Most of my friends would refuse to call it anything but 'Lightbulb'; the flicker of hope for a fresher from London struggling to land a job after Modi decided to pull the plug on black money. Might I add, I believed I had a decent CV, but soon enough I was accustomed to waking up to e-mails beginning "thank you for your application, however..." and would hibernate back into the fortress of the little self pride I had left!
Beginning at Lightbox was a collection of timely coincidences, and very warm and friendly voice from the Head of Talent Acquisition. Having lived the majority of my life outside of India, I was repeatedly reminded that working in India was the wrong decision and would be a struggle; from the work environment, to the cut-throat competition and lack of structure. I was prepared to face all of these, although was soon to be proven wrong.
My first day at the internship was a dive into the deep end. A few quick hellos and we were off, right into the middle of dissecting the strategies for their portfolio company. This was fun, and every now and then I'd visit the second floor cafe and have a jab at the coffee machine, until a friendly colleague noticed I wasn't a caffeine addict yet, and offered his expertise in understanding the norms and etiquette of a businessman; Black Coffee.
Apparently I'd joined on the very day they have their monthly deep dive meetings, as well as team dinner, which transpired into quite a long first day, but I finally felt like I was moving. As days moved on, I learned how well-seasoned the employees and partners were, and every meeting I sat into, it broadened my untouched theoretical understanding, into that of business intellect.
What captivated me most, was the openness; of the people, the clients, and the very space itself, with conference rooms lined only by windows, and an open garden, fresh light would pour in from both directions. The office itself is a Lightbox!
Other than the fine aesthetics, and an office space that transports you outside India without charging you a Sea-link toll, the array of clientele that visited and worked with Lightbox was fascinating. With a portfolio that ranges from mobile apps to solar energy, there really was a story behind the number crunching and the monthly Income statements.
Arranged with witty office banter, and the weekly team lunches, Lightbox truly reflected what they were here for; to support innovation that enriches lives. With a culture that promotes thinking, questioning and collaborating, their space and their people weren't here only to be the next biggest VC, there was heart behind it.
Sitting on as companies pitched their product, and persuaded us with samples, or listening to the financial breakdown of a deal, or even working on the strategy for one of their portfolio companies, the work was stimulating and real!
I am grateful for the friendliness, and mentorship, the quality of work and professionalism of communication, the ongoing battle for the AC remote and the curiosity of how I've lived without eating a potato.
A special thank you to Nandita for hiring me, and teaching her ways, as well as Pragya for trusting me with work and keeping an eye on me, without being in the office. I hope the Partners have benefited in some way from my work, and I am indebted to them as well as their colleagues for their patience, passion for teaching, and sharing of valuable tricks of the trade.
Although it hasn't been a long spell, it feel like I've been around for a while. As I say goodbye, I leave with more than I believe I have given,and so I thank you all very much.
The advice to entrepreneurs is to experiment, fail, learn and repeat. Try things at a small scale and at a low cost, and quickly assess if they work or not and then take a call on what is worth scaling up. The experiments should either stop or continue based on consumer feedback.