Mentoring & Channeling Potential Startups to Make a Difference

Bhawna Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer – NDTV

Bhawna is an award-winning Digital leader & an entrepreneur with 17+ years in leading media houses, Internet companies & start-ups in India. She believes that experiences play a very important part in shaping us and have a profound effect on our perspectives. During her childhood, she was always encouraged to participate in almost all types of extracurricular activities. While she had an excellent interest in academics, she also ended up pursuing a lot of other creative & sports activities that led to an all round development.

A Graduate in Chemistry Honors, she got enthralled by the business side of the corporate world and completed her MBA. Soon she got into the Internet industry when it was at its nascent stage in India and businesses had just started experimenting with the trends and it has been a rewarding journey for her.

She is very passionate about driving businesses and inclined to provide strategic mentoring. “Once you earn a strong reputation for competence, you are no longer a minority in the board room. At times, you may not be able to change the market conditions but you can surely change the way you deal with them,” Bhawna adds.

Here are some more intercepts from her journey, as shared with Team ABT.

Who is your greatest inspiration & why?
Inspiration comes to me in many forms. I get inspired by game changing people everywhere that I come across during my personal & professional journey, regardless of age, experience and conditions. There are people who dared to dream and had the steely resilience to see it though, no matter how many times they faced resistance or setback.

What also inspires me is the fact that we all have boundless potential to create our own future with our vision. I find this realization very empowering. that our life would be what we make of it today. Every morning, I wake up to be a better and stronger version of myself and try to make a difference in the lives of the people around me. Most prominently, I draw a lot of strength from my family since I spend a lot of time away. I make sure that every bit of that is worth it.

Tell us about your most cherished milestone
My first step towards entrepreneurship with Times group when I drove India’s first online travel vertical to success! Especially at a time when there was very low internet penetration, even the partners had never experimented with digital platforms before. When we helped launch India’s first low cost Airline on our platform at midnight, the servers almost crashed due to the massive consumer demand we received. This was quite challenging, especially in an environment when the digital ecosystem was at its absolutely nascent stage and credit card penetration was at its absolutely low levels. This soon became company’s largest revenue generating unit in a record time and led to a very fulfilling experience. I realized that limitations exist only in the mind; you have to find ways to excel under different circumstances.

What is your leadership style?
I firmly believe in productive leadership and leading by example. It is important not to command respect but earn your stripes to inspire others. As a leader, I like to invest time in creating a climate of success for our team and inspire them & align them with the vision of the business. I like to emphasize in participative decision making, especially for important projects. There is no alternate to efficient execution,  as action is the key to all success. There are times when business complexities pose different challenges. One of my biggest strength as a leader is the ability to see the larger picture and be a problem solver while seeing a situation from various perspectives to get the work done.

Do you feel there are more opportunities to Women Entrepreneurs today? 
I think it is a great time to be a Woman Entrepreneur. Women are being recognized as powerful leaders and a lot of women led businesses are succeeding. Even though they may still have some biases to tackle, women have a lot more access to knowledge and mentors who can guide them to a path to success. In this digital era, a lot of access and reach issues have become simpler and aspiring women entrepreneurs have begun experimenting with various types of businesses. Thanks to a lot of media focus and heightened awareness, a lot more success stories are being talked about which is inspiring other women who want to start on their own.

If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
All my experiences have helped me grow. Experiences add layers to the depth of knowledge and I wouldn’t want to change any of the paths I took. If at all I were to do one thing differently, then I would not give up sports. I used to love playing Basketball and represented Delhi while playing Nationals. But it took a backseat after college while I took up many more things. Being an active sports person taught me many things and would love to redo it all over again.

What is your advice to a younger self?
First things first, take a piece of paper and write down the name of companies whose stock you need to invest as soon as they get launched 🙂  Besides this, would love to tell my younger self to invest in herself a little more, stay in the moment and be very grateful to the parents. Know this that whatever stats you are learning in school might be outdated soon but what would remain useful is the ability to ask right questions and coming up with solutions. Do not get disheartened when things do not happen your way as Universe is actually creating a better path for you.

What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
I would love to further scale up Gadgets360; it has already become India’s number one technology platform with over 120 million page views. Even at this large scale, we have become completely profitable and would continue to focus on diversifying the business into new verticals and into newer geographies.

On the personal front, I am looking forward to continue mentoring high potential interesting startup teams and would be associated with certain high scale social impact projects which would make help a difference in other people’s lives.