Did this title get you wondering if I might have found love at one of the Startup Saturday events? Sorry to disappoint, but no. I found my sweetheart and partner 16 years ago and have been married for 12 years now. In these 12 years, we have gone through a journey of endurance, excitement and some very testing times. What does all this have to do with Headstart? Before I get to that part, let me start from the beginning of our story.

I am an extrovert and always thrived on meeting people, establishing contact and being present at social gatherings. I was also a singer, active in theatre, students union and so on. I met my spouse at a group discussion exercise during my postgraduation studies. She was quite an introvert. We were complete opposites, but my talent in singing and outgoing nature won the heart of the lady I share my life with. When we were together, my lively nature eased her into opening up and expressing more, bringing out the best in her. While we studied the same professional program, she changed her career to become an early childhood education specialist.

Over the years, there came a period when she entered preliminary stages of depression. By that time, I wasn’t as much an extrovert as I used to be. I wasn’t socializing or engaging in my old hobbies that would have helped in keeping my sanity and personality intact. I stopped being the person I was, the person that was the life and soul of any gathering, the person who was easy to connect with. While I thought I was supporting my wife through that tough period, I was just making it harder and unpleasant for her. There was nothing new and life started getting mundane, boring and transactional.

Adding to the personal issues, the entrepreneurial bug had been biting me so hard for the last 18 years, that I have failed 9 times trying various stunts. No, they were not stints, definitely stunts. After that, I began searching for an entrepreneurship community that was open and supportive. The effort was largely in vain as far as Chennai was concerned. Around that time Bangalore was rocking with various events and activities for the startup ecosystem, which I could relate to. The search landed me on a Facebook page of Headstart Network Foundation. Attending the Startup Saturday in Bangalore has changed my life significantly. I connected with a few headstarters to gather more details. They told me that Chennai had a chapter, but was defunct. I shared my interest in being part of the team restarting Chennai. Soon after, I received an invitation for a meetup in Chennai with like minded entrepreneurship enthusiasts. We discussed on how to breathe life into the Chennai chapter. It started there on that day. Fast forwarding 6 months, we successfully rebooted the chapter and built an exceptional team, which I believe has as much engagement as it would, if it was a Startup.

So, how is all this connected? Hold on, I am getting there.

Being a part of Headstart, gave me a second opportunity at being myself. I started being more active, meeting people, nurturing relationships, building a team thus bring back that very person who won my lady’s heart. Seeing me as my old self, at my very best, makes her happy and she derives strength from me. My active engagement with Headstart, brought back the young and passionate version of us, and helped us in becoming the pillars of support and understanding for each other, as we tread ahead in our beautiful journey together.

All relationships call for involvement. If it is participation, then it tends to be dysfunctional. Re-engaging and being involved in social activities brought out the best in me and revived our relationship. Being in the right state of mind creates wonders. Headstart helped me in doing just that.

Vive La Headstarters!

Written by: Jim Tharakan

Edited by: Monica Movva