Starting up with just Rs 2 lakh and a laptop, this woman entrepreneur now runs 3 successful companies
Sujata Arora started up with her savings of just Rs 2 lakh, and now is a serial entrepreneur with three ventures in very different spaces. Speaking with HerStory, Sujata shares how she manages them all.
Sujata Arora, 37, hails from Chandigarh and runs three companies - Hire Indians, BollywoodKart, and the Ek Koshish Foundation.
Founded in 2009, Hire Indians is one of India’s top providers of remote developers, designers, testers, and project managers to companies in various sectors around the world. The company is based in Noida. BollywoodKart, which she started in 2017 out of her passion for fashion, is one of the leading ethnic wear marketplaces in India. Launched in 2017, the Ek Koshish Foundation is a non-profit which works towards providing food and medicines to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The road to entrepreneurship
While working as the sales head in a software development company, Sujata often travelled abroad to interact with clients. During her stay in various countries, she discovered that there was a huge shortage of technical skills among employees, and that it was difficult to spontaneously hire and fire them because of strict government regulations. Determined to solve this issue, Sujata decided to look for solutions at home.
"In India, we have enough technical manpower, but we are short of good projects. I initially thought of supplying Indian manpower to these companies but later realised the challenges involved, like getting visas and frequent travel," she says.
After exploring other ways to tackle the problem, she zeroed in on the idea of providing remote developers to companies around the globe.
Sujata then launched Hire Indians, her first startup, in 2009. She began her entrepreneurship career at home with just her laptop and Rs 2 lakh from her savings. Today, she has successfully established five international offices in the US, UK, Australia, Switzerland, and the UAE.
The company has over 100 technical experts, and more than 200 employees. She says that one of the key companies that Hire Indians has served is ‘DermPro,’ a US-based company. It has developed thousands of ecommerce stores for the company. Under Sujata’s guidance, Hire Indians has also seen its turnover increase four times in less than eight years.
Every day is a challenge
Sujata shares that it was especially challenging for her to start up in the IT industry back in 2009, because there was a lack of infrastructure and manpower, and she didn’t have a strong portfolio. A few key challenges she faced while starting up were marketing the business idea internationally, building a dedicated team, setting up an office and investing in infrastructure, and gaining the trust of clients.
Although it has been 10 years since Sujata started Hire Indians, the journey is still full of challenges.
“There is a challenge every day. It’s not easy. You have to work hard to survive. We started out with website design and development, then we entered mobile app development, and lately we have been exploring blockchain and AI. Technology is changing all the time and we have to keep ourselves updated,” she adds.
Sujata’s biggest challenge so far, however, has been starting up with very little money and then figuring out how to make the right investments. It’s been tough because she had to take slow, cautious steps in the right direction with minimal guidance.
Once Sujata became confident that Hire Indians was in a good place, she decided to explore newer avenues. In 2017, she started BollywoodKart along with her husband, because she wanted to take her passion for fashion a step further, and make trendy ethnic wear affordable. In the same year, she also started the Ek Koshish Foundation to give back to society by providing food and medicines to children in need.
Through BollywoodKart, Sujata will be hosting the ‘Miss India Pride’ pageant, and by the end of 2019, will launch the ‘BKmodels Portal’ to give models more opportunities in the world of glamour.
Sujata runs weekly campaigns through the Ek Koshish Foundation, distributing necessities to children across Noida. She says her employees at Hire Indians volunteer and help extend the Foundation’s reach. “Ultimately, we want to be able to build houses and give these kids better access to education,” she adds.
Sujata grew up in a family where she wasn’t treated differently for being a girl. After she got married and decided to quit her well-paying job to become an entrepreneur, she says her in-laws did initially question her choice and didn’t understand why she would take such a step. But at the end of the day, she has received support from everyone around her. She says she has been discouraged by a few people, but remains dedicated to fulfilling her goals.
“I always believe in myself. Even if someone very close to me says something negative, I don’t get influenced. I have a dream, and I have goals to reach.”
Sujata loves leading a challenging life, and wants to continue becoming a better person, and changing lives around her.
Encouraging women entrepreneurs
The past 10 years of Sujata’s entrepreneurial life have not been easy, with several exhausting moments. She has some words of advice to women aspiring to become entrepreneurs.
“Just believe in yourself. Follow your dreams and don’t give up before you reach them. There was a time where I wasn’t getting projects to work on for months on end, and it made me frustrated, but I persisted. I knew I had to keep going, because one day it would all pay off. Don’t let go of your dreams!”
What the future looks like
Sujata aims to become one of the giant players in the IT, fashion, and social work spaces someday. One of her goals is to expand in the UAE market and in Finland, although she is not targeting most of Europe as of now. She is also heavily motivated to continue social work and make a huge impact on thousands of children, with the Ek Koshish Foundation. She also says she is working on a new project in the space of employee verification.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)