Aug 8, 2013

Interview with Women Startup Co-Founder Ritika Sharma

Date of Interview: August 09, 2013

How did the idea for your Startup come about? What ignited the spark in you to start
Well to be frank, the idea had originally occurred to us during one of our private parties in room no. 120 in IIM Lucknow. It was just an idea then, later we got into our respective jobs and were pretty happy initially to have cleared the placements and gotten into great MNCs. But later, around a year into our jobs we started to feel the pinch, we were frustrated, had our personal problems but unfortunately were so busy we were not able to lend an ear to the other when they most needed it. We just hated that. That is when we recognized that even our colleagues and other friends were facing the same problem. That’s how we decided to start for everyone who needed a listening ear.

What big problem are you trying to solve?
The BIG PROBLEM, is that most human beings need to vent out, tell someone the guilt they are carrying around. However strong they appear on the surface, people really need to find an outlet for their worries. Most people keep these buried deep within, which unfortunately leads to various psychological and physical health problems – the common one being depression. We want to give everyone that space , where they can be just themselves, without the prying eyes of the society, free of any bias, any judgement – A place to let it all out!

How do you manage to get Listeners for users to share emotions on Sharingdard?
This one was actually an interesting find even for us. Before we launched the website, we did a detailed research and 94.8% of the respondents said they would guide others if others were facing similar issues that they had faced in their past. This fact was confirmed when we actually saw people giving advice and sometimes even reprimanding users who were trying to be offensive to someone in need of good advice. We also appointed some of our close friends who were able to spend some time on our website and be a listener.

How does Sharingdard help users enrich their daily lives?
When a person exposes him/herself, they make themselves more vulnerable which is what people fear the most. But at the same time it is very essential to make yourself vulnerable, to feel that you are not just the only one, to accept yourself for who you are and forgive yourself so that you get some peace of mind. We provide a platform where they can do just that without feeling any sense of shame or fear of being looked down upon. It makes people more satisfied, calmer, a little less stressed out – isn’t that something we all want?

What early traction has the company gotten? has been live for around 3 months now, and our global alexa rank has jumped from >8 lacs to 3.03 lakhs, and our India Alexa rank jumped from >1 lakh to 24 K. Our users have personally written to us both for feedbacks and thank-you notes for starting such a service.

What is the age group that mostly use
Our major traffic comes from the age group of 18 to 45 years. It is open to everyone above 15 years of age.

What is the total market size in your space and what’s your market share?
In essence, every single person alive, by default becomes our target audience. Talking about numbers, each and every of India’s 137 Mn internet users(June 2012) becomes our target audience. We would focus on age group ranging from 15 to 40 years and people living in tier-1 cities for starters – basically aiming for the internet using population. As such, the concept is unique for which we didn't find any direct competitors in India. Since we are the pioneers in this unorganized market, we cannot gauge the market share.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
There is no sure-shot recipe to success. But to be an entrepreneur requires you to be open to taking intelligent risks, you need to be resourceful (networking is a major ingredient) and you need to be humble to make yourself open enough to listen and consider others views… even when they might go against your personal point of view.

Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
Primarily, the venture is self funded till now. We had our personal savings which we put to use to take our venture to this level. We would be soon looking out for Angel Investors /VCs for SharingDard as well as for Your Candid Friend, a tele counseling initiative of ours.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Although we wouldn’t call it a failure, we had an encounter with someone who changed the way we thought about our venture, our future outlook. This person we met made us realize that we were somewhere not in sync with our future goals. We were taking certain aspects of the business for granted. We got valuable insights which helped us align our strategies in line with our future plans for the company.

How did you find your Co-Founder? Is a Co-founder needed for a business?
We all are a very close bunch of friends from IIM Lucknow. I think we unanimously accepted each other as a co-founder for this initiative. I believe a co-founder is definitely needed for any business. There needs to be somebody who keeps the other one motivated and energized during tough times in this journey of entrepreneurship. Team Photo
Lima James(left), Gaurav Rajan, Sumant Gajbhiye & Ritika Sharma (right)   

How does make money? What’s your Revenue model?
At the moment, we have not started making money yet. In the times to come, we have planned to make revenue through the Counseling arm i.e. Your Candid Friend, Website Ad space revenue, Market Intelligence Reports, Tie ups with counselors, Strategic tie ups with other service providers.

What campaign strategies have you used to promote your startup?
Since our venture is online, we have focussed on online channels mostly. We will gradually start marketing through other channels to reach out to a bigger set of audience.

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
We often hear big corporates and their work culture which others admire. However, there are many success stories in our own country itself, worth admiration. Some of these are Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, Jayashree Enterprises (by Arunachalam Murugananthan). We truly admire their courage and determination to succeed.

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
What if does not work out? And the answer would be – Whatever makes fail, will help us rebuild it again.


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Tags: Dard meaning grief, ritika sharama co founder web startup india, india women co-founder startup, 


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