Anant graduated from National Law University Odisha in 2016. He has gained business certifications from Harvard Business School. Throughout his 5 years of law school, Anant remained an active mooter with a considerable number of achievements to his name. Having conducted over 50 webinars in 2020 alone, his vision is to reach all in need of expert mooting education. The venture’s goal is to create easy access to the education required for becoming proficient in the field of law. It is currently one of the fastest-growing ed-tech platforms for law students with a base in over 200 law schools.
Anant practiced law at one of India’s largest law firms for 2 years before realizing that entrepreneurship is better-suited to his interests and skills. He founded 2 startups – Memo Pundits, the ed-tech startup, and Infinite Detours, a high-end trekking startup for travellers across the world.
Q. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your life before law school?
Thank you so much! Currently, I’m the CEO and Co-founder of Memo Pundits, and also head of a trekking startup called Infinite Detours. I worked with the Banking and Finance team of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., Delhi for two years before becoming a full-time entrepreneur.
I’ve been passionate about mooting since my 1st year of law school. A friend and I started Memo Pundits in our third year, an educational start-up based on solving mooting-related problems. I quit my corporate life to resume working for Memo Pundits.
Today it is India’s biggest, oldest, and most trusted mooting school with an alumni base of 6000+ spread across 200+ law schools.
In addition to this, I am a classically trained pianist, an athlete in callisthenics, and a mountaineer with the experience of climbing high-altitude peaks in India and the USA.
Q. Could you tell us about your experience as a lawyer? What was your inspiration behind choosing law? What was your law school experience like?
Sadly, I don’t have a compelling story as to why I picked law. To be brutally honest, I chose law simply because I wanted to avoid engineering, medicine, and chartered accountancy. No one else in my family is a lawyer or is related to the legal profession in any way.
My law school experience was filled with everything which a college student can think of: I was good in academics because I figured out what the teachers wanted in the exam answers. I was good at mooting even though I had never touched public speaking before – I just gradually became better and better with a lot of hard work. I wrote several research papers in national and international journals. I interned at happening places. I was the head of the placement and internship committee. I got a PPO in my fourth year. In fact, that was the first-ever PPO from my college in Amarchand Mangaldas. I founded two startups – Memo Pundits and The Legal Bug (not in existence now). I also partied a lot. And I made friends for life.
Q. What was your motivation behind setting up Memo Pundits? During your time in law school, did it occur to you at any point that you wanted to take up gearing and mentoring students for moots as a career choice?
With Rachnendra Tripathi, I co-founded Memo Pundits in 2014, when we were both in our 3rd year of law school. NLUO was on a fantastic streak of winning Best Memorial awards one after another during that time. Personally, Rachnendra and I were involved in helping about 10 moot teams win such awards at even coveted moot court competitions such as Jessup (National rounds). We found that not only does winning a citation at a moot court come at the cost of working hard on your content; it also includes combining a few realistic tricks and strategies.
We recognized the crucial demand for a prospective business and were ready to test it out. During the 3rd year of law school, we ran our first initiative of a 4-day workshop on Drafting, Editing, and Formatting of Moot Court Memorials and invited students of our college. We targeted 20-30 registrations but were pleasantly surprised after more than 120 students (including our seniors) registered within 24-hours. We received amazing feedback on our style of approach, for being the opposite of boring college lectures, and it was exactly what we aimed for. We trained more than 300 students by the end of our 5th year.
We understood how our product was adding value to the law students’ lives, which we consider the guiding light for us to date. Memo Pundits stayed inactive for a solid 2 years after Rachnendra and I started working post-college. I was thinking of restarting the Memo Pundits engine at a point when I was hoping to quit my job at SAM. We marketed the course this time around, gave it a professional appearance, and began promoting the concept of delivering the course in different colleges across India. Colleges began to respond positively to the program. We also recently launched numerous online mooting courses, which are available at reasonable pricing on www.memopundits.com
Q. When did you realize your calling for trekking as an activity? How did the transition flow from a law firm job to an entrepreneurial venture such as Infinite Detours which specializes in curating memorable trekking experiences for clients?
I once travelled to this village near McLeodGanj, called Dharamkot, before I left my work. Since I was entranced by the beauty of the place, I shared multiple stories and posts on it on Instagram. I remember receiving a text that said: “If you don’t stop spamming my feed, I will block you.” (a faint friendly tone was attached to it). This way I started an Instagram travel account called “Infinite Detours”. Because that is also the meaning of my name, I always felt connected to the word ‘infinite.’ The second word,’ detours,’ was based on the idea of doing something different in life, i.e. to take a detour. I kept that account active and soon it started growing at such a pace that by the time I left my job in February of 2018, the account had reached 3,000 followers.
My childhood friend Ratish and I started organizing curated treks to the Himalayas a month before I left my job. With Instagram’s sole power, we were able to finish 10 treks in India and Bhutan within 6 months and serve 100 customers from India, the USA, France, Israel, Kuwait, Canada, etc. We have since expanded to Sahyadris, gathering a community of 20,000 people through Instagram.
My love for trekking comes from my love to take on challenges that seem hard and difficult to conquer. All the things I do in my life have this emotion attached to them – if you think I cannot do something, I will do it and ace it like anything. Trekking serves as a very good platform to test out my ability to face tough situations hence situations and hence I love doing it for the love of the challenge!
Q. What is it like to balance two vastly different startups at the same time? What are some of the challenges you face in striking this balance and how did you overcome those struggles?
So, the first thing I would say is that running two start-ups simultaneously could be compared to having a full-time job with a side gig when it comes to prioritizing time, effort, and everything else. It is not always a very conscious decision, one start-up always takes priority, and it is better to stick to that decision. Never mix-up your focus, resources, money, or people between both the start-ups. It is important to be prepared for working hard, fast, and consistently to stay alert and vigilant.
To date, I have not faced any major issues while managing both companies. According to me, the second startup should be utilized to turn something satisfying into something rewarding, which is trekking for me. It is important to make that choice with honesty, frankness, and clarity with oneself. Here, the focus should be on gaining satisfaction and fulfillment rather than money and capital. For me, it is mostly a beautiful distraction that lets me relax a little.
The major advantage of operating two majorly different start-ups is the opportunity of being creative and changing my perspective about how various establishments work. It lets my brain switch gears and keeps monotony at bay. But I would also like to mention that it is not for everybody and you do not have to do it if it is not personally rewarding enough. It is simply because everyone is different with their unique wishes and aspirations, and there is no need to forcefully do something just because the other person enjoys doing it.
Q. In setting up and running both your entrepreneurial ventures, did having a good knowledge of the law help in any way? Were there any unexpected skills you took from a law school that you implement in your daily life as an entrepreneur juggling between two startups?
I believe law and legal regulations are very much intertwined with entrepreneurship, but unfortunately, this aspect is not discussed enough. Lawyers these days are getting involved in entrepreneurship in large numbers and that too for good reasons. Both professions require similar attributes like critical thinking, hard work, observation skills, perseverance, a positive attitude that follows a practical approach. Legal knowledge comes in handy during facing immense competition too.
There are various factors for determining the success of a lawyer as an entrepreneur. Rational and analytical thinking are crucial among them. Law students develop these skills by using constructive methodology while researching for their academics, internships, and co-curricular activities. For them, market research appears less daunting. These activities also help them in building communication skills, leadership qualities, and teach them to be great team members, equipped and prepared to put in the collective effort. Law students are also great at problem-solving and conflict resolution as they are being trained solely for that reason.
Personally, what helped me the most to build two start-ups was the confidence and positive attitude I gained as a law student. If we lack confidence in ourselves then it will be even more difficult and challenging to convince people about giving our products or services a try. Hence, we need to believe in ourselves and keep a positive approach to our ideas, decisions, career, and life in general.
Q. What were some things that you factored in while making such an important and unconventional career decision?
To answer this question, I need to go down memory lane to the days I got the job in Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., Delhi. When I was still new to the corporate world and had been working for nearly three months or so, I remember feeling financially invincible through and through. Coming from a middle-class family elevated this feeling substantially. It felt like I could buy whatever I want from wherever I want, go to expensive dinners and bars, and spend exorbitant amounts of money on absolutely anything.
But soon reality started sinking in and I realized where exactly I had gotten myself into. Spending 6-7 days a week working from 10 AM to 2 AM became my new normal, with exceptional days when I got free at 11 PM. I realized the unsustainable character of my job and how it was draining me out. Even though some people kept saying how things get better with seniority, I got even more discouraged after seeing the amount of responsibility and stress they handle. This forced me to self-reflect and come to a decision, an extremely hard one.
So, I asked myself a few questions about my needs and aspirations to aid the process and came to a few conclusions. I realized that spending time with friends and family, creative pursuits, travelling, and relaxing over a truly free weekend brings me happiness, peace, and contentment. Working for 12 hours a day for the next 30 years was an impossible feat for me. This convinced me to be brave enough and step out of the norm to do something that will be good for me. Therefore, I decided to quit my job at the tier-1 law firm to pursue my start-up goals. I began making business plans for my two start-ups, Memo Pundits and Infinite Detours, three months before I quit my work. I began networking with individuals, defining my client base, their desires, financial sustainability, and providing a valuable product. Now, I cannot be happier about prioritizing my own beliefs and being brave enough to follow through with them.
Q. What are your thoughts on choosing a career path based on passion and interest? Most of our readers would be hesitant to do so after spending 5 years at law school. What advice do you have for those that want to do something different and not get caught up in the corporate or litigation race?
I think my story above says enough about my own beliefs regarding following one’s passion and interest and building a career around it. That, according to me, is completely crucial to stay happy and satisfied with oneself. This needs to be accompanied by the ability to execute business ideas and have the attitude to take risks with an untamed hunger for success.
But the bitter truth is that about 50% of the crowd occasionally thinks about potential business ideas. Then 40% have the will to move out of their comfort zone. 30% of them brainstorm it with the right people and see a future in running a successful business. 20% take the risk to execute the idea. 10% don’t quit even when they don’t encounter quick success. 5% are successful. If after reading this you think that the journey from 50% to 5% is, however tough it may be, worth taking the risk.
I can assure you that my path to entrepreneurship was not easy too. Before co-founding Memo Pundits in 2014, I tried my hands-on start-up for the start-up the first time in 2012. But during then, I was not ready to take the risk of giving it my all. The failure seemed daunting. But I am thankful for that experience as I truly learned a lot from it. Therefore, there is only one thing you can do at this point– just get started.
Q. Do you have any tips or parting messages for our readers?
I never did public speaking during my school days in any event, which made me very shy about speaking and wanted to avoid it in front of my classmates too. Because of this reason, I did not moot in my first year of law school. In my second year, I wanted to overcome this fear and so participated in the intra-university moot court competition. I did not even make the top 10, let alone win. But the experience helped me in my next moot court competition. I could feel the improvement happening. I became the Best Speaker in my second moot court competition. From that point on, I took part and did better and better and, in the process, fell in love with it. The qualities I developed continue to support me in different facets of life.
The only way to conquer something is through hard work (and a little bit of luck). Luck will always be out of your control but hard work, with enough discipline and dedication, can turn your life around and make you the superstar of your dreams!
Find out more about Anant Gupta –
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anantgupta93/?originalSubdomain=in
- Websites: https://www.memopundits.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/infinitedetours/
Disclaimer – All views and opinions expressed in this interview are personal and belong solely to the interviewee(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the LAABh Foundation or the individuals and institutions associated with LAABh Foundation.