Journey with Jagah

Jagah • Published on October 13, 2023

“Complex systems are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors.” — Nassim Taleb.

When we started shaping Jagah, we didn’t have any destinations. We weren’t chasing any answers. The idea has been to seek experiences, curate them, and create a space so the community can heal each other and evolve.

As we talk to you with this email, the three foundational building blocks of Jagah are in place. First, we used narrative to engage deeper with the community, which triggered a space to discuss the emotional and mental well-being of the entrepreneurs.

Secondly, a mindful retreat with a cohort of entrepreneurs in November has opened our minds and bodies to a world where we are more aware of how to navigate the journey of entrepreneurship.

And finally, we have started on a deep, original research project with a team of experts and different entrepreneurial communities. The mission is to start listening deeper to all the noise and the signals. This exercise will become a launchpad for Jagah’s future activities.

As we travel more and shape Jagah’s mission, we believe the community can help fund and shape the future. If you want to engage deeper or contribute in any way, please write back to us

“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. This property is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation, cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance … even our own existence as a species on this planet.”

— Nassim Taleb

Read on to learn more about how Jagah is shaping, one building block at a time.

A November to remember….

Jagah Chapter#1

On November 10th, we joined eight founders inside the offices of Capillary in HSR Layout. What started earlier in the month as a deep narrative about mental and emotional battles faced by Sunny Ghosh, an entrepreneur, led us to the meetup.

Fieldnotes from the meetup

Date: 10 November 2022

Group of eight founders in an informal group setting.

The context was set by Avinash and Pankaj, asking the group to talk about their mental health journeys as start-up founders. No recordings were made.

Below are excerpts from the conversation.

Responses to the first round of sharing:

  • I feel emotionally drained when I come home.
  • What is my identity if I am not a founder?
  • I found it difficult to distance myself from the identity of a founder and engage with others
  • A large part of my life is dealing with the expectations of others
  • Tough to find someone to talk to who’ll understand my status
  • Letting go and accepting failure is difficult
  • Couldn’t detach myself from the start-up
  • A life partner matters
  • I am not the company, and the company is not more
  • Medication helps when you have a support group
  • Physical health issues made me tip over and understand that I need a mental health break
  • How do you communicate how you feel with your family?
  • There’s entrepreneurship, and then there’s the environment

What does help look like to you?

  • A space to fail
  • A place to share our insecurities without fear of judgement
  • Keep the support system outside the start-up world close to you
  • Normalise the conversation around mental health

Jagah Chapter#2

Later in November, we spent a few days with another cohort of entrepreneurs. This time, Jagah found a soulful retreat in KshemaVana on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Capillary founder Aneesh Reddy and Sameer Guglani of Morpheus joined around a dozen founders at the retreat.

Here’s a snapshot of what happened at Jagah’s first Mindful Retreat for founders over the weekend on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Aneesh Reddy of Capillary, Sameer Guglani of Supermorpheus, and Kshitij Bhotika of Practo got 25 startup founders to journey into themselves with techniques like remaining silent to hear and redirect thoughts within. For many of the founders, it felt like a doorway to a “whole dimension to life”, as Krupesh Bhat of Signdesk put it.

The digital detox everyone had to acquiesce to by surrendering their cellphones and all internet-enabled devices right at the beginning was a new experience for the majority — a rebellion against the constant demands of life.

How does your company survive without you being available 24/7 at the end of a phone or a computer? All the fire that needed fighting, the bank OTPs that would come to your inbox and not to your co-founder’s, decisions that you alone could take … Instead, you woke up well before dawn for yoga with an exceptional teacher — Shubham Deshmukh. Some, like Subbu Rao of DiscoverDollar, rediscovered old muscle memories of practising yoga in childhood. But for some others, despite being regular with sports, they groaned at how their bodies fought tooth and nail against a simple stretch.

The low-salt zero-sugar food sans oil or grains was another jolt. But eating that mindfully, in silence, gave the body food for thought. Surrendering to yoga Nidra and the tantalising depth of sound meditation was pure bliss. The guides — Aneesh and Sameer — introduced techniques of self-observation [to find the observer within] and self-enquiry [Ramana Maharshi’s “Who am I” question] and asked all to stay silent for 12–18 hours.

“This is probably the longest time I have been silent since I learnt to talk! I smelt the flowers!” Paras Garg of Zoconut, remarked the next day. Two days may seem too short a time for transformation, but research suggests even a mindful break of that duration from our daily hustle can rewire the brain.

If you want to engage deeper or contribute in any way, please write back to us

We are grateful to the founder community for helping us engage and learn about entrepreneurship. We are also thankful to Pavitra Jayaraman for being an observer and mentor in shaping our understanding of mental and emotional well being.

Written by Jagah