Entrepreneur: Sayantan Karmakar
Business Name: The Calcutta Fitness Studio
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 147
Sayantan Karmakar’s story was no different from the majority of engineering students in India. He came from a middle-class family where entrepreneurship was never an option. His only option was to complete engineering and land a job at an MNC. Even after getting a good CGPA, he was rejected by 11 companies.
However, Sayantan never called it a day. He was really good at coding. As part of his internship program, he used to create small apps to book hall tickets and send emails. He was confident that he would get placed in a company where he could grow his passion for coding. Soon Sayantan got employed in IT giant Cognizant. It was the turning point of his career.
The working environment in the MNCs seemed like a never-ending rat race for Sayantan. He quit his job and started working on creating a software for the effective management of gyms in the city. His intention was to create something that solves the pain points of customers. It was just the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey.
Today, Sayantan is at the helm of Thenerdcoders, a software and website development company for small and medium e-commerce businesses and The Calcutta Fitness Studio – a premium class gym with presence in two locations in Kolkata. Let’s dive into Sayantan’s exciting journey as an entrepreneur.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
When I was working with Cognizant there, I used to make software and applications for big Companies like NIKE, Walmart etc. but in return the amount of recognition I used to get was negligible.
Moreover, I was working for someone where I used to work for over 12 hours and used to get paid very less even after giving 200% effort as in Big IT MNC’s engineers are on fixed salary payroll. So, one day a plan struck me. If I make this software for the medium and small sector businesses then it will help them to run their business efficiently with better managing the data systematically.
So, accordingly, I developed gym management software and made it popular among the gyms in Kolkata with my marketing skills and hard work. When I did my first sale to my client, I realized that I made my monthly salary in just a day from my client.
Moreover, I was making a name for myself among my clients and could proudly tell others that they were using something that was made by me. I invested the revenue I generated from my IT company to open two 3500 sq. ft branches of The Calcutta Fitness Studio in Behala and Baghajatin. I am also set to open another 7000 sq. ft gym in Naktala, Kolkata in April.
Gyms in Kolkata earlier were too costly. They used to charge a minimum of Rs. 2000 from everyone and that amount was very hefty for students and people belonging to middle or lower class. So, I opened The Calcutta Fitness Studio gyms for people from all walks of life with affordable cost and premium experience.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
As we are in the era of Digital India, small and medium scale businesses also need to manage everything digitally. Pen and paper system is old school now. So, I wanted to make an IT company where I would be catering to clients at an exceptionally low cost so that every client can afford it.
In the gym sector also, I wanted to make the gyms very affordable so that everyone can go for them. As fitness is becoming a part of lifestyle for everyone I wanted to create an infrastructure where every class of people can work out and no one feels the pain that fitness is COSTLY because Health is Wealth.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
Coming from a middle-class family and having a job in one of the IT Giants, it was quite difficult for me to make my parents understand that I had the spark in myself to make something of my own. I always wanted to work for myself and not for others and also to help people with my work.
In the beginning, my parents were not sure as my mother is a housewife and my father, a Govt. employee. They believed in fixed salary jobs. Moreover, in Bengali culture parents want their child to be either a doctor or engineer. As they were not supporting me, I had to pursue the job and my business plans altogether at the same time. It was becoming difficult for me to handle both as my clients were growing day by day along with the work pressure in the office.
So, one day I confessed to my parents that I would be leaving my job and be concentrating on my business. They were not happy with my decision in the beginning. But when my business started to grow, they started supporting me. Now in every new venture I do, my parents do support me.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
To believe in people and to start giving efforts in the contracts where the payments were still not made. In business until and unless you are getting the payment from your clients the business is not really in your pocket.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
To manage all my organizations at the same time. As all my organizations are service providing companies, I must make sure that the clients are happy. Another obstacle is to train my employees and make them feel that these companies are their family, and they are also a part of the profit-making firm.
To get funds for my gym branches to expand all over West Bengal. In opening a gym, the difficult thing is the initial setup cost, which is huge. Last but not least, to showcase my success rates to the investors to raise funding from investors.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
I am dedicated to work even when I am on my holidays as I enjoy my work every day.
To take up risks without thinking too much about failure and to have fun during the ups and downs.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I would have left my job early to concentrate on my business with 200% effort. Not like doing both the things at the same time.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
There should not be Plan B. Give a 200% try before accepting failure.
9) Where do you find inspiration?
I draw inspiration from Jack Ma and motivational talks
10) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Do not be negative, Listen out to yourself and your heart and brain. Give a try before accepting Failure.
Entrepreneurship demands a lot of sweat and blood. Only those who have an unwavering passion and a crystal-clear vision can make it big in this highly-competitive domain. In the case of Sayantan, entrepreneurship came to him naturally as he was keen on solving the pain points of customers from his college days.
He just had to direct his thinking towards an industry that needed his smart work. That’s how he dipped his feet into the fitness sector through The Calcutta Fitness Studio. So if you are passionate about solving problems, roll up your sleeves and plunge into the world of entrepreneurship, just like Sayantan did!