Reflections of an Entrepreneur in the Time of Covid
Proud of What We Created, Present Wasn't Anticipated but Confident of the Future
The last 9 years of my life went in building what was initially a crazy idea that revolved around sports, events, communities and experiences and quickly went on to become one of the most successful disruptive sport franchise India had ever seen in participative sports. The last 3000 days, 75,000 hours and millions of seconds went off as if we were living at a pace where days came and went faster than usual, where we conceptalised, planned and executed events that were larger than anything we had ever done- edition after edition saw more and more runners, spectators, sponsors , the scale all getting incrementaly bigger . We segued into TV, digital formats and surprised even ourselves with the content we created, the reach we achieved and the success we had. Life was good, business was great and yes the community was growing and falling deeper in love with the concept of belonging to the tribe of Devilslayers- a group of people who loved pushing themselves to becoming truly extraordinary, even if it was just for that one sunday morning of the Devils Circuit run.
COVID hit us like it did many other businesses, totally blindsiding us and causing us to come to a thunderous stop with no clarity on when the next race could happen,how we can hold on to the sponsors & community, and how do we stay relevant during these pandemic months and years ! At first we were hopeful that this will pass soon, so what if we have fallen, we will get up, clean ourselves up and plan the biggest Devils Circuit India had ever seen but we needed to be patient, to be ready and yes to stay engaged with our community of followers and supporters. We spent 6 months of the first lockdown creating and running free events across fitness, food, entertainment, music just to let people know that we will not go away and also to rub off on each others energy in fighting what was becoming a very disturbing trend of watching both people and businesses fall sick and die ! Getting more than a billion hits organically proved to us that our blood, sweat & tears that had gone into the making of brand Devils Circuit were not in vain.
Weeks become months, months become a year and slowly it started to dawn on us that our offline business is going to die unless we take some drastic measures. With a heavy heart, we let go of a team that had been around for years, cut salaries across the board, running costs etc just so that we have gas in the tank to survive another year of near zero revenues. Simply put its been terrible not just for us but for millions of offline businesses in India who have been impacted by COVID- in hindsight wish we had built a secondary revenue stream that was technology driven, perhaps an online presence in merchandise and equipment, As with so many things in life, when the chips are down there is no dearth of advice that comes your way, friends, family, extended universe. People who wouldnt know how to spell entreprenuership are always the first to tell you what you could have done or what should not have been done- guess with all the years under my belt that one trait that i have honed
You learn to take the punches with the praise because you know that you did your best, you know that come what may, you will be around when things get better, you know in your heart that you created an honest product, an amazing community and gave an experience to thousands of people who will never forget their organic high, the moment of madness, their feeling of exuberance and above all the pride they felt in knowing they are all part of the tribe of Devilslayers !!
It is this love and hope that gives me the strenght and confidence to know that in a few months, perhaps a year at most we will be back and yes the community we built will come back stronger, bigger and more determined than ever before with a firm belief that the Devils Circuit franchise is here to stay !!!