SHEROES at Word Hatter
Sharmila Cirvante and Sheetal Choksi founded Word Hatter with the aim of providing relevant and strategic content to their customers. We speak to both the founders today about their entrepreneurial journey and professional dreams.
Tell us a little about yourselves...
Sharmila: Well, both Sheetal and I come from Advertising backgrounds. I’ve worked in McCann-Erickson where I was the key team that worked on Coke and Fanta. I also had a stint in Dubai in Team/Y&R and Memac/Ogilvy as well as in some smaller agencies here. I met Sheetal in Percept and we had a symbiotic relationship. Even after we’d moved to different organisations, we’d always call each other when there was a content or strategy requirement. With the digital age dawning, we could see long copy was making a comeback. While most content companies were focussing on great writing, we realised that with both our skills combined together (my extensive creative experience in virtually every product category and Sheetal’s amazing repertoire of insights) , we could offer a unique value proposition and that was ‘strategic content’. Strategic content means we deliver content that is insightful, relevant, informative and engaging across media and which stays true to the brand’s values and voice.
What were the initial challenges faced when setting up?
Sharmila: Mostly our expectations. This is always going to be a challenge as we deliver to very high standards. So naturally, we expect the same kind of support from both our people and our clients. Secondly, finding the right people to work with. We weren’t just looking for shining talent; we were looking for people who would fit in with our values and ethos. Strangely enough, getting business wasn’t as much a challenge thanks to the relationships we’ve built over the years. So it was mainly through migration or word of mouth.
Sheetal: Our challenges have been more from an opertional point of view – getting all the registrations, finding an office and so on. I believe these will change as we try and achieve scale. That’s when the game changes. Finding the right people, ensuring that the values are maintained and of course where do we get more business from.
When starting up a business, what top tips should one keep in mind?
Sharmila: Focus on the objective for which you started the company; there is so much change happening that it’s very easy to stray. Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. Dream – it is important to dream – but dream with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Always be true to yourself. Be realistic. Be humble. Be damn sure of your abilities. Stick to what you stand for, personally and professionally.
Sheetal: Make sure you are playing in your areas of strength. Hire people who have strengths in your areas of weakness so that you have a much stronger team. Stay focussed. It’s often very easy to become opporyunistic but make sure that it is always aligned to the core of your business
What is your work day like?
Sharmila: Sometimes exciting, sometimes blah. But we work with a great bunch of people so whatever the day, every day is a fun day.
Sheetal: Every day brings a new challenge, a new learning. But it’s always fun.
Where do you see the company 5 years from now?
Sharmila: Hopefully, we would have partnered with a large conglomerate, open offices internationally.
Sheetal: As the Best in Class.
In this field of work, what qualities should one have to make it big?
Sharmila: As cliché as it may sound, an uncompromising attitude and passion for excellence. Apart from maturity and the understanding that you are writing for someone else, so it is their satisfaction that counts. Creative people tend to get too attached to their work and sometimes lose focus in the process. One should also keep an open mind as things are changing at the speed of crazy. And be tolerant of people however much you want to break their necks.
Sheetal: The right attitude, uncompromising work ethics and ofcourse loving what you do.
As entrepreneurs and business partners, what would you say it takes to run a business effectively?
Sharmila/Sheetal: If it’s a partnership, then it’s imperative to have a solid foundation of trust with your partner. Having the same values, expectations and drive helps too, and these also need to be communicated strongly across the organisation. As partners we are open and transparent with each other and with our team. We maintain zero tolerance for politics and are high on ethics and integrity and anyone who disrespects this will not be given a second chance. Our focus is on our clients and doing everything that it takes to maintain quality.
Would you like to leave our readers with some of your thoughts?
Sharmila: If you love what you’re doing, and are doing it earnestly, you’ll find the rewards you are looking for.
Sheetal: Stay focussed. There will be good days and bad days, but perseverance will pay.