Pallavi Singh from Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India

Pallavi Singh, Founder of Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India
Pallavi Singh, Founder of Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India

Name of your business:

Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India

Tell us about your business…

Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India is a first of its kind initiative to help the expat community learn about and engage with the Indian subcontinent without feeling handicapped due to a lack of understanding of the language. Locals don’t use English in their day to day lives as a medium of interaction– learning the Hindi phrases and expressions you need makes any experience with the country exponentially more rewarding.

What motivated you to start your own business?

Lack of realistic and feasible “student” jobs in India made me feel paralyzed as I wanted to study and work (I started teaching when I was 20 years old). This sort of pushed me into doing something of my own with time flexibility and decent money. I guess I never looked back…

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

A lot of people come to India thinking everything can be “bargained”. I used to get a lot of students asking for a “discount” as they assumed this is India (a cheap country) and hence they can always get a lower price than initially offered. Also, people not taking me seriously, arriving late, being disrespectful when it comes to honoring payment cycles. I mean; there are laws and rules which people follow more seriously back home (I intend to say the “West”), but its India; so it’s harder to convey your business etiquette with equal force and potency.

How did you overcome these challenges?

By standing firm on my ground; my services are professional, of high quality and competitively unique in the market. And inevitably have a price to them. It takes a while, but eventually, people understand the seriousness.

How did you find your first customers?

Initially through Facebook, then referrals.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Online presence and referrals.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

Definitely meeting new people and through them, vicariously, visiting new cities and places. 🙂

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

Travelling in Mumbai, which is one of the most chaotic and unorganized cities ever. Travelling here drains you of your energy and the heat and humidity does not help either.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

By thinking of the bigger picture and seeing the amount of good the overall situation has.

Who inspires you?

A former student, a life+business mentor, a “go to” person in times of adversity. I would like to call him Mr. AAD (Adopted American Dad) 🙂 For sake of maintaining his identity, I cannot name him, but this person has been a solid inspiration for all the things he has accomplished and the sheer grit, intelligence and smarts he has.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Go, do your own thing and never consider marriage a final “resort” if nothing works out. Live “your” life. Identify who “you” are and capitalize on your strengths to make a name for yourself.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Pallavi!

You can check out more details here and please share some social media love with Pallavi via Facebook.

Serene and Raisa from Jamboree Party Planners

Serene and Raisa, Founders of Jamboree Party Planners
Serene and Raisa, Founders of Jamboree Party Planners

Name of your business:

Jamboree Party Planners

Tell us about your business…

We are two young women, one Indian and one foreign, who have come together to give your party the perfect feel and look! We know both what the Indian market wants as well as what is out there abroad. We are able to join these two and make a hip and happening event for you and your guests. We create the perfect ambiance by using a variety of decorations; we keep it simple but elegant. We specialize in the decor for children’s birthday parties and for small events/special occasion e.g. baby showers, bridal showers, naming ceremonies, kitty parties etc. We will also look into the entertainment for your event and make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. At jamboree we don’t give you the everyday party look, we create something beyond. Handmade or specially sourced decorations give the personal touch to your event.

What motivated you to start your own business?

We both have children of our own and when ever it was their birthdays we could never find what we wanted from the “Local” party planners. We always ended up doing everything ourselves. So we thought that this would be a good business, to do parties from a different aspect and point of view and not just the local balloon decorations. It was then that we decided to start our own Party planning company, Jamboree Party Planners.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

The biggest challenge is to be different and not the same as there are many party planners in Mumbai. It is also important for us to be able to source the decor we need, we don’t use the “normal” and easily available things.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Many of our decorations are handmade; we personally look into each and every aspect of your event and make sure we give it that personal touch. Our clients are not just another number; we meet them several times before the event to ensure they get exactly what they want.

How did you find your first customers?

That was a long time ago! But from what I recall when we first interacted with her she was a little unsure! However once we showed her what we plan to do and in the budget she had, she was happy to go with us. She loved the event we planned for her and was very happy with the outcome! Since then she has used us for several of her events!

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Word of mouth is the best way for people to hear about us and the work we do.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

We love that what we are doing is something that we enjoy and makes us happy!! It is important to be happy with what you do; this will show through the products you produce! We also have the freedom to work freely and create whatever we want.

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

We love what we do so much that there are not any negatives! The only thing is, we don’t like it when the party we have been planning comes to an end!

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

We have not yet faced many difficult times and we hope to keep it this way by always being positive and looking at the brighter side. If you focus on the negatives then you are sure to face many all the time. We are happy people and take things as they come.

Who inspires you?

Steve Jobs, he had an idea and pursued it. He started in the garage of his parents’ home and from there he made it so big! We have started Jamboree Party Planners because we have a vision and ideas that we believe in.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

There are no limits; if you have an idea then pursue it with all that you have. Never be afraid of starting your own business and follow your heart. There is no greater feeling than working for yourself.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Serene and Raisa!

You can find more details about Jamboree Party Planners on Facebook and make sure to check out the beautiful pictures on Instagram.

Honey Jain Kathuria from Kowrk.com

Honey Jain Kathuria, Founder of Kowrk.com
Honey Jain Kathuria, Founder of Kowrk.com

Name of your business:

kowrk.com

Tell us about your business…

Kowrk is a platform that allows users to find, review and book co-working spaces in Hong Kong, Singapore, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Siem Ream (Cambodia).

What motivated you to start your own business?

My desire to solve a problem in the most optimum way. Lack of an integrated platform for coworking spaces presented that opportunity.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

Product development – it took me time and trials to find the right team for product development. Company Registration in India took around 2 months and a lot of back and forth with regards to paperwork.

[Note from Entrepreneuress.in: We have an exciting partnership coming up to support new female entrepreneurs with company incorporation. Stay tuned!]

How did you overcome these challenges?

Belief in my idea and confidence in my problem solving skills helped me get through the wait and failure cycles.

How did you find your first customers?

Twitter.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Digital channels: search engines and social media platform.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

Learning something new everyday!

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

Rejecting people who apply for jobs at kowrk.com.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

When things go south, my family and friends are the support pillars who give me confidence and encouragement.

Who inspires you?

Sheryl Sandberg – a woman of actions and words.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Go out and chase your dream. You will never be fully prepared to launch your business.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Honey!

You can check out more details here and please share some social media love with the team via Facebook and Twitter.

Digisha Shah from DSPR

Digisha Shah, Founder of DSPR
Digisha Shah, Founder of DSPR

Name of your business:

DSPR – Digisha Shah Public Relations (Website: www.dspr.in )

Tell us about your business…

In the age of brands proliferation, DSPR makes your brand stand out in the crowd by giving it the perfect blend of public relations complemented with relevant services. We offer a plethora of services to do with Public Relations, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, Branding etc, and specialize in the lifestyle and hospitality industry.

What motivated you to start your own business?

An opportunity to explore the potential in me and to create a unique fusion of services not available very easily. I was always inclined towards the lifestyle and hospitality industry and being a complete marketing person, I couldn’t have thought of a better combination.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

Major challenges have been – finding the right people to create a team, keeping up with the trends, creating your identity.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Constantly looking for people through different groups, friends of friends, family etc, and realizing the potential in them through informal interviews. It is a hit and miss sometimes with the people we find but training also plays a very important role, so finding the right balance is the key.

Internet and digital marketing plays a very important role in keeping up with the trends, keeping a constant eye for new and unique activities is very important.

In the service industry, your product is associated with your personality, providing impeccable service on all fronts is very important. Another important characteristic is how unique and creative you can be, combination of these different qualities help you stand out in the crowd and create a niche for yourself, which helps you create your identity.

How did you find your first customers?

Through an ex-colleagues recommendation.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

By offering our best services to the current clientele. Being in the service industry, nothing works as much as word of mouth!

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

Lots of Yummmmy Food! A fun, young and vibrant environment! Working on new and interesting clients constantly!

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

Finding the right kind of people for a service based industry. Being a start up, you have to look into all aspects of the business, while it is a great experience, it can get very exhausting and distracting from your main line of focus!

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

Fortunately, I have some great people around me, who are constant reminders of my ability and strength. Also, my vision for DSPR, to keep growing bigger and stronger keeps me motivated as well.

Who inspires you?

I am an avid reader of Humans of Mumbai, and in the past few months nothing has inspired me more than those stories. Each of them has their own struggles, and some of them are over it and some are still getting over it, but they haven’t given up! Being in the same city with the same vibe, nothing inspires me more than these local heroes!

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Don’t give up! Sometimes it may feel like it’s almost over, though that is the beginning of something better and more exciting!

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Digisha!

Share the social media love with DSPR via Facebook and Twitter.

Launch: empoWer – India’s 1st Accelerator Program for Women Entrepreneurs

Zone Startups India launches its women focused accelerator program “empoWer” on Friday, 29 April 2016 at 4.30pm.

Entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, investors and media are invited for the grand launch which includes a plenary session and panel discussion. In addition, a walk through of the program benefits and takeaways is planned.

“empoWer” is India’s 1st accelerator program for women entrepreneurs building technology enabled ventures.

The event is supported by the Department of Science & Technology, Google, GIZ, Vodafone, Nishith Desai Associates and State Bank of India. Speakers and Panelists include:

Deena Mehta (Managing Director, Asit C. Mehta Investment Interrmediates Ltd & Independent Director – NPCI), Anuja Shukla (Google Cloud Platform – Venture Capital, Accelerator and Incubator), Naiyya Saggi (Co-Founder Babychakra), Sarin Thamby (Vice President – Strategy, Technology and Architecture Vodafone), Dr. Anita Gupta (Director, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India) and Amit Kumar (Program Manager, Innovation Promotion in MSME, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH).

Register for FREE here.

“empoWer” is India’s 1st accelerator program for women entrepreneurs building technology enabled ventures.
“empoWer” is India’s 1st accelerator program for women entrepreneurs building technology enabled ventures.

 

P.S. Our founder and CEO will be present at the event, too. Do come by and say hi if you see her…

Suhani Mohan from Saral Designs

 

Suhani Mohan, Co-Founder of Saral Designs
Suhani Mohan, Co-Founder of Saral Designs

Name of your business:

Saral Design Solutions (Website: www.saraldesigns.in )

Tell us about your business…

Saral Design Solutions is a for-profit Social Enterprise focused on designing products to provide access to affordable and quality menstrual hygiene in India.

Saral has developed a machine to manufacture high quality sanitary napkins (“Aisha pads”) in decentralized manner. Decentralization helps in lowering costs incurred due to several layers of distribution. Aisha pads are being made available to these girls via various channels like medical shops, door to door sales and installation of vending machines in their schools toilets along with hygiene awareness.

What motivated you to start your own business?

Menstruation is a natural biological phenomenon that every woman undergoes. Due to poor access to and affordability of reliable products, women in India have been adopting unhygienic practices to manage their periods, which has severe health implications.

We feel access to affordable sanitary napkins is a basic right for every woman. While technology is making our lives easier, we believe that technology also needs to be used to address critical challenges that affect a huge segment of the population. This motivated us to build machines that automate processes to lower costs (of production and distribution) while maintaining the product quality and service.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

The start is probably the most difficult time when you don’t have funds that you need to build the product. And when you don’t have a product and funds it is difficult to build a team.

How did you overcome these challenges?

The only thing that helped us in our early days was strong conviction in what we were trying to do. It helped us get early supporters and team members who believed in the vision and built the product.

How did you find your first customers?

We packed our bags with a dozen packets of sanitary napkins and entered into a slum locality in Ghatkopar. We started approaching women going door to door telling about the product and why we are doing what we are doing, how we are using technology to get costs down without compromising on quality. Out of the 15 women we met that day, 14 of them purchased our product.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Sanitary napkin sales are the most effective when it happens at a personal level along with awareness building on hygiene.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

Running your own early stage start-up offers continuous accelerated learning in every aspect of the business.

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

Extensive paper work… India really needs to introduce many more reforms and automation in processes so that there is better ease of doing business in the country.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

“Anything that doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” – Something that I tell myself in difficult times.

Who inspires you?

My mother. Being brought up in a rural/ semi-urban setting, Hindi medium school educated from UP, from an area where female higher education was extremely rare, she is today a B.Tech, M.Tech from IIT Roorkee, a PhD from IIT Bombay and a Distinguished Scientist in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Her struggles despite all odds, motivate me to push my boundaries.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Your success is the best way to empower other women.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Suhani!

You can support Saral Design and spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and affordable affordable sanitary pads via Facebook and Twitter.

Camille Henning from RIK Babywear

Name of your business:

Camille Henning, Founder of RIK Babywear
Camille Henning, Founder of RIK Babywear

RIK Babywear (Facebook Page)

Tell us about your business…

We design and make kids clothes for children from 6 months to 5 years. The clothes are light 100% casual baby wear to accommodate the hot climate and keep your baby heat rash free. The clothes have funky prints and are super comfortable and practical for your little ones.

What motivated you to start your own business?

My son had bad heat rash and I couldn’t find thin enough clothes so I started making some for him… One thing lead to another and voila 🙂

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

Figuring it all out… I know nothing about this industry, so where to get fabrics, zippers, good tailors, etc. was a lot of field work and trial and error. And only now, we are shifting to a manufacturer based in Jaipur.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Determination, patience and balls…

How did you find your first customers?

My first customer was a close friend and she is the one who encouraged me to sell the clothes I made for my son. She is my good luck fairy.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Trunk Shows or Flea Markets -but definitely face to face.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

The creativity I can put into it all… I love seeing the clothes all finished and on a happy little baby jumping around having a blast in comfort and style.

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

All the paperwork… not fun but has to be done.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

Keep thinking of the end result and what it will look like and how I will achieve it. Don’t sulk in the now.

Who inspires you?

My Son, India, my friends and the world that surrounds us.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

If you have an idea, try it out. Start small, see how it goes and little by little it will develop (or not). But at least you tried! But if you start off thinking too big, it will discourage you to start.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Camille!

You can check out the Facebook page and Instagram account of RIK Babywear for more details beautiful pictures.

Reemma Dalal from Mix and Mingle

Reema Dalal, Founder of Mix and Mingle
Reemma Dalal, Founder of Mix and Mingle

Name of your business:

Mix and Mingle (Website: www.mixandmingle.in)

Tell us about your business…

Mix and Mingle was created to fulfill Mumbai’s need for a fresh outlook on its social scene, particularly for the discerning singles crowd. It provides an opportunity for singles to meet new people and expand their social network in a safe environment-something that can be challenging for those who have a demanding job, are new to the city, or just simply reserved.

What motivated you to start your own business?

My business partner Jemma and I, were in between jobs when we thought of the idea of Mix and Mingle. We were friends even before we started the company, and used to go out a lot to various events, lounges, bars and clubs. We noticed that the average age group of people who were on a night out were quite young. We thought of organizing an event that specifically catered to singles 30 years and up. It is generally harder to make connections at this age when many of your friends have either gotten married, have kids or moved away. Also we knew quite a few single people in their 30’s and wanted to bring them together in a fun and relaxed environment.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

Although the mindset of single people is changing over the years, many are still intimidated by the idea of attending a singles event. They still feel that it’s safer and more comfortable to meet someone either through their friends, family or parents. Some singles feel that attending a singles event means putting yourself out there and possibly looking desperate.

How did you overcome these challenges?

We have been trying to change the mindset over the years by providing a comfortable, safe space for like-minded people to meet. We make it a point to screen everyone who attends our events to avoid having people who do not belong in such an event. In our monthly newsletter, we try to address issues that single men and women face and suggest tips on how to tackle these issues. We have also started organizing workshops on different topics related to singles. We realize that it can be difficult for singles in Mumbai since we constantly face criticism or judgement from family or friends if you are not married at a certain age. We wanted to create a space where they feel safe, they are not judged and they can actually be themselves and meet like minded people.

How did you find your first customers?

We find our customers through Facebook, Meetup, Twitter, Instagram and also word of mouth. Many of our clients like attending our events and recommend their single friends to do the same.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Social media. We are present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Meetup.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

1) I can be my own boss and I am not answerable to anyone. 2) I can find my own work and life balance. 3) l can choose people I want to work with. 4) I can challenge myself. 5) l can connect with my clients. 6) I can follow my passion

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

My least favorite part of business is routine back end work, updating database, following up with payments, following up with clients before the events to make sure they are going to attend our events.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

By keeping my head up high. The toughest challenge can help us grow the most. Appreciate and be grateful and if you want something you can make it happen.

Who inspires you?

My mother –she is a reiki master and spiritual healer. She helps me to stay positive at all times.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Follow your heart. Your heart will lead you to the place you are supposed to be and if you really truly believe in something, you will make it happen. But you have to believe in it, because you live it and breathe it each day. If you are not passionate about it and you don’t love it, it’s going to present a lot of challenges especially when you get to the hard stuff.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Reema!

You can check out more  details here and please share some social media love with the team of Mix and Mingle via Facebook and Twitter.