Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? That the flaps of a butterfly could cause a tornado on the other side of the planet? You will be disappointed to hear that it is not true. It’s a little exaggerated and often fantasized version of a mathematical observation. What it actually means is that, even the tiniest differences in the initial conditions of a chaotic system can make it impossible to predict the outcome with certainty. That means, not only all systems are not chaotic, but also that not all tiny differences end up being amplified and causing greater effects. Most of them will just die out.
But all great things can be started simple. So simple that it will go unnoticed most of the times. Things we call great are often the result of complexity, and complexity is the result of simplicity. The computer you’re reading this text is the result of the clever use of a simple component called a transistor, made from purified sand. Billions of transistors change their states between ON and OFF when you send a message, open an image, watch a video or post a reel on Instagram. Such a simple building block such as transistor can give form to a greater complexity.
When I was doing my under graduation, I thought I would simply work for any company until the end of my life. I never thought of building a company, until [someone] said me that I should be building a company in the future. That was a spark. A few days later, I left the job. Not because I was going to start a company the next day, but due to other reasons.
During my under graduation, my interest in electronics was at peak. It was the major driving force of the modern world, as I was seeing it. It has been in existence for a long time. Yet I knew little about it. I was lousy in my studies though, grasping chunks of knowledge that would only relieve me from the instantaneous curiosity. Lack of foundational understanding of mathematics really hindered my efforts to learn anything deep. But that doesn’t mean I disliked math. I always loved and admired the beauty of mathematics. A sublime language of logic that can describe anything about the universe. It’s a gift that it exists and works.
Even though slightly dissuaded, my passion for electronics was never lost. That’s when I decided to join for post graduation in electronics. And that was the time I started seriously thinking about starting a company. I had to decide what my business should be doing and how the plan should be executed. An ecommerce business around selling electronic components online seemed to be a fine idea. It was nothing new of course. I then created my first venture called ONEWAY Electronics. The plan was to setup an online storefront and a warehouse to sell electronic components and modules that was in high demand. There were already 40+ such sites doing this business in India. I bought components from many of them. Yet I was never satisfied with the quality they were delivering, except very few ones like Rhydolabz.
Around that time I happened to watch two YouTube video from The School of Life called “What is Good Business?” and “How to be an Entrepreneur?”. Both of them really inspired me to uphold value in a business concept above the expectation of profit. As the video says, we could make profit by selling anything if people are willing to pay for it. Through cunning marketing strategies, we could even persuade them to buy something even if they not needed or benefited from it. This method of making profit from persuasion and exploitation was not alluring to me. The websites I mentioned earlier, they were not delivering the quality I was expecting as a customer. They would show something, and add something else in the description. They did not care about what they were selling. They were just doing it because there was people like me who would buy what they had to sell.
If I were to start the same business, how would I solve this problem? Every good business solves a problem. There can be not just one, but many solutions to a problem, depending on when and where it is applied. This allows many business enterprises to tackle the same problem at the same time. For example there are two major food delivery businesses in India; Zomato and Swiggy. Both of these businesses are structured and function similarly. Which one to use depends on the convenience of the user. I use Zomato when I have balance left on my Simpl credit wallet. Swiggy does not support Simpl. But Swiggy charges less for the same food from the same restaurant. This means, as long as there is enough differences in convenience among users, there’s an opportunity for a business to flourish. If you see that none of the existing businesses are solving the problem the right way, and you can think of a different approach for it, you’re eligible to start a business. Simply saying, the better you understand the problem you’re trying to solve, the better will be your business.
ONEWAY Electronics never took off. I had the domain registered, website design started, business plan prepared, but I could not gather the funding needed for it. My family had no inherited wealth either. By that time I had [completed] my PG and I had to do something to earn. I was working as a freelancer then. Freelancing is only good up to the point where you can personally manage everything. It is not scalable. It lacks and identity or a brand name that can supersede the individual doing it. But if you’re clever, you can transform a freelance job to a brand or a company. Take an individual YouTube channel for example. Once the channel is popular, it becomes impossible for the individual creator to manage everything about the channel. Smart individuals then turn their channel into a media production company by assembling a team. Even that has a limit to the scope of scaling up.
I was part of many small WhatsApp technology communities around the time I thought of ONEWAY. One day I decided to start one on my own after some arguments I had in one of the groups. CIRCUITSTATE was then born on 28th August 2017 as a small WhatsApp group. I had put my best effort to keep up the quality of discussions going on there. I tried to be an example for others on how a discussion should be carried out, and that applies to even the most tiniest things people would consider trivial. For example how would uppercasing a term would improve the readability of a message etc. Most didn’t seem to care, and that’s okay.
Most people think of businesses as having large offices, large investments and hundreds of people. It doesn’t have to be. Starting a business is not about large investments or infrastructure. What matters is how good your solution is, how better you’re understanding the problem and how you are planning to scale it up. If you have those right, then you’re on the right path.
CIRCUITSTATE is a simplicity. It’s a simple beginning for something more complex. We want to become the fuel for India’s technological future. This can only be accomplished by quality technical education. We can not rely on importing technology forever. We are impaired by our general lack of inventiveness and lack of sense of quality. We must overcome it. We must invent and innovate.
We want to disseminate technical knowledge in the most precise and accurate way with the use of best documentation standards possible. This requires extensive effort and more amount of time than what is needed for “just making it work”. We plan to create technical content for all possible levels of expertise, but mainly for students. Off-the-syllabus learning or self-learning is becoming more relevant in our world. People who are passionate and innovative minded always learn by their own effort and research. We want to give them a hand in the process and at the same time grow as a business. CIRCUITSTATE may fail as a business, but knowledge will never fail. Knowledge is always power.
You might wonder why we are sharing all these. That’s because we not only believe in the power of knowledge but also in the openness of it. An idea, however great it might be, that is frozen and locked up inside minds is not of any worth. What matters is the implementation or execution of the idea. Knowledge is powerful only when it is shared. Sharing allows knowledge to unconditionally propagate and grow. Sharing an idea means, everyone will have a chance to bring it to life in their own ways. This is the same philosophy behind open source software and hardware. CIRCUITSTATE loves open source 💙
Founder and Chief Editor,