The Road to Entrepreneurship: Perspectives of our Leading Ladies
While the number of women entrepreneurs in the country, still falls short of ideal, their perspectives from the entrepreneurs’ lens are crucial to consider. They bring diversity of experiences and challenges to the table, that one can learn from.
We spoke to Richa Kar, founder of Zivame.com, Shraddha Sharma, founder of YourStory.com and Radhika Aggarwal, co-founder of ShopClues.com to understand their take on what it is like to be successful entrepreneurs in today’s competitive business landscape, which is not always fair to women.
Eureka! Said the ladies, in good time.
A common thread across experiences seems to be that none of them identified the idea from the start but evolved them based on their experiences.
Richa began to think of her business while working on a project with a lingerie giant. She realized that in India the knowledge about lingerie, as a category, was depressingly low.
“As a consumer, I definitely know what and which brand of Jeans I’m wearing, which brand of apparel, watch, glasses I’m wearing… but I don’t know anything about my lingerie and why is that so?”
On her mission with setting up Zivame, Richa says:
“We definitely want to be the largest, the most preferred and the most loved destination for women in lingerie.”
This theme echoed in the experience of Shraddha Sharma, founder of YourStory.com. While working with CNBC she realized that several entrepreneurs fail to have their story told only because someone felt that their story was not good enough. She wanted a platform free from interpretation.
“I started writing about these entrepreneurs that nobody in the media was writing about because they thought they were not successful or big enough or funded enough. I thought – such doubt in discrimination! Let’s listen to stories.”
Shraddha wants YourStory to be a companion in the long and lonely journey that is entrepreneurship.
“In the next 1 year, we should have stories of millions of people – peek into their experiences, share with the, learn with them and talk to them.”
To set up shop was a prodigious affair
Setting up a business from scratch, however, was not easy and each of our leading ladies faced several difficulties on the way. Richa’s parents had an issue with what she was setting out to do.
“What am I going to tell my friends that my engineer-MBA daughter is selling bras and panties?”
Not only did she face challenges with explaining her line of business to her landlord, but also to the payment gateway they were having integrated onto the Zivame platform.
Radhika (Shopclues) insists that in today’s scenario one cannot simply have a me-too model where, by changing the color of the logo, you believe you have a competitive differentiation, especially in the e-commerce marketplace.
Knowing that a significantly large proportion of the Indian population continues to shop offline in local markets “our goal was to be able to build a marketplace which will replicate the actual offline buying behavior/experience of the customers,” says Radhika.
And the 3 wise ladies said…
Image source: Denver Library
Derived from their personal experiences, each one of them is fairly vociferous in what they recommend as advice. Richa believes that passion is required in droves, as that is the only thing that differentiates running a start-up, full time, from something that is just a hobby.
However, she is quick to add,
“Resilience is a very important quality in an entrepreneur, because the business will see highs and lows.”
Richa believes that the only way to be able to shield yourself from these swings is to be resilient and persevere with the original vision that you had set out to achieve.
Watch Richa Kar share her story of building Zivame from scratch
Shraddha believes that, by nature, women tend to be emotional and as a result, everything becomes personal. However, when you are running a business, you have to try and slightly detach yourself and think like an entrepreneur. She also can’t stop stressing upon the importance of documentation. Once scale sets in, the only way to keep running the business is processes and documentation.
Watch how Shraddha Sharma is giving voice to so many entrepreneurs
Radhika has two pieces of advice to give – one is specific to women entrepreneurs, where she says:
“You need to have a very strong support system and sometimes, you just need to dig your heels in and say that this is what I want to do and this is what I am going to do.”
She also says that mistakes are just lessons well learnt –
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you do make mistakes change the path that you are walking on and walk with the right people.”
Watch: Radhika Aggarwal’s take on building a startup
These accounts are clear evidence that the new generation of women have overcome all sorts of notions that work against them, and proved themselves beyond doubt in all spheres of life, including in one of the most demanding and cumbersome – entrepreneurship. While, India has its pool of such bold and ambitious women who have made a mark for themselves, there are surely many more in the making. Some, that just need a nudge to spread their wings.
Take the plunge into entrepreneurship with UpGrad’s 15-week online program, where you learn with the help of structured frameworks, insights from India’s leading entrepreneurs, real life case studies, and opportunities for networking and collaborating with like-minded entrepreneurs.
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Vineeta works at UpGrad as an Assistant Manager of Marketing Communications. Previously, she has worked at BlueStone as Senior Executive of Marketing Communications and has extensive Marketing experience from her stints at Newbridge and Tata Global Beverages as well.