Meet The SHEROES: Akanksha Saxena, Director, Bookmysports.com
I am a smalltown girl, born and bought up in Bhopal in a nuclear family. My parents are both doctors, but my father chose advertising as his profession. I was brought up in an independent environment, and my parents never enforced anything on me. I started my career in human resources in 2006, and worked with the HR departments of Aditya Birla, TATA AIA Life and Salesforce. My last assignment was with BBC Media Action, Delhi. I had quit my job in 2015 and took up my start up on a full time basis - BOOKMYSPORT.
My husband is a sports freak. He plays and follows many sports--badminton is one of them. It was December of 2012, in the crazy, cold winter of Delhi. He would wake up at 05:30 am every day to get a game of badminton, but he could not get a slot to play for about a week.
The Eureka moment!
One morning, he came back upset and irritated and said, “This is terrible; in this age where we can practically order/book everything online, I cannot find and book a sports facility online because there is no such platform.”
I was planning our vacation and booking tickets, hotels etc at that time online, which obviously added to his frustration. That was it; I told him that there is no point cribbing about a problem, let’s look at a solution. That was the eureka moment of our life.
We started looking for a sports portal which can help one in finding a place where people can choose from, book, play and learn their favorite sport. To our surprise, in 2012, there was no such website, not only in India but also in other countries (apart from Singapore, where it is being run by Singapore government). So, the idea came up as a solution to our own problem.
Scope was large, and the road was not easy
This was just the beginning. Soon enough, we realized that the entire sports ecosystem needs a digital platform and we started working on online booking, tournament management software for schools, academes, professional players, inventory and membership management module for sports infrastructure/gym owners, experiential learning in sports space and various other modules. That’s how India’s first comprehensive online sports platform came into existence.
Funds, technology requirements of something at this scale—something I wasn’t sure about, since I was not from a tech background—and reluctance were some of the issues we faced intially.
But, sports is a highly male dominated sector: A woman talking about a technology-enabled sports platform sounded unreal to most of the prospective stakeholders.
Being a woman, you are always taken for granted and most people try to take you for a ride. Although more women are becoming entrepreneurs, they often face a set of challenges not typically shared by their male counterparts.
Right from being demoralized to being cheated--in such a short span of time, I have faced it all. But for me, the most important thing is to be successful in whatever I do and success is not what is celebrated by others. It is the sense of achievement of those milestones you have set for yourself.
“You’ve got to be crazy to make it easy”
I am an artist/writer’s daughter, and this venture gave me a chance to reignite my passion for writing. I started writing short stories based on experiences and the bumpy ride which I have been going through while nurturing BOOKMYSPORTS. The bottom line of these stories is to remind myself that every killing situation is an accelerator to my survival instinct. You’ve got to be crazy to make it easy. I have to gear up to get to the next milestone. Hopefully, I will be able to share them with other women entrepreneurs someday.
Well, a startup is just like a newborn. It is selfish and needs all your attention and time. It needs what it needs and demands ruthlessly. I mostly end up working for about 12-14 hours a day and believe you me, I enjoy every bit of it. Every day comes with new challenges and more learning.