Women Are Born Entrepreneurs Says Omnify Founder Kabandi Saikia
Kabandi Saikia is part of that entrepreneur's creed who are born with the ability to build something out of their dreams.
We published an interview with her in 2016 and wanted to track her further journey and growth. Here are the updates about what she is doing with Omnify now.
Ques: It’s been a long journey since you started Omnify, how has the journey been since we published your last interview? How do you feel you have grown when you read it? What has changed?
Ans: Well, it’s been 5 years since I started my start-up journey and Omnify is my 3rd start-up. Things have changed a lot since I did my last Sheroes interview. We have managed to grow Omnify in terms of revenue and team size. So, yes things have changed in those terms but the underlying passion and hunger is still the same.
Ques: Tell us something about your work so far. What are the positives that this work has brought to your life? How has it impacted your life? How has it impacted other lives?
Ans: Omnify has single-handedly changed my entire life. It’s very difficult to put in words but it has given me a purpose. We want to make a difference in the world. You see how Uber or Airbnb or Shopify has changed the lives of so many and created so many micro-entrepreneurs, we want to do the same. It’s been two years since we started Omnify and we have been striving to achieve that.
When we see how our customers have been able to benefit from our platform, it gives me a different high. I will give you an example, there is a nutritionist in Portland and she wanted to grow her business. She started using Omnify about a year back and now she has grown her revenue almost 2x in last 12 months. It’s incredible when you are able to help someone achieve that. That has been our goal forever!
Ques: What are your five favorite startups/businesses which inspire you daily to keep moving? And why do you feel they made it so far?
Ans: Globally or India?
Let me mix it up. I really look up to
The first 3 because they have changed how we function in our day to day lives. The last two are aspirational. I am a big believer in bringing the change through education and I think we need them in India.
Ques: What were the personal hurdles you had to cross when you started - i.e the reaction of friends and family? As a young educated woman, were you at an advantage, or a disadvantage?
Ans: Lack of money :) After I moved back from England, I had a challenging time where I was not sure what to do with my life. I took many odd jobs but I was not entirely happy. My mother realized that and she asked me to take a break for 3 months and figure out what I really wanted to do. And I did that. I am very fortunate to have the support of my parents and family at every step of my startup journey.
And honestly, entrepreneurs are a crazy bunch of people. We automatically shut down the noise. And that happens if you are in it for the right reasons. If you are in it for the fluff or just the fame or the dream of making millions or probably because your friends are doing it then I think you won’t be able to cut the noise. For me when I started my startup journey in 2013, the start-up buzz wasn’t there much and I could not care enough about what people were saying. However, when there were some awkward conversations, I used to lie that I worked in TCS or Infosys and people used to stop questioning :)
Ques: What do you see changing for women professionals in India? How would you encourage young women to consider entrepreneurship as a viable profession? Please share your top five tips.
Ans: Don’t you think Women are born entrepreneurs? We have been at it since forever. There are so many parlours, schools, restaurants that are run by women be it in metros or tier 2, tier 3 cities. I come from the North East so I never faced that prejudice, fortunately.
But when it comes to tech entrepreneurship, the stats show a very different picture. If we have enough role-models it will hopefully inspire more women to start-up. We need to talk about more women entrepreneurs, have more people talking in panels, have more faces in those success lists. We have to make an effort to inspire more people to come forward and realize that women can do it too and probably do it better.
Ques: You straddle a lot of things in life. How do you manage to do that so well? What are the things closest to your heart?
Ans: I tend to believe that I am very organized as a person. I have to-do lists for everything. I also believe that I am good at execution. I think that’s how my co-founder and I strike a balance. While he is the big picture guy, I am the one who is good at managing them on a day to day basis.
I used to do a bit of voluntary work as well, but I have slowed down a bit on them. I have realized that I need to take time off and work on the personal front as well. So, now I am just focusing on Omnify.
Things closest to my heart- Girls education. I am deeply passionate about that. Hopefully, I will get to work on it full-time someday :)
Ques: There are so many women who want to start a new business, is there any special incident in your journey you would like to mention which changed you forever and gives you strength?
Ans: Meeting my co-founder :)
You can call it serendipity but you need to have that passion to start-up. It can’t be that you just wake up one day and wish for things to just simply happen. Unfortunately, life isn’t that convenient.
If you really want to do something, meet enough people, talk to enough people. Pitch your idea to different people, learn to hear No’s and understand the reason behind that. There are so many things that make it special not just one incident.
I would give half the credit to my co-founder. We are two average people with I guess great perseverance skills that have made us stick around for 5 years. I derive a lot of strength from him. He is so patient and he keeps inspiring me everyday irrespective of so many challenges.
Ques: Anything else you would like to bring up here for Sheroes members?
Ans: Sheroes is a great platform and I wish you all the best. I hope more women can leverage Sheroes to grow their career.
Kabandi Saikia is an inspiration for so many women who aspire to start their own business someday but are stuck somewhere in their lives.
Do share your story with us and the world and let's see what we can learn from you.