First time my own answer made me well up with tears.
Thank you, Pa.
Answer by Gokul Nath Sridhar:
A character that might sound cliched and over-stated as an answer to this question. My father, Mr..
As an average kid in school, I had never hoped to become someone worthy of mention by others, in any walk of life. In my ninth grade, my academic performance reached an all time low. And unfortunately, I lived in a town that was super-judgemental of people based on their academic strengths. Given my abysmally low strengths in this area, I was branded useless by peers and their families.
I had almost given up on myself. My father had not.
He set about drafting a plan to instil a sense of direction in my life, improve my morale and self-confidence, and help me attain things; things that may seem ordinary to many, but beyond possible given my state back then. To give you a perspective, passing tenth standard board examinations seemed an uphill task for me.
As someone who valued formal education a lot, his first goal was to improve my academic position. Yes, that is the aim of any Indian parent; chiding a poor kid for scoring 99.25 when the neighbor's kid scored 100.
But no, that is not the approach he took. In fact, he never compared me with anyone. This would later become very important in my ability and outlook to assess others' performances. If I were to comment on one aspect of his support that I loved a lot, it is that. He used to carry a diary that charted my progress in academics. He spent countless hours taking time off from work, social life, etc. to sit with me, chalk out plans for the future, showing me that I was improving by the day and that I was destined for much, much greater things.
I merely used to chuckle at that.
He spent countless amounts of money buying books and other resources that helped me improve, going beyond anyone else ever would to make sure I was happy and cheerful while keeping a hawk's eye on my growth.
Situation: Tenth board examination results. Conversation between my dad, mom and me.
Mom: "Gokul, will you pass?"
Me: "Yeah ma, passing shouldn't be an issue. In fact, I have done quite well, I suppose. Should be getting around 400 (on 500)."
Dad: "What are you two talking about? My estimate is that Gokul would be getting somewhere around 470-475."
About an hour later, results were announced.
Me <sheepishly> to dad: "Pa, I got 474."
Him: <no-words> A silent tear of pride or two.
Continuing the streak of good academic performance, I managed to get into one of India's premier engineering schools, BITS, Pilani and opted to join the Hyderabad campus. Once I entered college, I realized that becoming a corporate slave was not something I really looked forward to. So, I set about honing myself to become an entrepreneur. At the cost of my academic growth.
As someone who gave utmost importance to education and had envisioned the typical high-reward, low-risk life for me that most Indians opt for — a degree from a prestigious T-School, followed by an MBA from a top-notch B-School, and a 7-digit salary at some conglomerate, my father was quite stunned by the turn of events.
Yet, he stepped out of his comfort zone to support me in my entrepreneurial pursuits.
He realized I wasn't going to budge from this career path, despite a couple of not-so-successful attempts at starting up. He told me that he didn't quite understand what went into building a company, that he was a layman, but he knew that I would become someone worthy of note, and that he would help me achieve it by supporting me in any manner he can.
Believe me, I'm yet to meet someone from this country who says — "My child is going throw away a comfortable path to a good life and embark upon something so risky that he has nothing to fall back on. And, I'm cool with it."
He did exactly that. When we started Inu (as Likewyss was called back in 2012), he paid tens of thousands of rupees for server costs, travel expenses to conferences, etc. in addition to pumping in tuition fees for a college degree I wasn't even serious one bit about.
Because he believed, not in my ideas or business models or anything else, but, in me. He believed that I could and would do it. Powered by that belief, he shunned conventional schools of thought, mentally blocked anyone's advice that told him to ask me to quit fooling around, and helped me become what I am today.
An article titled "Chennai under 40: Winners Circle" in the Indian Express named me one of the young hotshots of Chennai, in October 2013. Although not of the most circulated pieces about me in the press, I find that befit of a dedication to my father. Thank you, Pa.
PS: Apologies for the poor image quality.