An alumnus of IIT Bombay, he had not heard about IIT, till his friends from the 11th standard told him they were preparing for it. An avid rider, he went on a non-stop Bombay to Bangalore road trip to enjoy the company of a friend who was leaving for Germany. But, the adventure nearly cost him his life.
It’s good that he was keen on working on product development, else we might not have known what we call Ideaforge today—the startup that is shaping the drone industry day and night. He is Rahul Singh, one of the co-founders of Ideaforge, and this is his story as told to Mukul Yudhveer Singh.
Naturally inclined towards tinkering and experimenting with new things, it was in the sixth standard that Rahul started working on his first gadget. Essentially a circuit breaker at core, his first gadget was a modest rain alarm. However, he went on to make many more, even complex gadgets during his school days.
“Sciences that were translating into the real world around us interested me the most. As a kid I was an avid audience of the National Geographic and Discovery channels. The programmes that I saw on these channels really shaped my view of the world for me,” explains Rahul.
He recalls spending hours watching shows related to nature, space technologies, cars, etc on these channels and feels that they helped shape his perception of the world around him.
“These channels are the prime reason that I got interested in making gadgets at a very early age. Though I didn’t know the fundamentals of making gadgets back then, trying my hands on them helped me learn from my own mistakes,” explains Rahul.
Recalling the rain alarm that he tried to make in the sixth standard he says, “I was aware of the fact that a successful gadget needs to go through the phases of designing, fabricating, and testing. As there was no rain at that time, I poured water over the gadget in order to create artificial rain and test the gadget.”
In the process of creating artificial rain, he used a steel vessel to pour water and got an electric shock. His attempts to build gadgets often resulted in short-circuiting and switching off of the electricity supply at home. Such experiments made him realise the essence of understanding fundamentals and concepts of science.
“These experiments were hands-on ways that led me to pick science as something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The experiments were why I chose the science stream in 11th and 12th standards,” explains Rahul.
However, a child studying in sixth standard and experimenting with electricity is a sight that no parent would want to see. Afterall, it is the safety and well-being of a child that concerns them the most. While his parents encouraged him to learn more out of his curiosity, he remembers being scolded once in a while for playing with electricity and short-circuiting the electricity connection at home.
“My parents did realise however that the persistent curiosity and the resultant tinkering was a good thing. They gave me the space to continue doing what I was doing,” explains Rahul.
Rahul, who is a mechanical engineering (B. Tech) graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, had no idea what IIT was, or what it even meant till his senior secondary classes. His family, which included his elder brother, came from a business and finance background, and they also did not know much about IIT.
“IIT was not aspirationally driven for me. Till the time I got to 11th standard I didn’t know what IIT was, or what it meant. My family was also not a very science-background family. It was through friends and peers in the school that I was introduced to the concept of preparing for an IIT and it made perfect sense given my curiosity for science and technology,” explains Rahul.
Rahul decided to consult his elder brother on the subject of pursuing IIT. However, as his brother was into commerce and finance, he also had no idea what an IIT was. His brother then used the Internet to find out and asked a lot of people about the relevance of IIT before giving him the go ahead.
“The only question asked by my brother was: Are you sure you want to go for IIT? I said yes and sat for the entrance exams. What helped me crack IIT was Vidya Mandir classes for IIT entrance preparation,” says Rahul.
Though initially unsure if he would get admitted to Vidya Mandir classes, Rahul, upon seeing the result, realised that the institute was probably helping students who had a problem solving approach and not a mugging up books approach. “The institute was less about books and more about the practical problem solving approach,” he says.
Prior to clearing the entrance exam of IIT, one major achievement that Rahul recalls is getting admitted to Delhi Public School (DPS) at R.K. Puram in New Delhi, a dream of almost every student in Delhi.
“DPS R.K. Puram was one school I wanted to get into, and as I scored well in my 10th CBSE exams, I was able to study there. The privilege of studying with a lot of brilliant students was the biggest upside of studying in that school,” says Rahul.
The go-to-person and food
Rahul, even after becoming co-founder of Ideaforge, still goes to his elder brother for guidance. His elder brother has been his mentor, philosopher, and friend throughout his life. Had it not been for his brother’s support, Rahul says, he would not have been able to accomplish what he has done till date.
“I have always had the privilege of being the younger brother. My elder brother taking most of the responsibilities has allowed me to be more risk taking and exploratory,” says Rahul.
Rahul is proud about the great role his elder brother has played in his journey as an entrepreneur. Had he not had the support of his brother, he says, he would not have been able to accomplish what he has done till date.
He adds, “The role of my elder brother has helped me chart out the journey of my life, and not just as a kid. In fact, his presence has helped me put together what we call Ideaforge today. I tell you that it has not been an easy journey, and it helps when your family supports your plans and actions.”
While he enjoys everything his mother cooks, Rahul’s favourite food happens to be something that he probably has created himself. This dessert, made of milk, breadcrumbs, crushed cookies, and mangoes (or any other fruit), which he used to consume while studying, is something he still relishes. This dish closely resembles an English dessert known as Eton Mess. The flip side, however, of the dish is that it’s laden with calories.
“Apart from the simple food that my mom cooked, something that I still crave and enjoy is the dessert I used to make on my own in my school and college days. When I tried the Eton Mess recipe for the first time, it reminded me of the dessert I used to create,” he says. Eton Mess is a classic English dessert made of a mixture of strawberries, meringue and whipped cream.