller. The traditional publishing is not geared for such motivations. Nothing wrong with traditional publishing, it just wasn’t meant for people like me. I was not willing to give time and effort to find a publisher, because becoming a commercial success was not my motivation.
Then I started exploring the idea of self publishing, studied print on demand closely and realized that while it fitted my needs perfectly, no providers were readily available in India.
That was it! The idea to live for had struck. Abhaya was in the US at that time. He was following the developments in publishing and print on demand there and was excited about the possibility. We discussed it and soon decided that this could be the path to take. We started evaluating operational feasibility of the business. I also did a small experiment with my poetry book meanwhile. Bought a home printer which could print on both sides of paper. Searched for and found paper market, bought a few sheets of thicker paper that would be good for cover printing. Also bought A4 sized paper, got it cut into halves to get A5 size and printed the book on them. Found a binder in our street to do a hand binding with stapler and glue and offered these on my blog for sale. And I managed to sell more than 10 copies. The book is now available with much better production quality at Pothi.com.
There were tougher decisions to be taken. Abhaya had to decide between pursuing his Ph. D. which he was absolutely enjoying and working on Pothi.com. He chose latter, because the window of opportunity would not remain forever. He was fortunate enough to have a very cooperative guide, who did take his leaving midway otherwise and encouraged him to complete the requirements for MS before leaving. I had to take the decision of leaving Google. If there ever was a dream company for me, it was Google. But the decisions got taken over time. It was almost a year since the idea first struct to us finally delving into it full time. A lot of intermediate time went in planning and experimenting. But this was where the idea was first conceived.
A bunch of poems was what started it all. So, on this new year, we are giving 5% discount on all poetry books at Pothi.com. Use the coupon code POETRY52010 while ordering the books and avail the discount.