The Dream: How Gurbaksh Chahal Made Over 100 Million Dollars

The Dream: How Gurbaksh Chahal Made Over 100 Million Dollars

The Dream: How Gurbaksh Chahal Made Over 100 Million Dollars

I first heard of Gurbaksh Chahal (“G” as he likes to be called) on Mixergy. I was intrigued by his success for two reasons. First, he made his fortune in the advertising industry. I’ve mentioned my desire to tackle the mobile ad industry and G’s success story is something that I can learn from. Second, he completely bootstrapped his first company.

I started following him on Twitter and he would occasionally tweet about his book. I was hesitant to read it because I wasn’t sure that I would connect with him. I knew that he was telling his story, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate with his Indian heritage and his upbringing. That was naive thinking. I was able to connect with the story from one entrepreneur to another because of his perseverance and his struggles.

The story starts out with G describing his Indian childhood. His parents were awarded a Visa via the lottery system. When G was four, he and his family came to America with \$25. He was often tormented as a child because of his turban. When he was an early teen his father took him back to India so that he wouldn’t forget his heritage. They first met some cousins on his mother’s side. G comments how he felt no connection to his cousins, it was as if his cousins thought he was the dumb American and they were the smart indians. He then went to visit his grandmother’s sister and he said she and everyone in the village was very welcoming. He then states his first lesson: “Always surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, as you will discover most people are rooting for you to fail.”

He often interjects with lessons that he’s learned. On top of his engaging story, these lessons make the book a bargain. He next describes his early teen years and how he started to develop a passion for helping his father with stock research. He likened it like homework, except for the real world. On October 27th, 1997 the stock market crashed. His father had lost everything. This was the first time G saw his farther cry. G was terrified. A few days later his father snapped out of his depression and was determined for his family to move into the house they had been saving for. G was affected by the positive change in attitude. The resilience and determination was cemented into his way of thinking. His next lesson: “Never give up. The road to success is paved with failures.”

G and his family started to try to find ways that each could contribute. G applied at a local McDonalds. The manager sat down with him and asked him a few questions. G felt as if the manager didn’t want him to work there because of his appearance. The manager told him that they had just hired a bunch of people. The “Now Hiring” sign never came down. G felt rejected. He knew that someday “he would be his own man, run his own show.”

In, 1998 G knew that high school wasn’t for him. He transferred to an accelerated middle college program. Here he took every opportunity to challenge himself. He signed up for a public speaking class and delivered a great speech on Viagra. He did a paper on Socrates and quoted Socrates twice:

Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs, therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity and undue depression in adversity.

By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.


He noticed that money started flowing from traditional media such as newspaper and TV to the internet. He noticed that there were other companies that were cashing in on this. He also noticed that companies were starting to transition from impression-based ads to click-based, as it gave advertisers to monitor performance of the ads. G wanted to try to learn more about this and so he started calling around. As an introvert, he had to practice his pitch.

Hello, my name is Gary Singh and I do performance-based advertising. I have a web site and I would like to know a little about your operation.

He told potential clients that he was “Gary Singh” to sound a bit more American.


G had a web site, but it was amateurish - he had designed it in Microsoft FrontPage. He found a company in London that had an Ad tracking system. A company rep flew out to meet G. Since G didn’t have a driver’s license, his brother drove him to the dinner meeting. He found out that the company rep was the owner and the company was a one-man operation who was on the verge of bankruptcy. G instantly knew that he was negotiating from a position of power and was no longer nervous. The man tweaked the software to G’s needs and G bought the software for \$30k. The agreement stated that G would pay him after 90 days. G needed 90 days to generate income. G also told him that once the company was up and running, he would offer to pay the man \$10k a month to operate the software. G was instantly and business and quickly registered the name “Click Agents.”

G started making more calls. He started emailing. G said that getting people on the phone was a “piece of cake.” But finding someone to take a chance on him was difficult. In his pitch, he claimed that he had a consortium of web sites that he could place ads on a per-click basis. When in fact, he didn’t have a consortium. He had to just convince his potential clients that he could deliver. Finally, G struck gold when he called LeftField and ad agency who had InfoSeek as client. InfoSeek wanted to increase traffic to their site. G told LeftField that if they would put up a \$30,000 order he would deliver traffic for \$1 a click. The following morning they sent over an order.

This book is all about G’s ability to perservere. That’s the big lesson; that’s what made him succeed. Whether he was battling his cultural traditions, his parents expectations, his business adversaries, or VCs, G was able to persevere - and his ability to persevere made him successful.


This book is a must read for any entrepreneur. It’s more than just a story, as G explicitly notes his lesson for the reader. I want to conclude with some more lessons that stood out to me:

  1. People think that in order to succeed in business you must have a new radical idea. In reality, you can be very similar to the competition as long as you have the right people, the right leadership, and you are committed to being better than the best.
  2. Never do anything solely for money. If you do, your decisions will be blinded by greed.
  3. Own your mistakes.
  4. Be frugal, but don’t be cheap. Pay good money for good people, forget the fancy furniture.
  5. Don’t chase the money, chase substance. If you have substance, the money will follow.
  6. Adjust your attitude. Without the right attitude, you’ll never succeed. You have to believe in yourself, because no one else will.
  7. Learn to listen. Listen more to the people you disagree with.
  8. Never compromise your morality.
  9. Don’t procrastinate, procrastination is another word for wanting to fail.
  10. Don’t do anything by half-measures. Remember, mediocrity is for losers.

I had trouble picking only 10 lessons. Overall, this book is jam packed with at least 50 lessons. If you are wanting to bootstrap a company, you must read this book.

In the vein of MindSpread, I will be giving a copy away. Contest closed.

  1. You must comment on an an entrepreneur you know or have read about that has bootstrapped a company. Can be anyone. Tell the story.
  2. You must have a US address.
  3. You must have never have met me or anyone from Reflect7 personally.
  4. After you are done reading the book, you must promise to give it someone else. You must then instruct this person to do the same, and so on.
  5. You must be one of the first five commenters. One will be randomly chosen.

You can follow me on Twitter: @jprichardson

-JP Richardson

If you made it this far, you should follow me on Twitter.  


Proudly built with Sky