NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Startup 18: Shoma Bakre, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, EmPower Research

Team YS
17th Apr 2010
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Shoma Bakre is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of EmPower Research, LLC, a 300+ people strong, 5+ years old business research and information consulting firm. EmPower Research India is a wholly owned subsidiary of EmPower Research, LLC, which is headquartered in New York City, with a delivery centre in Bangalore, offering offshored research services to global clients in the professional services, technology, telecommunication, healthcare, pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, and consumer product industries.Shoma’s main responsibility is to lead the Media Services Division in EmPower Research. She is also responsible for running the India operations of the organization. Shoma has 10+ years of experience in teaching, media, human resource management, and business development. Prior to the inception of EmPower Research, she worked as Director, Business Development in a start-up called N-Media Inc. Shoma also worked in the corporate training arena at Applied Materials. Shoma holds an M.A. in English, a B.Ed. degree, a Diploma in PR & Advertising along with an MBA from Lucas School of Business, San Jose State University, California.

EmPower Research Knowledge Services Pvt. Ltd is a research and analytics services firm with an off-shore model. The management team at EmPower comprises seasoned professionals from MIT, IIM, and San Jose State University. Founded in 2004 by leading ex-Booz Allen Management Consultants, EmPower’s value proposition is time critical, cost-effective, and consulting firm providing quality research that focuses on insights rather than just data.

EmPower leverages a global delivery model allowing all EmPower's offerings being undertaken and completed jointly by a team of experienced researchers in Bangalore, India and the client-facing EmPower team in the U.S.


EmPower Research provides solutions for all research and media monitoring needs. It offers a vast range of analytical services by drawing out meaningful insights from raw data. EmPower provides services in custom market research and media outsourcing solutions. EmPower Research helps global Fortune 500 firms, large and medium-sized companies to reduce costs and improve efficiency by outsourcing parts of their market research and media monitoring needs.EmPower Research assists clients reduce project turnaround time, thereby helping them to focus more on higher priority deliverables. EmPower Research's strength lies in industry analysis, company competitive analysis, customer analysis, blog analysis, media monitoring and audit, custom research and marketing collateral content development.

EmPower specializes in the technology, telecommunication, healthcare, pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, and consumer product industries and has a large clientele in the professional services sector (advertising, public relations, and management consulting).

The first woman entrepreneur to be featured in the Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM shares her thoughts on her entrepreneurial journey.

1. Why did you take up entrepreneurship journey?

Shoma: I was at the right place, right time, and with the right idea presented to me by one of my business partners. It provided an opportunity to do something different and on my own terms rather than to simply continue to follow the trodden path. Hence, it just seemed right to seize the opportunity that was staring me in the face—the opportunity to ride the off-shoring wave, doing the kind of work that I liked to do, while being my own boss!

2.        What keeps you going (how and where do you find your motivation levels)?

Shoma: Starting a company with three brilliant partners, one fledgling idea, no money, no entrepreneurial experience, we are now a thriving, financially sound, ~350 people organization, doing cutting edge work in business research with a stellar list of global clientele—this is what keeps me going. To have actually seen an idea blossom into what EmPower Research is today is the biggest motivator for me. Every day is a new day with new challenges and opportunities. There is no dearth of excitement, anxiety, highs and lows in my current role! The level of satisfaction that I derive on seeing what we have built over the last 5 years is what keeps me going. The quality and commitment of the stellar team that we have built gives me utmost satisfaction and is one of the biggest motivators.

3.        What is your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs in India?

Shoma: If you have the right idea, the success of a venture lies greatly on the founding team that one creates. So recruit the right set of people with complementary skills to get your idea off the ground. It is also very important to find the right advisors/experts who can educate and guide you through the entire starting up phase. Be sure to partner with a good trusted CA/legal firm to first understand the requirements/implications/ramifications of what you are trying to do and how you should do it. Engage them to take care of the operational headache of bureaucracy, regulatory compliance, registrations, etc, that goes into the process of setting up shop in India. This will help you concentrate on building the core products or services that you want to sell. Finally, if you really want to take the plunge, then don’t wait and lose time until you are done crafting the perfect business plan that you learnt about in business school; in many cases that is not required! Just be prepared to put in a lot of hard work and write off your personal life for at least a good year or two during the initial startup phase!

4.        What success means to you and your organization?

Shoma: Success to me and my organization means (a) growing and sustaining a financially healthy organization that is doing very interesting work for very large, reputable global clients, (b) providing meaningful employment to at least a few hundred people who enjoy what they are doing and feel rewarded for the same, and (c) having very satisfied clients who recognize the value addition our work provides and not only comes back to us repeatedly but also refers us to their clients or peers in the industry.

5. What are your learning’s from the failures?

Shoma: I think we have been very lucky because I have not really seen anything that I would term as a “failure” in the 5 years since we founded EmPower Research. Yes, there have been challenges of all sorts but we have always been able to overcome them without facing any major setback. Dealing with the challenges has taught me resilience, humility, and to never take anything for granted. Anticipating issues, planning ahead for them, being prepared at all times to confront the most unexpected problems, juggling myriad things at any given point in time, and keeping the spirits of others in the team buoyed when everything around you looks bleak. These are all the things that I have learnt to do, thanks to my experience with EmPower Research over the last 5 years. I now recognize that these are traits that any entrepreneur has to cultivate in order to successfully start and grow a venture.

Shoma’s prescription is having cofounders with complementary skills, know-how on requirements for setting up a company, and devoting full time to your venture (off your family time in the initial phase). Then finally don’t wait if you want to start, just go ahead!

As part of the Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM, 17 entrepreneurs have shared their views. To know what they are, please visit the links given below.

1. Kishore Mandyam of PK4 Software

2. Anil Pagar of Spadeworx

3. Ajay Sharma of Shristi Software

4. Pallav Nadhani of InfoSoft Global (FusionCharts)

5. Manoj Srivatsava of Hanu Software

6. Sriram Raghavan of Comat

7. Sushil Chaudary of Mann-India

8. Manav Garg of Eka

9. R. Swaminathan of Matrix Business Solution

10. Suresh Sambandam of OrangeScape

11. Ajay Mian of Alletech

12. Prasad Guntupalli of Attra

13. Varun Khurana of Wirkle

14. Anil Kaul of AbsolutData

15. Amit Sadana of PharmARC

16. Yadu and Naresh or Robust Designs

17. Ananth Seshan of Fifth Generation

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave, Chennai, April 30, 2010

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT conclave comes to Chennai on 30 April 2010. With “Nurturing the IT DNA in India’s growth sectors” as its theme, the conclave focuses on sectors that hold relevance to Chennai such as the automotive sector, in addition to opportunities that exist in the UID space, and workshops on marketing, product design, and many others.

We will soon feature a conversation with Chair of the EMERGEOUT Forum, Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan. Watch out this space!

Mr. Bharat Goenka, founder, Tally Software is the keynote speaker. It is a no-brainer right now that if you walk to anyone and ask them to cite you an example of an Indian product, Tally ranks among the top list, and it has been that way for a while. Mr. Goenka is without doubt one of the most prolific icons of the Indian product software industry. Talk to him about product positioning, understanding user behaviour, pricing, marketing and building a brand that is as big as Microsoft in terms of training and development centers, and you are sure to walk away in awe. Would you miss hearing him?

To wrap up the conclave, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant, is going to engage in rather inquisitive conversation with Prasanto Roy from CyberMedia. He has been a technology industry leader for over 30 years. As a founding member of Cognizant, he was been responsible for the company’s high-touch customer relationship and delivery excellence model. Under his leadership, Cognizant became the youngest IT services company to reach the $1 billion revenue milestone. He is also the part of NASSCOM Chairmen Council and under his leadership, some new initiatives in the EMERGE Forum were started.

To find the speaker list, please visit http://bit.ly/dvMYqq.

Jessie Paul, MD, Paul Writer Strategic Services, author of No Money Marketing, and formerly Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro, is holding a workshop on “Frugal Marketing—What Works, What's Trendy, What's Hype.” Besides great product or service and innovation, marketing right is crucial to build a brand. Jessie is going to demystify the art of brand building using a frugal budget. Visit her blog post at the EMERGE blog http://bit.ly/ahqdqO for details.

Kiruba Shankar, CEO Business Blogging, is holding an “unconference” at the conclave.

The complete program agenda is available and is waiting to be updated: http://bit.ly/9on2ci Many speakers and impressive lineup of programs await participants. Don’t miss all the action! Join the bandwagon of the emerging opportunities in India!!

Please register for the conference here.

Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist, YourStory

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