Coffee and conversations

Cafe Coffee Day is the most widespread coffee chain in India. Their tagline goes “A lot can happen over coffee.” They were the first in India to realise the value of conversations over coffee. It was fitting then, that this is where I revealed to a couple of close friends about my decision to start up. Over a cup of coffee.

F1: Hey, I know it’s the holiday season, but how come you get a whole week off from work, dude? Last I knew, you were working 16 hours a day and on weekends as well.

Me: I got a week off because I quit.

F1 & F2 (in unison): What? Why?

Me: I got tired…

(Shocked expressions morph into pity and incredulity)

Me: … of working my butt off for someone else. It just didn’t make sense.

F2: Yeah, but that’s how it has been all the while, right?

Me: True. I guess, I couldn’t take it anymore.

F1: Why buddy, what happened?

Me (sighing audibly): I turned 30. That’s what happened.

(The looks become more puzzled now. They’re probably thinking “We’re 30 too. What the hell does he mean?”)

I wait. We sit in awkward silence for about a minute.

F2: When did this happen?

Me: About 4 months back. I didn’t have the balls to tell you guys before. Sorry.

The abrupt apology loosens them up a bit.

F1: At least you had the balls to quit. So, what have you been doing?

Me: I’m working on an idea to help people stay adequately hydrated at all times.

Both are looking on. Obviously for more juice. Or, water in this case maybe.

So, I drone…

Me: It’s a mobile app that will use vital information about your body, lifestyle and surroundings to calculate the “safe zone” for your body’s hydration level and ensure you drink the right amount of water at right times to stay in that zone.

F2: Wow. Healthy lifestyle, eh? But you know, I really don’t care so much about how much water I drink. I just drink when I’m thirsty. Like now.

He picks up the bottle of water on the table and starts gulping away.

Me: Exactly. Did you know your body absorbs water better if you sip it than gulp it ? Or that if you lose more than just 2% of your body weight through sweat and urine, you could get a bad headache due to dehydration ?

F2: Wow, I had no idea. I just… never thought about it much.

Me: That’s the problem. We rely on thirst, and by the time we respond to it, our body could well be in the dehydration zone. Drinking adequate water is the simplest thing we can do to keep our body healthy, but we don’t know how to do that very well. And, it’s not even one percent as tough as hitting the gym regularly.

F1: Hmm… we don’t seem to value the simple, yet powerful things in life.

Me: Sadly, yes. But it can be changed. We just need help. It’s amazing what having the right tools and awareness can help us achieve. And I believe WaterMum can help us achieve good health through adequate hydration.

F2: Wait, what? WaterMum? Is that the name of your app ?

Me (sheepishly): Yeah, I let that out, didn’t I ? Well, it’s always been our moms who are after our lives to drink enough water, right? Without any intention of trivialising the greatness of motherhood, I wanted to build an application that will take care of our users like how a mother would, caring all the time, and strict at times.

F2: Nice. You’re really deep into this. Are you developing the app yourself?

Me: Thankfully, no. It’d take me ages to build such an app and take it to market. Sunny, a buddy from my Adobe days is writing some awesome code; Sini, whom you guys know as our batch mate from BITS and a technical architect at Cognizant, is working on the hydration calculator algorithm; Jan, a cartoonist by passion and a user experience expert at Cognizant is defining the UX and I’m taking care of the marketing and administrative activities.

F1: Wow. That sounds like a swell team you’ve pulled together from your network. How did you come up with the idea?

Me: Thanks bud. The idea, well… Sini and I have been brainstorming for some time now and have like, 15-20 ideas we want to try out. At one point we said, if we keep doing this, we will never start up. So, we just picked what we thought would be the lowest hanging fruit to execute.

F2 (wistfully): I brainstorm with myself, in my head all the time. But I don’t do anything about it.

Me: Just write it down. Really. Pen and paper. Works wonders.

F2: But I don’t really intend to do anything about them. Why would I write them down?

Me: You don’t need to do anything about it. But just write it down. Like a journal. Trust me on this. You don’t know how it might help, but it will.

F2: hmm…

(Silence for a while as F1 investigates his navel deeply and F2 stares at the water bottle)

F1: How do you get the guts to do something like this, man ? Don’t you have loans ? What did you tell your parents? Wait… Did you tell your parents? What about your wife?

I’m smiling now. This conversation is going exactly how I thought it would. You see, being the average, middle class, well-educated Indian brought up by average, middle class, well-educated parents, you’re expected to behave well, average, middle class and well-educated ! And to quit a high-paying job in a fast growing company when you’ve just turned 30 doesn’t sound any of average, middle class or well-educated !

Here’s to the crazy ones, huh ! And to an awesomely supportive family !

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