कर्मणयेवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।
The famous verse from Bhagavad Geeta: Do what you must with all your heart without worrying about the results. Success will follow, is the business mantra Meenakshi Gupta Jain follows.
She has faced challenges, taken them head on and always moved forward.
Her first tryst with entrepreneurship began five years ago when she and her family moved to Mumbai from Delhi. “While we were in Delhi, my younger daughter used to take classes for keyboard and my husband was into learning tabla. When we moved to Mumbai, we knew no one at all here and finding a teacher for both of them proved to be a difficult task.” This problem led to the solution– an online directory of coaches for all fields: academic, sports as well as hobby classes where people can just login and find a coach by locality, time, fees and other criteria. Thus ClickForCoach was born about two and a half years ago.
Today all her energies are focused on her latest venture- Helper4U.
It is a platform for employers from homes and offices to hire helpers. She says, “Specifically ABCD: Aayah, Bai, Cook, Drivers, by just using the internet and mobiles, and to enable people at the bottom of the pyramid to get a job by using the same technology, without the need of any agent.”
In other words it is an online directory that acts as a conduit between the two ends of the spectrum.
Powai in Mumbai is dotted with high rises where residents are always looking to hire maids. The women who wanted the job were at the mercy of the middlemen, in this case often the security guards to reach out to prospective employers. This really saddened Meenakshi and she wanted to help these women connect with prospective employers.
She started with Maid4U but while getting the women enrolled, requests for registering men started coming in. So, even before they launched, they had changed from being Maid4U to Helper4U.
Learning from experiences
Her father was an engineer with the armed forces and was often posted in non-family stations while her mother used to take care of her and her siblings. “This meant from a young age we had to help her in taking care of the house, which made us independent and able to take all challenges head on. Not being able to do something was not really an option at any time,” she says.
Also frequent transfers made her adaptable to new places and people. With most her schooling done in Kendriya Vidalayas, her first encounter with a private school came when she was in 8th grade.
Meenakshi was enrolled into a private English medium girls school where most of the students were from rich families. “I still remember the humiliation I was subjected to during my first few weeks in the school because I could not speak English fluently. I had no friends in that school.”
She took this up as a challenge and went on to show her talents by excelling in multiple things – sports, studies, extracurricular activities. She was the top athlete at school and made it to the basketball team. Suddenly she was popular and everyone wanted to be friends with her.
I was among the top students in academics, and the favourite student of most teachers due to my dedication and focus. This experience taught me- Do your job well and you will subsequently earn respect from most people. This guides me even today in everything I do.
The extra mile
She missed getting admission to a medical college in Delhi by just three marks, which made her realise how important it is to make that small bit of extra effort to achieve what you want.
After graduation she completed her M.Phil. in Linguistics from Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Delhi and then taught in a school for many years, before turning into a corporate trainer. From being a trainer she transitioned to being a Business Development Manager, for a training institute, and then a Project Manager with NIIT, managing projects related to training. Her last full time assignment was with Tata Interactive Systems, as Lead Instructional Designer.
She quit the job to startup.
Job categories on Helper4U range from dog walkers, to maids looking for part time jobs to courier boys, electricians and even patient care personnel.
Today, we register anyone who is illiterate or has not completed graduation. We don’t want to dilute our focus by enrolling Graduates and above.
Prospective employers can view the profiles of job seekers on the site, if they like any profiles, they pay a fees to get the mobile numbers of job seeker and can directly connect with them. The charges are a one-time fees for a limited period.
For registering Job Seekers they have also put banners all over the city and collaborated with youngsters residing in the same areas as the job seekers and made them part of the enrolment team. Meenakshi takes care of product conceptualisation, operations, marketing and promotion, her husband who is an IIT – IIM graduate, oversees strategy and mentoring of the team. The rest of the team comprises of freelancers who help with call centre operations to on boarding job seekers.
“We also shortlist these workers for SMEs, as per their requirements, in return for a small fees, again from the employer only,” adds Meenakshi.
Managing finances in a way so as to keep costs under control without affecting growth and getting people to work for them are few challenges she faces as an entrepreneur.
Meenakshi’s motto is to enable better and respectful job opportunities for unskilled workforce.
What keeps her motivated is the,
Gratitude and happiness people feel when they get a job, especially when they least expect it. We have had quite a few success stories which strengthens our belief that what we are doing is in the right direction.
Meenakshi wants her venture to be the naukri.com for the unskilled/semi-skilled migrant and urban population at the bottom of the pyramid.
As word about the website has spread, Meenakshi and her team have been receiving calls from people from all over Mumbai and Pune, and sometimes from Delhi and Bangalore, for help in hiring maids, and “now we cover Mumbai and Pune. We will soon be starting operations in Hyderabad,” she says.