After graduating from the Business School Abhinav Gaur (Business Studies, 2006) spent fourteen years climbing the ranks at American multinational company, General Electric (GE). It was at this time that he reached a turning point, deciding to ‘burn the ships’ and quit his job to launching into his entrepreneurial journey. Abhinav has recently co-founded the video community platform URfeed and is currently organising Firestarters: A Virtual Festival of Conversation, we spoke to him about how the festival and how his career has developed since graduating.
“A great fit”
Abhinav was drawn to the Business School due to its presence as an exciting upcoming institution with an impressive reputation, describing it as “a great fit” for him. He adds that his years studying at the Business School were memorable and that a large part of his network are also connected to City, University of London one way or another – including one of the speakers at Firestarters. One stand-out memory for Abhinav was participating in the University’s Alumni Telethon as a student fundraiser. Abhinav tells us “for me it was an empowering experience”, speaking to alumni about their experiences as a student gave him a real sense of pride in the University as well as a confidence boost.
“For me it was an empowering experience”
Abhinav’s career began while still at the Business School, through a third-year industrial placement at GE. “That, for me, was massive”, he tells us: having been given a huge opportunity to gain real life skills – from project execution to public speaking. Abhinav explains that this experience encouraged him to begin constantly seeking out opportunities to test and develop his skills. What followed was an impressive career at GE, including several key leadership programmes, promotions and moving between eight different countries. Abhinav found he had “come out of it with the thought process that nothing is ever too hard or impossible”, a vital belief for the challenges of entrepreneurship.
“…nothing is ever too hard or impossible”
However, it wasn’t this success which finally convinced him to live his dream of starting his own company. What finally encouraged him to take the next step was a 40-day Mandala of yogic meditation, the Inner Engineering course. This gave Abhinav the mental clarity and confidence to “burn the ships” and plunge into an entirely new career path. A few months down the line, URfeed was born – a video community platform enabling users to have high quality ‘face to face’ discussions without needing be on hours of video calls. Abhinav explains that what drew him to this concept was the idea of “democratising video conversations” enabling users to have video quality discussion, moving away from more reductive social media comments sections.
“We are giving people access to all those opportunities that had dried up during the past year”
The world needs empathetic communication and understanding now more than ever, and it was this recognition of how people are suffering without our normal avenues of conversation that triggered the idea for Firestarters. “The purpose of Firestarters is to put people in contact with experts and to get tips on how get moving again” – whether that be pitching a business idea for funding, getting tips on starting an online business or even playing someone a song you’ve been working on. But Firestarters isn’t just helping people through encouraging conversation: they will also be fundraising for to two UK charities Rethink Mental Illness and UK Youth. Abhinav tells us that to him it has been clear that young people are one of the groups who have been suffering the most throughout the pandemic and the lockdown and therefore he felt compelled to support them not only through this event but also through fundraising.
“Just getting started is so powerful”
Abhinav shares some encouraging words for other budding entrepreneurs: “things are only impossible until someone else does it, just getting started is so powerful.” He goes on to add that you should always ask for help whenever you can – “people are more willing to help than you might realise”.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Abhinav.
Find out more about the Firestarters festival.