Success Stories:
Her Story Her Way

Brief introduction about yourself and tell us something about Youth Youniverse?
I’m Ananya Jain, a final year student at University of London International Programmes. I’m 21 years old and an entrepreneur. Though, I didn’t start initially as an entrepreneur but I took small steps at a time. I started my training at the age of 16 in my father’s company (BHPL- Bafna Healthcare Pvt Ltd- Unlike other cases, my father and grandfather were very strict when it came to work environment and to give me a taste of it, I was asked to not enter the office for the first week. I was made to take attendance in the factory and observe; this is how I started my journey. Post this, I was asked to spend one month in each department and understand the work and the responsibilities. I used to attend school and then post school hours or during holidays I used to attend office. After about 7 months of this training, I got my first project in the company. In a field of critical care ambulances only people with skills, experience and knowledge can sustain. It came as a surprise to all my family members and seniors in the office. I was guided by concerned people at all stages of my project but eventually after completing the project, the look on the clients face gave me my reward. That was the day, I decided that I’m made for turning dreams into reality and that’s what I’m going to do. April 2013, after the pressuring higher secondary examinations, I couldn’t sit at home in peace; so along with going to office full time, I thought I should start freelancing. I had good knowledge about business models, plans, marketing activities, branding and implementation by then and that’s where my interests lied. I thought I can only learn by working and that’s what my next step has to be. I started taking up projects online and free of cost for enhancing my skills. My first few projects gave me courage and experience of handling startups and individual workers but during my 4th freelance project with an emerging startup, I was told that they’ve never met with someone with so much of passion, caliber and zeal to meet deadlines with quality work. That is when the feeling of accomplishment sank into me. And then the freelancing work started with full force and at the same time, I got admitted into my college which required rigorous inputs as the course was challenging but I couldn’t move away from taking up projects. I started thinking on the lines of making this a business whereby we get freelancers on board to help in setting up startups by charging lesser than the market as everything happens in-house. But this idea stayed in my mind for a long time. November 2014, I did an event for my college- ISBFMUN’14 singlehandedly with a team of 5 odd members. There wasn’t any support from the authorities be it funding, marketing or resources. Me and my team gathered sponsorship and marketed the event to over 70,000 people; we also got a decent participation which was very good considering it was the first such event for the college. Finally at the end of the event, not a single person went home unhappy. That event made me realize that if one wants to achieve something, he/she doesn’t need anyone but just focus. A week after this, I was sitting with a friend who was a part of my team for the event and somehow I discussed with him the idea. He, without wasting a minute said that we must do it and I’ll support wherever you want. That was back then and here I am today. With the support of the co-founding partners Navni Kothari, Sarthak Gupta and Rohan Sharma, Youth Youniverse came into being; a startup in the fields of event conceptualization-creation, and business development and marketing activities. We were a team of 10 odd members with just one vision in mind, to gain experience and deliver happiness. We started exploring different fields, we did marathons (thrill zone marathons), we did annual college fests (IIT-D Rendezvous, DDUC Zucitva etc), we did standalone business plan projects, devising marketing activities, social work events (Moments for Them 2015) and what not. We did not invest a penny in the company and did everything in-house which resulted in 90% profit at the end of year 1. But the day Youth Youniverse was born, I had one thing clear in my mind that it is just going to survive till the college ends. This wasn’t a long term plan. The long term idea was something else, it is grand and complex which required experience that Youth Youniverse gave me.

What ignited the spark in you to step into entrepreneurship?
It happened by chance. From training to freelancing, and then from freelancing to entrepreneurship; it was indeed a journey. But ever since Youth Youniverse has existed, I know that I’m meant to help people and deliver happiness. This is what is pushing me to do more, something more everyday. In fact it is my father’s dream to see me as a successful businesswoman and I cannot let him down. My main driving force are my parents who have always encouraged me.

Please share your future goals for your startup. So, in Youth Youniverse we stopped operating in January and I’m back to freelancing. But alongside it, I was working on a business idea that concerned social sector, healthcare and providing healthcare services to people in time. It’s a one of it’s kind idea that I’m working on for which I have the B-Plan ready with all financial and marketing statements. I’m just waiting for my final year to get over (May) and post that I will be working on it full time. And most probably, it will be active by the end of this year.  

What all challenges did you face and what were your strategies to overcome them?
Challenges that I faced in this journey started from getting new projects, to team building and maintaining, to marketing, to financing. In short, every aspect of my startup was a challenge. Leading a team of freshers with a goal to make a name and gain experience is damn difficult. One thing that I learnt was that people will come and people will go, but the company goes on forever. Everyone is replaceable and till the time they are replaceable, they don’t add value. The day one becomes irreplaceable, s/he starts adding value. And also that never to trust anyone; friends, partners, homies are all at home- in an organization; no one is a friend. My only strategy to overcome the challenges was to never give up. People will say things, people will assume your actions, people will make stories, friendships will break, partnerships will break but the day you give up; you cannot justify yourself. In my startup I had all college freshers’ who are by nature very eager to try new things and leave them. My inspiration here has been my father; I’ve seen him make an empire step by step, I’ve seen him fall down and get up and start all over again, and that has encouraged me to never give up.  

What are your views on the thought, that as compared to male counterparts, it’s harder and more struggling for females to make a mark professionally?
I kind of agree. It is indeed difficult for females to make a mark professionally because firstly no one takes us seriously. The minute they hear that it’s a female on the other end, the first thing they ask is who is your boss?, we females, have a very secretary-kind-of image (thanks to all Bollywood movies, novels etc). Second, even if you’re taken seriously at some point, they think that because it’s a female on the other end she won’t be committed to work (thanks to stereotyping females and ghar-ki-ghrehni). Third, somewhere even if you are taken seriously and considered committed to your work, they think that a female cannot achieve and show the way. I think the Indian society pulls down females to whatever extent they can. And if by chance, you succeed in anything, they would say that we females have a lot of liberties and privileges (because we are females) and thus we are at this level. At no point do we actually get credit for our work.

What piece of advice would you like to give to the aspiring youth who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
Just one advice, don’t stop because someone has told you that you cannot do it. I was battling with depression at the tender age of 15 when I stepped down and decided I will start working on myself and start entering the business. My father, my mother and my grandparents- only they supported; rest everyone, be it friends or teachers pulled me down. According to them, I was taking an impulsive decision. But I knew that no, this is how I will get out of it.   It has been three years that I have taken a penny from my parents for any of my expenses (I’m 21 just to remind you). Never, never stop or give up. And also, don’t wait for the right time. Keep working on something or the other till the time you don’t get what you want to pursue forever, i.e, your happiness and mission for life.  

According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Determination, Courage, Perseverance. Life is difficult, world is cruel; but don’t let anything stop you.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
It had made me and everyone else happier. They respect me for who I am and are proud of me. The best feeling in the world is when your parents, grandparents and siblings talk about your achievements be it big or small to their known people.

What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India?
I think it’s strongly required. Women entrepreneurship is on a rise nowadays and empowering women is the only kick that is required. People like us have facilities at our back but the entrepreneurs of rural India are the real heroes. Till the time every women in India isn’t safe to express her feelings and ideas, India wouldn’t grow. We don’t need Vijay Mallyas but Indra Nooyis in India. We need people with ambition, focus and a goal in life. We need change makers and doers.