“There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team,” – Jason Fried, Founder of 37signal
Small teams can make big impact. Three women — Ginny Kohli, Auroshikha Rath, and Aashna Narula — started small, but show us that if you have the will to chase your dream and the determination to walk that extra mile then size and resources do not matter.
Their conviction to solve a problem spurred them on to overcome challenges and become successful.
Ginny Kohli is the Founder of WedWise, an invite-only online wedding community that connects buyers and wedding professionals across India. “We have close to 15000 weddings (on an average) during the busy season in Delhi alone. Through my research, we found that most wedding vendors are chosen through word of mouth or via recommendations from family and friends which,” says Ginny, “also leads to delay in decision-making. This puts extra stress on the prospective brides and grooms and their families.”
To make life simple for couples getting hitched for life, she started WedWise in May 2015.
She graduated in 2009 with an Electronic and Computer engineering degree from the UK and worked as a design engineer for almost two years for Trent1000 and BR725 engines of Rolls Royce in the UK. She moved back to India in 2010, finished her MBA, joined Groupon.in in 2012 and worked with them as a consultant for two and a half years.
However, in May 2014, she quit to start research on her dream project – a community platform for all things related to weddings. “So the big question really was, why would I trade it all for the dark unknown? For me, job satisfaction brought a feeling of stagnation too. “I realised that I wanted more than what a comfortable job could offer me. I wanted to chase my dreams. My previous work experience allowed me to get that clarity and added purpose to my vision and gave it direction.”
WedWise has grown considerably in the last 10 months. With a community of 24,000 members that also includes wedding experts, newly-weds and like-minded brides and grooms, it allows professionals to showcase their work, share tips, and discuss their expertise in the field. It also allows them to help other members plan their wedding instantly and effectively. “So entrepreneurs who operate from home — such as floral jewellery experts, bakers, trousseau packers, freelance makeup artists, and small boutique owners – all get to showcase their work and reach out to their target audience easily,” says Ginny.
With a seed round of funding from Start-Up Equity Partners in November 2015, they plan to expand to other cities in order to grow the WedWise network and explore different opportunities to connect people in the wedding industry. They have also launched the WedWise TV channel on YouTube to create videos and visuals that will educate, inform, and prepare to-be-weds about the challenges that follow the wedding announcement.
Ask Ginny what keeps her going, and pat comes the response, “For any entrepreneur, starting a company is a riveting roller coaster of emotions with tremendous highs and lows. Startup culture challenges you everyday. No work life balance, constant pressure, and there’s always a fear of failing. But one thing that’ll always helps us through the ups and downs is faith; faith in our product and our vision to make a difference.”
Auroshikha Rath is the Founder and CEO of Zydness. Born out of her love for dance and fitness, Zydness aims to bring all fitness related establishments, experts, and enthusiasts under your fingertips. It gives you the access to a curated collection of calendars of the choicest disciplines and instructors in studios around you.
Inspiration for Zydness comes from Auroshikha’s personal experience. Dance has defined Auroshikha and her life. As a hyperactive kid, whose father is in the Air Force, she travelled extensively as a child. Dance was her passion and she learnt multiple dance forms in school. “My best memory till date is receiving the ‘Best Dancer’ Award consecutively for three years in school. With a decade of corporate life that took its toll on my practice; I have been working on getting back into my game since then.”
She has been getting back into form, be it as part time Zumba Instructor while working for a Vancouver Based mobile app firm or with various stints like Triathlon. She has also been doing Yoga workshops, and participating in dance competitions to gain her confidence back. “Even though I’ve had a podium finish in my very first tri-athlon, and have been performing over the last three years, my resolve (‘zyd’ in Hindi) is stronger to take my practice up a notch and help others as well through the Zydness app,” says Auroshikha.
The bootstrapped Zydness team comprises Auroshikha and her tech co-founder. They have partnered with the best boutique studios in South Delhi and Bengaluru and are excited to see how Zydness increases their reach and impacts their business. “While the users love that they have all this information, which helps them discover fitness options and decide better, we are trying to redefine how people look at fitness and change the way they access it,” she adds.
Auroshikha is driven by passion and cherishes the fact that she gets to do what she wants on a daily basis. “Practicing different art forms and being agile enough to push your body further with every new exercise or execution is like a high that keeps me going. I want to be able to make people find that place within themselves through trying whatever works for them to become a better version of themselves. It is about figuring out one’s own zyd to fitness, nothing else.”
Aashna started her entrepreneurial journey when she was 23. Born in Nahan in Himachal Pradesh, she did her schooling from Chandigarh. She finished her masters in Psychology from DAV College in May 2015 from Chandigarh.
When she set out to find a job after her Masters, she realised that she could not find any. Though ridden with self-doubt, she decided not to take the easy way out by joining the family business. She wanted to pursue her love for psychology and hence, kick started her entrepreneurial journey with Psychopedia in July 2015.
Psychopedia is a psychology-training institute, the first in Chandigarh, where psychology is taught through various workshops from art therapy to dance to reiki. The aim of Psychopedia is to learn, train, and heal. Their focus is on teaching age groups between 16 and 30, and when they conduct workshops, they cater to children as well as parents.
“We are our students’ counselor, teacher, and mentor. We aren’t focused on just book-based learning but we also teach them a lot about life, how to stay positive and optimistic and how to be kind and empathic towards others. So we focus on the emotional too,” she says.
The ride has not been easy, and there were times when Aashna wanted to quit and take up a job just for the security. The initial four months were a real struggle as there were hardly any takers for the courses and people did not know about Psychopedia.
Aashna often questioned herself and wondered if it would all ever work out. “I used to tell everyone I am the peon, the marketing head, and also the teacher. I felt like a one-woman army and there were days when I used to break down. Things have changed because as an entrepreneur I have changed. I have started being more grateful even if one student turns up,” she says.
With a few support staff, Aashna and her colleague are the primary drivers of Psychopedia. The intrinsic motivation to make a difference — one student at a time — and to reach out to as many students as she can are what drives her. Her faith in God and unconditional love from family and friends keeps her going.
Ask her how she has dealt with challenges that an entrepreneur’s life presents, she replies, “Be humble. Be grateful for all that you have. There will be times when you would want to give up, hold on and have faith in yourself. Give your best and no matter what field you are in, don’t forget to be kind and happy. When you have more, do not build a fence, build a table, serve and help others.”
While these three women chase their dreams, they agree that there is only one thing you need – and that is passion. Passion will take you forward and help you overcome any challenges that stand in the way of your dreams.