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He is an avid tourist, having travelled to a whopping 190 countries. However, on his current trip to India, Chris Guillebeau is not reprising this role. What brings the American to India is the launch of his book, The $100 Startup. Essentially a manual that claims to pave the way to a new way of living, the book speaks of how one can lead a meaningful and adventurous life, and at the same time, earn a good living. "The book tells you how to earn as much as you would from a nine-to-five job, but on your own terms," says Guillebeau, who addressed the audience at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research and Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research as part of his Mumbai tour.
The journey of the author, who is in his thirties, is impressive, having started out as a volunteer for a medical charity in West Africa. He then went on to pursue a graduate programme in International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. It was around this time that Guillebeau began to travel extensively and had an important realisation. "I met scores of like-minded people who charted their own course by investing a small amount and building on it," says Guillebeau, who then turned to writing and selling his "unconventional guides" (they revolve around topics such as travel, business and art). He followed this with his popular blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, which he translated into his first book, also by the same name.
Today, Guillebeau also helms World Domination Summit in the US — an annual gathering to dwell on non-conformity. And given his passion for travelling, it's not surprising that he has drawn from his trips — including the one he made to India — for the second book that features 50 case studies of people who set up businesses and earned as high as $50,000 or more from a modest investment of $100 or less. He cites the instance of Hyderabad-based Purna Duggirala running a business that helps clients in Excel training, consulting and development. "Personally, I am not a big fan of spreadsheets. But Purna's site, chandoo.org, has done a great job with something so simple," he reveals.
And what about those who don't agree with his philosophy of seeking freedom by creating a product (or service) of value? Guillebeau replies, "I am not here to proselytise, though most people I have met so far agree with me. But yes, some of them can't take the leap despite liking the idea."