'Don't try to be all things to all people': your startup fix to start the week

Looking for inspiration on this fine Monday morning? We have quite a bit in the form of startup stories. Read, share, and get ready to rock Monday.

Mary Kay Ash, Debbi Fields, Anita Roddick, Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Brownie Wise…women entrepreneurs have consistently and constantly pushed the standards of their fields to make an impact. Among them is Lillian Vernon. Lillian who, did you say?

Born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1929, Lillian Menasche moved to the US in 1937 when the Nazi threat intensified. In 1951, she decided to start a small mail-order business – it combined her name and the name of her Mount Vernon, New York, home.

Lillian Vernon converted her idea of selling monogrammed belts and purses into one of the US' most popular mail order catalogue businesses. Photo courtesy: www.chicagotribune

In 1951, Lillian used $2,000 of her wedding gift funds to set up a mail-order business, and she began by placing an ad in Seventeen magazine to sell matching purses and belts. Her small enterprise soon grew into Lillian Vernon Corporation, an American catalogue merchant and online retailer for household, children's and fashion accessory products.

Toughness is a good thing, yet it is considered good only in men. When a woman is tough, men can't stand it. I like being tough and smart,” Lillian famously said. She strongly believed that you shouldn’t “try to be all things to all people. Concentrate on selling something unique that you know there is a need for, offer competitive pricing and good customer service”.

By 1970, she hit $1 million in sales. When the company went public in 1987, Lillian Vernon was the first company traded on the American Stock Exchange founded by a woman. Woohoo! There were challenges, of course. The greatest, according to Lillian, was “staying alive as a business, staying ahead of the game, and melding my business life with my personal life”.

If that doesn’t inspire you this fine Monday morning, we have something more. Our stream of startup stories. Read, share, and get ready to rock Monday.

Mosquito-repellent creams, lotions, and patches on newborns and babies? Ugh. Indore-based Shreshtha and Mayur Malpani faced the same problem and wondered if there was a way out. In 2017, they launched Clothing Innovation, which aims to reduce the spread of vector-borne diseases in India with a patent-pending formula that helps it make mosquito-repellent clothes. Now, that's innovating!

Shreshtha and Mayur Malpani founded Clothing Innovation in 2017.

A book is a labour of love for every author. But helping the right set of readers to discover the book isn’t easy in these times when a new title is released almost every day. That’s why Noida-based AllAuthor believes writers shouldn’t go by the book when it comes to branding and promotions. Started by brothers Naveen and Madhuker Joshi in 2016, the online platform wants to let authors focus on what they do best - writing.

Team AllAuthor is on a mission to make the life of writers' easier.

To vote is a given, but for whom? As India gets election fever, this Jalandhar-based startup helps with ratings and reviews of your Netas. Started by serial entrepreneur and Wharton School graduate Pratham Mittal, the Neta app aims to make voters more informed about their political leaders, and let them express and share their feedback with ratings.

The Neta app is a spin-off of Pratham Mittal's earlier venture, outgrow.com.

He's synonymous with football in India, and now Bhaichung Bhutia has joined two IIT alumni on a mission to make football mainstream in the country. Founded by football fans and college-level footballers Kishore Taid and Anurag Khilnani, Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS) aims to provide a platform to nurture talent through in-house training and development programmes.

BBFS Founders Kishore Taid (R) and Anurag Khilnani with footballer Bhaichung Bhutia (centre).

When communication breaks down, an organisation’s performance can become fragmented. Enter AI-driven Troopr, which “talks” to all your work tools to help businesses work smarter and be more productive. The Troopr Assistant organises tasks, tracks the team, runs meetings and much more within Slack. The end result? It saves everyone time and boosts productivity.

Founder Rajesh Shanmugam (centre) and his Trooprs are working to make teams more productive.

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