Pursuit of Happiness

Taking Off On The Right Foot

Hailing from Amarkantak, a town nestled amid mountains in Madhya Pradesh, love for activities like mountain climbing, paragliding and bouldering came naturally to Abhimanyu Saxena, co-founder of edtech start-up Scaler

When IIT Hyderabad graduates Abhimanyu Saxena and his friend Anshuman Singh quit their jobs to launch Scaler, the first thing they did was to go on a week-long hike to Himachal Pradesh—a toast to new beginnings, as Saxena agrees to call it.   

Saxena spent childhood in Amarkantak, then a sparsely populated town surrounded by a forest and mountains on the banks of River Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. He owes his love for adventure activities like mountain climbing, bouldering and trekking to his early years. Years later, as a college student, he would set off with his friends—founders of the Hyderabad Adventure Club—for treks or trails every weekend. The group covered the seven hills of Tirumala in four days. They also trekked near Dudhsagar waterfalls in Goa, much before “it became famous after Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express”. The place is beautiful, but one needs to take precautions to avoid leeches all over one’s legs, he warns.  

While there are several anecdotes from his adventure sports, Saxena also learnt some important life lessons on the sidelines. One such lesson came from paragliding. “Before every launch, prepare yourself. Think through your next move and do a committed launch. If you are confused or not clear, abort the launch. Run through the checklist again and then decide,” says Saxena, recalling the cautionary words of his paragliding instructor. This holds true for everything else, even businesses, he adds. On a lighter note, he points out that a mistake with a business launch can lead to loss of money but can cost a life in paragliding.

As an entrepreneur himself, he finds the focus of many young entrepreneurs misplaced. “The most common reason why many of the start-ups die is because they fall in love with a solution so much that they keep making that. Ultimately, if you are trying to solve a real problem on the ground, it is bound to work because there are people who need it,” he remarks. 

Saxena finds wood carving, an art he picked up with the help of YouTube tutorials, therapeutic, though he does not find much time for it because of his busy schedule now. His love for design is not new. If not an engineer, he would have been an architect, Saxena says. He had studied architecture for a year before deciding to pursue computer science in college. In fact, convincing his parents for the shift was something he rates as one of the most challenging moments in his life. “It was a huge act of rebellion, even though it sounds trivial today,” he says with a laugh.  

Life keeps throwing challenges at us, he remarks as he moves on to talking about tough times in his life, like the diagnosis of his father’s cancer. “It happened just months after the launch of Scaler. In such moments, you may question why things happen to you, but you build a much stronger character after going past these challenges,” he says.  

For Saxena, happiness comes from contentment and from knowing that he has made a meaningful impact in someone’s life. “What matters is what people you have known for a long time think about you, what value you are creating for others. Happiness is not about outcomes, but about being content,” he says.