“There are better starters than me but I’m a strong finisher.” —Usain Bolt (World Athletics Champion)

They were not born rich. They came from very humble backgrounds. They couldn’t even pay for their studies. But they overcame their circumstances to achieve success on sheer will and determination. We bring to you the success stories of 4 such achievers to prove to you that you don’t have to start well to finish great.


Born in a small village at Rahimatpur in Maharashtra, Kailash Katkar came from an extremely humble background. He had to drop out after his 10th grade due to family problems.

With no formal education and no prospects for a good job, he started work at a small radio and calculator repair shop. Since he was good with gadgets, he decided to learn everything about the business and the craft and became a self-taught expert technician. He later went ahead in 1990 to start his own calculator repair business.In 1993 he started a new venture, CAT computer services where around that time his younger brother Sanjay developed a basic model of antivirus software. This software helped in solving the biggest problem of computer maintenance at that time. In 2007 the company was renamed to Quick Heal Technologies, a ₹200-crore company and a trusted name in anti-virus technology.


Shiva Kumar Nagendra’s parents had migrated to Bengaluru 25 years ago from Mysore. But his father, a truck driver, met with an accident that left him bed-ridden for almost three years. The family started facing financial problems. His mother took to making garlands so Shiva and his sister could sell them.

Shiva started delivering newspapers to meet the families expenses. One morning, he spotted a gentleman waiting for his newspaper and asked if he could wash his car in the evening for some more money. That evening, after washing his car, Shiva mustered up the courage to ask the gentleman for Rs 15,000 for his school fees. The man was taken aback but on Shiva’s suggestion visited Shiva’s school to discover that he had been a class topper. The gentleman offered to take care of all his education expenses.

Along with his studies Shiva also started a newspaper distribution agency. He topped class X and went on to get a seat at the Bangalore Institute of Technology (BIT) and was soon offered a job by Wipro. Shiva declined the offer and moved on to crack the CAT 2012 and grab a seat in the premier B-school IIM-C. He is today working at an MNC and after a few years wishes to join the civil services so he can serve the society better.


PC Mustafa was born in a poor family in the Chennalode, a remote village of Wayanad district of Kerala. His father was a daily wageworker who worked as a coolie. His mother was uneducated.

His village had only one school and he had to walk miles everyday to attend his school. He failed in class 6 and dropped out to join his father as a daily wageworker. However, later Mustafa went back to school. He had to sit with his juniors and to his teacher’s surprise, Mustafa topped the class.

Mustafa was one among 15 students who were offered free meals and free stay at the hostel at Farooq College in Kozhikode. He was weak in English so a good friend of Mustafa translated every lecture for him. Mustafa ranked No 63 in the engineering entrance exam in the state and got admission at the Regional Engineering College. He pursued a degree in computer science from the NIT, Calicut.

After working in several private companies like Motorola and Citibank, Mustafa decided to study at IIM-Bangalore. Here he got an idea to start a Dosa and Idli batter manufacturing company. Back in the time, his cousins used to sell Idli and Dosa on the street. With just ₹25000 investment, along with his cousins, PC Mustafa started “ID Fresh” from a 550 square feet office . Today, ID Fresh products are sold in more than 20,000 stores across seven cities of India generating a revenue of more than ₹110 crore.


Born into a family of agricultural labourers in Kotapadu village in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, Gandham Chandrudu was the first person in his family to have received education. Gandham went to a local school in his village until class V post which he cracked the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Selection Test to enter into JNV, Banavasi, Kurnool. Thus, with minimal school fees, his schooling was completed.

After class X he cleared the Railway Recruitment Board exam that took up the Vocational Course in Railway Commercial (VCRC). Once the course was complete in 2000, that is even before he was 18, he started to work in the Indian Railways as a ticket collector to support his family and his brother’s education.

 As he had a full-time job in hand, he pursued his graduation in Commerce and post graduation in Public Policy via distance learning through IGNOU

After working for ten years as a railway ticket, Gandham wanted to grow and get into the Civil Services. However, preparing for the exam wasn’t as easy as expected. He wasn’t able to take leave and thus he requested his supervisor to give him night duty so he could study as there was less rush then. He got his leave granted only for the last few days before the exam. He spent a total of 8-9 hours everyday for one year and this effort paid off ! With an All India rank of 198, he was given his much liked Andhra Pradesh cadre. He is currently the District Collector of Anantapur.

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