As a startup entrepreneur who had almost perished in the dotcom bust, I trained myself to be very frugal. That meant maximising every rupee spent and extending the “paisa vasool” (stretching money) concept to everything I did. Take, for instance, travelling to different cities for work.

I followed a self-imposed diktat called “First In, Last Out”, meaning that I would always take the first flight into a city and the last one back. How was this paisa vasool? Well, it was a simple hack to maximise time in the city I was travelling to, so that I could do more business.

The only time I broke my own rule was in 2006 when I had to travel to Hyderabad for a panel on entrepreneurship being organised by the Indian School of Business (ISB). I cannot remember now why I didn’t book the first flight and instead chose to go by the second one.

On reaching Mumbai airport, I discovered that my flight was delayed. As I did the maths in my head, I calculated that even if the plane did leave at the delayed time, I would probably not make it in time to the panel discussion. It made no sense for me to travel.

Embarrassed by my foolishness and miscalculation, I called my wife and said, “Chhavi, my flight is very late. I made a mistake not taking the earlier one, so I’m thinking of going back to the office.”

What Chhavi said shocked me. She said, “Alok, you stepped out of the house to go to work, so do your work and come back. There is no returning midway.” She disconnected the phone. I had never heard Chhavi speak to me like this before. It was almost like she was telling me to go to Hyderabad, even though it seemed illogical to do so.

So, I took the flight and reached the ISB campus a few minutes after my panel was supposed to have begun. As it often happens, the earlier programmes were running late, and that helped me make my session on time. The discussion was about entrepreneurship and I was given a hero’s welcome since I had recently exited my previous company, mobile2win, through its sale to Walt Disney Corporation.

On the panel, I noticed a distinguished young man in an expensive designer jacket. The more I looked at him, the more he resembled one of the male models from the Raymond’s “Complete Man” campaign or straight out of GQ magazine. He spoke slowly, with deeply measured words and with an air of authority. I quickly scanned his name placard and found out that he was Rahul Khanna from Clearstone Venture Partners. I had neither heard of Rahul nor of his firm. But what he said next got all my attention.

In a very sophisticated, convincing and authoritative tone, Rahul described the tremendous opportunity of online gaming and how India would mimic China where millions of consumers played super-successful massive multiplayer online games (MMOG) in plush internet cafes. The gaming companies that had launched these businesses in China had become multi-billion dollar ventures and had listed themselves in the local stock exchanges. Rahul then quoted numbers, demographics, user preferences and other triggers that would fire up gaming in India, the same way as it had happened in China.

As I listened to him, my heart began to thump faster. Here was a VC talking about my domain! I was the guy who had pioneered gaming in India and what Rahul had so eloquently spoken about was entirely about my space. Even as my ego took a solid beating, my mind raced. As a trained entrepreneur, I knew that if a VC was diving deep into a domain, he was most likely to finance it or announce a deal in it, very soon.

Just as all kinds of fears began to pass through my mind, I felt my phone vibrate. When I quietly peeked at it, I saw an SMS from Ganesh Rengaswamy who was sitting in the audience. Ramesh worked at Greylock Partners – a prominent global VC and was responsible for its Indian business. Ganesh and I knew each other well.

Ganesh’s message confirmed my deepest fears. It read, “Alok, seems like Rahul is going to announce a gaming deal very soon. Better watch out my friend, your space is getting competition.”

I hung on to every word that Rahul said, bracing myself for the funding announcement of a local gaming company. Oddly, no such announcement came. Rahul concluded his presentation commenting on how India could become one of the most significant opportunities for internet gaming in the world.

As soon as the panel session ended, I met Rahul and introduced myself. He had heard of me. When I found out more details about him, I was happy to learn that he was a South Mumbai lad like me. I had met his sister and her friends, with whom I had attended Nani Palkhiwala’s famous budget speeches at the Cricket Club of India. As I left the ISB Campus, I promised to meet Rahul in Mumbai very soon.

The very next week, I was in the plush, elegant Clearstone office on the seventeenth floor at the Oberoi Towers, with a majestic view of the Arabian Sea. Like an emperor, Rahul sat at the single desk that occupied his office suite and quizzed me on the future of gaming and how I thought the Indian market would evolve.

While I had a conservative approach, I shared Rahul’s bullishness about the internet and its potential in India. I had begun preparing for my fourth startup, Games2win, that was all about consumer gaming and excitedly shared its plans with Rahul. My vision for Games2win was a global, casual gaming business built out of India.

After this first meeting, we met again, several times. Our meetings got more intense, and Rahul and I thrashed out details of a “go-to-market” plan for Games2win. I had already begun discussions with Mahesh Khambadkone from Bangalore to join Games2win as CTO and Cyrus Oshidar from Mumbai to be the Creative Director of the company.

I introduced both of them to Rahul who spent quality time with them, understanding their backgrounds and skillsets. Rahul seemed convinced that Games2win had the team and execution plan to be a winning business. In less than three months, Clearstone wrote out a term sheet for the company, to invest about four million US dollars in a company that had not even started up! A month later, as soon as all the complicated documents were signed, eighteen crore rupees landed in my company’s bank account.

I was ready to go.

In all my past experiences of raising capital, funding businesses, and even selling two companies, I had never seen a deal close this fast. The speed and the frictionless connect between me, Rahul and Clearstone was surreal. The transaction seemed propelled by factors that went beyond normal. It was as if an invisible force was behind it, determined to make it happen.

The day after the deal was inked, I asked Rahul, “Rahul, when you made that speech at the ISB, I thought you were going to announce a deal that day. Were you?”

Rahul looked at me and with his classic grin, said, “Alok, I was going to announce a deal! I had written out a term sheet to Kreeda Games (another Indian gaming company) the night before I flew out, and the promoter and I had agreed that I would announce the deal at the ISB summit. That morning, when I landed at Hyderabad and switched on my phone, I saw a message from the company promoter that he was not interested in my offer. The deal was off. So, I had a speech but no deal!” (Kreeda Games did raise money from IDG Capital a few months later but could not pivot its business and had to shut down its operations three years later.)

I was amazed to hear the sequence of events that Rahul mentioned. I had goosebumps when I remembered how that morning I had actually almost cancelled my trip to Hyderabad. It was only Chhavi’s prompt that had made me travel. While I was lucky to have made the trip, what were the odds that on a panel at that same conference, there would be a venture capitalist, fully invested and committed to funding an Indian gaming company, with a deal that had just fallen through? Someone, I would be able to convince, to accept an alternate and better investment option, which he would buy into and fund within three months?

For me, it was crystal clear. The circumstances of my ISB trip was another classic case of divine intervention that had favoured me. While I did realise how fortunate I was to have my new company quickly funded and without much effort, I did not fathom the deeper connection of Clearstone Ventures becoming my partner. As it turned out, this was a part of a much larger plan that the universe had in store for me. Soon, I would find out everything.

Excerpted with permission from The Cave: An Internet Entrepreneur’s Spiritual Journey, Alok Kejriwal, Westland.