3 Lessons Learned From An Asian Entrepreneur’s Journey In A Foreign Land

I got the opportunity to get in touch with Somdip Dey, an Artificial Intelligence researcher at the University of Essex in England and the founder of Codeepy Pvt. Ltd. and ReMe Basket Ltd. Dey originally hails from Kolkata, India, and talks about the challenges he faced being an entrepreneur in the UK. Currently, Dey works on developing affordable artificial intelligence-based solutions to make them accessible for developing countries.

entrepreneur in the uk

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If you need constant external motivation to pursue your entrepreneurial journey then don’t do it.

Somdip Dey grew up reading about the entrepreneurial journey of great founders like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and in his early age, He used to get inspired to become a startup founder by reading books, quotes, and stories about the great tech founders. But when he actually started his company the challenges were far more difficult to face than he would have guessed, especially starting a company in a foreign land.

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When you are in your home country you don’t have to worry about a lot of things such a special visa to support your entrepreneurial dreams, which itself has its own rules and policies.

Additionally, the UK government has several rules and policies on whom you can hire in the company, with priority given to British and European citizens. Somdip's first startup, Codeepy Pvt. Ltd., regardless being formed in the UK after winning an award at the 2014 Koding’s Global Hackathon for his software, he had to move all his operations to Indonesia because the majority of his company stakeholders and employees were international. The visa policies set by the UK government back in 2014 made it technically impossible for the whole team to work together in the UK and hence, to make the day to day operations of the company more smooth they decided to move their company to Indonesia instead. This is just one more challenge added to the existing set of challenges of running the company, generating traction and lead, developing new ideas and products. From Somdip, every day, being a migrant Asian entrepreneur in the UK meant like going to war. In the meantime what he realized is that all the stories of startups told by the media that he grew up never portrayed the extra set of challenges that a migrant entrepreneur goes through in a foreign land. Most media romanticizes the idea about Entrepreneurship;, but through Somdip’s practical realization was he couldn't rely on the speeches or quotes from great businessmen and entrepreneurs to keep him motivated to continue his journey as a founder. What actually kept him going was the idea of the product that formed the company in the first place and lust for self-improvement to keep improving the product to offer better service to his customers.

Expect resistance from the people who are close to you and learn from their concerns.

His first startup was formed when he was still pursuing his master's degree at the University of Manchester in the UK. When he shared his idea of the startup to his close friends in Manchester everyone shared their concerns about why it is not a good idea to be an entrepreneur with no initial funding. His friends were blunt to his face and told him their true feelings about the idea he had and why it is not a good idea to start a company being an international student in the UK.

Later when he started his second startup, ReMe Basket Ltd., which is food technology related company, his previous partner and he used to end up arguing almost every day on why the idea of the startup is not viable given all the food regulations and policies in the UK. Although they used to argue on the matter, it was much more educating to Somdip than to have a conversation with a person who agrees with him all the time. Those arguments used to make him aware of the things that he might be overlooking or missing from the picture in the first place, thus strengthening the product and the business model in the long run.

Embrace and Adopt constant change.

After migrating to the UK from India Somdip also got exposed to new technologies, new culture, new environment, and new people. He been living in the UK for almost 6 years now, yet every day he learns something new. The constant change in life is not just about being a migrant entrepreneur but about being a migrant human living in a foreign country. You have to embrace the constant change in your situation being a foreigner and remind yourself of the reason for your move in the first place. Remembering your reason to move to a new country will also remind you the conditions that you have faced in your own country and keep you motivated to work hard and build a new life in the foreign country.




About the Author

Nikhil Chandwani
Nikhil Chandwani is an author of 13 books, CEO and Founder of Writers' Rescue Centre. Nikhil is also a TED speaker and a Visiting Professor with top B Schools in India. Nikhil can be contacted at drnikhilchandwani@gmail.com