“Women tend to be the best multi-taskers - so do not doubt yourself”li
Anisha is Founder and CEO of mydala.com. Prior to that, she was Founder and CEO of Kinis (Software) Solutions, providing customized e-learning solutions to clients across United States and India. Anisha´s career began at Capitol Hill where she worked closely with National Women´s Business Association in Washington D.C and then Cenra Software in Boston . She is currently of the board Indus Women Entrepreneurs, a platform for South Asian women leaders in the US.
Apart from successfully planning and directing initiatives for mydala, Anisha is also an active participant in various conferences across US and India. Anisha has successfully written and presented a detailed paper on "Training and Workforce Planning in Construction Industry Through E-learning and IT Management Systems,"at INCITE - ITCSED , World Conference on IT in Design & Construction held at New Delhi, India. Anisha has been featured on CNBC – TV 18´s ´Young Turks´ and ET Now´s Starting Up. She has also been featured in prominent newspapers like Asian Age, Mail Today, Economic Times and The Hindu and publications as Femina, Business World, Business Today and Inc.
Anisha has a Masters degree in political communication, as well as an MBA in Information Systems from American University in Washington DC. Anisha shares her experiences on her journey so far and her take on digital industry with Thinking Aloud!
TA: What inspired you to start this business? How and where did you get this idea for a business?
Anisha: I was in the US researching business models where I came across an article of offline groups coming together to buy LCDs in bulk in China for huge discounts. This gave me the idea to try the bulk buying concept in India. When we started mydala in 2009, the concept of group buying was a nascent one in the Indian market. We were the first group buying website in the country – ‘dala’ means group in Sanskrit and mydala means ‘my group’. Today, we have evolved into the largest user friendly site providing the most attractive and relevant offers on mobile devices, internet and TV. We also provide merchants the best marketing platform in a comprehensive, cost-effective and customized manner.
TA: How did you finance the business? Was it difficult to gain investors confidence being a woman entrepreneur?
Anisha: The venture was self-funded to start with and in December 2009 a group of angel investors pumped in around INR 1.1 crores. Till we got our Series A it wasn’t the smoothest of rides but it was a lesson required because it taught us to be innovative about our growth and focus on what is most important which is getting the company to profitability. Being an entrepreneur in general is daunting but worth the ride. If your business model and what you talk makes sense then investors will respect you. It has nothing to do with being a woman or man just have to have great business acumen and the ability to keep rolling with the punches.
TA: What are your marketing strategies for this business?
Anisha: Our primary focus is on a viral word of mouth online/mobile marketing campaign in order to gain the trust of our target users and give them the comfort that if the deal is on mydala, it is an unbeatable one and they should buy it! We focus on spending our money on customer acquisition virally (and not blast marketing), and acquiring a loyal user base.
TA: How are you managing your time?
Anisha: Wow! This is probably the most loaded question. I’d like to answer with something as profound as ‘I just figured it out’ or ‘I’m really good at it’ but the fact of the matter is that the day just seems to fly by when I get to the office. I have recently started working from home on Saturdays so that’s a big change. In terms of product innovation my best thinking happens between 5-6am.
TA: What was the most difficult part of starting the business?
Anisha: The most difficult part was definitely the hiring. For the first year we shared our office with a dental clinic, when we ran out of meeting space we would use the clinic during the times it was free. Try having a prospect recruit come in and take an interview amidst dental chairs – it just didn’t make for a convincing potential workplace for a lot of people. This however, turned out to be a blessing because we got people who truly believed in the company and were in it to make mydala a success. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with such an amazingly dynamic team.
It was important to get the right environment and culture for the organisation. Our current staff tally stands at 230 and I’m proud to say that my core team is a bunch of renegades that make anything happen.
TA: What are your expectations for the future with regards to this business?
Anisha: mydala has a successful business model and we sell over 65000 vouchers per day. Consumers on mydala have the widest choice of offers from 100,000 merchants across brands and can view and purchase offers, not just on the internet, but also while ‘on the move’ through SMS, WAP and user-friendly mobile apps. We are looking at expanding the user base and our portfolio of offerings in the near future. We have also set up a unique marketing platform for merchants which will help them to sell to the maximum potential customers in a cost-effective manner. This platform allows merchants to customize their offers and use business analytics to acquire and retain customers.
TA: What are the problems faced by women entrepreneurs in business, especially from small towns?
Anisha: Although things are improving, women entrepreneurs definitely face a fair bit of challenges in our country. Starting with a good support system from within the family to being able to raise the required finances, are all challenges that women face. But they have most certainly managed to create their own niche and we see several women running successful businesses more so in small towns making an impact in their own way.
TA: What lessons would do you like to give to other aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Anisha: I found my calling in life to be an entrepreneur at the National Women’s Business Association at Capitol Hill, Washington DC. It was a springboard for women entrepreneurs and I met women from all walks of life. Having the good fortune of seeing amazing women entrepreneurs balance work, big families some as single mothers was truly inspiring. Women tend to be the best multi-taskers- so do not doubt yourself. We’re known to take all sorts of pressure so just take the jump and things will fall into place. Entrepreneurship in general is not rosy initially with the long hours and a lot of non-clarity but the journey is fun and the fruits along the way are worth it. So, my advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs? We women in general tend to over think everything. If you feel passionately about starting a business – Do It!! Just be sure to reach out to people who can be mentors and can guide you along the way.