'My father sold his land and utensils for our education'
Arun Narasani, CEO and co-founder, Brain League talks about the challenges his family faced and how it inspired him to succeed and set up an enterprise.
Good artists copy, great artists steal – Pablo Picasso (as quoted by Steve Jobs)
Many times, when referring to history books, we learn about people whose ideas have been stolen by others.
And then there were people like Marie Curie who gave their inventions to the world for free without any kind of license or patents, so that the same could be put to good use without any restrictions.
Arun Narasani, who is the CEO and co-founder of Brain League IP Services has been helping people and institutions to write and file patent applications using the right process and research in this field.
Early life struggles
Narasani was born in a village near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh.
His dad was an artist, who moved to Chennai to join the film industry as an assistant director, when Narasani was very young.
Narasani studied in Chennai up to Class VII.
Around this time his dad had moved into film production, but it didn’t work out well and he lost all his money. Consequently, the family had to move back to Guntur.
Talking about his growing up years and the challenges he's faced, Narasani says, "Things were going rough and we had a hand to mouth existence. My dad sold all the utensils he had for cash and he also had a couple of acres of land which he sold to meet our education expenses. Somehow he put my brother in a residential junior college because he wanted him to focus on studies."
Narasani reminiscences how each one in his family contributed during those days, and why he values those sacrifices.
"I remember how my dad sold a gold chain my mother had and we started a small video store with about 70 video cassettes. I was running it most of the time. I would run around distributing and collecting the cassettes in Guntur which is a small place."
The family ran the business for three years and Narasani was studying in Class VIII at that time.
"I wasn’t into much of the studying at that point of time. Slowly in another two-two and a half years we started a small bakery where we used to earn about maximum 300 rupees a day and somehow continuing our existence”, he explains.
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Image: Arun Narasani
Photographs: Courtesy Yourstory.in
'When I told my father I wanted to write the JEE, he was shocked'
Journey to the IIT
Nasrani was in Class IX when he looked around at his friends who were from well to do families and realised that he had to do something about his life.
He started studying hard and focusing more on his education; as a result, he finished school with around 74 per cent in CBSE, which we believe is a commendable achievement considering the situation at that time.
About his decision to join IIT, Arun recollects: “It was a time when I was evolving, getting into focus mode. I asked my dad to put me in a good school, I wanted to write the JEE, and he was in a shock. He put me in a good school for Class XII. I told him very clearly, I don’t want to work in the shop, somehow you have manage this. I want to change things, I want to focus on JEE.
My brother ridiculed me for this, but it was not their fault. When I got in to the school I realised my level of understanding of various subjects was really low, I started studying for the IIT-JEE for another two years by taking previous five-six years' books right from Class VII. I cleared JEE and went to the IIT-Madras. It was a great moment for us.”
Image: The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras library
Photographs: Ambuj.Saxena/Wikimedia Commons
'Brain League represents an extraordinary league of people'
Founding Brain League
After graduating from the IIT, Nasrani worked at various companies including Mphasis, Cognizant before joining IIM Bangalore.
While studying at the IIM-B, Arun met his old friend and schoolmate Kalyan Kankanala, who'd finished his Masters in Law from the US and was pursuing his PhD from National Law School.
During their regular conversations, they came across the problem of IP and patents and realised how there were not enough players in the market who understood technology and thus failed to add value to IP protection process.
They found real opportunity in the global IP scene which led him to start his entrepreneurial journey.
Sharing the idea behind choosing the particular name for his company, Narasani says, “Brain League represents an extraordinary league of people who use creativity to make the world a better place."
The thought of the phrase, he adds, is an inspiration from the title of the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
What it does
Brain League helps individuals and corporations get their patents, by writing patent applications for them, help them file and get patents.
They have different teams of highly dedicated people who specialise in various technology verticals and help the inventor put together a very strong application.
The team works to understand the invention at a very detailed level so they can in turn work on the patent application with full commitment.
Since Brain League started in 2004 they have expanded to over five offices including one in the Bay Area, and has over 100 employees.
They have served more than 500 clients in the past nine years and have been growing at least over 25 per cent year over year since the beginning, while they grew over 100 per cent in the financial year 2012-2013.
Image: The Brain League team
Photographs: Courtesy Yourstory.in
'Identify and stick to the areas where you're really good at and create value'
Narasani shares the key lessons he has learned from his journey:
- Patience and perseverance pays off. Everything takes time. That includes developing a product, gaining expertise in providing a service, maturing as a company, setting up processes, gaining acceptance/confidence of clients and market etc. It is extremely important to have patience to go through the grind of an entrepreneurial journey.
- Focus is the key. There may be many opportunities that come by and go. Ultimately, it is important to identify and stick to the areas where one is really good at and create value. There is no point in chasing opportunities just because they may be rewarding in the short term.
- There is nothing like a brilliant idea. It’s about one’s passion and market acceptability. If there is a market for a particular product/service, one can create his own space.
Before signing off, Narasani left us with a message for fellow entrepreneurs, a verse from the Bhagavad Gita:
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana !
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani !!
Srimadbhagvadgita, Chapter 2, verse 47
It means: Follow your passion and do not worry about results. If one puts in hard work and is determined to create a path of his own, success will follow.
Image: Arun Narasani at a TIE conference
Photographs: Brain League's Facebook Page