100th Startup Saturday Event

Startup Saturday is the flagship initiative of the Headstart Network and they are celebrating their 100th event in Mumbai.

The first Startup Saturday Mumbai (#SSMUM) took place on 10th May 2008 and has been organised on the second Saturday of every month since then. The Centennial event will be celebrated on 20th August 2016.

Over the years, Startup Saturday has given early stage entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their ideas, network with fellow entrepreneurs, search for team members/co-founders and learn from entrepreneurs who share their experiences on the #SSMUM platform.

#SSMUM100 will be about celebrating the success of entrepreneurs who have been a part of the initiative since its inception and the commitment of aspiring and early stage entrepreneurs to develop and launch their startups.

More details about the event below. Tickets can be purchased here.

100th Startup Saturday Event in Mumbai
100th Startup Saturday Event in Mumbai

Jaya Rawat from Chotee

Jaya Rawat, Founder of Chotee
Jaya Rawat, Founder of Chotee

Name of your business:

Chotee (Website: www.ilovechotee.com)

Tell us about your business…

In Hindi Chotee means tied hair, it also means peak of the mountain. The idea is quite simply to provide as much joy to the hands that make them as the wearers of the beautiful products. Chotee is an inconspicuous brand of handmade fashion accessories made lovingly for girls of all ages. Each product is lovingly designed and crafted to give an Oh So Gorgeous look along with functionality. These are crafted by underprivileged women who are taught from scratch to make these, and they are paid fair. Mostly it is a lot of hair accessories in addition to necklaces, hand chains, rings, belts and even eye glass chains. Each product is tested for functionality, quality and durability before it is launched.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I belong to the Marwari business community, and always had the bug of starting something of my own, so when I found I was able to train women to make this stuff, I jumped right into it. The whole idea of designing, marketing and selling products that I absolutely love is what excites me. In addition, I get to help women including me, lead a better life!

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

The sheer number of choices one has to make on an everyday basis is pretty crazy. In addition, juggling between the roles of a designer, trainer, marketer, procurement officer, model and seller is a little bit tricky. Also, being in a market which is so unregulated, and is mostly compared to goods that are mass produced in China by people who have no concept of Fair Wage is difficult to say the least. Moreover, India as a market doesn’t believe in spending on handmade products, because somehow people believe handmade products should be cheaper since no money was spent on machinery.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I have participated in almost 50 exhibitions so far, and learnt so much from the process. From understanding the client requirements/psyche to the price point that would work to even the colors that are popular. It has a been huge learning. Talking and explaining the process of making these, and how both quality and design of Chotee products is much superior, has helped immensely.

How did you find your first customers?

Chotee was launched 2 years ago at Bangalore’s largest and most loved flea market Sunday Soul Sante. That was the first time the products were put up for sale. The response was phenomenal, it also gave me idea of what works, and why and how. I received instant feedback on the products, and it helped immensely in developing new products as well.

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

Exhibitions and online, they both work very well for Chotee products. Events provide an opportunity for the buyers to try the products, and experience the look and feel of these. However, the attention is drawn to the products that are displayed the best. Online listings provide equal weight to every product, hence allowing the customers to pick from a wider variety that is all displayed very aesthetically.Further, online listings provide a large reach of the products.

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

The fact that I get to call the shots!

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

The fact that I have to make so many choices, its the best and the worst thing because there is no way to measure the true impact of the decision.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

Chotee is my baby, I just can’t let go of it. Usually, its in realizing how far I have come. Also,speaking with other entrepreneurs helps greatly.

Who inspires you?

All the awesome women who run their own venture.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Stay true to yourself, your choice and your idea. Give it time and energy, and don’t beat yourself up if people don;t get what you are doing and why. It’s your baby, keep going and you will find your way.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jaya!

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

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.

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.

Supriya Paul from Josh Talks

Name of your business:

Supriya Paul, Founder of Josh Talks
Supriya Paul, Founder of Josh Talks

Josh Talks (Website: www.joshtalks.com)

Tell us about your business…

Our belief is that People with a Passion can change the world. Our goal at Josh Talks is to communicate this belief to the youth of today to inculcate in them the drive to be successful. The medium that we are using (as of now) is events. We host events where we call speakers from diverse backgrounds of art, sport, entrepreneurship, social activism, stand up comedy and more onto one stage, to share their personal life story. Over the past 15 months, we have held 6 events across 4 cities in India and covered over 80 stories of individuals like Boman Irani, Papa CJ, Vicky Roy (Rag-picker to Photographer), Sheetal Jain (Daughter of a Sex Worker to Drumming Maestro) and more.

What motivated you to start your own business?

While I was in college, I was confused about what to do with my life and I was making decisions based on what other’s were doing because I lacked exposure to the possibility of doing things that are out of the box and yet make a living out of it. This is what motivated me to start on my own business and make sure that other people don’t face the same problem ever.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

Convincing people to sponsor our events has always been a task, since both Shobhit and I are only 22. Other than that, communicating our belief to college going students is always a challenge. To have them skip a movie to attend our event because they are going to learn something is a tedious job, but now they realize the value and the process has become easier.

How did you overcome these challenges?

By just keeping at it. Mailing new companies everyday. Cold Calling. Attending lots of events to be able to get in touch with the same people again and again. Actually showing them our reach and how we can add value and not just overcharging them for anything.

How did you find your first customers?

Through Social Media and by conducting lots of campus oriented activation in colleges.

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

Tickets through websites like Bookmyshow, Explara etc. Other than that: Facebook.

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

While running your own business, you realise that each action you take, has a direct impact on the end result. You are accountable for every little failure but also for every little success and the pride and joy that comes with every successful moment is just overwhelming. You set your own targets, you meet your own goals, and you celebrate your own goals. Each moment gives you such immense joy!

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

Having to do everything yourself, at least in the beginning. From sales to marketing to PR to coordination, you are responsible for every role, and sometimes concentrating on so many things makes you lose your focus.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

Food! Good food is the answer to everything! Just kidding, knowing that in the end, what you produce is going to impact a lot of lives keeps me motivated. It is my social responsibility to do what I’m doing well enough so that someone who attends our event, can take back something from it, implement it in his/her life and contribute to changing the world in some way or the other.

Who inspires you?

When it comes to the Indian Entrepreneurial Ecosystem- People like Sairee Chahal & Swati Bharagava inspire me.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Believe in what you do, and express that belief to others. Communicating your vision to others solves most of the problems and communicating it effectively, leaves no scope for self doubt. I feel that we as women, over-think everything, and sometimes that can get the worst out of us. So it’s important to feel strongly about what we do and do it well, and leave no scope or time for over-thinking things.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Supriya!

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

P.S. You should also check out our blog post about the Josh Meets Women Change-makers event on 08 March in Delhi. We will give away 5 tickets for free. And all you have to do: tell us which woman in India inspires you and why.

Ruchi & Shikha Durlabhji from Code Silver

Ruchi (left) and Shikha (right) - Sisters and Founders of Code Silver
Ruchi (left) and Shikha (right) – Sisters and Founders of Code Silver

Name of your business:

Code Silver (Website: www.codesilver.in)

Tell us about your business…

Code Silver introduces a dazzling collection of unusual designs, unique concepts and exquisite artwork – an unusual melange of unusual items, objects d’art and one-of-a-kind pieces. Code Silver brings its ensemble of gift items in silver and silver plated.

What motivated you to start your own business?

We launched keeping in mind the dearth of quality silver gift items in India. We realized that the scope for such a business is huge in India.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

The biggest challenges were learning about an industry we had no idea about, getting craftsmen, manufacturing issues, hiring the right people.

How did you overcome these challenges?

We worked extremely hard to overcome our day to day problems. We started tackling each problem to overcome them and find solutions.

How did you find your first customers?

We contacted people we knew and participated in exhibitions.

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

We have stores and are launching our online portal soon. Exhibitions are a good way of promoting the products, too.

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

It is a creative and design based business which makes it a lot of fun. We often play around with designs and products.

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

Sometimes, we get inquiries for products which we don’t find exciting at all. Working on such products is our least favorite part.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

During difficult times, it is our belief in the products and the line of business that keeps us motivated.

Who inspires you?

Our parents.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Go out and do what you enjoy doing – and never ever give up!

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ruchi and Shikha!

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