Assistant Editor Neeati Narayan recently caught hold of her senior, Harlaksh Singh (Batch 2008-2013) Symbiosis Law School Pune) when she saw his project popping on her Social Media timeline.
Sensing an unconventional initiative, she bugged him thoroughly for an interview. Read on for his journey through law school, Turf29 taking shape on paper and outside and the final outcome.
Hello Harlaksh! Tell us something about yourself?
I’m a 23 year old entrepreneur fascinated with business and sports.
An avid sports fan, TT and Soccer being my favourites. I enjoy different kinds of music as well.
Describe your childhood in brief? Your sources of inspiration i.e. your driving forces?
I was always a curious kid eager to learn outside the classroom. That did get me to procrastinate a few assignments but nonetheless, it has worked out fine.
Throughout my childhood I was always Involved in sports and I believe, that laid the foundation of how I have taken to life.
A lot of what Sports inculcates in you, can be applied to everything in life. It was however Richard Branson’s autobiography that pushed me hard into believing in myself to explore business as a way of life.
Why did you choose law?
Law was an obvious choice because it gives one a chance to learn the finer workings of life rather than the formatted Management studies. I would have taken to advertising as an alternative.
Your biggest achievements in law school? If you could reverse some aspects of your college life – what would they be?
Co-convener of the biggest college festival in Pune, Captained the University Table Tennis team twice, Vice President of the Student Council.
If I could, I would go back and participate in MUNs, Debate competitions and Moot courts. I missed that side completely.
Post law school, what all have you been upto? Is it a conventional route?
I have spent a lot of time in meeting people from various walks of life trying to understand what they have been up to. I’ve focused my energies into exploring different ventures and have tried to push them at the conceptualisation level before investing time and effort into them.
I don’t think it’s the conventional route. In today’s day and age, one has all the possible tools and supporting factors to go out and explore what they want to do. It’s project based. Lawctopus, ClatGyan, LegallyIndia etc being best examples.
How has this decision to differ treated you? What influenced this decision to differ from the conventional route?
The support from Family and Friends is critical. They may not agree with you about what you want, but I think that’s only helped me build my case even more as to why I shouldn’t be going on to do an LLM or practice law.
The decision to differ is harder to explain to people who haven’t thought through this before. What I do is harder to explain compared to telling people that you’re practicing law or are a doctor or an engineer. But it shouldn’t deter you to tinker with ideas only because people can’t define it.
Tell us about important projects conceptualised by you?
Along with 2 of my partners (Hrishikesh Bavarkar on the left and Mangesh Shinde on the right), we’ve recently launched Turf29 in Pune. It’s the biggest 6v6 Football pitch in the city.
We’ve tried to create the most modern facilities that you we would have liked to played on. An online portal will soon be up helping teams to find players who are willing to play.
We are currently expanding the scope of what we’re doing by adding a cross border element to it.
We are in the final stages to partner with various academies in the United Kingdom to provide the best training camps for Indian football fans/players wanting to get that kind of training from the best coaches/academies in the world. Also, I’m currently tinkering with 2 other ventures in the nascent stage.
Turf29 is the new baby of the block. How have your passions influenced the project?
I’ve always been a sports fan. I used to train and compete as a Professional Table Tennis player a few years back.
However, as an avid Football player/fan, the idea of setting up Turf29 came up when the Player/Manager of Chetak FC, also a very close friend, Mangesh Shinde, and I had a conversation on the football field post a friendly game about the lack of venues having International standard pitches.
We felt the need to create a platform for players like ourselves.
What was the background work on TURF29? Finance, logistics otherwise.
With regard to Finance, all of us pooled through family and friends. It was hard to explain to them, however, a relatively accurate and robust projection sheet worked for us.
Constant budgeting and keeping track of expenses worked as well. With Logistics, we individually sourced all the material and came up with unusual ways of dealing with issues.
One example was convincing material suppliers to work on credit. Without them agreeing, this would have been an expensive stint without returns to show for.
What is your strategy in terms of this project?
We held onto to fancy features like changing rooms, security cameras, promotional material, online booking systems, t shirts, merchandise, charity matches. for a future date when the cash flow would start.
This strategy has worked quite well and without investing further money, we were able to provide for these features through provisioning the future cash flows. We have already started with most of the above mentioned features and are looking to engage with the football community in Pune with a richer experience.
The competition in Pune is picking up. However, we felt the need to provide a high quality pitch with premium features and an overall enjoyable experience rather than going into price wars. We have stood by growing the market rather than squeezing prices it out.
What gave you the confidence to try and differ from your other conventional counterparts at law school?
The decision to go out there and share this idea with other people was imperative. The family was supportive, the partners came on board. I believe in partnering with people for growing and this venture is testament to that belief.
What according to you should be the focus of the law students at law school? How should they shape up their potential career graph?
The key, according to me, is to find out more about what the actual work in a firm or a field is. That helps shape how, what and why you study something.
Far too many students spend time thinking about what they could do rather than going and asking people who are actually doing it.
What survival instincts should law students develop?
The day you think you know, you fail. While most students have the gift of gab, they fail to understand that the corporate/litigation world out there doesn’t work on the same principles.
It’s your ability to churn out maximum work, with minimum resources with scanty facts/laws/citations on your side that differentiates the men from the boys.
One can learn that while in law school by focusing on the process of learning rather than thinking that they have more/less intelligence than others. Every one can learn and achieve growth.
What is the real world like? Please throw some light on your schedule.
I travel extensively trying to explore and meet as many people as possible.
The real world is full of opportunities and possibilities.
And the people who dare, succeed.
Out there, it’s not the intelligence but the application that’s important.
Keep improving. Keep exploring if you haven’t narrowed down on your choice of profession yet.
What would be your 3 biggest pieces of advice to law students entering the profession?
1. Be honest to yourself, for you are the only one who know’s yourself better than anyone else. You can’t fool yourself about your skills and abilities, keep learning and trying to be better.
2. Don’t wait for 5 years of Law School to get over before you start thinking about what you want to do. Get out there, speak to as many people as possible and get cracking.
3. David Allen, Joshua Waitzkin, Simon Sinek – Highly recommended.
A beautiful view of the “new baby of the block”: