“You are educated. Your certification is your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to a good life. Let me ask you to think of it a wee bit differently; think of it as your ticket to change the world.”
A senior marketing professional with experience in corporate branding, business development, PR and Real estate Sales, a hardworking woman who has gained tutelage and been mentored by prestigious institutions like Symbiosis, Pune and IIM Kolkata, a digital marketing professional from MICA who went to become the senior Vice President of BNRI, CEO- Urbana, a social activist rallying for social causes, an awardee for numerous awards including the ones which acknowledge her efforts in celebrating the human spirit, and most importantly, a loving mother to three blissful children; I speak of none other than Debjani Mookherjee, a true woman of substance! Today, on behalf of team Sheatwork, I will delve deeper into the world of a woman who is set out to aspire and inspire.
Q1. What did you think about becoming an entrepreneur?
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming,” said Pablo Neruda. This
statement unfolds my entrepreneurial journey perfectly. I belong to a family which is into
entrepreneurship for around 200 years! My mother and I were the ‘black sheep’ in the family as we both were into the service industry. However, I believe, what is embedded into your DNA, cannot be simply down away with. Entrepreneurship for me was inevitable; it ‘happened’ when it had to!
Q2. What are some strengths that a woman entrepreneur should possess?
As an entrepreneur, there are many roles, responsibilities attached to the person, that are
impossible to manage without possessing certain skills. Like the ‘lady of the house’, an entrepreneur too is responsible for everything. So, for women it spells double the efforts to balance home and work judiciously. Being in this field requires a set of qualities, skills, patience, and courage. I believe, confidence, persistence and focus are the three most important strengths any entrepreneur should possess.
Q3. Could you tell us about the challenges faced by you? At times I feel so tired of playing so many roles together
As I said, an entrepreneurial journey itself has so many roles, and one has to constantly juggle
between the roles to strike the right balance. Sometimes I am a boss, a manager, at another instance I am also a worker, at home I am a mother, a daughter in law , a wife, a teacher and the list is endless! I would not say that it is an easy task, because I have to constantly re-prioritize almost each day, depending on the circumstances, both, at home and in office. However, having managed all the roles well so far has given me the confidence and courage to walk ahead fearlessly because I know that I can do it!
Q4. How do you find competition in your business area?
I have divided my time and efforts amongst the fields of consulting, fashion and food tech. All these three areas are highly competitive and that is what fuels my passion to work hard. I feel the more the competition, the more you become result oriented and focused. Also, I do not work with the aim of ‘winning’ in the market, I work with honesty and sincerity to simply fulfil what I have always dreamt of – succeeding and sharing the success with the society at large!
Q5. How did you try to make your business different?
For us, customer service isn’t just a department; it forms the core of the entire company. We treat our customers like kings, starting from a proposal to the final delivery; we make sure we solve their problems and cater them with enhanced experiences each time. I think, this is what differentiates my venture and sets it as a class-apart.
Q6. What are your future plans?
Upananda which was started 4 years back with an aim to give livelihood to few women is not just the story of fashion but also the story of women empowerment. In association with Dakshini Prayas, an NGO based out of Kolkata, the underprivileged local women were trained while their kids were being taught in Satyabrata Vidyalaya. We helped these women not to earn, but also aided in strengthening their decision-making powers and independence.
After Upananda, my second ‘baby’ is Nanighar, an initiative rolled out keeping in mind women
empowerment, while supporting homemakers in realizing their long-cherished dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Nanighar is not merely a food delivery system, it is a food tech start up, 4th year running, aiming to make India healthier by providing healthy & tasty food made by none other than “the Moms and home chefs” of India and by empowering women from their own kitchen. The App is hand-holding women from being a Queen in their own homes to getting into people’s hearts through their culinary skills. It is where you can get healthy, home-cooked food and indeed, you are spoilt for choices as the cuisines traverse geographies.
During the lockdown, these ‘mom chefs’ along with their teams, made everyone proud as they
worked tirelessly and braved challenges like procuring ingredients for preparing food and finding willing riders for delivering it to those who needed home-cooked food. The pandemic gave them the opportunity to work with Organizations like Pronam Kolkata and deliver food to 1000 senior citizens of Kolkata and many covid patients. Business wise they have suffered as the corporate bookings took a backstage, but they had the chance to earn good will and concurrently also increase the customer base. Today Nanighar can proudly say that more than 80% of their customers are the repeat customers and they love #maakahatkakhana.
Expanding this noble venture, Nanighar into 10 more cities and helping 10000 women to join the initiative is what I plan to do next. Currently, Nanighar has more than 20k plus downloads, 30k plus customers we have around 600 chefs who are work-from-home, financially independent, confident women entrepreneurs.
Q7. Any tips for someone starting out today?
I would say, there are four golden rules you must take into account while embarking on your
entrepreneurial journey –
> Refine your business idea.
> Know your competitors and the market; research well.
> Create your business plan.
> Choose your business structure carefully.