India is among the top three countries when it comes to have a startup ecosystem. These days, people are opting for taking risks to transform their ideas into a revenue-generating model. Unfortunately, many startups are failing and falling down with crushed hopes. This necessitates the need for having a hand-holding for the startup owners, someone who can guide them; share knowledge with them; and provide support so that startups can confide in them too to have a healthy route of progress and business sustainability. This is where Aparna Mishra's role comes in. This Leo-lady has a strong graph of mentoring for the startups at: IIT Kanpur Incubation, BIMTECH Atal Incubation, The Economic Times, Catapooolt Change maker Crowdfunding event, and more.
She has been a hand-holding partner with SIDBI; Community partner at the Nepal India Summit and also with "The Mentorpreneurs" at IIT Powai. She has mentored some Women Entrepreneurs from Chandigarh and Lucknow for the We Can Program of Cherie Blair Foundation. She is the Founder-Director of Radiance Corporate Solutions Pvt. Ltd, for more than nine years now. Aparna is also a proud Founder-CEO of "Club CaféBiz" that houses a lot of startup owners hailing from diverse backgrounds and provides them guidance and support to enhance and promote their business. Within a year, she has expanded her venture with seven arms across the country, in Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali, Kolkata, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bhopal, more cities to join the count. We are hoping to see Northeast under her umbrella soon. This focused and dedicated entrepreneur and a mother of two, loves watching car racing, playing badminton, table tennis and lawn tennis. Here is an interaction with this God-loving lady who does not carry the word "impossible" in her pocket. Your wish (for starting your own venture) is her command.
Tell us about yourself.
A Lucknowite I am and have been in Lucknow throughout. I did my schooling, college, graduation, management studies and job. I am very close to this city as this city has seen all the cycles of my life; from a child to a girl to a lady and now to an entrepreneur. I have two wonderful sons aged 18 & 16 years old, who are very supportive and loving. I have always been a science-maths student so there was only one option of career, i.e. turning into an Engineer. I tried twice, but the destiny had something else written for me. I am a risk taker, confident, and an independent person. My first job was with The Times Of India, in 1990. I worked there for fourteen years as at that time there were hardly any corporates in Lucknow. I left it to join Modi Revlon and then Reliance Communications.
Talking about my experience, I worked in different genres in sales, customer care and strategy domains, for eighteen years. This experience has really helped me in pursuing my passion of beginning with a startup consultancy.
When did you realize that you want to start something of your own?
While I was working I always used to read stories of inspiring people who started their business and have achieved great laureals in their lives. This motivated me to take a strong decisions in my life as I always wanted to do something wherein I can help enhance employability as well as create job for others.
How did your family react to your decision?
Since I come from a middle class family; my father is a retired IIT-Roorkee Engineer and no one in my family, in fact, even in the extended family has never done any business in their lives. I was the person who announced about venturing in business which sent shock waves to the entire family.
My parents were dead against my decision as I was working with Reliance Communications and was earning decently. But then if you want to do something you need to get out of that comfort zone. So I did.
Please share with us about "Your Story".
People describe me as a strong-headed, independent, passionate, confident person who really believes in achieving dreams, and I believe them too. The motto of my life is " Dream, Dare, Passion". If you have a passion, and if you dream, then you will definitely dare to fulfill it. And, even the hard work which goes in pursuing the dream never gets wasted.
We started off the year 2017 with a lot of enthusiasm and focused objective of Nurturing Entrepreneurs/ Startups. The mission took off on a very good note by bringing in "Your Story" in Lucknow, a tier two city. It was quite successful. That event, along with our resources and efforts, inspired us to focus on developing the startup ecosystem in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities, which also have great potential.
We launched it in Lucknow, not in any of metropolitan cities since we are eyeing on the potential reserved in tier 2 and 3 cities. And, what could be better than starting your venture from your home? I have got a very strong support system here due to which I am able to do things which I am doing.
Let us now come to your new baby, "Club Café Biz" (CCB). What is it about?
This venture is very close to my heart. Even the name " Club CafeBiz" is also deliberately chosen so as to be a catchy name. There is no physical café as such. It is all virtual.
This is a platform wherein we develop a community of entrepreneurs and startups. We nurture entrepreneurs and startups, and focus on doing hand-holding with them. We aim to provide 360-degree-solution to any startup, if required.
It works on a lifetime membership based model. Wherein once someone becomes a member we do the profiling of the member-entrepreneur and promotes them on Social media. If they are looking for any more services like Marketing, PR, Sales, HR, etc. Then there are various engagement models for them. Regular meetups, workshops are also there for engaging the community. We are aspiring to become a number 1 community across the country, wherein we help, promote and create sustainable entrepreneurs.
In the coming months & years we would be promoting our Entrepreneurs on a global level.
How are you planning for the CCB’s expansion?
I have already extended several arms of CafeBiz in different cities: Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali, Kolkatta, Bihar, Jharkhand and Bhopal. Gradually, we are moving to other cities of the country.
Tell us about its composition
As of now, there are around hundred entrepreneurs on the platform. The women ratio is relatively higher than the men folks say around 80% -20%. Really high! Men folks are more from the services sector and the women are from products sector. Here, we have members under different categories like those of Boutique, Handicrafts, Jewellery, Herbal, Beauty, Architects to HR Consulting, Legal, IT services, etc.
What are the USPs of CCB?
On this platform, we are just not publishing the story of an entrepreneur but at the same time we are also promoting them across our network, and rendering them with various services as and when required. It is a one-stop-shop-solution for entrepreneurs. From ideation, validation, strategy, marketing & even funds, all are taken care of, by us.
Where do you get the funds from?
We have tie-ups with various VC's , HNI's across the country for gathering funds.
CCB also extends an arm of support to the mSMEs. How?
We share schemes of MSME's, NSIC to the entrepreneurs and startups so that they can utilize the schemes for their businesses. In a tier two city, people have less exposure of these things. So, we conceptualize and conduct workshops. These workshops create an awareness among startups and entrepreneurs.
Why you chose mSMEs to be under your business scope?
In UP, there are many sugar mills, manufacturing units and export oriented units. Since the time I started my venture, I was into corporate trainings. Therefore, we used to conduct trainings basically on behavioral skills, IT and IT Skills. This continued further also and became a part of our services.
Do you render support only to women-led ventures or men-led too?
We are open to any type of Entrepreneurs. We are not gender biased. We encourage everyone, be it men or women, to step up and cross that line to be an independent entrepreneur.
Five years down the lane, where do see CCB heading to?
I would like to see CafeBiz to create many success stories and make members popular on a global platform. I want to see Cafebiz move beyond funding. Also, I would like to add global members on the platform so we have an enlarged network of potentiality. In short, Cafebiz would be seen operating globally in a few years down the lane.
Tell us about your association with Prosoc and the Deskit.
Prosoc is a social educational enterprise being incubated by IIT Kanpur Incubation. It was funded by SIDBI & Villgro. This company is lead by Eshaan who is very hardworking simple person. In spite of being a highly educated person, you can't see any attitudinal issue with him. He is a much grounded person. I was assigned as a mentor to Eshaan.
He has developed a product, sort of school bag which has a folding table attached to it which is also detachable. The schools in the villages or even in the rural cities have no desks in classes so children bend and keep their copy on the floor. This type of activity induces a back pain in the child. But if he or she uses a Deskit, the situation can improve.
Your views about the startup ecosystem of India. Also, share an insight about the start-up ecosystem breathing across the globe.
The startup ecosystem is now growing like crazy.
Nowadays, almost everyone after completing their education wants to start a venture.
Suddenly, all the working people across globe have become more risk-takers & adventurous.
In the metro cities, you will get to see everyday something or the other regarding startup is happening.
Earlier, we would look at the Silicon Valley for entrepreneurship now this entrepreneurial wave is moving across the globe and people are riding on it. Even the Tier two systems are also evolving. Platforms like us are mushrooming across. Online story platforms, Co workings, Angel Investors, VC Firms are in abundance across the globe. Amidst this, for every changing scenario we need to have consultants who really help and trust these startups and look forward to hand hold them so that they and their businesses stay sustainable in their ventures.
The sustainability of Startups is a major concern. Although there are hundreds and hundreds of startups coming up daily, but at the same time hundreds and hundreds are failing too. This is a very serious issue. Indian government has launched departments, schemes, loans, benefits to startups. But the awareness and guidance is required to be given.
* Your favourite food: Pasta
* Your Favourite book: Secrets
* You spend your leisure time by: Watching TV
* Favourite holiday destination: Maldives
* Ideal person: Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Three wishes from a magic wand would be?
* Take Cafebiz to greater heights to global level
* See my Children are successful in their lives
* And, that I am financially stronger
How do you see northeast India startup ecosystem?
The startup ecosystem needs to be uplifted, even in the Northeast. And, the success stories need to be showcased to the world. There are many startups mainly in travel, tourism and handicrafts they help in mirroring a city's identity.
Your message for women entrepreneurs or those aspiring to be the startup owners.
Entrepreneurship is a very beautiful journey, although there are many ups and downs, but at the end, the result obtained is absolutely wonderful. I, as an Entrepreneur, really enjoy each and every moment of this journey. Even if I have seen failures, but still, I have come back with a bang; with a rejuvenated spirit, and wisdom.
Every second can be a successful one or a failure. So we need to stay positive and hopeful all the time and take things as it comes. Also, if we are passionate about entrepreneurship and if we have faith on our hard work, our ability and have faith in God, then there is nothing which can create hindrance. We become unstoppable.
This is a challenging and difficult world, but at the same time it's a beautiful place to learn and grow, a place which gives you satisfaction, increases confidence and above all we create job for others. We are responsible for giving a livelihood to many people. Therefore, ride on this wonderful road called "entrepreneurship".