Written By Chhitra Subramaniam.
The first time I met Ashley Lobo 13 years ago, he was different from the other choreographers I had worked with. His language, grammar, style of teaching, all of it was different and awe inspiring; but I was not sure that he and his dance would ever be accepted in India, especially in Bollywood. He was doing jazz and ballet. It was pure, pristine and breathtakingly beautiful. I am glad I have been proven wrong because today Ashley’s Danceworx and Navdhara have taken India by storm with at least 6,000 students annually learning, living and breathing dance. Ashley has succeeded in his goal of bringing international dance to the Indian audience and has made his permanent mark in Bollywood, beginning with his groundbreaking “Dhoom Machale Dhoom” song followed by so many films, like “Jab We met,” “Guzaarish,” “Love Aaj kal” and “Cocktail.” He also judges one of the leading dance shows on TV, making him a household name. He has put India on the world map of dance with his creation “Amaara,” a breathtakingly beautiful dance theatre musical that is wowing audiences across continents.
What’s his groove? What were the steps he took to get here?
Ashley Lobo is from Chembur, Mumbai. His father, an army officer, and his mother, a banker by day and an acclaimed opera singer in her free time, understood Ashley’s creative genes. He attended St. Mary’s boarding school in Mount Abu, and later studied at St. Xavier College in Mumbai. During vacation, to keep him out of trouble, his mother got him involved in one of the musical theatre productions that her friend, Salome Roy Kapoor, was directing. He soon became a starring dancer in local community shows that ran dozens of times per weekend and quickly realized that this was both a fun way to get attention and attract girls. His grades fell and his mother pulled him out and told him to pay for himself if he wanted to chase dance and the girls. (He finished college through correspondence.) He wasn’t earning much with the theatre productions, and whatever he was getting he was spending on going out after hours with the cast. After graduation, he got himself a job in a clearing and forwarding company, riding on the back of trucks from Bhutan to Kolkatta, sleeping in dhabas, and going hungry for days for lack of money. He was just 19. By then, his mom was the CEO of Chase Manhattan so he continued to live in two extreme worlds — swanky corporate cabins and grungy, downtrodden trucks. It was a struggle. He saw hunger in the eyes of children, poverty, but it started shaping his vision of the world. “
The universe has a plan, and we don’t always understand it,“ he says.
Choreographing West Side Story
His job took him to Delhi. He worked hard, his salary improved, and he managed living in a oneroom apartment. He became a survivor because his mother had put him on the street at a young age to learn and appreciate life. He says, “I learned to be self-reliant because of this.” One day, one of his supervisors told him he had to leave early to audition for “West Side Story,” a Modern School production. Lobo decided to go along with him. Once they had auditioned, they found out that the choreographer, an American, was not going to show up, so the producer asked Lobo if he could do the choreography since he had some previous musical theatre experience. Always one to look at every opportunity positively, Lobo agreed. He had fun choreographing the musical, which was successful in Delhi and received many accolades in the newspapers, particularly for the young choreographer. Lobo decided that this was more fulfilling than the forwarding and clearing work and decided to pursue it as a career. After struggling with a decision on what was practical and what was his dream, his cousin told him: “Pick what is your passion because it will never feel like hard work. And you can do it 24 x 7 with joy.” With great hesitation, he asked his mother for financial assistance — as an opera singer and artist herself, she understood his passion — but it was clear that he had to return the money he borrowed — $10,000 — to study dance. He chose to go to Sydney, Australia to be close to his sister who lived there.
Hitting Bottom in Australia
Lobo studied dance for three years in Australia. He was able to pay his mother back in eight months by doing odd jobs, such as working as a janitor in a nursing home. He was so tired from the grueling schedule that each night he would just eat beans straight off the can and go to bed. At first, he was embarrassed in front of the other students because he lacked their technical training, but after three years of diligent study, he started dancing professionally and earning as much as $1,000 per show. His success did not last long. During a production of “The Wiz,” he popped a disc in his back because of an on-stage error on the part of another dancer, and he could never ever dance again. He had no money for therapy so he went without food to pay for his treatment, until one day, his roommates offered him their food. In his depressed state, he continually delved into self-pity and wondered why he was being punished? One fine day, fed up, he got into his car and drove straight from Sydney to Brisbane, where his sister lived. As his eyes were shutting from the long road trip, he lost control, and his car skidded to the opposite lane, where a huge truck almost crashed into him. But miraculously he was saved. He then realized that he had spent too long being a martyr and had wished this near death upon himself in his downtrodden mental state. The reality jolt of near death woke him up. Sitting on the side of the road, grateful that he was alive, he says”, “I wanted to live, I wanted to start my life again irrespective of whatever I would have to start with.”
On arriving in Brisbane, his brother-in-law helped him with preconditions. Lobo would have to prove his commitment by first getting a job independently, and only then he could get into business with him. He got two part-time jobs: cutting fish and delivering ice cream. After he had saved some money from these activities, his brother-in-law hooked him up to sell beads imported from India at the crafts market. Lobo was able to save up to $25,000 through this trade. In the meantime, he was also teaching dance in Brisbane and taking dance classes for himself as therapy.
Finally, he took a vacation to India. There he realized that people still remembered him for choreographing “West Side Story,” and he got several requests to do other shows. He felt perhaps he was meant to be a choreographer, and not a dancer: “I have always been a person who believes in being in the moment. If you are given something and you don’t have a choice, you might as well have fun with it.” He did three musicals and received a few advertising awards. While he was choreographing “Fiddler on the Roof,” he met his wife, Ramneeka. She was one of the actresses.
Despite his success in Delhi, he returned to Brisbane because Ramneeka’s parents had stipulated that the couple remains apart for a year to test their love. They stayed in touch and were eventually married. They moved to Brisbane, where they started a clothing store. Lobo was dancing in his spare time, and things were going well for the new couple. One day, he told Ramneeka about his true dream, which was to start a dance academy in India. He loved teaching dance, feeling dance, and living dance, and he wanted to share it with others in a country where many people did not have the opportunity to follow their dreams and where international dance was not widespread. She supported him fully. In what seemed like madness they sold everything they had in Brisbane and moved back to India.
Lobo’s company Danceworx has been active for 15 years now with 6,000 students learning dance every year. He begins each dance lesson with a meditation period because he believes that “ the body needs to come to nothingness and become uncorrupted of prior experiences before it is given something to do.” One day, he noticed that one of his students was always falling asleep during the meditation sessions. In anger he brought him a nightgown to send a clear message. To his astonishment, he found out that the student, who was from a poor family, had moved to Delhi just to study dance with Ashley, and in order to make ends meet, he worked as a night guard on a construction site.
Raju became the impetus for the “Going Home” project, which Lobo founded to support students like him. Funded by Lobo’s personal earnings, he pays for housing, food and travel for students who cannot afford to become dancers, regardless of whether their families are poor or not (some families just choose not to support their children even if they have the means). Raju today is an amazing dancer and artist. Lobo says” He is amazing because he has paid his price: “If one does not find their death, then they don’t find their crest”.
Although his dance company has made it in Bollywood and the world stage with “ Amaara,” Lobo aims to turn Navdhara into one of the top 10 dance companies in the world that would tours 200 days a year.
“I want Navdhara to be in the top five dance companies in the world, so that youngsters can train professionally instead of copying steps off TV, and take this to smaller towns in India so that kids like Raju can pursue their dream.”
He is also putting finishing touches on his first Bollywood theatre dance musical for the world audience and gearing up to start Danceworx in 15 cities in India in three years.
Asked what his mantra is, he says:
“Its important to finish what one has started. Do everything that you take up, properly. Don’t be in the in-between zone, as life is about being there fully. That’s what my dad told me. If you become a sweeper, then do it really well.”
Written by Anand Tomar: (Lecturer, UK College of Business and Computing, London)
Why are we paying tax? A critical question was asked by my son ‘Aryan’, who is just 10 years old and studying in his year 5. I answered that our government needs money to maintain the Parks, Gardens, Roads, Rails, Buses, Pay the Salary to Police, Council Workers, Doctors, NHS Workers, Royal Mail Workers and so on. The next question was, how do we know if we are getting all these right for the money we pay? This is certainly a very big question to answer.
I was thinking that I did a good job by providing him the satisfactory answer to the first question, but the second was bothering me from thenAs our lives are defined by the IT in this Hi-Tec era where information on anything is available on our fingertips I knocked the door of our ‘Google Uncle’ for getting the correct answer. I found following:-
Taxes are collected from citizens by the government to accomplish a series of objectives, namely:
There is a thought in the back of mind that some Tax Free countries successfully existing on this planet earth, they are-
Can every single country in the world become tax free?
The answer is ‘NO’ because only nations with their own central bank and their own currency have the ability to create their own money and use it as they see fit. Countries for example Greece, France and Germany cannot do this because they use the Euro and are therefore dependent on the European Central Bank to create money for their economies.
But nations such as India, America, Iceland, Japan, The UK can create their own money and spend according to their wish without borrowing from any other nations. It is my strong opinion that nations should create their own money and inject it right into the vein of the economy to cure financial flu (crisis) and help their citizens.
So The UK should create its own money, there is in fact no need to borrow it from private banks. It can just "borrow" from the Bank of England which is what happens in the case of quantitative easing. Although it wouldn't really be "borrowing" in the usual sense because it owns the Bank of England, so would be borrowing from itself. Either way, if the government doesn't need to borrow money from private banks, it doesn't need to pay them interest.
(Huffington Post UK)
How the Government will operate without taxes?
Revenue for the nation can be generated by developing travel and tourism, infrastructure, good opportunities for talented and skilled human beings rather than by imposing taxes. If every nation practice this then they will become tax free country, which allows the citizens to enjoy and spend their hard-earned money as and when they wish to.
So with the help of this article, I would like to place a humble request to the Policy Makers/ Politicians/ Prime Ministers/ Finance Ministers and each and every person who is directly or indirectly involved in the process from all the capable nations to think on it and come up with this applicable and practical solution and get rid of these heavy taxes.
The answer to the second question is, the benefits of taxes are often perceived or intangible sometimes. Something like an Insurance, a Hospital or an emergency service that you may not use it every day – but you need it most when you need it. Hence, we need to pay the tax, while exploring the avenues on how governments can think of revenue generation with less tax implications.
Greetings from entrepreneur café! After busy year end closing time, we are back with a series of workshops, seminars, Webinars for startups and entrepreneurs.
What it takes to make an idea a business; what it takes to sustain and scale; what it takes to make your idea, startup market ready, success ready and investor ready.
These are common questions that most of the startups ponder over. The lack of guidance and support takes their focus off from the core product feature’s development.
A curative workshop on Operations Strategy and Model by Mr Indraneel Mazumdar highlighted some of the most essential advice and learnings that fellow budding entrepreneurs could implement.
He has been instrumental in making more than 25 companies sustainable, scalable and successful and together they are worth more than 10000 crores now. His 29 years of experience and expertise has been effectively utilized by many startups and enterprises for scaling up and growth. He was a consultant and development director for many malls in India such as Phoenix, Inorbit, VR etc.
He had 3 essential key elements to deliver.
Extensive research beyond the world of internet adds significant vigor to an entity’s market analysis and so does it helps in understanding an entity’s market to a much more deeper extent. Google isn’t always a very reliable source when it comes to market research which involves a lot of legit data to be collected. This can be considered as the primary or the thumb rule to starting any business. Extensive research beyond Google is what will give you correct and accurate data.
Where to sell
This is something which most start-ups stumble upon. Identifying key markets and who would actually buy my product is probably the most important aspect of any venture. My research tells me that my product would sell best outside any college which may not be the case. A proper outreach to my target audience would require the knowledge of where I could actually sell my product.
You have got 30 seconds to pitch!
This is something which doesn’t happen overnight. We know our product. We probably understand the workflow of our venture in a cut throat global environment but can we really pitch an overview of our product within 30 seconds? This not only adheres to pitching investors but it could as well create a lot of value for the venture in the form of ideas and any form of expertise which the latter individual possesses. Practice pitching your product to anyone and everyone you know.
It was a pleasure having him with us on the very evening of 14th May with a lot of his expertise and experiences shared with budding entrepreneurs at Goodworks Cowork. An after session interaction with Mr Indraneel rendered a lot of valuable advice and positive vibes into the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Ambition is the steam that drives men forward on the road to success. Only the engine under full steam can make the grade. -- Maxi Foreman
(This blog has been provided by Soumyadip Bhattacharya. He is currently pursuing B.E. in electronics and communication and an active startup enthusiast. He have been associated with several companies and organisations over the last two years in the field of marketing and business development)
Srinagar: Startup Kashmir in its bid to build a start up ecosystem in the state of J&K has launched e-Campus program here at NIT Srinagar and at Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST). Startup Kashmir is launching various programs designed and fine-tuned for the state of J&K in universities and colleges across the state. These programs will help in capacity building and make universities and colleges a hub of innovation and job creation, said Shahid Ansari – Founder Startup Kashmir. He also spoke on the importance of economical independence that can be achieved by self-driven ventures and entrepreneurship.
“The Better you Program” was launched at both IUST and NIT Srinagar in association with Entrepreneur Café (One of the largest entrepreneur community in the world). The program focuses on bringing back the inner uniqueness in students which due to the current education system is getting unnoticed and on removing the fear of failure from the budding entrepreneurs and students. The program helps students to build on their uniqueness and become a brand by themselves.
Mission of the program is to Bridge the Gap between what they really are, what is taught in colleges and What is required in the world out there said, Anjali Gupta- Global Director, Entrepreneur Cafe Campus, who joined the program from Bangalore through Skype. Sarath Nair, Head Pan India Mentor and Trainer also spoke on the occasion.
Mr. SaadParvez who heads the Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneur Development Center (IIEDC) at NIT Srinagar, spoke about the need of these programs for the students. He spoke about various aspects of the entrepreneurship and how IIEDC center can play a vital role in nurturing and promoting innovative ideas. At the occasion a student cell was formed that will drive the innovation and entrepreneurship at the prestigious institution.
Also at the occasion Mr. Ozzy Aleem, Executive Director WhipSmart Services spoke on why students should focus more on entrepreneurship and startups rather than looking for jobs.
(This article was published in Kashmir Observer. Date: Feb 9 2017)
Union Budget 2017: A push and a shove for Start-ups, Technology and Innovation could have done wondersRead Now
Overall I would give a thumbs up for the budget, however, due consideration towards the few ‘missing’ links could have made me happier.
One page tax form, bringing down personal income tax by 5 per cent for a section of salaried class, trimming the corporate tax slab to 25 per cent for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has caught the imagination of a segment of the population in the Union Budget 2017-18 but for the startup and Tech Innovation world it has next to nothing.
Science & Technology, Innovation and Startups are the one who build the ‘future’ of the society. The investment in the mighty three is high and yield slow results, but once the results starts coming the impact is huge. Take an example of investment in space technology program few decades back, now India is among leaders in the world.
If there was a time ever for the startups to be given a push it is now, for one has witnessed a drop in startups, money drying up in venture capital and a few going back to taking up jobs. A clear policy on issues besieging the startup world would have given a spring it its feet as the verve that one witnessed in the startup sphere a few years ago has weaned a bit.
Clarity on three fronts namely; innovation, Science & Technology and startups is lacking in the budget. The trio can create a platform and leapfrog in the future. There is nothing much for the entrepreneurial eco-system in the budget.
What was expected in the budget was a fillip to the start-ups by way of clarity in rules and most importantly how to handle losses. Few start-ups are making profit and the tax holiday is valid to only those start-ups who are recognised by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP).
That there is a world of talent out there waiting in the wings to fly with ideas is a foregone conclusion. Youngsters in their teens to 25-somethings are raring to go. If only the budget had something on the Angel tax, it could have done a world of good for the start-ups.
The innovation and startup ecosystem needs a push, handholding and direction. The small businesses will become competitive in the global market ie the MSME sector. Similarly, if there was a rethinking on issues plaguing the startup community such as taxes on early stage investment, ease of doing business and a more comprehensive long term plan for the community to grow, the 2017 budget would have boosted the morale.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem badly needs a push and that should precede with a robust long-term policy on innovation, Science & Technology and Startups. It is never too late; a meeting with all the stake holders on envisaging a plan is all that is needed. Anyone ready? I am.
(The article has been written by Nikhil Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, AP Innovation Society, Government of Andhra Pradesh. All the views expressed are personal. This article has been published on Financial Express on February 3rd 2017)
Human capital is a new understanding of human resources in the enterprise. Besides, Human capital management is essential for hiring, managing, training and retraining talented and high performing employees. Because, employers are most interested in hiring, formation and development of human capital with high potential as a decisive factor for business competitiveness.
Entrepreneur Cafe ended the year for startup, entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with successful Annual Global Convention 2017 at Sheraton Grand, Bangalore, which was attended by whose and whose of startup world and we have had lot of takeaways for all of us.
Keeping the promise and the momentum, Entrepreneur cafe started the year with a very special and well curated event on 7th Jan, Saturday. The event attended by more than 100 startups and entrepreneurs. was hosted at a very well done and equipped cowork space The Hive at VR Bengaluru Mall (Part of Virtuous Retail), spread over 60,000 sqft with all modern facilities (More details are given below)
The topic of the event was "what it takes to make your startups and ideas absolutely and more saleable and scalable in the Local and Global market".
Given the percentage of startups failed to take off in 2016, the workshop/event was curated and thought through to precisely address these critical factors for startups.
The event had 2 parts. The first part was dedicated to Design thinking workshop by Subbu Iyer, a renowned design thinking expert with 25 years experience in this space helped many start-ups and innovation. In second part Subranil, Anurag and Nehal from entrepreneur cafe and startupbuilders announced and shared key initiatives that entrepreneur cafe is bringing to the startups and entrepreneurs this year such as FICCI Oxygen (FICCI and Ivynext program for startup curation and development), next 3 months workshops, startup verification and validation platform, innovative approach for startup funding, ecafe campus program and more.
The startups found the sessions very relevant, engaging and interactive and looking forward to more such workshops.
The event was concluded with networking over tea and coffee and one on one discussion with the participants, speakers and entrepreneur cafe members.
WE ARE BACK, BIG TIME!
For the 36th time, EntrepreneurCafe kicks off its 3rd year in Casablanca and returns to meet its regulars in the usual friendly format.
On the menu tonight (Thursday, January the 5th, 2017) two start-ups that started from scratch, all the way up to inspirational success; #OutdoorMorocco and #KaizenSoftSkills both led by two managers; the amazing Khouloud Badir and the ardent Yassine Sabir, who decided to leave their comfort zone as workers in conventional jobs and join the entrepreneurship’s path of uncertain outcomes, self-doubt and sleepless nights.
Outdoor Morocco, a company with the sole purpose of trivializing access to a list of some rather expensive hobbies and diversions, offering interesting prices on excursions around the iconic touristic city of Marrakech. It is an event agency specialized in team buildings, professional events (such as meetings, incentives, conferences, conventions and exhibitions). Not only that, the agency also offers consulting in marketing and sports events & adventures. All in a complete pack, following an approach that is quit unheard of on the market nowadays, to say the least!
Kaizen Soft Skills, or simply Kaizen-skills, is a training center that specializes in project management, service management and personal development. The center endeavors in the help of its clients and set them as pioneers in their respective field of expertise, by the acquisition of a solid knowledge in a variety of disciplines related to new technologies.
Every entrepreneurs should know what they want in their life when they start a business. Building a business is not about one day job but efforts may take ages to work things out to the top. Entrepreneurship is a lifetime process. Projection becomes necessary. If you don't have one, let us see three facts how you develop yourself within 5 years from now.
1) 'A Good Leader is A Good Reader':
Ask yourself, what are the latest books you are reading now? And how much time you spend on reading? It is all about the quality content of reading material you read. Books, journals, periodicals or even digital media are sources of reading. Entrepreneurs should have the endless habit of reading. Reading is normally associated with knowledge. What you read is always what shape your mind, self-development and how you plan effectively your future business from the info digested. Reading sparks positive ideas, creativity and solution on business undertakings and forecasting. Doing business these days is a great challenge particularly everything changes rapidly in the market from technology, innovation, trends, economy, demands, concepts, and even the thinking of the world citizen at large. Globalization and business without borders have apparently conquering the way forward and lots of things entrepreneurs need to occupy themselves through info and knowledge. You will be left far behind if you underestimate the power of reading!
2) 'Who you are is whom you surrounded with':
To be successful you need to be in the correct circle of people. Actions are all started from the mind-set. If you are surrounded with the positive mind-set, you will be thinking, talking and taking action like the high achievers. Being with the right circle of individuals or group would assist you to develop on becoming a BETTER YOU whether in communication, values-oriented, self-confidence, knowledge, forte enhancement, personality building, networking etc. In some scenario, don't overdose yourself by being desperately as 'attention-seeker' running after popularity of someone else. That doesn't positively help at all. Develop yourself by being the Original You! Five years from now if you mix with the wrong attitude groupies, you can guess what the outcome would be. Building your positive character and personality are two toughest task if you position yourself in non-supportive environment. So, be wise, choose positive friends, surroundings and amazing people who can bring the best out of YOU!
3) 'Time is too precious':
Proverbs says, 'Time waits for no man'. Can anyone tell me if there is any record stating somebody can turn back the time? The answer is NO. So, check yourself what are you doing from the time you wake up at 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning until going back to sleep at night. What are the activities dominating your time? Playing PSP? Checking Facebook or 'spying' other people's Facebook and other social media, gossiping, non-stop complaining and criticising people the whole day? The majority time you spend is what your future will be. If you spend your time in productive way, you are actually building a blazing future ahead. Complaining unnecessarily doesn't improve you on anything. If you expect to build a business empire within a magical blink of time-span, you may be still 'sleeping' in the dark cave. Do remember ~ Great Wall of China doesn't built in a day to stand gloriously strong thousands of years until now. Spend your time on meaningful activities which can give you more life experience or skill in different aspects which later it benefits you in accelerating your business.
As to conclude, putting the blame on others is not the best policy when you know you are the one managing your life. If you want to excel and become a better person, you need to take control of your life and lead the positive way. Life is all about making choices. Your end result is what you are choosing 5 years from now!
By Sue Kamal
Entrepreneur Café City Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia