Of Conviction and Perseverance
Believe in yourself when nobody else does. Swapnil Khandelwal, founder of AlmaConnect, did that to keep his idea alive. That too, when no one around him could even understand his vision.
Born and brought up in a doting Marwari business family, Swapnil was genetically attuned towards entrepreneurship and starting his own venture. While in college, he built strong friendships. Reflecting on their impact, he realized the need to have a well-connected alumni network. Around him, he saw people with immense love for their alma mater and high regard for their alumni community, and yet there weren’t efficient ways to keep in touch and communicate with fellow alumni. To address this need, after graduating in 2011, he started up AlmaConnect — an online social network based on private alumni networks.
“Surround yourself with the right people. Enjoy whatever you’re doing every day.”
He hit a roadblock almost immediately; no one understood what he was trying to achieve. Potential investors were sceptical of the need for such a platform. His friends doubted the viability of AlmaConnect and thus were not able to provide the support and encouragement he so needed. It seemed as though nobody apart from him believed in the venture. Swapnil was frustrated and at his wit’s end as he was unable to convince people to share his vision.
Giving up, though, was not an option. He was convinced that his well thought out product was going to solve a very prominent problem. He was not to be dissuaded. He kept at it and soon found the right set of people and the right environment needed to develop his ideas. Speaking with mentors, bouncing off ideas while interacting with fellow entrepreneurs, venting the frustration he had built up and receiving words of reassurance from them proved pivotal as all this helped him move ahead. AlmaConnect took off and IIT Roorkee came onboard. Despondency turned to relief and relief to joy. This was his first major accomplishment and signaled the beginning of the phase where AlmaConnect partnered with several premier institutes of the country.
Swapnil attributes his success to his family. They gave him the freedom required to chase his dreams. The hard beginning and the subsequent rough patches have strengthened his self-belief. His good decision-making skills and unwavering confidence have steadied him along the way. With the potential to touch millions of lives with AlmaConnect, there is a long way for him to go. He refuses to be bogged down by lofty goals and targets; instead, he draws immense happiness by connecting people with their communities.
One who believes deeply in relationships, Swap- nil makes time to nurture his connection to friends and family. He also strives to bring some fun to the workplace. He is proud of pulling off a month-long retreat in Lavasa with the entire AlmaConnect team, where everyone got to work in a relaxed environment and have some fun. No small feat, this!