Meet the SHEROES - Anisha Singh
Anisha Singh, founder and CEO of Mydala shares her thoughts on how women can be great entrepreneurs and how the idea behind her venture came about with us today.
Mydala is Anisha’s second venture and she is so deeply committed to her work that she lives, works and breathes Mydala!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Delhi. I spent 12 years in Washington DC, Boston and NY for my education. I graduated with an MA and an MBA. I worked for the Clinton Administration helping women entrepreneurs raise funding for innovative women-led businesses. The digital space was getting big in the US and it led me to start a company which provides digital content to US companies-Kinis (Software) Solutions, which provides customized e-learning solutions for Fortune 500 companies. When it didn’t need me full time, mydala came about. I woke up one day and realized that Kinis was growing nicely and was pretty self-sufficient. I was looking at doing something more “cutting edge”.
How did the idea of mydala.com come about?
I was looking for ideas and came across the Chinese getting together and getting a discount. The same model seemed to be evolving in the US with Groupon which was still a blog then. Made apt sense to try it in the Indian market where the only thing that had taken off was the experience of hybrid ecommerce in travel where you buy online but have your experience offline. However, in the first 6 months it also became clear to us [me and my co-founders Arjun Basu (CFO) and Ashish Bhatnagar (CTO)] that the main need was on the merchant or business side in terms of marketing. We built a platform that helps merchants market themselves over the internet and mobile. As the largest mobile coupon provider in India, with over a 100000 retail businesses having used us as a platform in over 196 cities in India, we know that we are fulfilling a need.
Overtime mydala has developed into a leading local services marketing platform that helps all businesses especially local businesses market themselves via social media, mobile and our website. We help businesses build brand awareness and drive conversions to them. Local businesses as well as online companies are able to reach their right target user group leveraging mydala’s various platforms.
What were the initial challenges you faced when setting up mydala?
When we started, e-commerce in itself was a fairly new concept yet there were more than 48 deal sites in our competitive tracker, but now it’s down to less than a handful. Getting people to try a new idea was fairly challenging. We had limited money and so we knew that in order to grow we needed our customers to become our champions and that word of mouth advertising was going to be our asset.
Being an entrepreneur the second time around, I know that any business will have its share of highs and lows. There will be good days and bad days. For the first two years of mydala, our users were our promoters. We also looked at alliances that we could leverage to grow. At mydala, the logic was basic business – if your acquisition cost outweighed the LTV on a customer, it didn’t make any business sense. So, we got our alliance network to grow and reach users.
What is an average work-day at mydala like?
It’s hectic to say the least, as balancing my brainchild mydala and my daughters on the other hand, sometimes gets very intimidating. I wish I could say that everything gets a hundred percent focus but that’s not possible. What I am good at is prioritizing so it works out well for me. Plus I have a great support network of my family that chips in to help.
If you read my bio on the website, they’ve said that in case I wasn’t working at mydala, I would probably be sitting on a dharna outside the gate until they took me in! And truth has been spoken. My work begins as soon as I open my eyes in the morning till times where I have to compromise my night’s sleep to ensure balancing both the worlds efficiently. I eat, breathe and sleep mydala. I actually look forward to Monday mornings when I can get back to work – my team can’t quite understand it, but that’s how it is for me.
What or from where do you draw your inspiration from?
I began my career working with women entrepreneurs and raising funds for innovative women-led businesses in the US. I was never overly ambitious, but I knew I wanted to be independent. While interacting with the women entrepreneurs in the US, I saw a contrast working environment in India where competition was patriarchal, and often overlooked the minority. There and then I knew the space I wanted to occupy and possibly bring a change. Over the years, I have tried to take up as many local service merchants as I can and provide them with a platform where they can make their presence felt instead of giving up to the big players.
Can you leave our readers with some inspirational words of advice?
We see a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs in general. Each day the support structure for entrepreneurs and start-ups seems to be maturing. Although it’s still not the Valley, but it’s become much better from when we started. There are a lot of angel networks, forums, incubators and support systems that are helping the new entrepreneurs think innovative.
Having said that, success is not achieved in a day’s work. It’s very important to have a vision but it’s great if it comes with some perseverance to back it up. People will only believe in you when you believe yourself so don’t doubt yourself. If you set your mind and heart to something, go do it. What’s the worst that will happen, you’ll fail but that’s not all that bad, you just start over again. It’s good to be a woman. Majority of women are way better at reading the situation and communicating with empathy at the workplace. Women also tend to multitask better. I am fortunate that I have a great team with some phenomenal women on it, making my job much easier. Also, people will only believe in you when you believe yourself. Never doubt yourself. If you set your mind and heart on something, go do it.