Kavita Gupta has worked with global companies and travelled extensively. All her travels have had one thing in common—the desire to look at a city, its people, its pulse, its culture and its realities. Armed with her experience as the co-founder of Cine-Roost Advisory, she is now venturing into creating an impact with global local stories that never reach the world.
HerStory spoke with Kavita to known more about her life, her journey as an entrepreneur and a traveller.
Childhood and early years
Born and brought up in Delhi in a big joint Marwari family, Kavita has been lucky to have parents who have supported her choices and education. “I’m pretty much the only one from my family who got to go
abroad and study, even among all my cousins, including the boys.”She studied at St. Xavier’s and did her graduation from I.P. University. She joined engineering and then got MIT D lab fellowship in 2003 and moved there. She joined McKinsey in 2004 as a consultant. “McKinsey gave me a huge world of experience with respect to strategy. I worked on some amazing products there.” She completed her masters from George Washington University in 2007 while she worked as a business analyst with World Bank.
She worked for a few more years in the banking and finance sector, till in 2012 she wanted to do something different. With lots happening in her life, she decided to take off to Mumbai and joined Anurag Kashyap Films as their CFO. The very same year she co-founded Cine Roost Capital Advisory.
WeMynd is a social platform for first-hand user-based citizen reporting from around the globe.
Her travels and projects have have had many an impact on her. “As a tourist you do not get to see the real city, the countries may change but most stories remain global; how countries get associated with one thing say AIDS aid and Africa and other issues that may need attention in Africa don’t get highlighted and all the focus remains on AIDS. One of my other learning has been that there is still a huge gap between people who make decisions of billion dollar investments for a country about which they have very limited knowledge or all their knowledge is based on reports about the place.”
“So be it Ukraine, Tunisia, Egypt or other parts of the world,” Kavita says, “stories come when they have become an incident, not when they are a story. They are like an incident with lot of casualties attached to it.”
She feels that the local global stories and happenings get sidelined or don’t receive attention till they become news. “I have realized that there is something very unique about every country every city, yet the issues remain global.” Talking about one example, she shares how when she first landed in Turkey what hit her was the contrast between Istanbul and Ankara. “For 99 percent of the world Turkey is only about Istanbul. But the whole dynamics of Turkey the whole dynamics of politics is about how Istanbul treats itself as European and how Ankara treats itself as middle eastern and how extremely different they are. There are similar example all across the world,” she says.
So unlike your usual tourist, Kavita wanted to know about the pulse of the city, the locals, their life, and politics of the region –this is something that does not really exist according to her. “There should be a place or a platform where you can see the pulse of the country and in some ways this was the idea behind WeMynd.”
She has been travelling and building networks locally for WeMynd. In Cairo she found her co-founder. Two other women who form Kavita’s support system are her close friends –Prachee and Farah. Prachee, she says, “Is my biggest source of confidence, my best friend and also my first investor. She was the first one who believed in WeMynd and said that it was a great idea and urged me to go ahead with it.” Farah, whom she met at George Washington University, is a close friend, a sounding board and an inspiration for her.
“Take risks, which give you satisfaction or make you happy. Not all risks are going to pay but when I look back at the risks that didn’t bear fruit I still don’t regret them. Also when you do something do it with the conviction that you are doing it for yourself you are not doing it for anybody else.”
Kavita lives in the US and says that during her travels she has come to realize that women’s safety and harassment is a global issue. “Some places get to be known as not safe for women, but I think it is all across the globe and I have experienced it myself in many places across the world.”
Similarily she points out how we assume things based on the information available to us. “I had heard so many warnings about mugging in Nairobi but when I was there I realized that it is the biggest IT hub in Africa. Some of the technologies, the innovation with respect to products which have been achieved in Kenya have still not been achieved in India.”
The other thing she has observed during her travels is how technology and innovation can have a huge impact on people. “While travelling in really different sort of communities and areas you realise how people have taken up technology and used it for their local purposes. In Nairobi they have dongles and hotspots in the taxis so while tourists and mostly those travelling for work get stuck in the traffic jams the city is so famous for, they can continue to work while in the taxi.”
While Kavita’s travels and work to create an impact with local stories continues, she does find time to unwind. A movie buff, Shahrukh Khan movies work like magic when she wants to unwind. Meditation and running help her keep the stress away. A voracious reader, she is currently reading two books at the same time- Ronnie Screwvala and Fidel Castro’s biographies.