The Year in 2020

Akankasha Singh
6 min readDec 30, 2020
Starting a new business from an old experience
Discover Your Depth

I still remember what we got into 2020 with — “Fly or Fall” was the big question. I had a job then — we had the onus of keeping the company afloat, being a part of the marketing and sales team. It was an uphill task but not impossible. A lean team with too much to do, tempers running wild, zero tolerance from boss, lackadaisical management and an indifferent environment made few chosen ones stand out. And then just like that we got out. Oh by we I mean me and V…V for Victory…V for Villian…V for Vishal — my then boss and partner in crime. Our only crime being we gave in our blood and soul to our work. So much that it hurt others and he moved away. I dropped out of the job the minute we were told he was gone. If the company could do this to a person who built an entire system and purpose for them, I knew I did not want to be around such people.

And then the ordeal started of what to do and what not to do. Business Coaching was a vertical started, and eventually literally single handedly run by Coach Vishal Shah, where I contributed to getting the clients and trying hard to keep them. It shut down when we left, but we were responsible or felt so, for the clients who wanted to see some magic happening in their business, and we were working with them to make it happen. The next few weeks after being out of the jungle where we were self-proclaimed kings, the chaos of entrusting the clients with our time and effort without any compensation whatsoever continued. The havoc it created for our mental and emotional peace was not withstanding. But like clockwork we got up and got out, to meet these clients and assure them through our work that we were not backing out of our commitment despite not being in the jungle.

With no other thought in sight of what we would do and not, like a grapevine that holds on to the support of the stick around it, amidst various car lunches because we moved between client offices, we carried on. We moved because we did not know how to stop. We will remain immensely grateful to few people who supported us, our belief and our work when we did not have any big name or premise to back us up.

And then, just like that…one fine day a global pandemic came crashing into our rave party of two! COVID hit and we thought lockdown was a joke and despite so, thought we would reunite in some client’s office a day or two later because in India anyways nothing lasts more than a day or so! Only we know how those tumultuous eight months went by!

Those eight months were an eternity in their own selves. We dabbled between real job offers and a love story of actually starting a business, having clients who would love us, and more importantly creating a brand that any business owner would resonate with because of the impact we intended to make in their business, in their lives. We decided to really launch sometime mid year, and it was a disaster. Vishal is a perfectionist and I am a plain executor. He believes in what he sees and I see way beyond what’s required. We met over 500 business owners in this time, acquired half a dozen clients across cities, upped our asking price because our tagline as our work-line read ‘Discover Your Depth’ and we were rightfully doing so, whether or not anyone was watching! This was the beginning of Embark Business Coaching.

So little by little business began. We created our own pool of people who we wanted to work with. Did I mention both Vishal and me are brats. Brats that come with a family business background, brats who don’t think before we speak because we don’t think before we do. We just do! There is nothing else that drives us than the need for people to drive themselves. While he revels in numbers, I love the nuances that make a business — its people, its stories and my god the passion. How I love seeing excited 60+ year old uncles working in dingy places, with turnover of over 30cr and wanting to ensure their sons adapt to the new times with us. We cribbed, we fought, we questioned and accused ourselves and each other. In the end of it we still remained and that’s what mattered. Every damn time.

Today our success is defined by our clients and their progress. It always will be. Coaching is that kind of a business. And no its not about the revenues we make. Its about the client talking our language. When they tell their team to expect zero tolerance and being data driven. It’s about when they come back to us after a month long silence saying they haven’t been able to implement the Coach’s passionate appeal to make systems and processes around their most critical areas, but promise to do so now. It’s about when they come back and say their major burden of placing orders with a freehand is possible only after we connected them to a bank and more importantly made the financing got through. It’s about when they say that they are pleasantly surprised that someone can watch out for them, think for them, stop them and make them move ahead all at the same time. It’s about when they don’t say a thank you, because as business owners they don’t know how to, but about what they say when they don’t say much.

Here’s how 2020 was the best year for us:

  1. Moved out and resigned from a high profile and high paying job
  2. Ensured our clients from the job never felt they were cheated despite us not being responsible
  3. Debilitated between turning down stable jobs and the risks of starting something amidst a global pandemic when the world was collapsing
  4. Ensured a clients team started seeing merit in what the company was doing for them
  5. Connected a client with a bank that made their working capital requirement a breeze in just ten days
  6. Uplifted a dynamic and young digital marketing company to not fear the experienced ones
  7. Made a company see merit to start acquiring new clients in a new market — something they had never done in over three decades of operations
  8. Signed up our first client of 100cr+ turnover
  9. Increased our fee by 3 times because we decided our worth was beyond the words of many
  10. Got a publicly listed company’s founder over cold email to converse and make a demo of his product to us
  11. Had the shortest sales cycle of 10 days from enquiry to conversion of a client

None of the above was a cake walk. Business is tough. Always is, always has been, except when you ask your dads! They make it sound so easy and then we always that thing to say that ‘things were different then’. Going through painful months of no revenue, no response from ‘clients that will get back’, trying to make an impact in the way you set out to do, more importantly defending your own negatives, praying for our own positives to stay longer, starting a business is not easy but keeping at it is even more difficult.

I believe we make our own successes, we choose who will they be with, we create the environment and time when they would happen. Until then we persist, we carry on, we continue to believe, through all the ups and downs. I have, and we have succeeded and we are only just getting started. As our tagline says ‘Discover Your Depth’ — come along if you’re ready to do so!



Akankasha Singh

Writer|Entrepreneur|Experiences Junkie|Marketing Aficionado|Foodster|Passion8@bout: Businesses|New Forms of Thinking|People Who Walk the Talk|Mesmerising Ideas