Students Corner: Interview with Abhishek Vaid, EPGP 2016

A story of an IIMB alumnus who learnt to unlearn and travelled to Untravel!

With innumerable OTT platforms around, there is no lack of video content and travel vlogs. However, we still struggle to find an excellent theme-based story travel series. 

Untravel Media, based out of Gurugram, is one of those production houses that provide theme-based story travel content to TV networks and OTT platforms, including Zee5, EpicON, and ShortsTV. The production house is founded by Mr Abhishek Vaid in early 2019, an Alumnus of IIM Bangalore, EPGP 2016. 

To know more about his journey and to understand what made him explore the space of theme-based story-driven travel content, leaving a leadership position at Airtel, we had a small conversation with Mr. Abhishek. Here are few insights from the discussion:

1) Could you tell us a little more about yourself and your journey into IIM Bangalore?

I was born and brought up in Faridabad, Haryana, in a middle-income-based family. Although I planned to pursue Hotel Management, my journey was destined to engineering, typical for Indian students with Science as majors in high school. I graduated from NIT Surat in 2007 with Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering and worked with multiple companies, including IBM, Huawei, and HCL. However, I eventually lost interest in those engineering roles and decided to pursue an MBA and got into the EPGP program at IIM Bangalore in 2015. 

2) How was your life at IIM Bangalore? Would you like to share a few experiences? 

The one year at IIM Bangalore was terrific though the program was tightly packed, leaving little time to get replenished in between. I miss the iconic campus architecture and also the time I spent among those stone walls. Sometimes, I wondered why I decided to pursue an MBA, especially in the initial two terms when we had to study Finance courses. :p 

3) I think that Untravel Media is a very unique concept, producing content that really captures the essence of a place, allowing viewers to get lost in the travel. What inspired you to start such a startup? Could you share your journey from IIM Bangalore to Untravel Media?

Upon graduation from IIM Bangalore, I joined Airtel in a leadership position for Strategic Projects – Digital Customer Experience. The job was good, but I had always had plans to travel at the back of my mind, making me avail a sabbatical and eventually leave the company. I went on this multi-destination trip in Europe and made a few videos while helping the locals with cooking which were shot entirely on One Plus 6. This was when I realized it is important to have story-based content than travel vlogs or pictures. After I returned, I hired a wedding photographer and started travelling to the mountains. This was the beginning of what we call ‘Untravel Media’ now. To be honest, it was not a blockbuster in the beginning, but we have shown perseverance which put us in a decent position. I believe there’s a long way for us to go and hope we continue to grow.

4) What does your typical day look like at Untravel Media?  

Contrary to many people’s notions, I do not spend all my time in glamorous travelling! Every quarter, I spend only 2-3 weeks in travelling and spend the remaining weeks in my office: working on new ideas, scripts, talking to video editors and directors, and bringing in sponsors. On such days, I typically wake up by 7 am and start working by 9:30-10:00. However, the travelling days are quite hectic as the team & I usually wake up by 5:30 am and often stay up very late in the night, making arrangements for the next day’s shoot. It is a lot of hard work and dedication, but I enjoy it immensely. 

5) What have your biggest learnings been throughout your journey? What are the things that surprised you over the last couple of years?

Shed your prejudices! One of the biggest learnings from my journey is to go everywhere with an open mind, whether it is to a workplace, company, city, country, anywhere. I realized that when you go with an open mind, you see new opportunities even in places where there seems to be none. On the other hand, when you have a closed mind, you lose out on some of the most innovative opportunities and ideas, which could mean all the difference between success and mediocrity, or even failure.

What surprised me the most was that things always seemed to sort themselves out on their own over time. Everything happens for a reason: something that seemed like a bad thing a couple of years ago can actually turn out to be a boon in the future. With the right attitude, everything works out in the end.

6) Finally, what advice would you like to give to the current students and alumni of IIMB?

Have the right attitude; attitude means everything. It is an overused piece of advice, but for a good reason! The right attitude is the first step towards succeeding in any task you take up. Without that, no matter how highly skilled, you may not be successful. But with the right attitude and outlook on things, you can achieve what you want even if you don’t have all the necessary skills.

And finally, learn to unlearn and travel to Untravel!