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What you must know about Ashoka Founder Deep Kalra

Diksha Dutta writes five interesting things about Deep Kalra, Founder and Trustee, Ashoka University.

29 January, 2017 | 8 min read

He is the one who made travel easy in India, when everyone was dependent on travel agents to book tickets. He is also the one who started up at a time when entrepreneurship was not as fashionable as it is now. Quitting a job to startup was even more courageous then, back in the year 2000. A search on Google will give a detailed note on his entrepreneurial achievements and corporate background, but there is more to his personality which Ashoka students discovered this Founders Day on 28th January, 2017.  Deep Kalra, Founder, MakeMyTrip and Founder and Advisor, Ashoka University inaugurated the first session of the “Meet the Founders” series initiative by students. Meet the Founders series will invite one Ashoka Founder each month who will be interacting with students about his or her personal and professional journey. Here are a few interesting facts about him that Kalra shared during the talk.

His grades and constant grit to keep learning

Kalra was serious about his grades till 12th standard and ensured he scored well. “ I might have been a naughty kid, but I cared about my grades.” However, things changed after he entered university life and he confesses, “Once my college life started, I would study only to get to the next place where I wanted to be, but I would not recommend this to anyone.”

Once Kalra started working, he wanted to just learn in his initial years. “The real panic in me was when I stopped learning in my second job. I had to quit just because of this reason.” He then joined GE (General Electric), a corporate conglomerate known for grooming and encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship in employees. He adds that he has never used his jobs as stepping stones.

What is similar between Deep Kalra and Shahrukh Khan?

Deep Kalra and Shahrukh Khan (SRK) studied in the same school i.e St. Columbus where SRK was his two batches senior. Kalra claims that being a strict school it was difficult to be in the good books of his teachers. He managed to do so and says, “I think we both had the same ‘friend, philosopher, guide and mentor’—Brother Eric Dsouza”. Click here to read an article where SRK talks about the influence of Brother Dsouza on his life.

If he studied Liberal Arts at Ashoka University…

Kalra believes in not just being successful, but also being well-rounded as a person. “A liberal arts education in a place like Ashoka would have been life-changing for me. If I was a student here at an undergraduate level, I might have moved away from management,” he clarifies immediately, “I cannot tell you if I would have moved away from entrepreneurship but yes, I would have gone deeper into the study of liberal arts.” He says he would have been very tempted to have higher education in liberal studies.

His four-year principle of loyalty

Kalra feels that one should not give up easily—whether in entrepreneurship or in a job. “Four years is what you should spend in a company or any new project you start (even entrepreneurship) before calling it quits. Don’t look into the rear view mirror for at least four years. Never give up too early,” he says. He even gives the example of MakeMyTrip where employees are encouraged to stay for four years and only then they are eligible for the employees stock option scheme (ESOPS).

Why boarding school is a game changer

“I think boarding schools are important. They make you responsible and are a big game changer in growing up.” Kalra recalls his days away from home at IIM-Ahmedabad, “You get in a place like IIM thinking that you are smart, but wait, once you get in you get to know what is super-smart. Many of my contemporaries were gold medalists from IIT and similar backgrounds.” Kalra gives a valuable tip by saying that it is important to make peace with what you actually are in the first few months of entering a boarding school. It was a humbling experience for him to be at the IIM and being surrounded by smart people. “Many people come and drop out in the first term itself. They go home and never come back—they are not able to cope up with the pressure and constant comparison to others. However, I learnt great humility by coming across the smartest people and made great friends at IIM.”

Study at Ashoka

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