“I have always got what I wanted. But it took me a while to know what I wanted.”
Nehal Modi is the Founder of Yellow Bulbs, a marketing marketplace where “good ideas meet with great execution.”
Born into a Kutchi business family from Mumbai, she did her schooling from St. Thomas’ Kolkata. Nehal remembers her school days with fondness more so because she met her life partner when she was about to leave school.
My husband found me just when I was about to leave school and that was a turning point in my life. He has been the biggest influence on me – my highs and lows of passing and failing CA (Chartered Accountants) exams have been with him next to me.
Nehal went on to pursue her CA, did not succeed the first time round and persisted till she did. Had it not been the high and lows she saw due to her CA exams, she would not have set upon the unpredictable journey of entrepreneurship.
With the CA degree under her kitty she set out to hunt for a job. After getting married she moved to Chennai. Newly married and in a new city, Nehal made cold calls at banks and large corporates and after almost three months of struggle landed up with three job offers in the same week. She chose American Express Bank, later shifted to ABN Amro and finally to a high pressure corporate banking assignment at Citigroup, Kolkata.With her kids grown up, she decided to move away from the corridors of corporate offices and startup. So started conversations and brain storming sessions with her husband over multiple cups of coffee.
“It was almost like those courtship days when you fantasize of a new life – I would be the Director of a Meditation and Wellness Centre one day and an importer of healthy organic products the other day. I almost decided upon launching my range of imported furniture for kids with my brother on a marketplace model. The marketplace idea stayed and we brainstormed with our common friends from the corporate world on various product and service marketplace models.”
Holding on to the marketplace idea, when she explored the marketing B2B space she found her groove. Yellow Bulbs is for the marketers, solution partners and media houses. It is a platform specially developed for marketers to find fresh ideas or the right solution partners.
“The gap was so apparent that I had no second thoughts of launching an exchange for the marketing community called marketingmojo.in.”
But since a company and a website by the same name existed abroad, Nehal was forced to look for a new name. “Not that I was going global tomorrow, but this time I did not want to take any chance to think small.” The logo design had a yellow bulb and since it signifies ideas, she decided to go ahead with the name Yellow Bulbs instead.
A new chapter in Nehal’s life had begun. HerStory spoke with Nehal about the multiple hats she dons as an entrepreneur, mother, student, leader and a healer.
Mother to twins, Nehal went back to work after delivery till in the year 2012 her daughter’s innocent question – “Why don’t you come to pick me up from my new school?” turned to be a game changer. Nehal quit, and confesses that it is the most impulsive and emotional decision she has taken in her life. “I am happy that I spent the most formative four to seven years’ age with them – hopping from school to birthday parties and to swim classes and parks.”
The years that she spent with her children were also a time for spiritual development for her. Learning Pranic Healing changed her perception of her life and her existence.
“Good ideas can come from the buyer or the seller but it’s worthless till someone doesn’t get excited about it and executes it to great perfection and almost always beyond the brief,” says Nehal.
As an entrepreneur she is here to cause disruption in the way marketing is bought and sold in this country today. There is no charge for the marketer or the buyer to register or put up a brief. The revenue comes from the subscription plan they have for the solution partners or sellers.
There are six people in Nehal’s team. It is a mix of full time, part time and work from home set up. As a leader she is always looking out for the best interests of her team.
On days when one person i.e. almost 20% of your workforce falls sick and the other one is nursing a sick child, you cannot even take a lunch break. A startup needs to be extra conscious of making the team very comfortable so that they feel at home and treat it like their own business. Empower them to take calls like taking a day off when needed, work from home, flexi hours etc. On a day when nothing moves and there is not much of work to do, it’s all the more important for the team to have some fun at work.
One of the biggest challenges for her has been to get back to being a student again. “I almost did another Master’s in marketing,” she says with a grin. Nehal read up on all online resources– books, websites, blogs that made her comfortable with the terms, the problems and real time challenges of marketing function in India today.
Talking about the multiple challenges Nehal faces as an entrepreneur, she says,
The most important struggle is to hire great talent with experience at the salary of an intern.
On the personal front too according to her it is a bit of a squeeze.
“The toughest part is to suppress the mother in you. Its easier to take a day off when your child’s unwell, but as an entrepreneur who is also the tele caller and the sales co-ordinator – you cannot think of switching off – yourself or your smart phone,” she says with a smile.
“If your business model adds some value to a lot of people, persist. If they transact, get fit to run faster. If they return, scale up.” With this business mantra Nehal’s road is well mapped and on it 2020 reads – “be a global player in the marketing world.”
In the immediate future, the company plans to be physically present to handhold clients in NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore and to nurture the highly talented growing tribe of entrepreneurs in marketing. They also plan to launch the mobile friendly version along with the business app.
Nehal’s route is set and she is raring to go. “The biggest high is when a highly talented yet struggling start up in the supply side gets a much awaited work order,” she says with pride.