The above is a Draw String Bag and what you are going to read is its story!
In 2007, Sangeeta got involved in a Green Initiative called "Show We Care" in SAP GD. They got allotted a budget, volunteers were called and Sangeeta joined the team and brainstormed multiple ideas.
One of the ideas Sangeeta conceptualised was this nice solid cloth bag with the following written on it ( by a creative guy from their marketing team ).
Plastic is Harmful! - Look what it did to Michael Jackson.
Every employee was handed one and were asked to use this instead of plastic packets ( Bangalore had not banned plastic bags yet - ban came in 2011 I guess ). Sangeeta brought one home and I took a liking to it.
While I loved the bag ( perfect for going shopping on a bike ), I hated the Michael Jackson reference - because I respected him a lot and also after a few months he died. I always wore the bag in such a way that words are not facing the world.
Also in 2007, "Show We Care" arranged for a Tree planting drive in SJR Redwoods Apartment Complex in Sarjapur Road. I accompanied Sangeeta on a fine Saturday morning and helped plant trees around the compound wall - around 100 of them. Store this in your register for a while - will revisit this.
Today, in June 2013, I took it for my morning run - and still the bag is in perfect condition and the Michael Jackson words are still intact unfortunately.
Wondering where the story is? Patience my friend - coming to that.
In 2008 - a year after the Show we care Initiative - we were in the process of launching ApartmentADDA. Towards that we wanted a logo and a website. Sangeeta called the Creative guy who designed the Draw String bag. He connected us to the Digital Media company - Cicada Media in Koramangala who printed the nice bag. Also we thought showing her SAP credentials we can get a discount! She even carried the Draw String bag to show it to them for the first meeting.
We went to Cicada Media one fine morning and met Mr.Deviah - its founder. He saw what we had created and liked it. His team created our first logo and our website design. He introduced us in 2 places.
He was part of the earlier committees where he lived - in Greenwood Regency, Sarjapur Road - and introduced us to the Management Committee there. Their treasurer saw the potential and signed the cheque and they became our first paying customer. Allelujah! Mr.Deviah was also part of the core committee of another property still under construction in Whitefield and introduced us there too. They started using us, but will turn paying customers much later.
One of the members, who later became President, had a brother in a landmark Villa community in Whitefield. He gave us a call and invited us for a demo, we went there on a Saturday and after a nerve wracking demo + wait - they signed us up and also paid for 3 years upfront - it was like seed money for us!
The initial few customers all came to us because of one person. Sangeeta and I were just 2 years into Bangalore and our network was very limited. We were really fortunate for the initial breaks we got.
Taking a step back - had Sangeeta not volunteered for the "Show We Care" project and the draw string bag not been conceptualized - ApartmentADDA might have still happened - but we would have gone to any of the web design firms and would not have got the opportunity to meet Cicada's founder.
Remember the tree planting drive we did. In 2009 December we organized our first Workshop - on Conserving Water in association with Biome - the Water Experts. We were bootstrapped and revenues were just trickling in. We were burning our Fixed Deposits to keep ApartmentADDA running. We needed a hall - and you don't get anything less than Rs.5000. Subha from Biome's team, happened to live in SJR Redwoods and she talked to their Management Committee, who allowed the usage of their party hall for just Rs.500.
Coincidence? Or it was the good Karma paying us back what we had earned in 2007 - planting trees in SJR Redwood.
Steve Jobs in his famous Graduation Ceremony speech talks of Connecting the Dots. We can always look back and figure out how it all worked out. But we simply cannot plan these connections. It all happens by itself.
Sangeeta could not have foreseen that some day her hubby will quit job and start a website - which will be a tool for Management Committees - so let me get involved in this Green Initiative - and that company that printed the cloth bags - their owner - has experienced the pains of being in the Management Committee......and so on - you get the drift.
Fast forward a few years -This Saturday, June 15th 2013, we are organising an open house on Self Sufficient Apartment Communities - we believe we are doing the right thing - bringing eco warriors and the eco apprentices together under one roof. We are helping spread the eco-virus :)
Some day somewhere down the line - it will all get connected. We are just laying the dots.