The MBA who quit his job to earn $100,000 doing Excel blogging
Four years after getting a campus placement at TCS, Chandoo quit his job in April 2010 to run a Microsoft Excel-training startup he had built on the side doing what many of us do non-seriously -- blogging. Last month, Chandoo's lean two-member blog 'Chandoo.org' recorded revenues of $100,000, justifying his decision to quit and be completely on his own. In this interview, he speaks about this rather unique manner of earning a living, how he built it and what he plans to do with it in the future.
What have you been up to since you graduated from IIM Indore?
I graduated in 2006 then I joined Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) via a campus offer. Just like any other fresh MBA graduate, I was doing a lot of analysis and research based work in the first few months at TCS. That's when I ended up using Microsoft Excel a lot. This was my first serious interaction with Excel as such. I was doing a lot of interesting work that included analysing competitors, etc. It was a lot of theoretical work and nothing more than that. At the same time I was writing a personal blog about what I was doing and what was happening in my life, but nothing special or significant. Then while in TCS I had the opportunity to travel and work abroad. I moved to USA for a year in 2007 and that's when I had some good free time. As you know, the work culture in western countries is a bit relaxed, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It gives you time that you can spend with your hobbies and passions. It's unlike in India where you have to devote a lot of traveling time before and after work. So I had a lot of free time and started wondering how I could utilise it better. So I started writing about all that I was learning in office on my blog, and that included a lot of learnings about the advanced featured of Microsoft Excel. In 2008 February, I wrote an article about an Excel trick that was picked up by a lot of popular blogs on the Internet. That became a good traffic source and I started getting a lot of visitors. It was an exciting time for me and I started thinking what it would be like if I did something more substantial on the Internet in my free time. I then started writing about Excel more often and also started a couple of other websites with the hope that they could maybe help me make some money and eventually have me live on my own. None of those other websites succeeded but the Excel posts on my blog kept on receiving good response. I had built up a good following of people from across the world and I realised that I had a genuine passion for understanding data, analysing it and presenting it. The realisation led to a series of good articles which were received well within the community of my blog.
Since then, I kept blogging regularly and launched many products related to Excel that people had to pay to buy. The product sales continued to do well in the next two years and the money was good enough for me to consider quitting my job at TCS. I eventually did that in April 2010 and moved to my hometown Vizag with my wife, where we both now run Chandoo.org fulltime.