Sunday 7 April 2024

My 7 streams of income

My 7 streams of income

Back in college (2013 - 2017), I made a good amount of money, doing a lot of things. I made over Rs. 50 lakhs in the 4 years of college. In today's terms, that's more than $60k. This earning was from a combination of a lot of things including:
  • Freelance Content Writing: Wrote articles on technology-related topics and Test preparation (mainly JEE Advanced/Main).
  • Internships: 1 in the US, 1 in Germany and 2 remote
  • Affiliate Marketing: Sold books from my blog and made some money there.
  • Selling e-books: Sold a JEE preparation guide via my blog.
  • Selling courses online: Courses on Python, AWS, Machine Learning, Django, etc.
  • Teaching Assistant: I was a TA at IITB.
  • Solving JEE Questions for Edtech startups: Worked for Toppr and Plancess.
  • Website Development/Freelancing: Made some money here.
I used to do a lot of these activities in college and also parallel to my startup Cogno AI in 2018. Harshita and I were running this "mini-freelancing business" together. All of this combined helped both of us earn Rs. 50+ lakhs in college and 1 year out of college. Not bad for sure.

Harshita was spending most of her time on this. My role was mainly on the customer acquisition and process-building side because I was running my Startup Cogno AI with my co-founder. So I could not give a lot of time to the execution work, which was mainly taken up by Harshita.

Abruptly, in August 2018, my cofounder at Cogno AI left. That's when I requested Harshita to join me as a co-founder of Cogno AI. When she joined, we had an important decision to make - should we continue our mini-freelancing business that generated like Rs. 2.5 - 3 lakhs of monthly profit? Or should we shut it down and fully focus on Cogno AI.

It was a lot of money and the natural instinct was to let it run on the side while the major focus could be on Cogno AI. However, we took a difficult call to sunset that business and focus fully on Cogno AI, giving our 100% there.

Fast forward to March 2021 (2.5 years after our decision) - Cogno AI crossed $1M in annual revenues, which was Rs. 7.25 crores at that time. Towards the end of the same year, Cogno AI was acquired in a multi-million dollar transaction by Exotel, turning us into millionaires at the age of 26.

We couldn't have imagined making so much money from our mini-felancing business. Of course, we could have scaled it beyond Rs. 2.5 - 3 lakhs a month. However, the probability of making millions of dollars out of that business would have been close to 0. It was a pure services business with nothing special about it.

The difficult decision of sunsetting that business paid off really well eventually. We could focus all our time and energy on building Cogno AI and taking it to a decent scale that made us a suitable acquisition target. Contrary to the most common advice of diversifying, we actually put all our eggs in 1 basket and took a big bet. The bet paid off really well.

This is in complete contrast with what today's finfluencers advise - "have multiple streams of income". I have the complete opposite view. I feel that one should take a large and concentrated bet to make a lot of money, especially when you are young (in your 20s). Diversification and having multiple streams of income help you reduce your risk. For example, if you are an employee and get laid off from your company, your passive income will help you survive the tough times.

However, remember that diversification also limits your growth potential. Lesser risk almost always comes with a lesser reward. There is nothing that has a low risk and high reward, otherwise everyone would only be doing that.

My suggestion to people in their early 20s - take concentrated bets. If you are an entrepreneur, just focus on your core business and drop everything else.

If you are an employee, give your 100% to your organization. Of course, if you are in the wrong organization, you may end up giving your 100% but the organization, in return, might not help you with your growth, which is bad.

However, I don't know anyone who became successful by not giving their 100% to their organization. Your best bet is to work hard and hope that you are a part of the right organization which will eventually reward your efforts. If not, move on and go elsewhere where your efforts are more appreciated and continue giving your 100%. Your chances of making more money are higher this way.

Summary: I don't have 7 streams of income. I always focus on having 1 major stream of income and betting everything on that and doing whatever it takes to make that bet right.


  1. Hi Aman,
    I'm in my fourth year at IIT Bombay. I'm looking to start freelance technical content writing, both for the money as well as my love for technical writing. Could you suggest some good places to start (online sites etc)?

    1. These days due to competition and ChatGPT and other Generative AI tools, honestly, I don't think it would be a good idea to start freelance technical content writing.

      If you still want to do it, create your own blog, market it and take it to a certain stage where people know about it. Automatically you will start getting inbound leads from other people who'd want you to write for them.

      However, as I mentioned in my first paragraph - it has become too competitive. A better option would be to explore creating videos on a topic of your choice. Could be technology or AI tools, or anything else.