When Shashank Agarwal was an engineering student, his mornings would begin at 6:00 a.m., not for the sake of his studies, but because he had to visit a local market in Indore to purchase vegetables for his dhaba.
From there, he would help his staff set up the kitchen before heading to college. After attending an entire day of classes, and return to the dhaba to help his staff clear the premises, and his day would finally end at 11:00 p.m.
It is said that success comes to those who are determined to achieve it against all the odds. It is undoubtedly true for Shashank, who, at the age of 25, was running a dhaba, repaying a debt of Rs 50,000 and completing an engineering degree all at the same time.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Shashank says that his father passed away when he was an infant, and his family was financially dependent on his grandfather’s pension.
While he completed his school education with the help of the pension, it was when his grandfather passed away that Shashank found out just how expensive a college education was.
He suddenly realised that the entire responsibility of supporting his family was now upon him, and he was only a second-year college student.
But he was not one to bow down—neither to financial circumstances nor to the possibility that he would have to give up on his studies temporarily.
He began to think of ways he could earn money, and soon, hit upon the idea of starting a dhaba. Being a college student, he knew perfectly well about what his classmates were looking for when it came to food—good quality, large quantity, but low in cost.
“We offered unlimited food at Rs 50. This idea worked well as we received positive feedback, and within some time, I was earning a profit of Rs 30,000 a month,” he told TIE. “Bhawar Kuan Square in Indore is a hotspot, as many competitive exam coaching centres operate from here. I rented a small joint and hired five people, including a cook.”
The young man worked tirelessly to keep the dhaba running, and along the way, he figured out that his passion lay in management, not engineering.
However, he decided not to leave his studies mid-way. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in engineering and soon secured a job in a Hyderabad-based start-up.
After learning the necessary job skills, he decided to shift jobs and returned to Indore to be close to his family.
Here, he started working at an education technology institute where he was expected to develop content for several competitive exams.
One of these exams was the Common Entrance Test (CAT) that fit perfectly with his passion for management. Soon, he started studying for CAT while also managing his job.
He read novels to prepare for the Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC) sections of the test while his engineering background came in handy while studying for the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning sections.
Working nonstop from day to late at night and also balancing his job, Shashank managed to score an impressive 98.01 percentile in his CAT exams, which he appeared for, in 2017!
Currently, Shashank is a student at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Rohtak. Here too, he promises to be as determined, hardworking and brilliant as he was throughout his engineering days and while giving his CAT exams!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)