Bangalore: Interested in wildlife photography/cooking/disc-jockeying/travel writing?
Want to find out if you have what it takes to succeed in these areas?
Always wanted to find out what it would be like to work as a wildlife photographer/chef/DJ/travel writer?
Fulfilling aspirations: iReboot founder Mukta Darera. Hemant Mishra / Mint
Mukta Darera can make it happen—for a small fee.
Just ask Anilkumar G.T., Arun Ramu, and Hema Narayanan. Kumar and Ramu are interested in wildlife photography, and Narayanan in travel writing. The first two have been trained by an ace wildlife photographer and are confident (and hopeful) of becoming professional wildlife photographers some day. Narayanan, a senior technologist with a large software firm, has actually started writing for a few newspapers and magazines and is now looking at becoming a full-time travel writer after participating in a workshop that taught her to be one.
“My idea is to gradually give up IT (information technology) and get into travel writing. I want it to happen sooner than later...maybe a couple of months,” she said.
Darera’s company, iReboot, is the organizer of the workshops or boot camps where Kumar, Ramu and Narayanan trained in their areas of choice.
And interestingly, the Bangalore-based firm may itself be Darera’s reboot.
The 24-year-old software engineer founded the company last August with Rs4 lakh in capital. Darera had a job with Intel Corp. at that time and started the firm because she saw around her many people dissatisfied with their jobs and felt trapped in them.
“My own discontent and that of those around me made me realize that people were looking for a change, a way to break their monotonous life,” she said.
Ramu, in his late 40s, is vice-president of a non-profit organization and works in the area of technology. He has been a tech worker for the past 15 years and had increasingly grown to believe that he had expertise only in IT.
Always keen on wildlife photography, a three-day boot camp at iReboot revived his passion and taught him that it could even be a profession. “One of the key points of the programme is that there is no late date to start a new career,” said Ramu.
IReboot says it can help people reinvent themselves as music composers, DJs, models, photographers, wedding planners, travel guides, travel writers, journalists, chocolatiers, bartenders, chefs and even dog trainers. The first step is to become a member of iReboot—for a fee that ranges between Rs3,000 and Rs10,000, depending on the job.
Members are assigned mentors, typically a recognized expert in the profession. Kumar said he signed up with iReboot because its wildlife photography expert, Kalyan Varma, is a known name in the field. The co-founder of a city-based IT services firm BigLeap Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Kumar said he will fulfil his “aspirations through iReboot” till he has “enough money” to take up photography “full time”.
At the end of the boot camp conducted by the mentors, members get to do their dream jobs for a day or two. Darera claimed to have helped 60 people try out their dream jobs. She shares up to 50% of the fee with mentors for whom the boot camps are ideal hunting grounds for interns or employees. “At any time, I need two- three people to assist me. I am not offering a job, but if someone is serious and I do see them as serious contenders during such a workshop, I am open to the idea of having them with me on a project or two,” said Varma. And to provide a scientific basis to help members understand if they have what it takes in a particular field, iReboot has so-called inventory tests.
“The beauty of the workshops is that without too much risk or investment, you can try out your hand on new things and make an informed decision,” said Kumar.
Meanwhile, her business booted up, Darera is looking for scale—and money. In the next year, she wants to build a presence in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Darera said she is talking to a few venture capital firms for money, but declined comment on how much she plans to raise.
Experts say that while the idea behind iReboot is good and the model has worked in countries such as the US and the UK, where there are some firms offering such a service, scalability could be an issue in India. “She needs to ensure that she offers experience that people cannot create through their own network,” said Rajesh Srivathsa, managing partner, Ojas Venture Partners. He added that this should be possible because not too many people know others outside their own social and professional circles.
The company should do well during a slowdown when people are losing jobs and may want to look at alternative careers, said Aanal Bhagwati, who owns CareerValue Solutions, a human resources management firm.
Darera is also convinced there is business to be had from large firms looking at the kind of services being offered by iReboot as a way to retain employees, and is currently working with three multinational firms, which she declined to name.
So, what do most people want to be?
The most popular jobs are: photographer, journalist and travel writer.
And possibly the weirdest dream job request Darera has received is from someone wanting to be a greeting card content writer.