Sunday, March 19, 2006

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The Financial Express

In Person


Endurance sports prepare me better for the business world: Bhavik Gandhi
IT should be history in the making. Bhavik Gandhi is about to start rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The 23-ft boat will have no sails, no motor and no support ships. If he succeeds, he will be the first Indian and Asian to do it.

So far there have been only 22 people who have done it. It should take him 90 days to row 3,000 nautical miles (5,000 km) from La Gomera in Spain to Antigua in Barbados, braving gale force winds, sharks and ships.

Stockholm-based Gandhi, the founder and principal partner of Development Venture Capital Group, which specialises in micro-venture capital for social entrepreneurs, is not new to adventure sports. He has done distance running, mountaineering, sailing, trekking through lake Baikal in Siberia in winter and cycling through nine countries in Europe. Rajiv Tikoo conducted an email interview with him a few days before his departure. Excerpts:

Why do you want to do it?

Ocean rowing is a sport where even the known risks are unpredictable. It is the ultimate endurance sport and test of mental and physical endurance that pushes the boundaries of what is possible. However, what makes me lean towards it is that the oceans are one of the few last frontiers left to be explored by man. The magnitude of this challenge attracted me, rather than rowing.

You seem to be particularly fond of unusual sports. Why is it so?

There are so many opportunities out there, I feel that taking on such challenges would inspire other people to take on other ideas that they have had and that they thought were crazy and prove that, with a little planning and perseverance, it can become a reality.

Isn't it frightening?

It is frightening only if you think of it that way. I have been preparing for this for a long time now and have a very good team to help me. Rune Larsson, one of the world's greatest endurance athletes and the first Swede to row across the Atlantic, is helping me. But, even the known risks are unpredictable and there is no way anyone can be fully prepared for such a challenge.

How did your family react when they heard about your new expedition?

Nothing in life will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. I do value their opinions and support. Either way, the decision is mine.

How much money is it going to cost you?

It’ll cost me 100,000 euros.

How can you take so much time off from your work?

I make the time because it's important to me what I will talk about 20 years from now.

How do such experiences help you in your business?

I love such challenges. Undertaking such challenges has made me better prepared for the business world and challenges faced in everyday life. After all, once you have faced a 150-mile walk in -30°C temperature you are more confident than ever before to take on whatever else life throws at you. Herein lies the incredible power of testing yourself against the unknown. It's a brilliant school for sports, personal growth and entrepreneurship.

How will you stay connected?

I will carry laptops, PDA, satellite phone, GPS, Argos tracking system and a Seeme so that I appear on the radars of other big boats.


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