Aggregating Best Deals for online shopping

Kanchan Sukhija, Co Founder — Compare Munafa

“A lot can happen over coffee” — a tagline of a popular chain of coffee chain shops applies perfectly in the life of Kanchan Sukhija, Co-founder – Compare Munafa, that brings together leading online stores and help buyers select the best deals by comparing product / shop prices online, while offering added advantage of cash back and discount against every purchase. (www.comparemunafa.com). With rising mobile internet & the penetration witnessed today, her platform provices an opportunity to compare prices for a range of products to consumers.

A Masters in Finance & Investments from Nottingham University Business School and PGDIP in Actuarial from the University of Southampton, Kanchan worked for 3 years in finance & insurance where she learnt the nuances of the corporate world. But being from a business family, Kanchan always had a heart of an Entrepreneur. She feels since she has seen both sides of the coin, it helps her  strike the right balance at work.

“The idea was to create an online mall and it all started with casual meeting at a coffee shop!” says Kanchan. Her co-founder and friend, Vivek Agarwal were discussing her online purchase of a phone, where they felt a need for a a one-stop solution to make online shopping more simplified and convenient, where one can save time, effort and money as well. “Compare Munafa is the result of my passion and determination. The journey was not easy but it was very exciting indeed, as it threw new challenges in the form of opportunities at us every day”, says Kanchan.

Kanchan has always believed that investment in education is the best investment and everyone has a right to learning. This is one of the reasons of her association with SUIT (Societal Upliftment Initiative Trust) as a treasurer where they work towards educating underprivileged children.

High point in career

“The highest point in my career till date is the day we launched Compare Munafa. It was just a dream until early last year and now I am living the dream. In today’s fast paced lives, Compare Munafa not only helps save time & efforts but also lets earn cashback by bringing price comparison, deals and coupons and Munafa points (similar to cashback) on a single platform. It is developed not to be just another online portal but as a solution provider for the information asymmetry about the price of the products across other online portals. The launch of Compare Munafa and giving shape to the idea has definitely been the career high for me.

Most challenging assignment so far

“Nothing is more challenging than shaping up the dream to take it to next level. Getting the right team, keeping them passionate about work and making the work place inspiring and encouraging to get the best out of everyone is the most challenging. I believe hard work and passion pays off in the end. And I believe if you put 100%, then everything else just falls in place.”

Greatest inspiration

“My greatest inspiration has been my father. He is a successful businessman and at the same time a very humble. He has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and empowered me to take my own decision. I have learnt the basics of business from him and his rich value system have made me the person I am today. He once told me a famous quote — “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” He has taught me nothing is impossible and we should never give up in life. He is not only an inspiration but also a mentor and my biggest strength.”

Most important milestone in life

“Nothing gives more happiness than seeing your hard work reaching out to people and being accepted. Every achievement is a milestone. Every first for Compare Munafa, be it the first registration, the first collaboration or the first employee, is etched in my memory and is a constant motivation to achieve more.”

Women are the better halves. What does it mean to you?

“Women are Better Halves. I believe this statement is completely true. Unlike men, we women are good at multi-tasking. Being a woman, we bring patience, focus, persistence and determination with us, which not only help to keep the family together but also help in growing a business. I believe that women can be men’s better half in all the aspects of their life take it business, personal, family or any other.”

Experiences on being a woman entrepreneur

“It’s just a mindset that Women Entrepreneurs are any different than Men. An entrepreneur is the one who puts in everything they can to achieve their goals. Anyone can work and make money but an entrepreneur (man or woman) is the one who works for his/her passion and includes people (Team) to be the part of this journey. To maintain a balance and take the right decision is the tricky part.The experience being an entrepreneur has been a jolly ride. Every business has its highs and lows and there is always learning from every hurdle in your path and happiness in every achievement. The journey takes you through different experiences and emotions; focus, hard work and passion helps you go through each and every step with ease.”

How do you believe in making dreams come true?

“Dreams remain dreams until you start working on it. The day I dreamt about Compare Munafa, I had decided it is not just going to be another dream, I had decided that I will work towards making this dream come to life. It all started with in-depth research and planning of everything right from scratch with immense detailing. The first aim was to get the blue prints right by refining the idea into a sustainable business model. Followed by getting the right co-founders along with the right team was next big step for me. The launch was the day when I told myself, this is just the beginning and sky is the limit. Today when I stand here and look back, I realize that everything lies in detailing and working hard with your heart and soul and having the right Team.”

Challenges faced

“When you are trying to develop something new, everyday poses new challenges and learnings associated with it. The biggest challenge we faced was to find right and like-minded people, as we believe that many startups fail not because of the idea, but because of lack of the right team to execute the ideas. Hiring for our startup was not easy as the working environment and challenges faced are conventional. The key traits that we look for are passion, adaptability, eagerness to learn and self-motivated individuals who have the ability to take risks in the path of innovation and also the humility to admit their mistakes and find for solutions.”

Setbacks and Lessons learnt

“Every dream has hurdles but crossing the roadblocks and moving ahead is the key to success. No setbacks can pull one back if one is determined to achieve the goal. My experience of giving birth to Compare Munafa taught me a lot many things, few of them are:

  • Have a sustainable plan.
  • Turn dreams into action.
  • Review progress regularly.
  • Be flexible and welcome change.
  • Stay motivated always.”

Parenting, Not a child’s play!

Vidhi Mehra, Founder, Candy Cane Club

“If you ever thought that parenting is a child’s play, then the answer is a big No. In today’s digital age & plethora of options & choices thrown open to us, it is always better to make an informed decision rather than experimenting. Candy Cane Club addresses this unique area through a unique approach”, says Vidhi Mehra, the founder of Candy Cane Club ((www.candycaneclub.com)  

Having spent several hours of volunteer work at various preschools, Vidhi was extremely confident to start the journey of motherhood. Few months down the line, she realized that the usual baby talk with them was just not good enough to explore the full potential of the children. While Vidhi searched toys and books got stacked up in the corner of the house, Vidhi planned her son’s first trip to the local zoo, which wasn’t too exciting for her son to enjoy and understand animals. This realisation of what to do with the child, at what level & age, led to the birth of Candy Cane Cub. 

At Candy Cane Club, the parent is at the centre and equipped with the tools to help them keep the child occupied in a constructive manner. So, if a parent is heading to the science centre in the city or toy store and is wondering about the things that his three year old will love, the answer is a click away. Their service is curated and personalised to suit the child based on child’s level, interest and on the parent’s routine.

Candy Cane Club is thus changing the way young parents spend time with their child, by helping them rediscover the fun with them.

High point in career

“Candy Cane Club has not only become a popular name among leading corporates and schools, but has also won the Kidsstopress Readers Choice Award 2014, as the best subscription service for children in India.  Currently, we are constantly getting invited by schools and companies to conduct sessions for parents to help them connect with their children.  The last three sessions that we held at Tech Mahindra, helped parents rediscover the fun that they can have with their children. This recognition of Candy Cane Club has been the high point in my career.”

Most challenging assignment so far

 “The biggest challenge that we faced at Candy Cane Club was to connect little children around the world without having them glued to a screen.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment to have achieved the art of connecting children between the ages of 2 and 6 years around the world to play together from the comforts of their homes. Little children have now been connected through Candy Cane Club’s innovative game play called the “Discovery Race” which is conducted every month.”

Greatest inspiration

 “My children have always been my greatest inspiration. They have inspired me to think out of the box for making play interesting and challenging.  I continue to innovate Gameplay which has changed the way young parents spend time with their children. Gameplay is constructed at Candy Cane Club, by continuously analysing the child’s level, interests and the time available with their parents. 

Although I made Gameplay a lot of fun for my children, my biggest regret is not being able to capture the moments that mattered to me the most.  Even the few that I did capture are strewn across the cloud on different platforms, making accessibility to them difficult. Through the Candy Cane Club app which is now available on the google play store, I have managed to address this issue with total proficiency.  We help arrange the pictures in an organised manner and also keep reminding parents to take pictures at the right time.”

Most important milestone in life

“Being the “Trusted Partner” to parents is surely the biggest milestone in my career so far.  Parents that belong to Candy Cane Club have turned into one large family and share their children’s personal moments with us. The fact that they include us in their daily moments of joy has become a huge accomplishment for us.  It is very fulfilling to see parents share special pictures of their children with us on a daily basis.  Every time a parent shares their precious memories with us is a high point for us.”

Women are the better halves. What does it mean?

 “At Candy Cane Club, we believe in women power and are proud to be an ‘all women’s team’. We believe in the strength of women but that does not make us into better halves.  We believe that men and women are equal.  It’s just that we just enjoy being an all-women’s team and are happy to be tagged as ‘women in blue’.”

Building High-Impact brand stories

Minal D’rozario, Co Founder, Ideosphere

An alumnus of Xavier’s Institute of Communications with an advanced Certification from Stanford University, Minal D’rozario’s love for communications, more specifically storytelling, started very early. She plunged into this world of amazement 5 years ago with a complete stranger for a business partner (but equally passionate about building a strong brand) and just one dream — To be an entrepreneur!

As the Co-Founder of Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited (www.ideosphereconsulting.com) and Head Contributor at Ourbit Marketing & Communications Pvt. Ltd. (the Social Media division of the group), Minal’s vision has been simple: to create impact-full brand stories.  Her role is a lot more demanding and exciting as apart from being able to create and provide strategic expertise impacting the business, she is responsible for creating the right perceptions, engaging conversations and evoking impact across brands.

With previous stints in Cadbury’s India, Ogilvy One, Hanmer & Partners (now MS&L); Kidstuff Promos & Events (Mudra Group); Banyan International – Dubai and Genesis BursonMarsteller, she created a strong foundation in terms of skill set and values, but the passion and energy was manifested with the birth of Ideosphere.

Ideosphere was founded in 2011 along with Aniruddha Bhagwat with the sole objective of introducing insight based communication. “The ability to understand consumer behaviour and their effect on communication is a value that I bring on board and through which I help structure and form our numerous award winning brand stories”, says Minal.

Over the last 15 odd years of extensive and diverse experience, across sectors, her love for storytelling and communications, in general, has not only deepened but has also been supplemented with a very clear and rounded understanding of businesses — their cycles, processes and more importantly their non-divorceable relationship with consumers. A mother of a 7 year old son and being able to manage and learn something new between her personal and professional life with the same zest, is the high that Minal achieves every day. When not working, she explores and learns through new life experiences with her son and has great interest in knowing about different cuisines & culture.

High point in career

“After having been for a long in the communication industry the high point was when I decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge with a complete stranger, the biggest risk at that point of time in my career, Just starting everything from scratch to being able to see it unfold as a strong organisation now has been immensely satisfying experience.”

Most challenging assignment so far

“Setting up the events division for Mudra, in a market like Gujarat when I was 24 years old, was the most challenging assignment I have ever undertaken. Coming from a grounding and work culture of metro cities of Mumbai and Delhi, it took me a while to understand and adapt to the work culture of what was a largely family run business market at the time. Compound this with the first two quarters of zero business, my confidence and motivation was at its absolute low. At this juncture this interesting conversation with a consultant made me realise that I was approaching it all wrong. From there on there was no looking back, not only did I achieve more than my annual target in the next two quarters but was also awarded as the Best Performer — Business Development that year. Starting with this experience,  challenges being turned into key milestones; has been key to my career and has helped me to be a lot more composed and grounded even in the face of all the success we have witnessed.” 

Greatest inspiration

“My 7 year old son Evaan – no doubt about that! In his own innocent ways he has helped me learn such important lessons of life. His views matter to me the most as they are unbiased, honest, clear and innocent. Children have the most amazing ability to keep moving on and not be fazed by constraints or fear, and that in itself is such an important aspect of growth, both personally and professionally. It enables clarity and direction.”

Most important milestone in life

“May 2nd 2011- the day we decided to start Ideosphere with our singular vision of making it big for the right reasons — Progressive Thinking, Culture and Good Work!”

Women are the better halves. What does it mean?

“I do very often come across this situation of being made aware of the roles, priorities and identity of woman. But I have to come a conclusion that just focussing on your work and being consistent at it is all what matters. The societal tags, to me hold no credence.”

Colours of perseverance and passion

Khyati Mehra Sharma, Founder, KhyatiWorks
Born & brought up in Amritsar, North India, KHyati Mehra Sharma is living her passion in arts painting, handicrafts at KhyatiWorks. (www.khyatiworks.com). She owns an ecommerce store that houses a large number of handpainted and handcrafted things like jewelry, stationery, home décor, quirky accessories, artwork, gifting, shoes etc.

Khyati also has her IT work going along that hinders her participation in lots of exhibits, but her merchandise is available at select stores in Bangalore and Mumbai. Planning to have her own boutique in Bangalore in 4 years’ time, the USP of Khyatiworks is that none of the products is factory made. “Each piece is handcrafted by me and takes anywhere between 1-5 days to get made. That makes all the products unique and so different, the proud entrepreneur says.

Her choice of profession came without a second thought – it had to be engineering! While she was completely into academics, Khyati was equally fond of painting. She never received a formal training in it but she enjoyed sketching and painting a lot.  Her IT career started just after graduation, but she set aside some time to paint on & off  and once she came across a couple of psychedelic artworks online, there was no turning back since then.

Khyati started creating abstract artworks which were completely intuitive. She says she would have a blank canvas in front of her and next thing she would just start filling it. And within 2-3 months, Khyati had finished a couple of them. Looking at them filled her with so much joy and she had found her calling. I knew this was now a major part of me, she says.

Khyati never wanted to showcase her artwork in an exhibition but she wanted to share the joy that it brought to her along with people. They were such happy colors and she knew it would brighten up the lives of anyone who saw it. So she thought of starting with Artwork souvenirs and got mugs and greeting cards printed. However, the question was – how to market it. She had no background in this field, so she had to literally go to every gift shop in Connaught place in Delhi who she thought could house these cards. In a month’s time, Khyati got an order for 300 cards and that’s how ‘Khyatiworks’ was born!

High point in career

2015 was very kind in terms of accolades for my work. Last year I was featured in a number of national dailies – The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Times of India, YourStory etc. This year I was invited to the prestigious Startup India campaign launch initiated by the Govt of India in New Delhi, I was among the 2000 startups that were invited for the event and I am really proud of that!

Most challenging assignment so far

My most challenging assignment has to be my first exhibit in Dilli Haat, New Delhi. It was a 3 day event and being my first exhibit I had very little idea with regard to what should be the quantity of products that I should make, how to go about the marketing, so many things. Also, as I make each piece myself, I had to work a lot of extra hours, weekends, after office to get the things ready. I had a lot of family support; I guess that was the biggest reason of that exhibit being an absolute success. But it was the most grueling 2 months for me.

Greatest inspiration

My greatest inspiration is the Honey Badger. It is unperturbed, unaffected by what happens around it, it just gets what it wants. Whenever I am feeling low or things don’t go as planned, I thing about how a honey badger only worries about what it wants, any hurdles or obstacles can’t change what it wants. And that is so awesome! If we are focused on our goal to make things happen, without worrying about the highs and lows, we can achieve whatever we set our mind to.

Most important milestone in life

To be able to carve a niche for my brand and to be able to justify my IT work at the same time gives me immense happiness. Both are an integral part of me and I would never want one to suffer because of the other, they both are equal priority at this point. I take life as it comes so I am open to taking chances and looking forward to what it has in store for me!

Women are the better halves”- Have we moved beyond this?

Honestly, this line does not make a lot of sense to me. Yes, we have moved beyond this to an extent, but there are a lot of places where women are still pulled down and are tried to be brought within the so called ‘boundaries’. Having said that, I feel instead of being ‘better’ or ‘worse’, why not be equal? Why not compare accomplishments based on the person rather than gender? And this also means I am definitely against the extra privileges or ‘crutches’ provided to women, I feel I can accomplish whatever I want to with my ability and I do not need that extra leeway just because I am a woman. Just like taking away privileges because you are a woman is demeaning, granting extra privileges because you are a woman is equally demeaning.

In my view, an ideal society will be one where we will not need ‘the first WOMAN to have done this’ Instead we will have ‘the first person to have done this’ irrespective of whether its a man or a woman – when we realize we don’t need to shout out our accomplishments loud coz I am a woman, that is when the world will be a much better place to live in!