Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Conviction: Key to being a Successful Entrepreneur

When I was leaving school, my principal had written in my diary, “You will take the road less travelled and it will make all the difference”.Back then, I was moved to read that line written by her – a line from one of my favourite poems. Today, I understand the essence and significance of those words.

The road less travelled is intriguing, exciting, adventurous, and scary. While there are new discoveries, there is also a ruthless sort of restlessness that pushes you to go on. That, is the source of my energy. There is comfort in simplicity and gratefulness for life.
I have always listened to my heart. Most of the times it guided me right, and some few odd times, it put me in the most difficult of
situations. The decision to start Happy Hands too, was led by the heart, and in five years, I have faced all varieties of situations – difficult,humbling, and most importantly, inspiring.

I started at a time when efforts for reviving crafts was not an advisable (read lucrative) career option, and had little to do with Management- my field of study. With no formal education in Design, I felt myself drawn to the beauty and sheer magic of handcrafting a product. The first question most friends would ask me would be : “…but how will you do it…”. I did not know the answer then, and I do not know it now.
There was no ‘plan A or B or C’ – there was only a conviction, and the determination to change. Friends came forward to help, and I
continued to meet people who are our biggest support systems now. Fundraising was the biggest problem – how would we pay people,rentals..etc. but our artists understood it all too well. They were our initial supporters – we would make products together, and sell them together.

None of this was easy – while new relationships were formed, existing ones were put to test. The one thing about being an entrepreneur is,you realise who your true friends really are – the ones who share the happiness of success are few in number, the ones who understand the risk of failure, even fewer.

There are several choices one is constantly faced with, but being a woman makes it easier – we are naturally inclined towards multitasking.
In the course of running an organisation, I have learnt how to budget, recruit, design, travel on minimal resources, and how to function with no sleep, but occasional dreams. By most importantly, I have learnt about people and their traditions or cultures; I have learnt patience, and I have grown – not just as an entrepreneur but as a human being. It’s not crafts that I work to restore – I work to bring back the dignity in the
life of a craftsman/artist. I seek to enable our own countrymen to recognise and include the traditional arts of our nation into their lives, so craft can thrive again – so artists can feel ‘wanted’ again.
Time has played a strange game of sorts. While we have moved on to better technology, infrastructure and opportunities, our villages (most of them) remain without any proper access to Internet services even!

Today we have a larger team, and our programs and impact have only increased over the years. We have always been an all-girls
organisation. Not by plan, of course! We learnt to lift our own cartons, and manage our logistics. Yes, our parents have stayed up nights waiting for us, but we ourselves were never concerned about our safety. Somehow, work always came first.
It is the small experiences which have made us who we are – we continue to struggle, laugh at our mistakes, and then make some more.

Today, in retrospect, I am thankful to the people who supported us, and also to those who didn’t because they taught us some very
important lessons. The struggle continues, as does the madness – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Post by: Medhavi Gandhi

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Women Social Entrepreneurs and their Struggle

“Social Entrepreneurs act as agents of change in society, creating interventions for betterment of society and women play a key role in the whole process. While gender differences might come into play where the magnitude and scale of enterprise is concerned, this is by no means an index of the success  of the enterprise. Women entrepreneurs are equally successful and create big impact on society.

‘Skills for Social Enterprise’ is one of the key areas that British Council India is keen to embark upon. The Council has long showcased best of UK innovation and creativity in diverse areas through its programmes. What is now required is to inspire, support and develop next generation of women social entrepreneurs and through their systems and products, deliver wider benefits to the society. This week through Youth ki Awaaz, our partner in this campaign, we will focus on key challenges  that young social entrepreneurs specifically women face in their journey…..”- Dr. G.S. Gujral, Head- Society (India), British Council.

Enterprise gains stage in strange ways. A guy who can’t afford a tea stall sets up a kettle and a dozen cups in the space that is a wall crack. Youngsters who can’t voice their opinions in the mainstream take up blogging, social networking and uploading their own videos. All it takes is courage and conviction, you’d think?

Easier said than done, though. If how you were and what you did were the only determinants to your success, no diligent student would ever sit down and cry with a paltry 85 per cent in his boards, no dancer would ever impair his limbs and no chef would ever burn his best tested recipe. There is a lot more to success that has to do with your destiny, the pressures around you, your lifestyle and circumstances, and the attitudes and mindsets you have to deal with in the race for that red ribbon.

Women social entrepreneurs around us are much lesser in number than one would wish for. Start ups are anyway a risky business idea. And women, most people think, are not meant for adventure. Theirs is the comfortable space, homemade snacks; teaching or embroidery classes are as ambitious as they can get about ‘doing their own thing’. Going beyond those would make men in their lives uncomfortable. It seems they are only well-suited for the parties and wedding, taking care of children and nursing their wounds. It is assumed that other things in her life can wait.

The firm strides women take towards empowering themselves are testimony to an evolving society at the heart of which are strongly unchanging, unwavering prejudices. Most jobs, including corporate ones, have a strong male bias and are structured to eulogise men and their superior status. A woman has to struggle twice as much to make it big in the same space. The frequent long working hours, the workload and the stress that often get to one are not considered a woman’s cup of tea.

As deep as we may search for answers to this, there is pretty much only one underlying reason. Our patriarchal system may give a woman the liberty to follow her dreams, but not the space to chase them. Unfortunately, there is nothing to keep her motivated. Top positions in corporate spaces are reserved for men (or so it seems). She isn’t seen as a leader or a role model. Also, most don’t like working under a woman boss, especially men whose ego would get bruised beyond imagination.

We don’t see too many women entrepreneurs, or at least, too many successful women entrepreneurs because somewhere while chasing their dreams, they’re pulled back and made to fulfil her duties even before she can get her plan to be a successful social entrepreneur in place. Work is always secondary, and when it happens, a woman is made to feel like it’s some rare gift she’s been blessed with. It is not banal, normal or even acceptable. It is not done when she starts to or desires to give it as much time and attention as her home and family.

The fact that apart from men, most women today themselves look down on other women who seem ‘too big for their boots’ is proof enough of the mindsets we grapple with.

Not that women haven’t already done it, but it would take a lot more women with passion and conviction to change this. From education to voting rights, we got it all for ourselves. We’ve always been multitaskers; we just need to fight a little harder to make our place. Remember: it’s never too late.

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Is It Tough To Be A Young Entrepreneur?

As an 18-year-old, Ritesh dropped out of college to focus on his startup. Amongst many challenges he faced, from deciding to drop out, to living away from his parents in a city nearly 12,000 kms away from his, he had to make tough choices early on. His courage and determination to start up and become a successful entrepreneur were unshaken, and I remember, every time I would meet him, he would be budding with some new idea to scale up his hospitality startup super fast. Soon after realising that he needed more funding, he also realised that investors doubted him for his age. They doubted him for the challenging decision he took of dropping out, and was made to face hardships in proving himself.

I remember going through a similar journey myself, starting out when I was 17. Walking into plush corporate offices and institutions, and being told that I was just a kid who they did not want to entertain or could not trust was not an end to my turbulent start. I was made fun of and told that my business idea was too naive. I remember a CEO of a reputed mobile company questioning my intentions as he believed that at 18, all that an Indian teenager with a business idea like mine wanted was to get rich quick.

India’s demography puts us in a brilliant spot. With over 60 per cent population falling in the bracket of youth, it gives us immense opportunity to follow our dreams and quite literally, reform the democracy with our ideas and passion. But ironically, this is the very demography that does not have a support systems in place to allow them to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. The lack of will to invest in young people, and being constantly told to follow safe career options, cripple the desire of young people to become enterprise leaders. As a young entrepreneur, you will hardly find people ready to invest in your idea or your vision, or give you any credibility for your work and efforts. Constructive criticism is one thing, discouraging is another, and many a times, discouragement was what I had to go through for the first four years of my journey as a young entrepreneur.

While Silicon Valley has a support system, and respect for entrepreneurs who follow their passion, the Indian enterprise ecosystem leaves very little or no space for a young person to pursue their entrepreneurial venture full time with support. There is immense family pressure to take up conventional careers and stay in the safer circle.

The need of the hour is to create better ecosystem for young people in India, allow more government backing and create stronger, more innovative incubation centers, which help the entrepreneur scale up, sustain and create great businesses that power our economy. Moreover, there is an immediate need for the society to embrace failure and treat it like an experience that was enriching in many ways. We need to be told to take risks, fail, learn, get ourselves back up and try again.

Ritesh had to struggle for a few years but his courage sailed him through. His startup is now a funded company, and he just became the first Indian to win the Thiel Fellowship of $1,00,000. We need better systems in place to make the journey as beautiful for every teenage entrepreneur.

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Register now! Seminar on Investing in India’s Creative Entrepreneurs

The British Council has been pioneering to build a strong community and professional network of creative businesses, through the reward programme Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards. The YCE programme aims to reward innovative work by individuals and nurture emerging enterprises across seven categories – design, music, fashion, screen (film, TV and animation), interactive (software, entertainment, games and social media platforms), performing arts (theatre, dance and “live” art) and publishing.

To build an eco-system to support entrepreneurship with the creative sectors, a half day seminar on Investing in India’s Creative Entrepreneurs is being organised on Friday 9 December from 9.30 am – 2 p.m. at the British Council, New Delhi

The seminar will include the following panel discussions between India and the UK aimed to address and debate the two major issues facing the growth of India’s creative industries. To register email yce.india@in.britishcouncil.org 

Does India need an umbrella policy for supporting entrepreneurship within the creative industries?  

The session will explore the current parameters of existing policies and governmental interventions and examine the different ways in which policy-making can support the development of the creative industries thereby leading to their recognition as key economic sectors.

What India needs to bridge the gap between creative entrepreneurs and investment opportunities?

Discussion will focus on developing a suitable financial infrastructure for the creative sectors and understanding different models that facilitate creative businesses’ access to capital, why it is considered inherently risky to invest in creative industries (or what makes them uniquely different), explore how different creative businesses are more suited to different types of financial investment and support.

The speakers include:

John Newbigin is a freelance strategist and cultural entrepreneur.  He is Chairman of Creative England, a publicly funded agency to support creative businesses, particularly digital media, across England. Other positions he’s held include being Head of Corporate Relations at Channel 4 Television, Special Adviser at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Executive Assistant to David Puttnam, erstwhile Chairman of Enigma Productions Limited. Currently John is the Chairman of Culture24, one of the UK’s leading cultural web publishers and on the board of various arts and educational bodies.  

Adarsh Kumar is the founder and CEO of Livelihoods Equity Connect (LEC), an advisory group that seeks to invest in the Indian agricultural sector and promote models connecting small farmers to mainstream markets. Prior to LEC, Adarsh helped establish the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association, a membership-based policy research and advocacy body that brings together the private sector, civil society and the government to find innovative solutions to bridging the divide between poor rural producers and mainstream markets. At AIACA, Adarsh served on various Planning Commission working groups to look at ways in which creative and cultural industries can provide more employment to the poor. He holds a bachelors degree in Business Management from GeorgetownUniversity and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Adarsh has also been awarded the Echoing Green and Ashoka fellowships for social entrepreneurship.

Rohit Prasad is an Associate Professor of Economics and Chairperson of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Management Development Institute Gurgaon. He has a Ph.D. in Economic Theory from SUNY Stony Brook, USA where he had an opportunity to study Game Theory under the Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Aumann. His thesis provides a framework to address questions related to the optimal fiscal and monetary policy choices of a government in a free market.  He has worked in the software industry in USA and India in senior management positions before joining MDI Gurgaon.  His research interests include the theory of taxation, spectrum policy, ICT for development, and special economic zones. His papers have been published at leading international journals including Telecommunications Policy. He has delivered seminars and talks at Harvard University, the Centre for Game Theory at Stony Brook, India Telecom 2009, Future Com, Brazil 2010, and The Next Billion, Indonesia, 2010. His articles appear regularly in The Economic Times and the Economic and Political Weekly. He recently served on a high powered Committee of the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India to make recommendations on spectrum allocation and pricing in India, and on two Expert Panels for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to study the value of 2G spectrum. 

Aruna Vasudeva, noted journalist was the editor-in-chief of Cinemaya, an influential film magazine established in 1988 devoted exclusively to coverage of Asian Films. It aimed to promote Asian filmmaking internationally and to help Asian national cinemas gain wider international recognition. As an active member of the Indo-French Initiative Forum she contributed to building cooperation between the two countries in the field of cinema and was conferred France’s top cultural award, the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. She went on to become the director of the annual festival of Asian Cinema, ‘Cinefan’ – that has evoked popular and critical acclaim. In 2006, she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 8th Cinemanila Film Festival at Manila, Philippines and honoured with the Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award for women in 2007.

Sanmit Ahuja is the Chief Editor of TI Corridors and the Chief Executive of ETI Dynamics Ltd. His key areas of interests include to Emerging markets, globalisation, international trade and investment flows. He holds an Executive MBA degree from London Business School. 

Anurag Batra is an entrepreneur, media observer and a journalist rolled into one. He completed his B. Tech in Computer Sciences before joining Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon. He is the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of exchange4media group which includes exchange4media.com, PITCH, IMPACT, Realty Plus and Franchise Plus. In 2006 he was awarded the “Most Distinguished Alumni of the Decade Award” by MDI, Gurgaon. He is a member of the Sales & Marketing committee of the Delhi Management Association, President of the Franchising Association of India, Northern chapter, on the Executive Committee of the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) and the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Futuristic Media Communication Centre, a leading Media and Communication School in India.

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Global Book Deal Is Write Move For Students

An international project will see budding authors from the University of Derby write a book published through a top overseas publishing house and distributed throughout the world.

A literary fiction by third-year BA (Hons) Creative Writing degree course student will be published for sale in UK and USA.

India-based ROMAN Books – which supplies works of fiction and literary criticism to major booksellers in America and the UK, such as Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble – will work with writers to develop their book for commercial sale.

The unusual arts deal has been developed by the publishing house’s founder Suman Chakraborty and Prof. Jason Lee, Head of Film and Media with Creative Writing and Professional Writing at the University of Derby. The project is supported by the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) programme, which aims to promote a professional network between creative entrepreneurs in India, UK and internationally to inspire and facilitate the sharing of best practices, skills, provides access to resources and market and offers professional development opportunities.  

Once the book is ready for publication Mr Chakraborty will visit the University of Derby to give a guest lecture to aspiring authors, on how publishing houses can encourage new writing talent.

Profits from the venture will be used as capital for next year in order to make this Indo-British project a regular event for University of Derby students.

Aanchal Sodhani, the Project Manager of British Council India’s Cultural & Creative Economy Unit, added: “We were happy to support this project through the Young Creative Entrepreneur grant as we found the skills development aspect of the project particularly interesting – that is, to develop the skills of new writers to understand market requirements, audience needs, marketing and promotional aspects, selling of rights and thereby becoming ready to be published internationally.”   

Professor Jason Lee said: “Every writer has the dream of seeing their work published. Having the opportunity of working closely with writers, editors, and a publisher backed by the British Council, is a fantastic opportunity for Derby University students. Internationally, it also reveals how the University is further establishing its global presence in the cultural and creative industries, through the work of its own students and academics.”

Mr Chakraborty added: “We work primarily in the overseas market—mainly in UK and USA. We have a team of sales representatives working in the UK where we work with the market leaders of the book industry. Our titles are regularly featured in the largest British book-industry magazine, The Bookseller. This collaboration with University of Derby strengthens our bond with the United Kingdom—thanks to the British Council YCE initiative which has always remained an extremely encouraging part of my career as a creative entrepreneur.”

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