An entrepreneur who turned into a full time educator on Youtube

Are 24 hours in a day ever enough for some? We often wonder how a few individuals are driven and committed to everything they dip their toes into. But, if there's one thing common in all successful people, it's the audacity to dream beyond. While we may assume that their journey begins on the day they earn fame, it doesn't. They've perhaps embarked on this journey years before they've realized they'll arrive here. A childhood dream, a desire to disrupt, or a strong interest in educating those around — some are always hungry and curious. And honestly, that is what makes them who they are!


Ankur Warikoo is more than just an entrepreneur. No one definition fits him; he has been doing something unique and purpose-driven during every phase of his life. He is the co-founder of Nearbuy, and before that, he launched Groupon in India in 2011. Right now, he is an investor, public speaker, multimedia content creator and creates insightful courses such as Complete Guide to Starting Up, How to Speak Effectively, etc.

Apart from educating and dropping truth bombs on Twitter, Ankur is a hustler in an absolute sense, and this is how his journey unfurls.

Growing Up

Our childhood usually shapes our future, and while all kids don't sketch their future out, Ankur did. Even as a child, he had a plan — he wanted to do his Ph.D. in the US, become a NASA space scientist, and then be the first man to reach Mars. In 2002, his father took a loan of INR 55,000 to pay for a one-way ticket to the US for his Ph.D. But here's a twist in the tale: although he was good at physics, his heart wasn't in it. So, he decided to drop out and move back to India. Soon, he joined the Indian School of Business (ISB). After graduating, he worked as a management consultant at Kearney while managing He worked at Kearney for three years before building several startups.

As a youngster, he took pride in pursuing his goals, but in hindsight, he realizes it was based on how the world would perceive him on achieving those goals. The journey that'd lead him to the goals didn't matter then. 

"The outcome seemed fascinating! I'd see myself as a NASA scientist, and thought oh my god, people would say Ankura Warikoo is a NASA scientist. Look at that dude; he did it! But I didn't fall in love with the journey that would lead me to be a scientist. And that wasn't an easy one; no journey that takes you to that level is, and today I'm wiser. I recognize that if you don't fall in love with the journey or the path, you'll rarely be content with what you eventually get. Even if you get it!"

Unlike many individuals who prepare themselves for larger-than-life goals with mock speeches or winning medals — Ankur remained realistic. He always saw himself getting ahead to a certain point and enjoying it for an extended period rather than relishing just that moment.

Do Epic Shit

Anyone following Ankur would have observed the words Do Epic Shit on his social media profiles. The story begins in 2013 when Ankur's closest friends (also entrepreneurs) gifted him a poster with 'Do Epic Shit' scribbled on it. Back then, he was at Groupon, and the poster was on his desk. With a relatively small desk, there was no way he could have missed the poster. He recollects looking at it constantly.

A snippet from our interview where Ankur explains the crux behind his motto "DO EPIC SHIT".

Living Life On Your Terms

Entrepreneurs thrive in challenging environments, and Ankur remarks starting up is always an option for entrepreneurs. While it's a journey they constantly fall in love with, he admits he isn't disillusioned and understands the behavior of the VC-funded startup world. Having raised from Sequoia Capital and sold to Paytm, he has worked and learned from the best Indian investors.

"But I realized when you sign up for that journey — there's an upside that the world sees or recognizes you for, deeming it a success. Usually, more bad blood happens due to nobody's fault, and it is hard to deal with. For instance, today — or at least before COVID, Nearbuy was profitable and made a hundred million dollars of sales every year. It's not trivial, but it was not successful in the VC world or investors' eyes, or even as the founder because we were not a billion-dollar company. And that is a trap — not so much of who you are, but who you could've been — leading to comparisons and deciding success or failure. I didn't want to be that because although I'd love to own a profitable hundred million dollar company, I know investors own 80% of it, and it's not what I want. I want to be there if I own almost 100% of it."

That's how he decided not to pick a job or work for others. If he has to work on his terms, he will set up an incredibly patient company, which he's building now. Ankur says it may take them ten years for the world to see their product, but he is in no rush. 

"It's bootstrapped and profitable from day one. It doesn't have anything that will set me up on a glamor treadmill on Twitter, YourStory, or Inc 42. Most people will call me a duffer or a sellout for what I'm doing. They will not even understand the game, but I'm okay with it because I am running it at my pace on my terms. I have a terrific team, and there's no pressure of time or money knocking at my door for taking short-term decisions."

Joining The Dots

Ankur says he didn't pick this journey; instead, it chose him. He started blogging in 2005 when he joined ISB to document his MBA life. His site still holds all the archives; in 2016, he took to crafting video content on LinkedIn, and in 2017, he started his YouTube journey. The content on every platform had a different purpose. 

"In 2016, we wanted to create a persona for people to come work for Nearbuy. Although we weren't the best brand or paying top dollars, we were proud of our culture and leveraged it to attract people. On YouTube, I hosted Warikoo Wednesdays, which was one of the products I launched early on."

Up until he stepped down as Nearbuy's CEO, Ankur was doing it all alone. He made his videos using a phone and mic and turned to interns for uploading and subtitling. Now, he has a team.

"Now, I realize what I'm doing is landing well, which I frankly didn't expect. I'm 41, and it's ridiculous and also incredible that 18 to 24-year-olds react to my content because they generally don't engage with anyone above 30. I think it's also because they learn from my mistakes, and I'm extremely vulnerable and okay being whosoever I am with my mistakes or f*ckups. This got me thinking — if this is the engine produced by luck, consistency, or a combination, where can it head? That's when you'd put on a thinking cap."

That’s when he had a revelation — while running something without the pressure of making money or taking it to a certain point, you allow yourself to discover where it can go. 

"This is the big difference between what I would call bootstrapping your entire life or running your life on an investor's money. The investor's money could be your parents, but you're perpetually under debt because of the pressure from society or parents. And when you're perpetually under debt, emotionally or financially, you make short-term life decisions. It makes you think you've got debts to pay, but when you have none, you tend to live life on your terms. Whether it's a startup, life, career, or anything else — it just manifests itself."

Ankur Warikoo’s first ever video which was posted on 2017

The Failure Resume

Around 2016, Ankur stumbled upon Johannes Hashuffer's resume — a professor at NYU who wrote an insightful piece on his academic tenure and how he applied to various universities. In that piece, he mentions how people assume he is successful when they look at him, which is an excellent achievement for an academic. Still, they rarely know of his failures or the number of rejected papers. Then, he came up with a failure resume, categorizing his failures under academic failures, research failures, etc. This fascinated Ankur, and he found this resume quite incredible because resumes are honestly dumping documents for our achievements or brand promotions.

"We are not born with success, or ‘I'm going to kill it in life’ attitude. I went through a lot, so, I already had a list of failures — from not making it to the IIT to investors rejecting us. I wrote down my failures in a document and published it online, fully assuming people would say haha, we knew it. What happened was the exact opposite — people wrote in saying they thought I was always successful. But knowing I had failures instilled hope in them and they mentioned how heartwarming and liberating it was for them to know the ones they look up to admit that they've gone through shit openly. That post went viral, and on my 40th birthday in 2020, I updated it on Twitter, and it did well too."

Defining Success

Growth and success may mean different things to different people, but everyone holds on to a tangible method to measure them. Ankur reveals he is guilty of measuring success based on outcomes and later recognized that it didn't sit well with him because most goals or targets were desires. Whether professional or personal, goals and success are pinned to our interest in getting somewhere.

A snippet from our interview where Ankur puts light on how to measure success as a content creator.

As a part of the process or journey, what you do is what eventually matters. Ankur and his team don't yoke their strategy to the growth of followers, views, or engagement; their strategy revolves around their content. Are we pushing content on time? Are we writing timeless and helpful content? Are we authentic, candid, and relevant? If we're making mistakes, are we admitting to them? — These questions include their measure of growth, and the team measures itself based on the content quality, depth of information, and user engagement. With people reaching out to the team with feedback and positive words, it's a nod in the right direction. 

"I'm lucky the numbers are working out because we're not incentivizing for those numbers. We just look at them once a week because we just want everything in one Excel sheet. But every discussion and conversation is about content, the number of courses, course quality, and their structure — everything stems from these."

As a firm believer in how Amazon functions, Ankur too focuses on the input, controls the controllable and believes the output takes care of itself. A sound plan, if you ask any sane one around.

A video snippet from Raunaq Mangottil (YouTuber) about Ankur Warikoo’s emphasis on process over results.

Building The Slowest Edtech Startup

For starters, Ankur is building the slowest ever ed-tech startup, and it will perhaps be the most patient company to ever come out of India. As he mentioned, it doesn't matter, even if it takes ten years to come to fruition. While that's one thing where his energies are focussed, he is also keen on working with able creators who lack distribution. He intends to be their front face, introduce them to the world, and hopefully transmit the trust he has fostered to them. Besides, he has elaborate plans for creators' course content, which will be available on YouTube. 

"So the aim is when we hit a million on YouTube, which should happen between two to three months, we will launch a course, which will be symbolic because its launch is to help people get to a million. We were at 7,000 subscribers in March 2020, so this isn't a journey that transpired over several years; it's a one-and-a-half-year journey to go from 7,000 to two million subscriptions. My team will lead the entire course because they are the ones who put the course together along with me."

One thing is for sure: these courses will help the creators expand their horizons. Encompassed with rich experiences while keeping it real — perhaps creators may find the proper ammo to evolve. And for Ankur, we're convinced he'll continue to create and inspire those around him. An exciting future awaits!

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