This 25- year old CA quit an MNC job to be a Partner at a CA firm & simultaneously running startup
- Hi, I'm Moksh Bandi, a practicing Chartered Accountant and a budding entrepreneur from India.
- I come from a 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 businessmen during my articles. In fact, during my articles, I almost launched a business but that failed!
- Fast forward, after working at leading Consulting Firms for a few years, in 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 how I chose 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 just carrying on the family business would not be enough.
Education was very important and a respectable degree was a must. It was here that I decided to pursue Chartered Accountancy.
I knew it was going to be tough, but with the constant encouragement from family and 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 – articles!
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 not easy and it took me a while to settle!
But the toughest challenge in Mumbai was getting into a good CA firm for my articles. I knocked doors of hundreds of CA firms but faced rejections for one or the other reasons.
The best and the renowned ones were only for 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, not Many CA firms were ready to hire me!
But as it is said, this magical place has an opportunity for everyone and it surely 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 vert little but my early encounter with successful professionals taught me that this training is not to earn money. On the contrary, it is to earn knowledge, get practical exposure, network and value everything else that cannot be just defined in monetary terms!
In these 3 years, I transformed from a very average student to a well-groomed professional!
Starting a venture during my articles and suffering a loss
During my articles, I was lucky to meet a lot of entrepreneurs and successful businessmen. It was here that their entrepreneurial spirit rubbed on to me and I began to consider starting something of my own. (Yes, I know 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 give it a try! 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 business 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 realised it wasn’t going to be easy due to the heavy capital investment it would require to convert it into a profitable business.
With heavy hearts, we decided to can the idea. In short, I failed to make the project live.
We lost both, money and confidence…but what we earned was 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 did take some loans in the quest to fulfilling our dream…we had no money left with us!
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, I qualified my CA Final exams in the first attempt. I couldn't believe and 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 get into the corporate race. However, due to peer pressure, like other CA Freshers, I too joined the bandwagon and started my job hunt!
However, it was this routine of job hunting that gave me another business idea of selling customized teacups and snacks to corporates! So, now 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 realised disturbances in agents and rising production costs.
We started facing stress in our working capital requirements. So, now although we entered well into it, we were unable to find 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 still reluctant to take up any job, I consulted my mentor and asked him for guidance as to what should my further plan of action be.
At that point, I wanted to start my CA Firm however my mentor advised me to get into practice only after developing certain specialization as that will 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 in repayment of the same. So, I joined a well know CA Firm in their Transaction Advisory Team.
Here I set onto the same path as I had during my articles days with the ultimate goal being 'developing skill sets' (and of course replaying my loan).
I worked hard to be part of any and all projects. There was a time I was reporting to 4 different teams at the same time for multiple projects. I was hungry to learn.
Finally becoming 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 a larger scope of work and area of deliverables. I worked for a few years here.
And finally, in 2018, I decided to move to my current firm (J C Kabra & Associates) which has a staff of over 150 people and 8 offices across India. I initially joined as an employee but in a short while grew to a Partner.
Thanks to my previous experiences, I was quickly promoted as a partner. (I am thankful to partners for identifying my skills and nurturing me to excel thereon.)
To be a Partner in a CA firm you need two qualities; One, you must have a specific skill set. The other one is the ability to bring business.
Now, I am largely looking into bank-related engagements which includes forensic audits, fraud investigations, monitoring agency 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 in 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) in the name BattleField by Reyes which I felt was 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 greatly! (Out of 200 participants we were the only one 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 which one chooses over others. It’s a continuous process that you never know would strike.
Networking is as crucial, you need to find the right 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, it is important to focus on work profile and exposure instead of the pay what you get. Because in the long run, a few thousand would hardly matter.
When I look back today, having the practical experience of working during my articles gave me the confidence of getting into the shoes of an entrepreneur and taking that big first plunge.
Moksh Bandi is a Chartered Accountant from India and a diploma holder in International Financial Reporting Standards from ACCA-UK. He is skilled in Due Diligence, Valuation, Forensic Audits, Investment Monitoring and Debt Syndication.
You can also check out BattleField by Reyes here.
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