- Hi, I’m Moksh Bandi, a practicing Chartered Accountant and a budding entrepreneur from India.
- I come from the small town of Pratapgarh, Rajasthan, and knew from an early age the importance of education and took the CA route.
- I was lucky to meet a lot of entrepreneurs and successful business people during my articles. I almost launched a business during my articles, but that failed!
- Fast forward, after working at leading Consulting Firms for a few years, 2018, I joined a reputed CA Firm in Mumbai. Today, I am a Partner at that Firm and simultaneously run a Profitable Startup.
- Here is my story of choosing a different path and why it paid off.
Back story: Why I decided to become a Chartered Accountant
Coming from a humble background, I knew that just carrying on the family business would not be enough.
Education was critical, and a respectable degree was a must. It was here that I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy.
I knew it would be challenging, but the constant encouragement from family and the support of my elder sisters made me believe I would make my way.
With this dream in mind, I started my CA journey.
Moving cities and struggling to find an opportunity for articles
After completing the CA foundation and intermediate examination, I was all set for the best phase of my CA journey – papers!
Like many others, I, too, wanted to move to the financial capital of India and the city of dreams – Mumbai for better career opportunities, and I did so.
Mumbai was a little hard to settle in the early days. Being a country lad, it was heart-nerving to catch up with the pace of this city. So, my early days here were challenging, and it took me a while to settle!
But the most formidable challenge in Mumbai was getting into a good CA firm for my articles. I knocked on the doors of hundreds of CA firms but faced rejections for one or the other reasons.
The best and the most renowned ones were only for a selected few, and there was a huge waiting list to enter them. I felt like a drop in the ocean. Without any reference and background, few CA firms were ready to hire me!
But as it is said, this magical place has an opportunity for everyone, and it indeed did. A remote reference and a mistaken identity helped me get into a mid-sized CA firm at a stipend of merely Rs.1,500/- per month (approx. USD 20).
My stipend was tiny, but my early encounter with successful professionals taught me that this training was not to earn money. On the contrary, it is to gain knowledge, get practical exposure, network, and value everything else that cannot be defined in monetary terms!
I transformed from a very average student to a well-groomed professional in these three years!
Starting a venture during my articles and suffering a loss
During my articles, I was lucky to meet a lot of entrepreneurs and successful business people. It was here that their entrepreneurial spirit rubbed on me, and I began to consider starting something of my own. (I should have waited to become a CA but I was eager to explore!)
Around the same time, I came across an idea in the waste recycling industry and wanted to try it! And I started this venture with my school friends (who went on to be the co-founders in all my business ventures).
Unknown motivation and zeal to excel drove us to work after articles office hours, weekends, and taking leaves turn by turn to build our project.
How did we fund our business? Well, the money that was supposed to be our fees for CA Final was invested in the industry, and yes, we did take a small loan, too! (I wouldn’t recommend this to you, but we did it!)
Unfortunately, after investing our money and many sleepless nights, we soon realized it wouldn’t be easy due to the heavy capital investment required to convert it into a profitable business.
With heavy hearts, we decided to change the idea. In short, I failed to make the project live.
We lost both money and confidence…but earned practical lessons and the approach towards business.
Failed Business, Money Lost, and CA Final Exams
The CA exams were nearing, and the pressure was mounting.
Since we invested all our money in the business and to add up, we took some loans to fulfill our dream…we had no money left!
As young 20-year-olds, our only option was to confess to our families about this! Fortunately, after giving us an earful, they encouraged us to pursue our CA Finals with utmost dedication.
I gave my best and fortunately qualified for my CA Final exams on the first attempt. I couldn’t believe it and was so excited. I was now a Chartered Accountant. This is where I learned my biggest lesson: ‘Pressure can make or break!’
Job hunting and getting another business idea
The story of a Chartered Accountant doesn’t end but starts after qualifying, and so did mine!
Deep down, I wanted to be a full-time entrepreneur and did not want to enter the corporate race. However, due to peer pressure, like other CA Freshers, I joined the bandwagon and started my job hunt!
However, this routine of job hunting gave me another business idea of selling customized teacups and snacks to corporates! So, instead of appearing for interviews, I was here interacting with the Tea vendors in the vicinity and trying to convince them to use my product.
We received a great response, and soon, our business took off with a small order—enough work to keep us busy. We also took a small loan to keep things going.
However, when it was time to test the scalability of the business, we soon realized disturbances in agents and rising production costs.
We started facing stress in our working capital requirements. So, although we entered well into it, we were still looking for a way out!
Slowly and gradually, our venture died, and…here I was, a CA Fresher with no job, a loan, and a failed business, yet again!
Finally, taking up a job and focussing on specialization
After repeated business failures and being reluctant to take up any job, I consulted my mentor and asked him for guidance on my further action plan.
At that point, I wanted to start my CA Firm. However, my mentor advised me to get into practice only after developing a specific specialization, as that would fetch me a premium in the market. That made absolute sense!
Moreover, we had again taken a loan for our business, and taking up a job would help repay the same. So, I joined a well-known CA Firm in their Transaction Advisory Team.
Here, I set onto the same path as during my articles days, with the ultimate goal being ‘developing skill sets’ (and replaying my loan).
I worked hard to be part of any projects. There was a time when I was reporting to 4 different teams simultaneously for multiple projects. I was hungry to learn.
Finally, I became a partner at a young age at a reputed CA firm
With enough under my belt, I moved to a Multi-National Consulting firm with an enormous scope of work and area of deliverables. I worked for a few years here.
Finally, in 2018, I decided to move to my current firm (J C Kabra & Associates), which has a staff of over 150 people and eight offices across India. I initially joined as an employee but grew into a Partner quickly.
Thanks to my previous experiences, I was quickly promoted as a partner. (I thank my partners for identifying my skills and nurturing me to excel thereon.)
To be a Partner in a CA firm, you need a specific skill set. The other one is the ability to bring business.
Now, I am mainly looking into bank-related engagements, including forensic audits, fraud investigations, monitoring agencies to an investor, and a bit of transaction advisory.
Starting a business on the side while a Partner at a firm
With all the stability coming into my professional life, in the background, my entrepreneurial heart kept evaluating different avenues.
Once I steadied my income from practice for a year, I decided to start a turf (artificial ground) under the name BattleField by Reyes, which I felt was the need of the hour, considering the lack of open spaces to play sports in a city like Mumbai! This was in 2018.
Later, we got an opportunity to attend a Startup Event hosted by ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and signed a term sheet for investment, which helped us immensely! (Out of 200 participants, we were the only ones selected.)
We started with one turf in Mumbai, and now, within eighteen months of operation, we are operating in 5 locations in Mumbai…maybe here is the redemption for all the failures so far!
Entrepreneurship isn’t just a label; it’s a lifestyle one chooses over others. It’s a continuous process that you never know would strike.
Networking is crucial; you need to find the correct set of people and stick to them, who inspire you and make you better each passing day.
For all those who want to do something of their own, one must choose any consulting firm over the industry early on. And for the initial few years, focusing on work profile and exposure is essential instead of the pay you get. Because in the long run, a few thousand would hardly matter.
When I look back today, having the practical experience of working on my articles gave me the confidence to get into the shoes of an entrepreneur and take that big first plunge.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have you ever considered starting a business or being an entrepreneur? Comment below and let us know.