How Homepreneur® Deepa Govind Is Helping Women Freelance From Home

Last updated 19 Apr 2021 . 1 min read

See how Homepreneur® Deepa Govind is leveraging her knowledge and experience to help women freelancers in India start their own Homepreneur business.

Deepa Govind is an Aquatic biologist, who sought to keep herself productively occupied in the Silicon city of India.  She is a self-taught techie, a zoho enthusiast, and mentor to aspiring Homepreneur®s.

Starting off as blogger in 2007, working entirely from home, she also built custom apps on Zoho creator as a side hustle. Soon, this became her mainstream forte and it was more Zoho along the way.

She is now a Certified Zoho Developer, Zoho Creator Trainer and Zoho Solution Partner. She is also mentor to other aspiring minds who wish to realise their dream of working from home.

Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a Life Science Post graduate with a higher diploma in software engineering from APTECH. I’m proficient in Photoshop and HTML CSS and Javascript and am also a freelance virtual assistant.

I provide my clients with administrative support for email response, team management, project management, life-science research, bio-tech, biochemistry, bio-informatics writing, instructional scripts, how-to-do help notes, and other tasks.

Tell us a little about your career and business journey and what excited you most about it?

Technology came to my rescue when I discovered Zoho Creator and I built a mini-app to manage my operational challenges and roped in my team. This tryst with Zoho Creator was also my learning curve on the platform.

A year later, the after submitting the thesis, the team was dissolved, and we parted ways. But Zoho Creator stayed with me. Since 2008, I have developed apps on Zoho Creator.

Zoho has helped me grow as a Homepreneur in a very literal sense. Today I build apps on Zoho Creator, run implementations for Zoho CRM, Zoho Desk, Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Backstage and integrations between 45+ Zoho suite of products.

I’m also an authorised Zoho Partner, and A Zoho creator certified trainer. What more can a Homepreneur ask for?

Did you personally have a mentor yourself - how did this experience benefit you?

Mentoring is relatively new. When I set out to make a career as professional working from home, all I had was ample time, and loads and loads of text content as DIY tutorials.

Every niche has a unique master website, which teaches you all about it. For example, if you want to learn in depth about WordPress, you can’t miss WPBeginner.

If you want to learn about copywriting, diligent Googling will confirm that Problogger and Copyblogger can give everything you need. The trick is to take time to FIND those one or two expert blogs, and then, spend time consuming their content.

The flipside is, the learning curve is rather very steep, and you stand the risk of being overwhelmed. Many quit at this point. Mentoring on the other hand, can reduce this learning curve, so that you can bite off as you chew.

Also, a mentor can intuitively knows when you are going off-course. These are some things that you cannot get on your own, no matter how good you are at DIY.

What are some of the unique initiatives driven by you? It can be a social impact initiative, or connected to support a specific community etc.

I mentor a closed FB community for aspiring homepreneurs. These are the minds who “want to work from home”, but need some direction as to what kind of job would suit them.

Can they utilise their past corporate learning and experience into a freelance-marketable skill?  

The dos and don’ts of bidding for projects on public platforms, effective communication to not only land clients, but also be polite and firm with one’s own schedule of availability.

After all, a homeprenuer’s time is limited, and you cannot say YES to everyone who comes your way. So, basically, how to say NO without burning your bridges.

Some programs I run in my own capacity are:

  • Freelancer Skill Discovery and Personalised Upskill Guidance Program – FSD Program
  • Zoho Creator Training and Internship
  • Zoho CRM Learning Series
  • Zoho Social & Campaign workshops

The FSD Program is individual focused and is open all the year around. The rest of them are open for enrolment once or twice a year, and a batch includes 3 to 5 candidates only.

The same set of programs are also done for corporate clients, for the resources or employees who are enlisted via the company.

freelancers in India

SHEROES is the largest women-only social network in the world - what kind of role do you see it playing in the women’s internet narrative?

The comfort zone to make mistakes, without the fear of judgment is what makes a world of difference. Most women, rural and otherwise, don’t foray into uncharted waters for the fear of judgment and failure.

The world around, hounds them with “there, you are wrong, shame on you.” Whereas, at SHEROES, every woman has made her share of mistakes, and walked past them, correcting them as they move ahead.

SHEROES understands the pains of a new member in the community and her apprehensions and reluctance to ask for help. This understanding translates into volunteering with useful advice and help for a newbie to get a grip on things.

Soon she finds the courage to ask, braves to make new mistakes, finds success that matches her caliber, and passing on the goodwill to another newbie SHEROES members.

How does it feel to be a catalyst in someone’s success? What has been your experience so far?

It is such a wonderful feeling. Closely matching an LKG teacher when she sees her student as an acclaimed person (in profession and otherwise).

Akin to seeing a tree full with fruits, for which you planted the seed eons ago. All the memories come flooding back. The feeling is unparalleled!

What are some of the unique challenges faced by the Saathis you are mentoring? Is there anything specifically that took you by surprise?

Saathis seem to face a lot of network issues. So, they themselves cannot be blamed for not attending the sessions on time, or not participating in LIVE sessions. This is something we as mentors have to accept and figure a work around.

Some Saathis use a shared device (mobile) with their spouse, and don’t have the freedom or liberty to check out the assignment we are giving them. Some of these assignments involve installing a couple of apps, trying it out, understanding how the app works, and then preparing their assignment for submission.

These things take time from start to finish. Should the spouse get a call or decide not to share, she is left in the lurch, without the knowledge and know-how.

Though we as a collective group, never judge or shame anyone for not submitting their assignment, when we send repeated reminders to their name, they tell us about such deep personal problems, an there is a sense of incompetence that builds in their psyche.

This is not good. And there is no way for us, mentors and buddies to know unless the Saathi is forthcoming with this information.

Profiling the Saathis before starting the training program can help collect such details and build their personality, so that we can be more compassionate towards them.

Any interesting anecdotes you can share from your engagement with Saathis?

We had a session about generating content for business promos. We touched upon generating text content and video content, without having to spend an extra dime, nor did we have to depend on another tech-savvy family member.

We had some hilarious content shared as drafts by the Saathis. We had a good laugh and passed on the feedback. The final promo content was excellent.

One Saathi, who runs a saree house, recorded a video of a client modeling her wares at the shop. Later she shared that she and client worked together to script the words spoken in the video, and it was good to share after a couple of takes.

One Saathi who runs a beauty parlour, put a collage of photographs, along with aptly-placed contact details that get shared as her digital business card.

Saathi Mentor Deepa Govind

What inspired you to agree to be a mentor for the Internet Saathi programme?

I had a steep learning curve in my journey as a homeprenuer. My share of follies include teaming up with wrong people, not knowing the red flags and losing time, effort, money and copyright to the work that I had painstakingly done.

Those were stressful times. It was by accident that I discovered, when I guided a fellow wannabe though these obstacles, my bitterness began to fade away little by little. I started to get back my happy self.

A happy me, is a confident me. A confident me is a better professional at work. A professional at work, is respected and treated with dignity.

A happy me, is a confident me. A confident me is a better professional at work. A professional at work, is respected and treated with dignity.

SHEROES mentoring program allows me pass on this respect and dignity to those who cannot find it themselves.

A woman cannot and should not “ask” or “crave” for respect. It is something that she exudes in her personality as she gets her priorities right and marches towards her goal.

This is the first online accelerator for rural micro-entrepreneurs. Are there any unique experiments you have worked with to get them excited about leveraging digital tools?

Coordinating all of them to be available for “regular” sessions was a serious challenge at the start of the program. There was not much engagement too on the group. Mentor and buddy were posting content, but very few Saathis were taking notes and engaging with us.

Then we changed our strategy and regular “class” sessions were uploaded as YouTube videos. Saathis began to ask their doubts as voice messages over WhatsApp. We responded with voice messages or YouTube tutorials for their clarifications. This model has resulted in good engagement.

We are still facing issues with “mindset” and psyche. But then, it is something that gets better over time, and cannot be rushed. We need to give Saathis the space to gather their thoughts and see how the learning of this mentoring program fits their ground reality.

You have aced the homepreneur life at work. Can you share about this journey and how it works?

Time is limited, so be predictable . This is how it has worked out for me. I am available to XYZ at the time we mutually agree upon. This means, I have to get the rest of my day in order, beginning right from my morning coffee to the chores at home.

My family support has been immense. It took a couple of years for the family to understand and react to our routine. Without their support, Homepreneur® wouldn’t have been possible.

How do you support aspiring homepreneurs?

Aspiring homepreneurs are welcome to join our private Facebook group. Here we discuss about action items that help identify one’s skill and personality to suit the freelance marketplace.

The advice and recommendations on this FB group are free for all. The member only needs to have the courage to ask. Those seeking personalised guidance can sign up for the FSD-Program where communication and recommendations are private and one-on-one.

The Zoho programs help upskilling aspiring homepreneurs into becoming product experts at their niche.

You speak so many languages. How many do you know and how does it help you in work and life?

I am a polyglot by opportunity. I speak 5 languages - Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Telugu (to some extent), Gujarati and Marathi (to some extent).

Marathi is a recent addition because a few of our Saathis are comfortable in this language, and my buddy, Priyanka, helps me understand the little details.

My father’s Banking job demanded that we relocate every three years, Pan-India, across rural and urban townships alike. So, it was the need of the hour for us as a family to get a handle on the local language, for us to assimilate in society.

Not to mention, changing schools and colleges brought its own challenges as well. So, language was a survival need. When I look back, it was nature’s way of skilling me for the future.

As I ventured into homeprenuership, clients tell me when they learn that I understand and speak their language, the communication in vernacular language break the corporate monotone and the discussions get more interactive, which is very important to understand client needs and seal the deal.

What, according to you, are the pros and cons of being a homepreneur? What must aspirants know about this life choice?

Strangely, the pros and cons are the same:

  • Predictability

Your routine is known to clients, and they know and begin to act on “your available hours”, not otherwise. It is heart breaking to skip an impromptu picnic or movie or me time with family and friends.

  • Planning

Planning helps you get your work things in order. Could be a new project, deliverable of an ongoing project etc. We may have to plan family time too with a similar approach, and get labeled as “bossy” and “unrelenting.”

When all is said and done, there’s a sense of satisfaction knowing “you don’t have to compromise on your priorities for the sake of others.”Any compromises happen because you decide to make it happen that way.

It could be refusing a big client project, so that you can go on a family-vacation, or passing on a lead to a fellow Homeprenuer, because she is better skilled than you in handling the job.

Your ability to take decisions without having to be apologetic is the biggest perk of being a Homepreneur®.

Also read:

Priya Florence Shah
Priya Florence Shah is a bestselling author, award-winning publisher of and online branding consultant. Since 2006, she has published - one of the top blogs for women.

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