Interview with Travpreneur Pratik Gandhi

pratik at tbex conference

What do you get when you combine a passion for tech, travel, and startups? You get someone like Pratik Gandhi, who is the co-founder of Checkin Story and also known as Travpreneur on social media! Pratik is not only passionate about startups, growth marketing and entrepreneurship, but he is also a serious globetrotter.

Here’s our interview with Pratik, where you can learn more about his endeavors

Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us, or teaches us more about the world?
Pratik in NYC
Travel to me has been elevating in so many ways. The fact that I get to meet a lot of people from different cultures and at the same time – learn more about them, is something that I always look forward to.
Also, it is always a happy feeling when I am back from a trip and it kind of inspires me to get the best out of me – to accomplish more work. I do believe in the concept of ‘learning by traveling,’ which I think is the best way to learn anything around you and that it can be a great driver in uniting the world. I would love to see schools and colleges promote travel as a subject in achieving that goal.

What surprising aspect of culture do you love about where you’re from – your specific hometown in India – that travelers may not be aware of? What’s something about India that you believe makes it unlike anywhere else in the world?
I currently reside in Pune, which is not far from Mumbai. I’ve been here for more than 10 years. Pune is primarily known for its education. Students have many options to choose from the best colleges in the country. It is still called the “Oxford of the East” and the IT sector, which is currently booming in India.

Surprisingly, very few people know about the Puneri/Punekar (the one who is from Pune) mindset or attitude. The Punekars are proud, and sometimes this pride is perceived as attitude.

For example, most of the shops in Pune close in the afternoon. People love to rest in the afternoon. It also means the city by and large follows a steady pace of life, as compared to the neighboring city, Mumbai.

Punekars are known for their sarcastic humor, as it is very much a part of their culture as much as afternoon naps are.

Which dish do you feel best represents from India? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!
The beauty of being in India is in its diversity. At every 100 odd miles, you will see different dishes from different cultures being served in different ways. Right from the Paneer Butter Masala from the North to Rosugulla from the east to the most iconic Vada Pav from the West to the Idli Sambar down south, it is very difficult to say which dish really represents India.

Here’s my favorite: Mysore Masala Dosa (a South Indian dish that I can have at any time of the day) 
Mysore Masala Dosa

Talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you? Which family values are important to you?

It means everything to me. I’ve been very fortunate to have such parents in my life. The support and love I have gotten from them is enormous, which has made me what I am today. They’ve always taught me to be generous no matter the situation is in life and that has helped me immensely and I know it will in the long term, too.

How important is spirituality and religion in your daily life? What do you do to celebrate either? Are there customs/traditions you observe? What makes it special?

I am learning and enjoying the concepts of mindfulness, meditation and going slow. A few people that I follow online recently got me hooked on these concepts.  I firmly believe all religions of the world teach you to be good inside and spread that good outside. Once you understand that thing you don’t need to follow any Guru or worship any God to get there. I’m not an atheist, but I do respect and see the rational side of everything I follow. 

I find great happiness in celebrating or being mindful of the present. For example, I am enjoying answering these questions for this interview. I would love to follow this approach for most things in life – enjoying every moment.

Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you. Share a photo. (It can be anything from street art to a festival to a painting to architecture to woven art work, to woodworking, a family heirloom, etc.)

pratik's family's art

I haven’t come across art much, but dance is certainly a big part of the local culture in this part of India. I have watched live shows of Lavani and Lezim, both very famous folk dance forms. Pune is well known for its drama schools, theaters, and well-preserved auditoriums.

My mom has been an artist for a long time. It is now that she has moved into business. She does not get as much time to go back to that stuff, but she does have some brilliant art pieces that even today carry a lot of meaning. 

Languages not only give us the power to communicate but also can unite us across cultures. Share a favorite saying you know. 

I never understood the importance of languages up until recently when I started traveling to countries where they don’t speak English at all. I was also pleasantly surprised that knowing 3 languages is considered to be an asset since most people do not know more than one. Apart from English, I can speak Hindi, which is our national language and Marathi, which is our regional language. I am also learning Swedish right now. 

Here’s my favorite saying/dialogue from a Bollywood movie in Hindi,

ज़िंदगी बडी होनी चाहिए, लंबी नही   (Zindagi badi honi chahiye lambi nahi) which translates to, “Life should be big, not long.” 

What local spot in your hometown do you love most? Why is it personally important to you?

Pratik hiking
Pratik hiking with friends during travel.

Fortunately, Pune is surrounded by a lot of hills, which is great. I occasionally go on hikes and short road trips – either solo or with friends and family. It is the best thing to do to rejuvenate yourself or just to spend some good time.

Who is the most inspiring person in your life? In which ways does this person inspire you?

Pratik's Stitcher listThere have been different people at different junctures of my life who have inspired me. I started liking startups, building businesses from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to finding people like Seth Godin to Gary Vaynerchuk who I consider Gods of marketing and entrepreneurship.

Currently, I’m taking tons of wisdom from Tim Ferris, Debbie Millman, Kevin Rose, The Minimalists for the content they share and the people they introduce on their respective podcasts.

Has a stranger ever made an impact on your life in a certain way during travels? Share the story!

YES, many! On my trip to Barcelona last year, I met this older American couple and we walked for about 30 mins. We had a great conversation. When I visited the US, they hosted a great dinner and we had a wonderful time together.

I was also able to get good business from them for my agency. So, currently, we’re helping them with marketing strategies.

Pratik giving a presentation

Unfortunately, stereotypes exist in the world. What are common misconceptions about India? 

People will ask me whether it is “too hot and sweaty” in India. Yes, it is, but not everywhere. In all its uniqueness, India has everything it can offer to a traveler. You can visit snow-covered mountains in the North, or see beautiful tea gardens and hills in the North East. Or, you can visit never-ending deserts of Rajasthan in the West to coffee plantations in South to some of the most mesmerizing beaches throughout its coastal line. You have to come to India to know India. 

An American friend recently asked me what I’d studied. When I told her I was an engineering dropout, she was completely blown away. She joked that, “That is something like us.” Indians have traditionally been pigeonholed as well-educated, and inclined towards IT or coding. It’s not a bad thing but that’s not how it is every time. And, there are so many other examples! 

Pratik Gandhi is the co-founder of Checkin Story and Digiwale. Stay tuned for exciting things to come with Checkin StoryFollow Pratik on Twitter, Snapchat (Travpreneur), and Instagram

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