A person helping others to be seen/heard, a designer with a silicon valley based company has now been on a mission to explore his venture globally. StartupEd had an interview with Ujjwal Kumar, a percussionist who has been working to gain global recognition. Read his amazing story below.

– Tell me a little bit about yourself.  

I am working as a full-time UX designer for a Silicon Valley-based financial technology company. Besides, I help budding YouTubers, content marketers in different ways. I provide them with tips on how to be seen/heard on the internet. I am also a full-time musician, I play percussion instruments and lately, I have been playing the Ghatam a lot. That brought a lot of audiences, hence I call myself a full-time musician. Ghatam is an object and less recognized as other instruments. This is my venture to make it a popular one while growing as a great musician. 

– While helping YouTubers and content marketers to be heard/seen you also have a keen interest in music. What made you realize that you are born for music and How long have you been practicing music? Also, tell me about the instruments you play? 

I think the actual realization or you can say my eureka moment happened when I saw Ustaad Zakir Hussain live at a tender age of 12, and I was completely blown away. For a kid that young, introduction of classical music of the highest quality and that too live, was quite overwhelming. I have been a designer for the last 7 years professionally and I have been doing music on stage since I was 9 years old. Music was my only full time before I started working, throughout school and college I did over 200 stage shows. I played in all major music festivals in India such as the NH7 Weekender, Ziro festival of music with my band(s) then. I have realized how important it is to have that center and focus in life. So I do music for being a better designer and just a better version of myself. I am a percussionist, I have learned tabla when I was young for about 4 years, then I played drums for about 10 years, and now I have been playing Ghatam for the last 5 years. I also play other percussive instruments such as Djembe, Cajon, Darbuka, etc. 

– What are your plans for growth?

I am currently trying to tap into a market that does not even exist, because this instrument is new, and what I am doing with it is also new. When I started putting up videos, the idea was to onboard a new audience to this kind of music. By onboarding I mean getting the audience to a familiar space (by doing covers) and then presenting my music, that process has worked for me so far. And the audience that I have created is one of the best sets of listeners I could have found.

Now I want to take Ghatam everywhere around the world, I want everyone to experience it live. So I am planning a tour across the world with the instrument, trying to get shows.

– What is the biggest mistake you have made in your journey and if you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

I think this is fairly common among youngsters, and simply put I regret wasting time. I have had a lot of time to do a lot more instead I got carried away and went for cheap thrills. Having said that, If I have to change something going back, I wouldn’t change anything. The learning that I have today is the result of the mistakes I have made in the past. My biggest celebration in life is the mistakes that I have made.

– This is a hypothetical situation- imagine that you can invite anyone for dinner and they would surely accept your invitation. Who would you invite and why? 

I would invite Ustaad for dinner, that man has immense knowledge of music and even philosophy. If I could have a conversation with him, even for a couple of minutes. I think I will feel rich like never before.

– What is that one piece of advice you would like to give to all the entrepreneurs out there?

I am too young and unlearned to give advice, however, I can share what I have learned so far is that no one can tell you the secret to win in life, you have to work hard to find and identify your recipe. For each one of us, the journey is unique, even if the destination is the same. We can always take inspiration from someone else’s life, and their success, but the way they got there is unique to their circumstances. 

Once you realize that you have got to design your own life, in your way, you will feel empowered. And then make a strategy to overcome weaknesses and do not be afraid to celebrate mistakes.
I also believe that we only work at 50% of our potential even at full throttle. If we learn to optimize ourselves, we will get close to 90. That’s unlocking unimaginable potential.