Interview with Raghav Chakravarthy & Sachin Ravi; SLS Pune-ICICI Alumnus: Going About Start-Ups [Part II]

Few skills a lawyer should be equipped with is according to me these three – researching (should know where to look for what, how to, how quickly), drafting (being able to articulate a view in writing in an organized and succinct manner) and speaking (effective oral communication, ability to negotiate).

Team Lawctopus has interviewed Raghav Chakravarthy and Sachin Ravi of Walnut Knowledge Solutions and the first part of their interview was published HERE. This part focuses on how they went about setting up their entrepreneurial debut in the form of WKS. Read on for exclusive insight into the venture.

Tell us about important projects conceptualised by you? 

SR: While in college in 2011, Raghav and I founded Walnut Knowledge Solutions along with our seniors, Subhodeep Jash and Suvajit Chakraborty. Since the latter two have a couple of commitments, they’re presently onboard in advisory roles.

At Walnut, we’re working to popularize quizzing across schools, colleges and corporates. Our current emphasis is on QuizShala, a workshop which we run in a few schools in Bangalore. At QuizShala, using quizzes and stories as a medium, we instill in children a passion for curiosity and thereby cover ideals such as innovation, courage and entrepreneurship.

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Another vertical of ours is conventional quizzing events. We conduct quizzes and related events on plethora of topics as per client’s requirement in any setting, be it a cultural festival, apartment complex, a team meeting or even an off-site. We’ve conducted quizzes at a couple of colleges across the country and associated with a couple of law-firms where our quizzes have been part of their off-site.

Lastly, we develop content across platforms such as newspapers, apps and online portals. We’ve tied up with for a fortnightly column called Law Biriyani. Among other things, over the course of the next few months, we’re looking to develop an online portal/app for quizzing akin to Lawctopus, Legally India or Bar&Bench for law.

What’s the story behind the name? 

SR: Since all of our offerings revolved around engaging one’s mental faculties and working clues out, we had shortlisted names that alluded to the brain. We were thinking of incorporating a name and visual that encompasses that idea. With the visual similarity to the brain, that’s how we arrived at Walnut.

As unbelievable as it sounds, during the time we’d zeroed in on the name, one of our friends offered to us a walnut that his father had sent as prasad on a trip to Rishikesh. That really sealed the deal and that’s how Walnut Knowledge Solutions came about! 

WKS Horizontal Clear

How have your passions influenced Walnut Knowledge Solutions?

SR: Completely. This would be a case where we’re trying to implement in reality, the cliché of ‘make your passion a profession’. As Walnut, we’re working to on converting our passion/hobby for all-things-quizzing into a viable profession.

NCR: Quizzing has been a kind and generous mother to me. The rush of blood while cracking an answer in a quiz or engaging an audience through well-researched quiz questions has always been a fulfilling and exhilarating experience. I am quite fascinated by the potential of well-crafted questions influencing learning, evoking new thoughts, ideas and perspectives. Walnut is an attempt at using these ideals in creating value and being relevant.

12. 1779699_248135452035575_26613445_nWhat gave you the confidence to try and differ from your other conventional counterparts at law school? 

SR: I think the confidence accrued from various experiences over the course of 5 years. Pushing for 10 ideas, which then lead to the fruition of 2 to 3, gave me an understanding of what it takes to succeed. The decision to pursue Walnut at this juncture primarily stemmed from the fear of any regret in my later years. Additionally, absolute support from the family has been very comforting.

 NCR: I would attribute it to my Symbhav experience, heading a team which pulled off such a memorable fest was truly heartening and was reassuring that hard work driven with passion pays. That added fuel to the resolve. Further the realization that life is transient and impermanent, it is better to die having tried to follow what you believe in and are passionate about rather than dying a life regretting that I missed doing something is probably the trigger that made we take that leap of faith.

What according to you should be the focus of the law students at law school? How should they shape up their potential career graph? 

SR: A focus on becoming aware of what direction the student wants to pursue. Investing time and effort in realizing where one wants to end up is preferable as opposed to making a quick decision based on the norm. In law school, immerse yourself in many projects/internships so that you recognize what works and doesn’t work for you.

While it is likely that you wouldn’t suddenly realize what your cup of tea is, it at least gives you an idea of what you wouldn’t want to pursue.

NCR: Few skills a lawyer should be equipped with is according to me these three – researching (should know where to look for what, how to, how quickly), drafting (being able to articulate a view in writing in an organized and succinct manner) and speaking (effective oral communication, ability to negotiate).

Use every opportunity (mooting, client counseling, debates, writing, article presentation, elocution contest, quiz etc.) to harness these skills and to delve deeper to grasp and understand the law better. Play out the law through real life illustrations/problems that makes otherwise a drab subject relevant. Teach as much as possible to juniors, peers this leads to discussions and many times a question they may pose would help you understand concepts better.

Be proactive and organize events in college, they give you real life experience into organizational challenges. That prepares you to plan, anticipate problems, co-ordinate with administration and other stakeholders, working with teams effectively, crisis management and many more.

Have an open mind, explore new ideas, places, introspect and be agile in improving yourself at every instance you get. Do not let fear of the unknown, failure, people’s opinion inhibit you from you taking up initiative, participate or voicing your opinion.

Work at getting diverse experiences through internships, moots etc. This not only widens perspectives, it also helps to eliminate and introspect over what you want to pursue. So chalk out a plan accordingly. Have fun along the way, but keep your strings tied to your plan! 

What survival instincts should law students develop?

NCR: Tenacity, honesty and patience are very critical. All that we lawyers have is a reputation, one needs to build it carefully and guard it well. Crosscheck twice if you are not sure of something, people rely on your advice to take decisions, so we owe professional integrity to the advice we offer and we should be responsible for the same.

Be resilient. Do not let failures and people’s comments bother you, channelize all that to action.

SR: I’m no authority on the subject, but an awareness of the following may help:

a) That you’re in it for the long term;

b) What one’s strengths and weaknesses are and figuring out ways to better/counter them;

c) Not having any regrets in anything you do;

d) Seeing projects through to completion.

I’ve certainty not followed all of what I’ve said above, but I’m trying. 🙂

What is the real world like? Please throw some light on your schedule. 

SR: In my little time, I’ve come to understand that a lot of people in the real world may have an idea very similar to yours, or vice versa. One thing that differentiates the idea is how effective the execution is in reality.

There’s always a question of whether one learns first and then acts, or whether you act and learn at the same time. Decisions, impressions and judgments are instantaneous while its effects last for longer.

Having seen how cherished long-weekends/holidays are in a corporate set-up, there aren’t such benefits in our scheme of things. One is working on most days, as there would be something or the other to tend to. As it’s just the two of us, we’re completely immersed right from sourcing of business to following-up for payments.

NCR: In college, there is more cushion for error, even if you make a mistake repeatedly, a wider learning curve is tolerable whereas it is not so in the real world. One needs to be more careful and quick at learning from past mistakes.

It might sound pretentious, as an entrepreneur you are always working, in fact life at ICICI was far more comfortable, you had a 9 to 6. At Walnut, you are constantly looking out for opportunities, partnerships that we can pursue. And to top it all since we are a quiz company, everything we read, see, listen is a quiz question in the making, so subconsciously you are always at work! 

What would be your 3 biggest pieces of advice to law students entering the profession?  

NCR: The following are some of the advice my bosses shared with me and they walked the talk in relation to it, they include the following:

1) Be thorough, disciplined and sincere in whatever you do – Know your matters really well, the facts, the aspects of law involved, the problem, the issue etc. Research wholesomely. Develop an eye for detail, the strictness to formatting and effective presentation is a requisite skill; The more one’s work reflect the above attributes, it creates dependability and people trust your work and that is worthwhile reputation striving for.

2) Use every opportunity to learn – Be eager and curious to learn and keep yourself abreast with the new developments in your field.

3) Be proactive and take initiative – This may relate to standardizing documents for a typical transaction, solving a problem that your organisation is facing through a creative solution, or initiating a settlement by effective negotiation or writing notes on the latest updates in the legal sphere and sharing it within your team which can add up as a useful resource for your colleagues, giving a talk on a particular issue in a conference etc.

In a corporate set up everyone in the office is doing more or less the same amount of work, so you should strive to distinguish yourself and prove to be an exemplar resource to the organisation, apart from effectively completing the routine work assigned to you.

SR: Having spent just about a year in the professional side with ICICI Bank, and now pursuing entrepreneurship, I may not be the best person to answer this. But, a few pointers I can think of are:

a. Having an eye for different trends and having your concepts in place. Aspiring from the first instance to co-relate different aspects of law to make a conclusive point.

b. To make mistakes and learn from them quickly.

c. To remember/acknowledge your family and friends because they’re the only ones you can go back to.

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