I have lived many lives and the experiences I have endured have made me a richer and more well-rounded person overall.
I am going to share the important phases of my life here, for you to get to know me better.
Born with a heart condition, as a child, I often found people around me filled with fear and sadness. I also endured sorry looks from people who had little or no faith that I would survive the hole in my heart. Doctors had suggested surgery but in 1970, science was not such as it is today, so my parents had chosen to take up a slow and non-surgical way of healing. Ayurvedic medicines and treatments take years and these years are the ones that make me what I am today. As a person, as a mentor, as an influencer, as a mother and as a self-made woman. I stand tall in difficult situations for myself, my family, my friends, my clients & my connections. Giving up is not an option for me & I thank my heart for making me the resilient person that I am.
Young, Married & Driven
Early marriages were not rare in 1980s India and so I was one of the many girls from a convent who never saw the insides of a college and was in a wedlock before she turned 20. By my mid-twenties, I was a mother of 3 and set to be a successful homemaker. But… there was always this fire within me, that there was more to my story than being a good wife, daughter, mother, and sister and all the extended relationships that we build as we move forward in this journey called life. What my story was to be, I knew not. The one thing that never ceased to exist was the clarity within me that there was more to me. Then, the universe brought my real story to me. I was working with my father in his R&D firm before I turned 30.
Managing Director at 20
I graduated 10th standard, had no work experience at all and here I was – the managing director of a company engaged in R&D for automobile products.
These were very different times to now. BSNL fixed internet dialling, in the early days of Alibaba & getting in touch with an international partner meant sending mail and waiting for 15 days for the response to arrive. These were also the days I parallely gained knowledge as we built the company. Today, all my knowledge in IP Law, Company Incorporation process and so many other aspects are from these days. My close relationships with Engineering institutions such as IITs & VIT were built from these early stages. Another very critical skill set that I built for myself from then was to look at challenges as an opportunity to grow, which today is my signature style when it comes to working with my client’s businesses or even supporting my community initiatives.
Feeling Rich with 500 bucks
With the death of my father, I knew that running an R&D firm was a waste of resources and effort since I had zero knowledge of engineering. I decided to pull the shutters down and walked away from the company. No education, no work experience in any MNCs & no success story out of the gig with my father, I was a single mother of 3 and had no source of income. During those days, at times, I lived on my children’s pocket money which they got from their father. If I had enough cash for either of the requirements, travel to look for work or feed the kids, I would feel rich.
This was the phase which made me resilient to a level which not many can understand. Having nothing going for you and still believing in making it through is something that only times like these can teach. Today, I insist young entrepreneurs go home with empty pockets if needed be, because it is then that you actually know your true limits.
Running a Community of 50000
It had been 4 years since I had set up a consultancy firm that helped those looking to start a new venture. Prudence Consultants was a partnership firm with my friend, Vivek Srinivasan and we had a lean firm and had worked with almost 100 plus companies across industries by then. Around this time, the Startup events started in Bangalore and we attended one such gathering to explore possibilities that fuelled my interest in building a community. Until then I believed networking was a waste of time but things changed. You can know more about this phase in my co-authored book “A Thought to a Million Dollars”.
Fast-forward 8 years, this community had over one Lac young entrepreneurs from across the world. We had partnered with incubators, accelerators, institutions, investor networks, you name it. In simple terms, it was an ecosystem within an ecosystem that we had created and I was leading it all.
Failing to Succeed
Failure is a bitch, it teaches you the hardest lessons in the worst manner. With us leading the community we were at a place where you would not find one event, gathering or conversation that would not have a mention of my community or we the founders. I was interviewed on BBC as well. We were one of the most known platforms for entrepreneurs to build ideas into businesses.
We provided mentoring, investor connections, and community access and to date, I am proud of hosting one of the largest startup events in India with 5000+ attendees. The biggest gift from all these activities was the trust and faith that we received from the startup founders and entrepreneurs. They saw what we were and how committed to their journey we as mentors were. Even today, I have young founders who come up to me for quick advice or detailed discussions. If success is about building this trust with the masses, I have seen and been successful like not many around.
Succeeding to Fail
Covid-19 did bring us all to our knees. According to Nasscom, between 2019-2021, we had 60000+ startups shut shop. We were one of them too. It was one of the worst days as a mentor. Mental Health became one of the most important aspects of concern for startup founders and so it was for me as well. I did not take my previous venture’s failure that well. If you say this is rock bottom, I say, it was rock bottom, 100 ft of crap and then me there.
Each step brought tons of lessons & I knew every lesson that I was learning as I was building myself from scratch would be passed on to the 100s of people who knew me. I started building myself before I could stand to call myself a mentor or an influencer again. It was an overall repair. From an emotionally driven person to a realistic person. From an obese middle-aged lady to a marathoner. The journey happened and along with it came all that I passed through to my clients, my community and my friends.
Back from the dead
The firm that I represent now is a baby born out of crises. Startup Squares is into growth execution services to in-market stage Startups and SMEs largely. What we do is not rocket science but how we do it is. You will know more about it in my work section, this is the part when things turned around. Today, I speak about resilience in my talks, but I believe that I am able to give those impactful sessions and huge takeaways only because I have actually come back from the dead. Giving up is not an option when you are associated with me. Pivoting is, improvising is, but giving up; is not really.
Building a New Me
The sessions that I deliver are loaded with lessons from my journey and there has been no participant that has left the session without life-changing lessons. Why wait to make your own mistakes when you can hack your growth through mine? My life has been such, as to be a lesson for many others.