Entrepreneur: Rahul Bhushan
Business Name: North
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 49
The Himalayas are every traveler’s paradise. Have you ever experienced the real Himalayan lifestyle? If not, North is your way!
North is a design and art residency in high Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh. It offers an off-beat experiential and traditional stay for visitors. It educates you on sustainable living and forest life.
North also handles research projects, architecture, urban planning and system design.It aims to learn from indigenous empirical knowledge systems with a strong focus on innovating solutions to achieve sustainable development and low environmental impact.
So, at North, you’re not just a guest, but a part of the nature. How did North happen? What is it now? How it helps visitors?
Let’s learn more about this out of the box getaway from its founder and creative director Rahul Bhushan, who is also an architect and educator.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
“When you live at home, you get blind folded. Everything is normal, as it has always been.
So you don’t really see, observe less! But when you go out, when you detach from home ; you can see.
I travelled, gained skills & experiences away from home to understand home more, to ask questions, explore possibilities & find out answers.
Now, I come to my home again, to the mighty Himalayas to give back to my homeland, my people.”
“Craftsmanship and making” is a vital ingredient to our society, culture and economy.
As the technology in fabrication and material explorations are trending; the challenge of future is to safeguard indigenous knowledge, skills and craftsmanship (time-tested principles) with a strong focus to achieve architecture of low environmental impact, and development of sustainable building technologies, innovative systems that are dedicated to uplift the socio-economic fabric and cultural ethics.
North has been conceptualised as a responsible business which benefits locals, brings power to creatives from around the world and keeps a vision for future development of Himachal, learning from our culture, traditions, keeping important values, preserving our heritage but also innovate, inspire and empower locals to have a meaningful and better quality of life.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
Time is relative and is different for each one of us depending on our situations. I believe that there is always a “good time” for ideas which are worth it, for visions for a better future, for actions which are derived by passion and purpose. So, there was always a good time for me to start NORTH.
I was striving to do something like this since last 4 years. The idea has grown, developed much stronger foundations now and i will never stop learning and evolving the concept.
This is the “right time” as if not now we will loose most of our empirical knowledge and time tested craftsmanship due to generation gap.
Climate change is real and happening now. Eco systems are out of balance, and all the Himalayan regions needs to be protected as they maintain the balance.
Himachal is being affected more than ever with rapid tourism, unplanned urbanization and non-contextual influences in many different ways.
So now is the time to preserve the intangible culture, the character, spread awareness; to take it towards right direction , to re-think whats happening and have a vision for sustainable, renewable future development.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
I am very thankful to my parents for whatever they did have always motivated me and made me push my limits.
They as any another parents, are worried about my time and life, but also so innocent that every time I give them hope or ask them to be patient with me, they agree.
It keeps coming back like induced magnetism, which i have to charge again and again. Even though they don’t understand exactly what I will get out of it, they support it.
Sometime they get scared, what if i don’t earn money or how will things work out; but thats the love and i really appreciate it. Answering them clears up my mind.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
I thought that when you are doing good for others, when you are driven to make a positive impact on community and environment, no one would oppose it or try to cut it down. And of-course, I was wrong.
There is ego and greed where ever money is involved. There are people who would do nothing but will try to pull other down who are doing something big, doesn’t even matter if its for a good purpose or selfish reasons.
You need to watch for these people. They are weak inside, so will not confront you.
They are all around you, as the snake on Shiva’s neck symbolises, but be like him, calm and focused. And dont waste your energies on them, don’t let anger take over you, that will bring no good.
Be determined, postive and motivated to just do whatever it takes.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
The structure and system of how government works in India is very stiff and lacks creativity. This is our biggest obstacle but also a challenge.
We will overcome it as our roots and support is deeply integrated with locals and we are a growing team of dedicated creative professionals with multi diverse backgrounds not afraid to push our limits, have a good heart and strong work ethic.
So each obstacle, is a challenge. Each problem or issue is an opportunity to do something better.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
It depends on how one measures “Success”. Patience is required to live a life in forest, and it builds one’s Character.
Knowing we all are one, the nature, humans and everything around us; one becomes happy, reflects love and gratitude.
You are then driven with an compassionate purpose which is powerful and satisfactory.
Remember leaders eat last. Leaders walk at the back and they push other to become competent. “Give back the power”
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I would change nothing, because I believe have the opportunity to start every moment, learning from everything.
Having no regrets is the secret because its not win or lose; its trying again and again, learning and evolving from all the experiences. You can only connect the dots backwards.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” -Margaret Mead
9) Where do you find inspiration?
Living in the mountains is my conscious choice of finding inspiration from nature, exploring and knowing my inner universe and my outer self.
I became aware that desire creates a burning. Here, everyone is burning & no one is aware.. But nature, my mother, my teacher; so calm, so kind, so contained. I observed everything, learning from the silence.
Expressing my experience, the truth is lost in forming words, as whatever can be known… Is through silence.
10) What is your favourite book?
I read many books from biographies of inspirational people to spiritual books on inner world, meditation to psychology and economics, science and architecture + design. I can’t decide on one.
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Never stop learning, everything is a lesson. Kill your ego and find a purpose in your life. You are a seeker by nature, remain a seeker. Be kind, but be smart.
Don’t get corrupted by this startup game, where everyone is rushing to be the next billionaire. Don’t be driven by money.
Find your values, never settle with quality. Have a vision for future rather than current trends.
We for next 30 years are in such dynamic phase of a new industrial age, where technology and new development of renewable energy, communication, transportation is growing exponentially.
Also Climate change, poverty, quality education and skill development is vital. So, simplify them. Earn money through doing right.
Thank you very much Rahul for sharing how you ideated and realized a unique concept like North. He proves that if your thoughts are innovative, you don’t have to worry about anything- it will slowly take off!
Also never stop learning. Your learning helps you combine your ideas with new possibilities of technology. That’s what North did!
You can connect with North on Instagram now!