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The start-up starter kit: Passion, integrity, persistence

  With an extensive experience spanning 18 years across functions, APARNA MISHRA finally took the plunge, and started Club CafeBiz, helping start-ups find their own feet. In an interview with Alolika Banerjee, she talks about the best first steps one can take.

 

Q.  What is Club CafeBiz all about?
Cafebiz, is a platform for start-ups, entrepreneurs, women who want to start something on their own, and even people with limited resources but with amazing vision. At Club CafeBiz, we nurture them, make them ready to face the harsh realities of this world and prepare them to face everyday challenges in their daunting journey ahead.

Q.  What triggered you to start your own venture after so many years of experience in the corporate world?
I had always wanted to start something on my own, right from my childhood. I wanted to be in a position where I had the privilege to generate employment for others, rather than seek employment for myself. And, thankfully, I had reached a position in my career where I could think of a unique enterprise to bring about a difference. And then there was no looking back. I was already motivated, and I never shirk work. So, all of these provided me the right ingredients to set forth on my own venture.

Q.  Do you think an MBA degree is essential to making it big in the corporate world?
Well, I wouldn’t say it is absolutely essential to help a person achieve his or her own dreams. If you are motivated, talented and dedicated enough, then there’s no stopping you.
But having said this, I would like to add that an MBA degree is still important. It gives a platform to students to go out and get an experience of a near-corporate scenario in the two years at a B-school. These years are priceless and add a whole new dimension to their process and approach.

Q.  What do you have to say about today’s current start-up culture?
The start-up culture in today’s scenario appears to be very positive. A lot of both young and not-so-young people are coming out and exploring the option of trying out something on their own. I am very happy at how things are turning out. This spells good news for the country’s economic culture. More and more people are stepping out to make a mark, and that is indeed very good for the country’s financial situation.  

Q.  What do you think is the reason behind the emergence of multiple start-ups in today’s world, compared to the scenario 20 years back?
This a start up wave we’re witnessing in our country. When I quit my job in 2008, this start up wave was somewhat nascent, and moving slowly, but now it has picked up enormously. Not only is this good for the entire world, but it will also add to the economy. Today’s youth is open to taking risks. Now they are earning for their living, becoming the CEO of their company and also focussing on being a job creator. They are not looking at 9 to 5 arrangements.
Moreover, the government, the various start-up communities, the online media, etc are also building the startup ecosystem around the world. 

Q.  A day in the life of Aparna Mishra is like...
To be honest, this is a difficult question, since all my days are different. Thankfully, my work keeps me so occupied that there is nothing repetitive about each and every passing day. However, what is clear is that each and every day is filled with a sense of passion and fervour to follow my own dreams and achieve even the impossible.

Q.  Who has been your inspiration in life?
I can’t pinpoint anyone in particular, but when I was working, I used to read inspirational stories, watch videos of successful entrepreneurs. I used to watch CNBC Awaaz regularly. These things have germinated this seed in me. So for me, the credit goes entirely to all the successful entrepreneurs, who, all together, inspired me and motivated me to take this risk.

Q.  What are the three qualities you look for in candidates while you hire people for your own company?
I prefer woman candidates to men. Being a woman myself, I may be biased towards women, but then, that is what I am. I prefer candidates who are good at extracurricular activities, mostly in sports or heading any events/ communities in their colleges. Also, I am always on the lookout for good soft skills.

Q.  How do you maintain this amazing balance between home and work?
You know, when you love your work, you manage it well. And that is what I am. I love my flexibility. The companies I have worked with have really taught me to do many things at the same time but prioritise them according to the need. And I follow this to the core.

Q.  What are the three qualities that are most essential to become an entrepreneur?
If I had to put my mind to it, the three qualities would be passion, integrity and persistence.

Q.  CafeBiz takes part in multiple activities. What has been the most interesting and memorable activity so far and why?
The most interesting activity for me is the mentoring sessions with start-ups. The start-ups of today lack three things: Promotion, Network and Marketing. The tech start-ups mostly need good people in marketing & sales. They look for network & branding. Since I have worked in sales, marketing, customer operation & strategy domains for 18 years, I can help them with my hands on experiences.  I don’t believe in preaching high to start-ups. So here in Cafebiz, we build them , guide them and nurture them.

Q.  Your words of advice for the management aspirants of today...

If you want to start your own venture, my advice to you would be to work in a start-up company of your choice first. Learn the nitty gritty of the business, and once you’re convinced that you have acquired the requisite skills, only then should you start their own business. Because remember, the grass is always greener on the other side.