The Un-Institutionalised Freebird: Siddharth Muduli
May 15, 2017 | Debasis Choudhury
In this age of Artificial Intelligence and the craze of entrepreneurship, few people leave their mark. Siddharth Muduli, a graduate of NITR of the year 2012 is definitely one of them. In his journey from a student to being a teacher and then going to pursue his MBA from XIMB, Bhubaneswar and presently working at Aspire Infolabs, his journey has been a path seldom trodden. Team MM caught up with this avid lover of cricket and tennis and discussed about life and what lies beyond in this candid chat.
MM: Please describe your life before joining NIT Rourkela.
SM: I spent most of my formative years in Bhubaneswar. I studied in Kendra Vidyalaya 2 and then moved to BJB college for my higher secondary studies. I was a studious guy as we didn’t have other alternates because we weren’t allowed to watch television at my home. I used to love studying NCERT books and like Physics and Maths the most. I achieved an All India Rank of 239 in National Science Olympiad and secured a state rank of 22 in HSC higher secondary examinations conducted by CHSE in 2008. Also, I was placed along the best 50 in all over the country in National Standard Examination in Astronomy 2007 directed by AIPT. For my love of English, I was among the top 0.1% in AISSE 2006 in Communicative English conducted by CBSE. When it came for preparing for IIT JEE, we had the trio of three teachers who were the favorites among the aspirants from all over Odisha. I was told about them by my seniors and I had a conducive environment to move forward. I had two options after 12th, I had cracked NISER, Bhubaneswar and had a good AIEEE rank. NISER had tie-ups with other universities wherein I had to work at BARC and Department of Atomic Energy for a duration of one year each but owing to the parental pressure I chose to go with the latter and at the when I look back now I am pretty happy with the decision I took.
MM: How was your stay at NIT Rourkela? What were some of your cherished memories during your stay here?
SM: I joined NIT Rourkela in 2008 in the department of Bio-Medical Engineering. The best thing which NIT Rourkela has given me is my peer group. We still keep meeting every 3 months and the bonding is still intact. In my second year, the Sachin Tendulkar Sports Complex(STSC) was inaugurated and I being a great cricket fan, used to play at least two matches every day. We had a League of Cricket(LOC) of our own and also had a bidding process for it just like professionals! I trained a lot of students for CAT who did very well, I cultivated this practice as I always wanted to be a teacher but didn’t have any ambitions of doing an MBA until that moment. I was also elected as the sports secretary of Homi Bhabha hall of residence, wherein the journey of taking on responsibilities really groomed me as a leader at a very early age, which helped me throughout my professional career.
MM: What did you pursue after passing out from NIT Rourkela?
SM: When we sat down for on-campus interview most of the companies were preferring circuital branch and Infosys was the only option for the aspirants from BM department as companies like TCS were blacklisted. I had attempted CAT(in late 2011) for the first time during my fourth year without any preparation and scored a decent 95 percentile. I always wanted to be a teacher so I joined IMS as a faculty in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. After working there for almost one and a half year, when I wrote CAT again(in 2013) I scored an excellent 99 percentile. I was getting calls from new IIMs which were located at Raipur, Ranchi and Shillong but preferred to go to XIMB for its reputed faculty and good infrastructure.
MM: How did you come up with the idea of Autowala.com?
SM: After graduating, while working at IMS I met with some of my peers and we were discussing possible areas for entrepreneurship. It struck to us that we could automate the auto rickshaw booking in Bhubaneswar, which was the lifeline of the junta there. I had a lot of time as I was only working for four-five hours each day and could invest my time in such a venture. We had a complete online portal alongside a complete database of the phone numbers of drivers. It was a tough task to bring together all the auto rickshaw driving communities in Bhubaneswar owing to their personal rifts. However, we did the required groundwork and were functional for a time period of 6 months. However, we learned that Bhubaneswar isn’t the right market to try a new startup as the market wasn’t mature and it was two years after that when Ola and Uber came up with the idea of pre-booking autos.
MM: How was your life at XIMB? What were the challenges you faced over there?
SM: I really respect and adore the faculty at XIMB. The finance division of XIMB has one of the finest teachers all over India and I learnt a lot from them. We had a semester for three months(trimester) and had to study nine-ten subjects in a squeezed time slot. The academic rigor being high and also the rigidity in attendance rules forced one to prioritize few subjects as it became really tough to balance the heavy work load. I chose my subjects and faculty smartly which paid off very well later. Coming to extra-curricular activities, I was the captain of the institute’s tennis team and won the bronze medal in the 10KM Annual Marathon race conducted by XIMB.
MM: How was your experience at Intellect Arena Design?
SM: Intellect Arena Design is the erstwhile Polaris. Two years before Polaris demerged into two parts- Intellect and Polaris wherein the former is the product based company managed by the parent company and the new Polaris takes care of the service logistics. I was working at Intellect payment division which was one of the five strategic business units (SBUs) of Intellect, I was leading the wallet sub unit and I was an IT solution consultant. My job was to look for potential clients for my company’s product in the South-East Asia and Latin American countries, which mainly comprised of MNC banks. I had to interact with clients and go for positive sale pitching, which further culminated into RFI proposals. I would then connect with my team and see how the client’s demand could be met and do the gap’s and fitment analysis. Then we had to bring in the required changes through customization and go in for a final demo with the client. I was working very closely with the executive vice president during my stay in Intellect and got a good experience while learning a lot from him.
MM: How did you get into Aspire Infolabs?
SM: Srinivas Sir, who is presently my mentor at Aspire Infolabs was the one who called me up and offered a lucrative role in Aspire Infolabs. I was interested in the job the company was doing and Srinivas sir gave me the opportunity to become an entrepreneur. While working at IMS I was always interested in the way the educational institute was working. I came across Mr. Pujari, the owner of the franchise for the Bhubaneswar and Cuttack chapter who was an alumnus of XIMB and who taught me the way business is done. I took learning from that experience and presently at Aspire I look after the four chapters located in Bhubaneswar, Kakinada, Rourkela and Vishakapatnam. Aspire is a B2B Talent management organization with an executive focus on talent services for IT industry. Aspire operates across the talent value chain from sourcing, training, development, deployment to talent hosting. The company’s mission is to create unparalleled value to its corporate partners with custom sourced, developed and assignment ready talent. I have the flexibility to take my own decision when faced with challenging circumstances and make sure that the job is done.
MM: How has NIT Rourkela transformed, what was the thing which attracted you the most when you came back to visit your alma mater?
SM: We had nothing beyond the SAC. We never had the feel that ours is the second largest campus in India but after seeing the boom in infrastructure it certainly feels like one.
MM: What are your future plans?
SM: Hopefully someday I will live the childhood dream of starting a company of my own, watch it grow and enjoy the process.
MM: What would your message for our readers?
SM: Always follow your passion, never stop chasing your dreams. You have only one life to see your dream come true. If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs. No one and nothing will help you until you start helping yourself. So, be persistent and tenacious in your efforts towards giving life to your dreams and never give up on yourself. That’s what a true engineer does. Gives life to ideas. Primarily, the reason why most of the entrepreneurs are engineers.