cerebration motto

When I first started my blog in 2007, it was meant to be a personal reflection of thoughts. I wrote all the things I liked never hoping that people would actually read any of it.

However, with the passage of time, it gained popularity among the masses and connected really well with their own stance. Eventually, aspiring students started to gain value in the little notes I was providing and so for a while, I transformed it from a personal blog it into a free platform for exam aspirants. 

So, what is my story?

As a student, I always had a strong inclination towards academics. This was due to both, personal interest and the professional background of my parents. Both mum dad happen to be academicians. They are both professors and award winning scientists with a deep passion for research and acquiring knowledge.

After having a casual gig at school and not taking life that seriously, I finally got out of my comfort zone. I pursued higher studies in the field of English Literature, being in absolute love with the subject (taking my first detour from my parents core academic stream – science).

Receiving a Gold Medal from the Honourable President of India

My strong desire to pursue Literature ensured that I worked hard enough all through the three years of my graduation to secure a Gold Medal for topping in not just my class in college but the entire state of Himachal Pradesh.

This is a picture of my Certificate of Merit that was awarded along with the Gold Medal felicitation after excelling in my Graduation.

My fascination for literature grew even stronger and I ended up pursuing Masters in the same field and worked really hard. Once again, I topped my state and secured a second Gold Medal for myself.

This is a picture of my Certificate of Merit that was awarded along with the Gold Medal felicitation after finishing my excelling in my Masters.

One of the greatest moments of my student life was to receive the Gold Medal and the Certificate of Merit in English Literature for topping the entire state of Himachal Pradesh at the state university’s annual Convocation Ceremony from the Former President of our country – Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji.

This is a picture of a young me receiving the honour from an inspiring man like Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

This initial success in academics during Graduation and Masters helped me appear for various competitive examinations – Himachal Pradesh Administrative Services, IB-ACIO, SSC CGL, UGC – NET, Banking exams etc. However, the life-transforming moment happened when I thought of attempting one of the toughest exams of the country – Civil Services (Now when I look back I realise that I attempted Civil Services not purely out of interest but because it was something that people decent in academics try to give a shot at at least once. It really is a national hobby for both parents and children alike in most Indian families till this date and so a lot of us end up rigorously preparing and sitting for this prestigious examination).

Cracking the written stages of Civil Services Examination

I attempted Civil Services for the first time in 2014 and cracked both the written stages in my first attempt. This made me happy. However, while preparing for the interview, I got an excellent opportunity from United States that suited my personality way better than conventional government service. This was one jolt of a moment.

I had to make an informed decision between appearing for my interview (that could have been cracked) and moving abroad (that was a long time fascination). Throughout the course of my CSE preparation, Indian Foreign Services (IFS) was what I wanted to pursue and never IAS. So an opportunity from the United States excited me to the core. I guess, the ‘moving abroad’ part of it and hence travel was what truly made an impact. But even then CSE wasn’t completely out of my system. I was perplexed at the opportunity that life was throwing at me.

At this point, my parents shared a very insightful thought (can never thank them enough) and it helped me believe in my new career choice. They told me –

“Had you been 100% passionate about CSE, you would have never given an opportunity from United States a thought. The fact that you are considering taking a leap of faith and moving out of your country for a while despite the hardships is proof enough that you want to let go of CSE and pursue other aspirations.”

These words struck a chord with me and my life changed forever. Had I cracked the interview and joined service, I would have left it eventually. I know this for a fact now. I am way too uninhibited to enter Government service. I am by nature a maverick. It would be wasting somebody else’s seat. I would have not been fair to a candidate who would have been more passionate about joining Civil Services than I was at that time.

Embarking a new professional journey

So, I moved out for a while and embarked an entirely new professional journey. It was a giant leap of faith that I had to undertake but I went for it anyways. I discovered a side of me that was unknown before. I felt more connected with myself. I was happy pursuing my passion. I really was happy. I spent some time in the US and then moved back to my beloved nation to enter an entirely new segment of business in India – Startups.

Entering the startup world in India

I worked in a couple of them, picked up more and more professional skills, became a part of the Advisory Board of a lot others, understood the growth trajectory behind the rise and fall of startups, made an attempt to understand the nature of business and learnt things that were completely new to me before.

This new life was extremely challenging but awe inspiring. Every new thing learnt was like a milestone. Every new challenge met was like a mini achievement. And every new failure was a life changing learning.

Transforming into an Entrepreneur 

When I look back , I know for sure that changing the course of my career was the best decision I made. Today, 5 years later I am pursuing what I truly like – Entrepreneurship. I currently run 3 major and 7 mini ventures. Out of these – Budget Wayfarers – a travel content startup seems to be the most publicised (owing to my love for travel and blogging. I have backpacked more than half the world till now).

The travelogues of Budget Wayfarers are read in more than 100 countries and we have a global network of Travelers and Bloggers. More than 5001+ individuals from around the world work for Budget Wayfarers beating the a.m. to p.m. schedule and create content that is being consumed by a global readership comprising of resourceful travellers.

I plan to launch more ventures in the near future especially pertaining to content (now that we’re surrounded by all forms of it in the digital space). A recent one has been Blogging Elementary (BE.). Its been launched on July 23rd, 2020 so still a baby on the internet.

 I’m not sure whether all my platforms will be successful or will utter failures but I know that , “this is my passion, my decision, my way of living life. So, I am neither quitting nor giving up. I am willing to go as far as it takes without compromising on my true self. This is what I’ve always meant to do – OWN MYSELF.”

This attitude comes with its own set of challenges because individuals who don’t conform, get criticised more. But I’m way past that concern now. In fact, I am extremely grateful for each and every point of view, opinion and criticism that has ever been thrown at me. It has truly transformed me into the person that I have become. Over the years, I’ve learnt to see the positive in every outcome and situation. It really helps you evolve and grow as a person.

The biggest lesson I’ve realised along my journey is – “ Choose and pursue aspects in life because you ‘WANT’ to and not because you ‘HAVE’ to pursue them . It’ll make all the difference.”

Status of this current blog – Cerebration

From being a personal blog to becoming a go-to place for students, Cerebration was meant to assist aspirants across regions. No aspirant should ever be left out of the race just because he/she doesn’t happen to reside in a plush city or doesn’t have access to coaching. Before one sits to face competition, there should be equality in opportunity in so far as guidance is concerned.

Through Cerebration, I hoped to make knowledge and guidance more accessible.  In fact, I wanted to share my knowledge acquired during the course of my preparation (of various entrance exams).  Also, the fact that I worked for a couple of leading Ed Tech startups in India helped me understand the nature and level of more than 700 Government exams and the difficulty faced by aspirants. This is exactly why I converted it from being a personal blog into a free portal for exam aspirants where they could reach out to me anytime and put forward their queries.

This platform isn’t active anymore and no new blogs are being posted owing to major time constraints and a jam packed schedule of mine as an Entrepreneur. However, if any of the students do land up here and have legit queries, feel free to drop them in my Quora inbox. I will surely address them within 72 hours. I might not write on this blog anymore but my mission is still the same. So feel free to reach out 🙂

-Akriti Mattu