As Malaysians, we have always been told that success can only be achieved through hard work. While most of that is true, we rarely get told to work smart and be passionate about what we do.
For Prathap David, who started his own business at the age of 17, the roots of success and ambition grew even earlier in him than in most people. While many of us have been pre-occupied with trivial teenage matters, Prathap was already digesting topics that would be the stepping stones which led him to where he is today. Here’s his inspiring story:
He began learning about business and e-commerce at 12 years old
Just before he hit his teen years, Prathap had already taken an interest in how business works and it all started from a video he watched online.
“I remember watching some ridiculous advertisement about this one “Online Guru” who was going to teach me how to make money online. He flaunted his money and cars and the young naive me had no clue how he did it or that it was probably a scam.”
“I did, however, want what he had.”
“I had no money to pay for his course and there was no way my parents were going to fund that either. I watched his ad over and over and saw the websites he was going to such as Clickbank and Shopify and started learning about the world of e-commerce from there.”
It was then that Prathap began dipping his toes in and trying everything from affiliate marketing, drop shipping to forex trading.
“I spent whatever money I had on it and probably made around RM150 over the next three to four years. It was a huge loss compared to the savings I put in but I sure as hell didn’t regret it.”
How did he get the drive to start his first business?
“I always looked up to my father because he was in the business industry and knew how to run things. His mind worked very differently from the rest and always had a knack for finding opportunities to make money although he never executed them.”
“I realised that I started coming up with a lot of ideas too but didn’t take any action on it.”
Prathap then reflected on the thought that he and his family would most probably be in a very different place today if his father had realised the ideas he used to have.
“However, it’s a blessing in disguise because I have this trait but I managed to learn from his mistakes and do the opposite. I took massive action on the business ideas I had, and through trial and error, that allowed me to grow!”
By 17, Prathap started his first business & learned things the hard way
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At 17, Prathap launched Black Wolf Clothing, his very own clothing retail brand.
With the aid of his parents and cousins, Prathap managed to get the business up and running but it didn’t go entirely as planned.
“I invested a lot into this but the expenses were not covered due to the insane cost taken to make these clothes and I started operating at a loss.”
This didn’t stop Prathap. He used the failure and started going from retail to business-to-business (B2B) where he partnered up with brands and high-level influencers who needed clothing done.
“I printed all of the clothes myself as a one-man show and stayed up until 6am to get them done. Eventually, I saved up enough to buy a printing machine.”
At some point, Prathap realised his business was consuming too much of his time. That’s when he learned that “you need to know how to make your money work for you and not you work for your money.”
The B2B model worked better than he expected as he formed partnerships with brands like iSarb, Nestle, Vivo and Mobile Legends, to name a few. Come 2019, the partnerships and business were booming as he kept putting in the work and focused on things that allowed the business to thrive.
“A lot of people have this preconceived notion that everything has to be perfect before starting a business but I see it more like a science experiment. When something fails, I don’t see it as a failure. Instead, I look at it as a feedback mechanism to improve and optimise.”
Chicken Genius Singapore, The Don Fron Show, and how he made his first million
Prathap stumbled across two YouTube channels which focused on investing and trading, and he was immediately hooked on the ways of investing and trading in the markets.
“I spend a lot of time on YouTube learning and consuming different things. Most people don’t realise this but we’re just a click away from life-changing information.”
“Coming to March 2020, when COVID-19 hit Malaysia and the markets crashed terribly, I saw that as an opportunity to make use of what I learned and invest RM150,000 of my own capital. I had the means, knowledge and guidance to do what was right.”
“Within eight months, my mere RM150,000 investment grew by over six times to RM1,000,000.”
“I don’t want to paint a false narrative about my 6x growth easily. I spent countless hours in the grind looking out for trades and also I was able to profit even when the markets were down due to the consistent practice in trading and seeing patterns.”
Although there have been corrections in the market, Prathap has been able to grow his capital upwards of 70% year to date.
The birth of Harappan Ltd.
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“I feel like there are so many things going wrong with the world like climate change, inequality and racism and the fact that many talk about changing the world but do not make proper change.”
“This was my calling and I felt like I had the responsibility to impact the world positively through this capital, which led to the birth of Harappan Ltd.”
Harappan Ltd. is an offshore equity holdings company owned by Prathap which invests in select companies and industries such as Tesla, Crypto, Crispr Technologies and more.
“With Harappan, my goal is to promote equity with companies that bring long-lasting change; just like how Tesla is creating electric cars which will drastically reduce carbon emissions.”
Beyond his wealth, Prathap is a philanthropist who wants to contribute more than just normal donations.
“I don’t want to just donate food or other material items. Instead, I want to do charity sustainably through investing in education and providing people jobs so that in the long run, even when I’m gone, my legacy continues.”
Harappan for the future
Prathap explains that Harappan Ltd. is a stepping-stone towards gaining the resources needed to have a positive impact on the daily lives of people.
“Once we have sufficient funds, I plan to invest in development towards clean energy, water and agriculture. I believe innovations in these areas will ultimately disrupt current norms and are capable of making our planet a better place. I want to be the person who revolutionises these industries like how Elon Musk is working on commercial space travel.”
He makes his money by saving & growing it, not spending it
A book titled ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki educated Prathap about his finances and it made such an impact on his life, it became a turning point to the way he looked at money. He saw a huge leap in his savings due to the cash flow from his business now that he’s not spending it unnecessarily.
“There’s a famous saying that goes ‘It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep’. I do spend a lot of money but it will never be more than 5% of my yearly earnings“.
“And don’t fall into the short term trap of spending whatever you make. To grow real wealth, you have to focus on letting your money make you even more money by investing.”
Prathap also shared the fact that he is most satisfied with the personal growth he has experienced through being more mindful of money.
“I did not take out money to buy a fancy car or a big house and barely have any cash on hand or at the bank. This might not seem like a goal everyone wants to follow but my net worth is in the markets.”
“The value of all the nice stuff you bought will drop eventually. Imagine if you did not buy all those things and imagine the value of all of it as a figure in your bank account.”
So why pursue your medical studies when you can focus on your career?
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“As a medical student, life on campus in 2020 and so far in 2021 is basically non-existent. However, I’ve met some of the smartest, most brilliant and innovative fellow students through my Zoom sessions. It will always be an honour to work and exchange thoughts with these people.”
“I enjoy learning about the human body. Almost my entire family is in the field of medicine so it feels natural for me to study medicine too. Even if Harappan does not make as much of an impact on humanity, I know as a doctor, I can certainly make a tremendous amount of impact on at least one person.”
Trading expert, future doctor, but still an everyday Malaysian guy
Although he’s a self-made millionaire before even reaching 20 years of age, Prathap is still a young man who does what every Malaysian youth does.
“I actually spend a lot of time on YouTube, and funny enough, that’s where I learn most things about trading, investing and the human body. I try to maintain my own body by training at the gym.”
“When I can, I always try to spend time with my friends. They are the ones who keep me sane and balance out my life. I won’t be where I am without them.”
Dealing with nay-sayers and pressing on to success
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There will always be people who doubt our ambitions and that is what normally stops people from doing great things with their lives. Prathap proves that if you push on and believe in your goals, anything you do could be great.
“Everyone doubted it, but it was a pretty simple solution. I let the results speak for me and I don’t need to tell anyone my next move in the short term or what the bigger plan is. I never told anyone outside my circle that my goal was to make a million and didn’t even tell my family I was starting a fund.”
“I did however feel like giving up. It was truly exhausting. But, I had my friends and family to lean on and give me the motivation to pull through. They always reminded me of the bigger picture.”
A message and hope for Malaysian youths
Aside from being smart with money and learning how to grow it, Prathap also wishes for a better future for the country. The only way things could improve, in his words, is for people to start looking at the bigger picture.
“I’ve had many challenges and failures but that is part of the journey. To achieve your goals is a series of problems and challenges. When we try to solve them and keep moving forward, we eventually arrive at the destination.”
“Finally, never try to do it all on your own. Being a one-man show drains your soul. Unless your business plan requires you to be the professional, for example running your own clinic or consultancy, you will be trampled and squished by businesses.”
To close it off, Prathap quotes Elon Musk, “Sometimes when something is important enough, you do it even when the odds are against you“.
If Prathap’s story inspires you, there is nothing stopping you or anyone else from achieving their goals and dreams. The first step is always the hardest but once you’ve taken that step, there’s nothing that can stop you!
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