Haris Aboobacker and his vivacious young team function and coordinate entirely through online social media platforms. Their ventures - The Triumph and the Stories Collective - owe their existence to online publishing and Instagram. Despite their established presence in the digital world, the team looks forward to their frequent Stories Unfold events where they hope to “restore the tradition of storytelling practices which involves real-time conversations and personal interactions; forming and maintaining human bonds.”
With startups gaining a firm foot even in India, the saga of Triumph and Stories collective reveals the trials and tribulations that individuals venturing into a startup establishment have to face. Aboobacker and his team’s triumph, however, shows that despite all odds a good passionate team and a strong will is one of the key elements to success. In an interaction, he reveals the growth of his digital initiative and introduces his passionate team that aims to work wonders by unfolding inspiring tales of real heroes.
Ventures so far...
While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he brought out the magazine 'The Triumph' which was completely a student initiative. With content writers chosen across disciplines from colleges, the magazine soon opted for an online edition which ran successfully for two years. Now his team is focussed on bringing out out-of-the-box stories of passion and perseverance through their online ventures Stories Unfold, Stories Revolutionary and Post Box Stories. While Unfold involves outdoor events where a curated team of storytellers shares their tales of revolutions, little and big; Revolutionary involves live Instagram interviews with celebrities and persons to look out for. Their instagram handle sto_rey boasts of interviews with actors Roshan Matthew and Vishak Nair amidst others.
Hurdles all along
The team’s first venture 'The Triumph' magazine had to go through multiple government hassles. “The paperwork is a laborious process and the government officials are often unavailable when we go to visit them. We were not only missing our class hours but also could not focus on the marketing aspects of the magazine,” he said.
Even after more than a year’s delay the requirements were not fulfilled and it was then that 'Triumph' was made an online publication. Both online and offline ventures have their own share of difficulties, he added.
While offline publications and events like Unfold require more efforts and resources (labour, monetary etc), online hassles include establishing an online presence in a very competitive cyberspace. Irresponsible online behaviour from the audience towards the interviewer and interviewee during the live Revolutionary interviews is a major issue that has to be tackled carefully.
Pressure from kith and kin
Aboobacker admitted his family is still not receptive to his idea of startups. He rued people are judged based on the amount of money one earns. Those figures overshadow all other praises and accomplishments that individuals earn. The society also expects easy money and demand that investments make speedy returns which makes things difficult for those interested in ventures like Stories that promote artistic services.
Not ready to nestle in a corner of an office building with a 9 to 5 schedule, he hopes that one day when Stories becomes a more organised establishment, his employees feel the freedom that will bring out their love and dedication to the job. His company’s mantra will be fun, growth and learning!
Unfavourable education system
College years are an ideal time not just to chalk out plans for the future, but actually put them into practice and online startups are a convenient option then.
Aboobacker opined that the curriculum does not tell students how to go for licensing or avail hacks for establishing real-time businesses, even for commerce students. They remain unaware of fellowship grants for startups.
It depends on the institution too how receptive they are to student initiatives. While his college, St Aloysius College, Mangalore, and some schools were pretty welcoming towards Triumph and let them promote on their campuses he recalls how a school denied them permission. But overall the scenario is bleak.
Government initiatives missing
There are numerous opportunities and policies that facilitate startups but the layman does not come to know of it. Thus, people tend to make choices from among the few traditional jobs due to lack of awareness, the entrepreneur noted.
“Government must propagate its policies by reaching out and building awareness amongst the student communities, beginning at the school level itself," Aboobacker stressed.
He also observes that even crucial policies go unnoticed due to poor communication and gives the example of how Rahul Gandhi’s latest manifesto offers that licensing can be waived for a period of three years to encourage new startups, yet many do not know about it apart from those already involved in the industry.
It is also necessary that people be made aware of the startup world’s ecosystem, comprising all the organisations in a locality that can work in tandem with each other to enhance and ease business ventures. It comprises of universities, monetary support facilities, research organisations, and other corporations. Proper coordination amongst the elements and people's awareness of it can empower many budding entrepreneurs to start their businesses in a well-informed manner.
Startups developing technological innovations and products are favoured more by the government while those promoting artistic endeavours take a back seat. Hence, Stories collective becomes a unique business setup.
The Instagram page of Stories strives to bring to the forefront artists who deserve to be noticed. Stories has helped them garner more online followers through their interviews. Post Box publications allow interaction between the artists and audience. Apart from itself getting a wide reach, Stories is also enabling other gifted people to showcase their talents to the larger audience. The public too has responded positively and have been encouraged by the stories posted, Aboobacker revealed.
What the post-millennials want
Numerous interactions with numerous artists, budding CEOs and youth reveal that youngsters today focus on their businesses first and then take steps to fulfil government regulations, Aboobacker noted.
Policies can wait but establishing your business and giving it a start is the primary goal, he advised.
A team united by passion
The entrepreneur claimed that the unending requests from the public for volunteering with his team is a testimony to the positive impression that Stories leaves behind in its audience.
His core team includes Shibili Suhanah, Tanya Rafeek and Naifa Faiz and being youngsters they rightly resonate with the fervour of their generation.
Though spread across Kerala and Karnataka, Aboobacker's team corresponds only through chat boxes but still pulling off amazing events both online and outdoors.
This is possible only due to their zeal to make a mark, bring about a change, and inspire others, Aboobacker remarked.
He also emphasises how he wants the members to themselves marvel at the change they have brought about in themselves before and after Stories.
“We would prefer passion to skill,” Aboobacker disclosed his success mantra.
Five keywords to success
Stress thrice on 'Consistency'. Love and Hard-work will supplant for the rest, he proclaimed.
In a nation where unemployment looms large it is necessary that students opt for new innovative vocations than always preferring for the traditional jobs. New ventures can lead forth to new ideas, to new services, to new thinking and to a new refined society. To achieve this Stories Collective believes that governments must be more encouraging towards the startup establishments, the community be warm and receptive to the untraversed paths youth want to pursue, and the youngsters themselves be ready to take risks, work hard, think creative and set the wheels rolling.