225 / September 8, 2023

Teenage Crorepati Ishan Sharma: Aman Dhattarwal’s Influence, Jealousy Among Peers, & Youtube Money

35 minutes

225 / September 8, 2023

Teenage Crorepati Ishan Sharma: Aman Dhattarwal’s Influence, Jealousy Among Peers, & Youtube Money

35 minutes
Listen on

About the Episode

Welcome Back Neon Tribe!

This week’s episode is a MUST WATCH for India’s youth because we delve deeply into the insights and learnings gathered by one of India’s youngest crorepatis as we welcome Ishan Sharma, co-founder of MarkitUp, to the Neon Show!

Ever wondered what the life of a content creator actually looks like? Well… This episode reveals everything!

What Is The Biggest Difference Between India’s Youth & The Youth Abroad?

How Much Has Timing Played A Role In Ishan’s Success?

Will We See More Indians Dropout Of College In The Near Future?

Who Are The Top 5 Indian Leaders Ishan Is Inspired By?

All these captivating topics and more in this VIBRANT conversation. From being a BITS Pilani dropout to crossing 1 million subscribers on YouTube at the age of 22… Ishan Sharma’s story is an inspiration to all Indians that an unconventional path in life does not mean a wrong one. Tune in NOW!

So my first trip was in Thailand, Bangkok. So I came to the IGI airport Delhi, right? (chuckles) So over there I showed my ticket to the guy security check officer, and he’s looking at the destination and then looking at me again and again! I’m like this is my first time going so how would I know what happens there! (SPEAKING HINDI) People call me like a COVID creator, like, which sounds weird. But basically I started when everyone was consuming a lot of content. The circumstances have played a huge role. Yes, I’ve been lucky. I worked every single day in the first semester when people were going out to the beach, which was five minutes away from my college. They were watching movies all the time. They were having parties all the time while I was head down, working. I don’t say that I am superior than them but I’m just saying that is what got me here. So I was like, you know, Unacademy, I don’t want to get paid. I’m so sorry. I will have to unlist this video and that was like one of the lowest points of my whole experience.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:55

Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia, and welcome to the Neon Show! We had the privilege of hosting today’s guest just a year ago. Back then, our guest was starting to make a name for himself on the YouTube space. Today he has gone past a 1 million subscriber milestone on the platform. A journey from BITS Pilani to one of India’s top creators by the age of just 20. This is the story of Ishan Sharma, co-founder of MarkitUp up. I would also like to thank our sponsors Prime Venture Partners for sponsoring the Neon show. Hope you enjoy it.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:31

Hey, Ishan! Welcome back to the Neon Show. We recorded almost like eight months, nine months back at your house last time.


Ishan Sharma 01:38

It was an amazing experience. Thank you so much for inviting me.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:40

It was such a pleasure, right? And both of our lives have changed quite a bit. You see all the setup, right? We have upgraded. All thanks to —


Ishan Sharma 01:49

Absolutely incredible—

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:50

Nansi, and your life has changed also a lot, right? You’re a celebrated author now I would say (chuckles). So how is this like new life looking like?


Ishan Sharma 02:02

Nothing. I think it’s just— So I got a new house near the airport in Bangalore. So now I’m able to bring my co-founder of my company, and I’m able to bring all of the people that I’m hiring in the same place to work together. So I think that is one major change. Last time I was with my parents. So now I’m able to properly focus on my work without any distractions and just go all in. So that is one thing. Secondly, I’ve been travelling a bit more because I want to like shoot interesting stories of people. So for example, this month starting I went to Delhi to shoot a podcast with Shradha Khapra, right? So she runs this channel called as Apna College, which is the second highest viewed channel in the coding category in India.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 02:42

After Aman Dhattarwal?


Ishan Sharma 02:44

No, so she is doing it with Aman Dhattarwal, right, the YouTube thing. So she recently got married to him so I was like, let me shoot a video about you know, how has her life changed? So that video went viral on on my channel. It got tons of views and applaud. So I think that is what ‘How has life changed?’.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 03:01

So you know, you’re travelling more to shoot?


Ishan Sharma 03:03



Siddhartha Ahluwalia 03:04

That is one thing and you must be busy in the book promotions also.


Ishan Sharma 03:07

Absolutely. So that is what right. I made a vlog in which I was surprising my co-author who is Kushal Lodha. So I took a flight from Bangalore to Mumbai. Early morning flight. I came to his house and I surprised him with the book. And then we made the whole vlog for the whole day. So that was the thing. But yeah, I’ve been super excited about the book for everyone to read it. Last night, I came on a new’s channel for the first time in my life, talking about the book. So it’s very exciting.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 03:31

All the best for that. So tell us right? You have lived such a long life in a short span of time, especially after quitting your college (chuckles). So what’s your biggest achievement so far?


Ishan Sharma 03:43

I think my biggest achievement are not the numbers, right? It’s not really the money. What I really, you know, get the high off is when I go to any event or any college seminar, and a student reaches out to me and says that, you know, “Bhaiya I saw your video and I executed on what you told, and I got my first job of my life or I got my first freelance client, or I paid my own college fees, or I got my first laptop.” (SPEAKING HINDI). So all of these things is what inspires me to keep on going, right? So it’s always that.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 04:13

10 years ago, I don’t think a Ishan Sharma would have existed, right? Content Creation was frowned upon just 10 years ago, right? It was only the news anchor channels who were creating content. And now there’s such a huge wave, right? How do you think like timing has played a role in your success?


Ishan Sharma 04:31

I think like people call me like a COVID creator which sounds weird. But basically I started when everyone was consuming a lot of content and I came back from my college. I had all the time in the world to record more videos to upskill myself and that’s what I did, right? So I think if it would have not been for the pandemic I would not have gone all in for for YouTube because I just did not have the time when I was in college. So I think like the circumstances have played a huge role. Yes, I’ve been lucky. 10 years ago, I think, obviously, they were no real influencers, at least in India. This term has recently come up. I think they still don’t get what they deserve it in terms of the hard work that creators put in. In terms of reinventing yourself every single year. It’s really hard. Like, if you listen to some of the things that Tanmay Bhatt says, and how he has rebranded himself over the past five, six years, it is really incredible.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 05:31

But I think let’s say, what is the thing that they’re not getting? You said they deserve more.


Ishan Sharma 05:37

I see so many comments on my own videos, and on other creators’ videos, right that “He/she just spends all their time of the day making reels.” For someone who create entertainment content, right? They’ll be like “The whole time they’re just dancing and by doing this they make a lot of money.”. So I think there’s a bit of jealousy in place, because like, on one hand, you have to go to a typical office like work 10 hours, 12 hours. Listen to your boss, and then you’ll end up making some money, and then there’s someone dancing on the camera, and they end up making a lot more compared to anyone else—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 06:11

Let’s say they make what in a month they would make, they will make to any normal job.


Ishan Sharma 06:15

Exactly. But that is a very small percentage, right? Like any content creator, for them to be making that much money, they have to be in the top 1% most engaging creators out there, right? And that is a very tough thing to get to right and—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 06:30

Just hold on to your thought there. You said they have to be the top 1% engaging most creator. You didn’t mention the highest number of subscribers. Highest number of let’s say views. So what do you mean by that engagement? Is that your audience feel connected to you? Or—


Ishan Sharma 06:48

I think it’s one thing to keep stacking subscribers and views and all of that. There’s a very good example of this channel. I will not take the name, but they have like 10-20 million subscribers, and they get very few views, right? And the audience is just not as engaged as compared to someone who does not have like 10s of millions of subscribers. Maybe in the hundreds or 1000s but people have this thing, even this is like the person to follow for this particular category, right? So I think a lot of brands, and other creators are also realizing this that it’s not exactly about the number of subscribers that you have. It’s more about the active subscribers and the true fans that you have, right? There’s a term of 1000 true fans. So if you have those 1000 true fans, who will buy whatever you’re releasing. Who will follow whatever you’re teaching, then that’s it. You don’t need any anyone else.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 07:40

And you would consider yourself top 1% in what category? Let’s say if you have to label that category.


Ishan Sharma 07:44

(laughing) I think it will be too boastful for me to say anything like that—,


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 07:51

Let’s be honest right?


Ishan Sharma 07:52

I have been making videos around careers and upskilling on my channel. So I think it’s mostly that. So if you were to search freelancing on YouTube, right? You will see my video in the top three. So I think I’m really someone who’s trying to talk about skills, and how can you make a living doing what you love? And that’s what has been the mission for the past three years for me.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 08:10

Tell us how do you engage with your audience on YouTube, and LinkedIn?


Ishan Sharma 08:14

I wish I was doing better at it. Like two years ago, I used to do live streams all the time, like every Sunday was like a live stream with my audience. I used to reply to all of them. I used to talk to all of them. But now that has transitioned into me going for college events, right? So I would go for college events. I would meet 1000s of students. I would talk to them. Interact with them. And I wanted to sort of move away from this live stream format to actually go and meet people in the real world because, like live stream, okay, I once did a live stream in which I was talking about how Bitcoin has crashed at that time, right? Over a 1000 people were on that live stream and I just could not read all the comments. (hand motions signalling speed) They were just going like this, right? So you would just not be able to comprehend what they’re trying to say versus when you go to a college. When you meet them in person. When you talk to individual, each of them. It’s a very exhausting experience but at the same time, you get to understand what is the ground reality of my audience, right, which is mostly college students or recent graduates like what are they going through in their college experience. There’s a lot of FOMO. They don’t know what their future is going to be. They don’t know where they’re going to work. And so they have these questions that they need answers of, right? So I just get to interact with them. In fact, whenever I travel, right… So recently, I came to Delhi for a YouTube event. YouTube invited me there. I came one day before so I was like, let me meet someone today in the evening. So I just randomly messaged some follower who was like messaging me all the time. I was like, Hey you’re in Delhi. Come lets meet. So that person was like, ‘Why did you agree to meet me? Like, what have I done?’ I was like nothing. I just want to talk to you like, what do you really do? What are you struggling with? Like, what is your journey been? What are you the most proud of? I want to know these things. So it’s all been about talking to people. Understanding their problems. I don’t have any benefit to take from them. It’s just a genuine conversation.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 10:07

But do you think that helps you in creating new, better content, by talking to them on ground?


Ishan Sharma 10:12

I think it absolutely does. Like I got to meet my colleagues, from classmates from my college. And I understood that there are a lot of people who are uncertain about what their job would be right, at the end of four years. After all the hard work. After being in a prestigious institute like BITS Goa, they were still unclear about ‘Which company will hire me?’ Hence, I made that documentary about this whole mass layoffs, and what can you do to get a great job and like, understand the whole scenario. So I think it’s all about understanding from the audience on the ground and then making content—

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 10:48

So at this time in 2023, startups are not hiring, as they were two years ago, right? Mass firing is going on across corporates as well as startup so the people in your batch in BITS Goa would be terribly worried. ‘Where are we going’ and you’re public about your income as well right? So they’re seeing Ishan, our batchmate let’s say making 15 lakhs a month—


Ishan Sharma 11:09

Yeah they’re like ‘You got away from all this.’ (chuckling)(SPEAKS HINDI)


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 11:11

(SPEAKING HINDI) (laughing) They’re probably thinking ‘Get one or two out of this stress with you as well!’


Ishan Sharma 11:17

They are obviously aware of the hard work I put in. They are obviously aware of the criticism I got. And so there is nothing to complain as such, right? Like I worked every single day in the first semester, when people were going out to the beach, which was five minutes away from my college. They were watching movies all the time, they were having parties all the time while I was head down, working. I don’t say that I am superior than them, but I’m just saying that is what got me here, right? So there is no complaining as such, but they are just worried that you know, what should they do different? What can they do now to get a better opportunity in their life?


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 11:52

You’re here because you did that three years ago, right? So they would have to do something now, to change the next three years. (chuckling)


Ishan Sharma 11:57

So there is a friend of mine, Yash Garg. He is in Delhi. So whenever I go to Delhi I meet him all the time. (SPEAKS HINDI) And he is always telling me this thing that ‘Yaar Ishan the work you put in two years ago is why you’ve reached this stage now so what are you doing today so that you’ll reach even greater heights two years from now? —


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 12:09

So what is your answer?


Ishan Sharma 12:14

Nothing. I’m trying my best! (chuckles) Sometimes I do get comfortable and complacent and that’s why I have friends like him who remind me of what I need to do.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 12:23

Where do you think right? Right now, the timing is great for content creators, influencers, especially those who have been able to work hard, like even from a long period have established themselves in the top 1% in their categories. Is it going to change going forward, like the kind of attention that they’re getting, like, will it go up or go down?


Ishan Sharma 12:44

I think there are a lot of creators that are coming up and so you have to be even more focused on the storytelling aspect, right? So there is this recent quote, I read on Twitter, “Stop creating content. Start telling stories.” I got to meet Ranveer Allahbadia and the first advice he had for me that, you know, you should tell more stories. Learn about videography, and like, how can you tell better stories to people about yourself? About other people, and instead of just you know, making the content, like focus on that element, and when you can do that, that is when you will have people who are hooked on to your journey, that ‘What will happen next?’ (SPEAKS HINDI) —


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:22

I have huge respect for Ranveer Allahbadia, right? He started creating really massy content and—


Ishan Sharma 13:27

I think it’s a fascinating case study of BeerBiceps. It is a classic example of a funnel, right? So you have to get people hooked in with what they think is right. And then you start off, start sharing what you think is important to them. And because they have gained trust on you, then they will start consuming content that you think is important, and that is what we have seen on his channel.


Ishan Sharma 13:27

(SPEAKS HINDI) (laughing) “How to woo a girl 101!”.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:27

(SPEAKS HINDI) A lot of stuff right, like what to do and what not to do and then he moved slowly into different genres. Starting the podcast changed life, I believe for him, right, and he kept on reinventing himself. There are a lot of people, content creators are still stuck on topics like “How to build muscle mass in your body?” and he moved away from all of that—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:14

The evolution is very fast, right? So now he shares about spirituality, some ghost stories are still there.


Ishan Sharma 14:21

(chuckles) I think… Like, I remember when I was a kid, I used to always wait for the 11 o’clock show of Aahat on Sony, right? So he knows what the audience wants, right? So I think that is a great trait to have. So many creators struggle with this thing. They’re like, you know, ” I’ll create this content but not this other content.” and that is just not the right way to go about it. So I met Sourav Joshi the other day, right? And I asked him like, how did you get here so he was like (SPEAKS HINDI) “I don’t know. I just make videos…”. So he was very innocent. So I was like this is really crazy—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:54

And what is the genre for Sourav Joshi?


Ishan Sharma 14:56

There is no genre. It’s just like a daily vlogger right? So he’s just sharing like a genuine story of someone who’s going through life. In his videos, he’s doing regular things like eating food, touching elders’ feet for blessings, then they are roaming around exploring so it’s all of that, right, which works for him and huge respect for that. Like he was recording and I was there with him too. I was there and one of the videos that he uploaded. It had like 10 million views, which is crazy. I did not see a single person recognize me and that is the best thing that I want—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:25

It’s a completely different audience.


Ishan Sharma 15:27

That is great that people don’t recognize me because I would… Like I have a different audience particularly and if I have the same audience that he has, then that is wrong.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:36

Most of your audience I believe is between 18 to 24?


Ishan Sharma 15:39

18 to 24, living in metropolitan cities of India, in college, or recent graduates trying to learn something new—

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:46

And what is the harshest criticism that you have received till date that would have made you cry?


Ishan Sharma 15:52

(chuckles) There is no such thing. I think there was this one time when I went to Kota to shoot a video about Unacademy’s new offline centre, right? So I went there with my crew. We shot the video, and then I made the video live and there was huge backlash. That was also a time when I got hospitalised for the first time in my life because of exertion and so I put in a lot of hard work, right, and I suffered because of that trip as well. But then in the first hour itself, the like to dislike ratio was about like 65-68%. And that is when I knew that this is not a good thing to go ahead with. So I was like, you know Unacademy, I don’t want to get paid. I’m so sorry. I will have to unlist this video and we can’t, you know, go ahead with this one. So I had to unlist that and that was one of the lowest points of my whole experience. Like I put in one complete week into that video and people hated it.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 16:48

And you stopped doing such kind of content after that?


Ishan Sharma 16:50

Yeah. I’ve started to be more organised in the way I record content. In the way I tell stories. So I think that has definitely helped me out a lot.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:01

So let’s talk about the sponsorships, right? So now you talked about that Unacademy thing that you had to let go. How do you now choose your sponsors? How do you reach out to them?


Ishan Sharma 17:09

I have a very clear boundary that you know, I will not promote betting apps. I will not promote loan products, even though that might be helpful for some people. I would never use it and hence I would not want my audience to do the same. So it has been that like what I would not imagine myself using I would not recommend to my audience.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:28

But Unacademy is a good thing, right?


Ishan Sharma 17:29

It is a great thing, but the video that I made for them did not work out with my audience. (SPEAKING HINDI) Like they were just like, you know “He’s sold himself.”. So they could sense the bullshit. So I think I realised that thing early on that I should not be making a video like that.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:45

Which is the brand that you endorse, right? Or you get sponsored by which you like the most?


Ishan Sharma 17:52

I think it has to be HubSpot. HubSpot is this US company listed on the public markets and they reached out to me because I made a video about their free courses. So they were like, you know, “We discovered this huge amount of traffic coming from your channel and we would want to work with you. Thanks a lot for covering our product, and we would want to work with you.” And I was like sure, like why not? Right? So that was a year ago and since then I’ve been working with them every single month. And all they ever tell me to talk about are their free courses or their free marketing templates. Their free reports, surveys. Recently I made a video on AI tools and they had this survey on what the job market would look like with AI and it was just a free service that they wanted me to promote and I did that.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 18:41

You’ve taken a very unusual career path which you have already talked about right? Dropping out of BITS Goa at an early age of 21. Do you see more people doing that right now, like is India ready for that dropout phase that the US had a few years ago?


Ishan Sharma 18:54

(chuckles) (SPEAKS HINDI) So I do a lot of meetups. I did one in Hyderabad. I did one in Delhi. One in Bangalore. And out of all of them, I’m seeing this pattern that 11-12th graders, like in my time if I were to look at any 11-12th student who is doing like PCM, I would just assume that they’re preparing for JEE and IIT, right? That is no longer the case. Like I meet these students who are 11th and 12th grade and I asked them what are you doing currently? I’m just chilling and learning some new skills such as video editing.” Others say “I’m already working ina company.” So I was like that’s amazing to see. It’s a very good thing. So I think that has been there… There has been a shift. But there’s a lot of naivety as well with it right? So people often are not aware of the unknown unknowns when they take the decision of not doing the degree. I took it because even if my channel was to go down, I have learned a great deal about marketing. About how does a product really go out there like what is the strategy to launch something? And so I think that will help me in my career, regardless of the degree that I have, and even my degree which was electrical engineering, so it won’t really helped me out much. So I think that has been the case, but a lot of kids are opting to not go for the typical rat race of IITs and focus on upskilling themselves, which is very different.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 20:19

What are they doing to upskill themselves? Can you be more specific?


Ishan Sharma 20:22

So, for example, they are using YouTube. They’re using some courses, and they are trying to learn about new skills while they’re in 11th and 12th. So they’re not waiting till college, right? Which is a risky move. Very bold. I have not done that. I was just focusing on my JEE preparation when I was in 11th, and 12 but it works for them, apparently.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 20:41

And can you talk about top three skills which these people are requiring, that is helping them earn money just after 12th and this is like decent money?


Ishan Sharma 20:50

I think there are so many 17, 18, 19 year olds, who are working as a developer in remote companies in UK and US. That is number one. Number two, they’re working as a video editor for a ton of their favourite YouTube channels. So they get to live the dream, working for their favourite creator and making a living from their home itself. Thirdly, there is a huge list of graphic designers that I’m seeing or people who are into UI and UX from a very early age. So these people are creating case studies of these applications and how they are operating and then they are putting it out on social media. And these case studies either on LinkedIn or Twitter are going viral as a result of which a lot of these product managers or recruiters of companies are getting to see them. So they’re getting discovery through social and their talent has been recognized and they’re getting opportunities through that be it freelance projects, or like a, you know, full time remote job.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 21:43

What percentage would this population be that is engaging in this kind of skill set and starting earning?


Ishan Sharma 21:49

I think it’s still a very slim number—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 21:51

1 or 2%?


Ishan Sharma 21:52

I think, yeah, not more than 5% but it is a huge rise from like, you know, 0.1-0.2%, which was back in my time. So I just know one person who was freelancing while in eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th and that is Mehul Mohan, who is two years senior than me. He’s running a startup called is called codedamn. BITS Pilani graduate. So he was teaching himself code and making videos on coding at the same time. So there are videos of him when he was eighth grade student with that puberty-type voice trying to teach HTML and CSS and it’s been eight years since then and he has taught so many students. So there are examples like that from my time, but there are very few of them.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 23:01

So that trend is increasing?


Ishan Sharma 23:02

I think it is increasing. So the market for that is growing all the time.


Ishan Sharma 23:07

I think that, number one people are getting richer in India. That wealth disparity is increasing, right? There was a stat which says that the number of units that Audi and BMW thought they will sell in the whole year of ’23, they sold in the first quarter itself. That is huge. That tells about the Indian growth of people who are able to afford these things. And so people naturally want better education for their kids, and they’re seeing that there are suicides happening in IIT all the time. So they’re worried about the pressure that their kids would be going in, and if they can afford it, then they’re obviously sending their kids to abroad universities. I think that number is increasing all the time.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 23:43

And why is that?


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 23:45

The craze for IIT and IIMs is not as much as it was in your time four years ago.


Ishan Sharma 23:50

I think it has gone down. It’s not as glamorous as it used to be. Number one also because there are a lot more seats created. There are new IITs coming. There was very new IITs right? The value of IITs are going down. Same is the case with BITS. In our time, there used to be 800 seats and now there are a 1000 and they’re trying to fill all of these seats. This is business right? Business as usual. So I think that has been the case.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 24:18

And the folks that are going abroad are either not willing to even appear in entrance exams at all.


Ishan Sharma 24:23

Yeah, exactly. They’re just been focused on SAT and their AP scores and ACT and all.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 24:28

So you have travelled internationally recently, right? You went to Dubai. You went to Singapore. Any other place?


Ishan Sharma 24:33

So my first trip was in Thailand. Bangkok, Phuket—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 24:37

Hope not for the wrong reasons. (chuckles)


Ishan Sharma 24:38

(chuckles) (SPEAKS HINDI) It was very crazy right. So I came to the IGI airport, Delhi and there I showed my ticket to the security check officer and he’s looking at the destination and me repeatedly. He’s thinking “So fast and at such a young age!” I was like, I’m going for the first time so how would I know! (laughing)


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 24:57

So what is the difference between the youth that you have seen outside India, in developed economies like Dubai, Singapore and inside India?


Ishan Sharma 25:05

(SPEAKING HINDI) I think they are way more independent, right? So for example, when I went to Singapore I noticed that life is so quick, and they’re all going to work on their own, etc. And like, I got to know this from the taxi driver, that before you go out in the real world, before you start your career, you have to spend two years in Singapore, in military. So you have that experience, and you become stronger. That is one thing. My friend again went to University of Florida, he was like, “Bhai everything happens so fast here.” Everyone knows how to manage yourself. How to manage studies and academics and all that. And I think that there are so many students that I meet all the time in India who only have this thing. They go to college, and they come back at their home. Now, this does not allow them to develop in a you know, whole, they don’t become like an all rounder, for example, washing dishes which may sound like a very small thing which might sound like anybody can do it. I mean, recently, I learned how to wash my own clothes (chuckles). I got a new house, right? So all of these things, I think other people outside of India get to learn much faster, and at a younger age than most of us. So I think in that sense, we can learn a lot.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 26:18

And how does that make a difference to your career?


Ishan Sharma 26:21

I think it just makes you self dependent. I think that is the best thing. Right? Like, when I was in first semester, I could give my clothes for washing to like to a vendor there, but I chose to wash them myself. I chose to do that myself. I want to learn like how does it… How does it all work? How can I manage my studies and wash clothes and take care of all of these things in my college life? And it matters a lot, right? Like when you go out and you try to live yourself, you have to do all the things yourself and other countries. You cannot hire help, maid and all that. So I think in that case, it has helped me out a lot.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 26:57

And do you think like the Indian youth is competitive enough with the youth of the developed countries in terms of skills that we talked about earlier in the podcast?


Ishan Sharma 27:06

I think that the Indian youth is great at memorising things, rote memorization. But they’re also not that great at like, having a look at a problem from a general perspective, right? Like there are a lot of children who go to IITS and they’re very nerdy about things. But like they lack in that creativity angle that I do think many people are missing because they are taught to do things in a certain way. And when you go out. When you meet people from like, you know, other places and other religions and other things like that, you learn a lot. So I think that is missing in a lot of the students. So I think my friends are like, you know, “I want to go do an MBA from abroad University, not for the MBA thing, but more to like, interact with people outside learn from them.” So I think that is lacking.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 27:59

Ishan who are the top five creators that you admire the most?


Ishan Sharma 28:02

I think I admire Marques Brownlee. MKBHD. His journey… There’s still a video on his channel in which he is using his webcam, and making a video review of a remote that he recently got and that was his 78th video. So he made 78 videos to get to a 100 subscribers. Now, that was his story. And it was just amazing seeing him go from that 13 years ago to today where he is and it’s just amazing. He has levelled up in the way he speaks. In the quality of videos that he creates and he’s just obsessed with how can he create the best videos and he has this huge studio. He’s using red 8k cameras and all that, so it’s very inspiring to look at him and what he has been able to build in the last few years. So that is one that I absolutely adore. Secondly, I think the guy who inspired me to make content was Gary Vaynerchuk, right? I don’t consume his content right now but it’s for the good. He showed me this whole new world that is possible outside of the typical, you know, engineering, then software development, and then you know, a whole MBA thing. What else can I really do? So I think he was definitely there. I look at him for… Like, he has this very interesting quote that “I don’t want you to be consuming my content one year from today. And if you’re still watching my videos, every single year, then you are losing out, and I have lost in helping you go further.” So he’s like, I want you to watch my content, learn from it, and then never consume my content, and then come to my funeral. And that’s the best thing that he can expect from people. So I think that these two people have really helped me learn about different things. And of course, there was this live stream happening of Aman Dhattarwal back in 2019. That’s when I had recently completed my 12th grade and I saw him touch a million subscribers live on that livestream. And I was like, this is insane, right like he was four years than me. So him sharing his journey. Sharing his experience. (SPEAKING HINDI) He’s made many videos such as: A day in my life, how to make maggi in hostel and things like that. And he got to impact a million people at the age of 22,23 when he was recording that livestream. So it was like, how can I do something like this? Right? So I was very inspired by what he did on his YouTube channel—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 30:22

And you have done in a shorter span of time than he did.


Ishan Sharma 30:24

No I think, I think it was the same. So three, four years what it normally takes to go from zero to like a million, or 2 million.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 30:31

And you’re 21 right now?


Ishan Sharma 30:33

I am 22. I just turned 22 in July.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 30:35

Exactly the same time as he hit the one million. (chuckles)

Ishan Sharma 30:38

I listened to a lot of podcasts, that is definitely there—


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 30:41

Which ones do you listen to?


Ishan Sharma 30:42

The best one is Business Wars. Then there is one called Secret Sauce. Business Movers. I’m a very person who’s like interested in like business, and how did they grow. How did they overcome challenges? So I love reading and listening about these things. In fact, they were talking about how Conrad Hilton built the whole Hilton hotel chain. So it’s very interesting learning about how they were able to get enough capital to build this huge hotel chain and all. So very interesting podcasts that everyone should listen to.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 31:10

And let’s say if I have to put… Top three Indian content creators besides Aman Dhattarwal, who do you look up to?


Ishan Sharma 31:16

I think like in terms of what, as you were talking about Ranveer is definitely there in number one. Number two, I look up to… There is a guy called CodeWithHarry. Right? So he is the number one creator in the coding category in India. Like 26 million monthly views or something like that. So a lot to learn from him. He has just been heads down and recently after years of making content, he made a video in which he talked about which college is he from. So all of us assumed that, you know, he must be from some random college as he never talked about it. It might not be a big deal, but he was from IIT Hyderabad and he never talked about it on camera. He did not milk that part of his life that “Oh, I’m from IIT.” and that was amazing. People loved it. He’s an IITian and he never talked about it and he’s still been able to build a huge channel. That is obviously something to, you know, huge respect for him to do that. I think that is there. And that is about it, I think.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 32:11

And the thing that we earlier talked about in the podcast is connecting with your audience, right? And you have started connecting offline. What did you do to first connect with them through your content online?


Ishan Sharma 32:20

(SPEAKING HINDI) I think I made videos that I would personally want to watch. For example, I gave an internship interview, right? So when I was in first year, I was anxious that what happens in interviews and how should i respond to the questions? So my interview was happening and I was like, let me record this. It’s not allowed (chuckles). So there was a laptop here, I was talking to them. I had my camera here. My phone and through the front camera I was recording everything. It was around a 26 minute interview and I put it out on YouTube, and the number of people who commented saying that “Our eyes have just opened. We didn’t know they would be asking these kinds of questions!” was insane. Of course, there was some places in which I did not answer correctly. So they were correcting me saying “No Ishan you’re supposed to answer the question like this.” It was some guesstimate question. So I think that was how I first got started. Then again, I got that internship for which I interviewed for. Then I made another video about what I learned from that internship and how I got it in the first place. So it’s been all of that right, like helpful content that would be valuable to my audience. To me as well if I was not making content.

Siddhartha Ahluwalia 33:26

And you study a lot of business books, business podcast, right? Which 5 Indian leaders you would like to be like in your life?


Ishan Sharma 33:34

I like obviously Ratan Tata Ji is always there. Number one spot. I actually made a documentary which is not out yet on my channel. It was a 40 minute documentary about the Tata empire. So, when I got to read and research when I was making the video,I just gained a lot of respect. And then there is obviously Narayana Murthy and his story. He recently came for the Moneycontrol event here in Bangalore. So I got to hear him for the first time in person. That was obviously very inspiring. Sudha Murty came up and talked about how she was supporting him throughout the whole journey. And then I think there is obviously Ambanis are there, but more than that, Dhirubhai Ambani’s journey and what did he learn. What did he experience in his own experience? Right? So that is always something to learn from and yeah, I think those will be the most important ones.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 34:23

The ones that inspire you.


Ishan Sharma 34:25



Siddhartha Ahluwalia 34:25

Well, thank you so much Ishan. It’s been fantastic to have you again on the podcast!


Ishan Sharma 34:28

Thank you so much for inviting me here!

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