FYI: Entrepreneurs Meet In Delhi To Talk #MyStartupStory With Facebook and YKA!

Posted on July 11, 2016
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #MyStartupStory, Facebook and Youth Ki Awaaz are coming together to help you scale your business. Share your startup story and write to us if you want to host a workshop in your college!

By Merril Diniz:

“Startups have no staff.” What they have are, “Believers, doers, foot soldiers and problem solvers – all rolled into one!” This sentiment by “SHEROE” and self-made entrepreneur, Sairee Chahal resonated rather well with the 120 odd entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-in-waiting, she was addressing. The occasion was the second edition of #MyStartupStory, an interactive workshop, hosted by Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook on July 9, 2016, to help budding entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. The venue was the hip hub antiSOCIAL, in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village.

During the intense two-hour workshop, we saw some very thought-provoking and informative sessions by seasoned and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, who addressed a multitude of issues faced by those starting their own ventures.

YKA founder, Anshul Tewari, an entrepreneur himself, kicked off the conversation with Devika Srimal Bapna, a young chartered accountant-turned-entrepreneur who started a fashion brand with a twist. This PETA volunteer, after giving up leather, was unable to find stylish, high-quality, affordable non-leather shoes in the market. So, she started her own PETA-approved, vegan shoe brand named KANABIS!

Devika shared her experiences of starting as well as the challenges of building a brand with little to no marketing spends. She also shared a great learning around this, “We are still bootstrapped, and social media has helped us scale up. Our response time on Facebook is less than five minutes!”

On Finding Funding For Your Business

Next up, was Rana Atheya, dog lover and founder of, a business that went from being an online community of dog lovers in 2007, to an e-commerce portal for pet care products and getting funded in 2016 by, none other than, Ratan Tata (a self-proclaimed dog lover, himself!).

Rana’s first great tip: “Your ‘cool’ startup is a business, too. But don’t raise funds just because everyone else is.” In the race for funding, many entrepreneurs increase their valuations, yet, find it difficult to make money and in turn profits, and hence, find themselves in a difficult position. Hence, tread carefully.

In the initial stages, you may need to get friends and/or family to chip in. “Friends are better than family when it comes to fundraising,” shares Rana, who also advises that if you don’t have a great rapport with a first-time investor, you need to be cautious. Niche businesses, may have a slightly tougher time finding funding. But don’t give up. He ended on a high note with a simple sharing, “I will run my company whether I get or don’t get funds. I am doing this because of passion.”

Hiring The Right Team

Our next speaker Sairee Chahal, has literally transformed the thinking around hiring for startups through her disruptive platform,, which helps women at various stages of careers and life, find opportunity in a diversity of modes – part-time, full-time, consultancy, internships, and more. “The people who first come to your team are never hired. Organisations dilute when they go to the ‘job hopper’s market’,” shared Sairee, who incidentally, managed to get people who worked with her in her first startup in 1999, to come work for her when she started ‘Sheroes’!

A young entrepreneur in the audience posed a great question, “How do you know for sure that a potential hire is genuinely interested and enthusiastic?”

“Be brutally honest about expectations,” advises Sairee. Those who genuinely buy into the idea, will join you, despite the odds. Also, be open to hiring a spectrum of talent. “We have hired developers from Eastern Europe and young moms who log in at 10 am and out by 3.30 pm,” she shares. Last but not the least, when it comes to making a choice between hiring a person with high skills and average enthusiasm and high enthusiasm and average skills, it’s advisable to go for the latter, as skills can become redundant, but the ability and enthusiasm to re-learn is what builds a great team. “Today, we have set up Labs and our first intern heads it!”

How To Make Facebook + Instagram Work For You

Who would have guessed, even five years back, that a photograph clicked on a smartphone, with just a little attention to colours, composition and a caption, posted on social media, could help build a brand? Well, that’s the exciting reality we live in today. Entrepreneurs are using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, to create exciting conversations around their brands, products and services, and these conversations are bringing them business.

1.65 billion people use Facebook every month, and 1 billion of these, come back every single day. Also, people check their Facebook news feeds 14 times a day! Hence, 14 opportunities to get your message out there!” shared our next speaker, Ritesh Mehta, Head of Economic Growth Initiatives at Facebook for India and South Asia. Ritesh shared, “To create good content, answer a simple question – what’s the goal of this particular Facebook post? Don’t give conflicting, confusing messages.”

Don’t hesitate to leverage storytelling, an age-old format that also works like a charm, online. For instance, pick a theme for your product – birthdays, occasions, festivals, then tell a story around that theme. “It’s also a great idea to get your own employees and regular customers to share their stories related to your products. Do what tells your story best.”

Ritesh also shared an interesting nugget on video content. Since phone volumes are off by default, the videos you post, must have sub-titles. Also, be sure to deliver your video message in the first 15 seconds.

A Motley Crew Of Believers

The most exciting aspect of the workshop was the eclectic mix of entrepreneurs who travelled long distances and invested time for a common goal – to help make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. There was student entrepreneur named Hardik of DesinoTag, who came all the way from Karnal, Haryana, just for the event. We also had law student-turned-entrepreneur Tanuj from Lawoctopus, the co-founders of MiStay, and Mou and Abhishek, of food delivery service, Bhukkadbelly.

There was no dearth of social entrepreneurs, either from Aashish, who runs the Mash Project and Neha, who founded Planet Abled, an accessible travel enterprise, to Swarnima who’s segueing from a cushy job into a social enterprise for women. We also had a slew of creative entrepreneurs like design-preneur Saumya, Neeru, a film-school dropout who now runs a popular food blog, bako-preneur Shivam of Demould and Shubhangi from Artshire. Everyone was here to learn, share and grow, and while they benefited through the wisdom of seasoned entrepreneurs, there was a lot of post-event networking over chai, coffee and cookies, to explore new synergies!

In case you missed this workshop, #MyStartupStory will soon be back with the next edition. So, watch this space. In the meantime, if you believe you have a compelling startup story to share, write in and tell us your story!

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