Struggles and failures are a part of everyday life. However, it is how you deal with the failures which makes you a great person. Every great entrepreneur has had their fair share of lows before they rose up stronger than before. From Richard Branson to Dhirubhai Ambani and to Steve Jobs, every great success story started off with nothing. Here is our list of entrepreneurs who went through major failures before becoming some of the most famous people in the world!
1. Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington had one dream in life and one major drawback for achieving the dream: she didn’t know how to speak the English language. Everyone around Huffington thought her dream was going to be just that. Language was a major hindrance for her and even when she got into Cambridge, life wasn’t easy. She had to learn the language by reading and listening to everything in English and slowly, by speaking in the language she wasn’t sure of, Huffington started overcoming her fear.
While not a direct failure, her lack of the knowledge definitely acted as a major roadblock. Coming from a life where she and her mother had to work to make ends meet, Huffington led a constant life of struggle. Despite working through the day, Arianna still wanted to overcome her inabilities by working on her English pronunciation skills. From not knowing the language to mastering it so much that she could write her first book, The Female Woman, Huffington’s life saw an inspirational rise.
Even through all the roadblocks and mind blocks, Huffington pushed past her struggles to become the CEO and founder of the extremely famous Huffington Post. Even after that, the struggles just refused to stop. From fainting out of sheer exhaustion to realising sleep was important, Huffington addressed very issue with skill and talent. A woman who has grown through all the hurdles thrown at her in life, Arianna Huffington has shown that no block is too great and every barrier can be overcome!
2. Steve Jobs
More than a decade ago, when Jobs released the first ever iPhone, he changed the way the world used smartphones. While the average audience was quite taken in by this cool new toy, there were more skeptical people than those who were in favour. How can a company which didn’t have any experience in dealing with the production of phones, make waves with something like an iPhone? However, the success of the phone was greater than what people would have expected and overnight, the future of Apple and Jobs changed forever.
Before Jobs made Apple the massive success it is today, he had more than his fair share of failures. Dropping out of college and with no formal education, he led quite an exciting life. Despite all the rejections he faced in various phases of his life, Jobs never stopped working on making his dream come true.
From hiring John Sculley as the CEO of Apple (a move which brought the Company down,) to launching various failed products and to not knowing where to market the Next Computer, Jobs led an interesting journey to the top. Today, Apple has a valuation of more than a trillion dollars and with one impressive innovation after another, everything produced by Apple is one of a kind. Ironically, the fact that he was ousted from Apple didn’t stop Jobs from growing. He took this so hard, he considered this as one of the major failures in his life. However, despite all the things which went wrong, Jobs always said he was who he was because of the failures.
3. Walt Disney
When Walt Disney started his journey as a caricature artist, a lot of people told him he just didn’t have it in him to make a mark in the world. However, he stuck through with his creations and started weaving stories with the creations he made. While Mickey Mouse was the first ever caricature he designed that became famous, his other creations became just as famous in the coming years.
Despite being fired by only a junior editor from his first job, Disney worked on his skills so much, he slowly but surely started making a mark. Did you know that when Walt Disney first created Mickey Mouse as a character, he wanted to name it Mortimer Mouse? Mickey Mouse was also drawn as an aftermath of a deal gone wrong. One of the first animated series Disney was working on, called Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, fell through as a result of a disagreement between Universal Studios and Disney.)
The only way Disney knew to deal with the situation was by drawing out his pain! However, had it not been for his wife’s timely intervention, the world would not have fallen in love with one of the most adorable characters of Disney’s history, Mickey Mouse! When Walt Disney died, his personal valuation stood at a whopping $ 35 million, making him one of the richest men in the world, without the shadow of a doubt.
4. Richard Branson
Richard Branson, a serial entrepreneur and now the 5th richest man in the world, also had his fair share of troubles. Branson had the business selling streak from a very young age. At the age of 16, he started his own magazine called Student. While the magazine did really well, it also set the stone for his record label, Virgin Records. However, despite the record label taking off in the first few years, trouble started brewing. Without giving up, Branson kept thinking of how to make the most of what he had.
It was only when a flight of his got cancelled on the way to Virgin Island, that inspiration struck Branson. From selling tickets worth $ 29, to redefining the way people flew, a cancelled flight was quite literally Branson’s ticket to freedom. With people not liking the clothes offered by his clothing brand and a record label which failed to succeed, Branson refused to give up. Everything Branson did over the years was to ensure that nothing he did was without enthusiasm. So much so that he wanted the entire world to experience what he felt when he lost his virginity!
Failure is a part and parcel of life. There is nothing that is truly stopping you from achieving your dreams. Stop thinking about what was done and lost and start thinking about how to make a difference in your life. If you think we missed out on any other stories like these, comment and let us know!
5 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women
The workplace has undergone massive changes in the last century. At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, any workplace was dominated by men while the women were delegated to run the homes. However, with the advent of the internet and new and exciting technologies, workplaces have undergone a tectonic shift. Women are no longer comfortable staying at home and are instead opting to lead teams and organisations. As every year passes, we get closer to true gender equality, women have proven time and again that they are equally capable to get the job done if not better in some instances. Names like Wolfe Herd (Bumble founder,) Kylie Jenner (Kylie Cosmetics founder,) Masaba Gupta (Masaba clothing label founder) are just some of the names who are known for leading world famous brands with their unique style of leadership.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we bring to you five women founders who run world famous and successful startups.
1) Upasana Taku-MobiKwik
If you are an Indian and are used to doing online shopping, more often than not at the time of payment, you would be directed to a payment gateway. One of these gateways would normally be MobiKwik. The startup is a well known name in the digital payments and digital wallet space. MobiKwik was founded by Upasana Taku in 2009, who prior to founding MobiKwik used to work with PayPal. Today Upasana Taku is also in charge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik.
2) Richa Kar-Zivame
An enthusiastic MBA student, Richa Kar, developed an online lingerie shopping platform in the year 2011. Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a valuation of more than $ 100 million. The brilliant idea for her own lingerie business came to light when Richa tracked Victoria’s Secret’s sales, who was one of her clients when she was working at SAP. She observed the lingerie sales figures reached peaks overseas but, Indian women were not provided with the similar innerwear. While Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, she realized the social embarrassment in India surrounding lingerie shopping. Today Richa Kar could be credited with destigmatising the uneasiness surrounding lingerie shopping in India.
3) Falguna Nayar-Nykaa
After a long stint as an investment banker, Falguni Nayar founded Nykaa.com in the year 2013. An online one stop shop for beauty products from Indian and international brands, Nykaa changed the world of online shopping. Who would have ever thought buying makeup online would be so easy? Falguni Nayar proved many critics wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.
ALSO READ: Zivame: Founding Story
4) Sabina Chopra-Yatra.com
Yatra.com is a popular Indian website for making flight and hotel bookings. Sabina Chopra was instrumental in identifying the potential for travel commerce in India and people moving towards cheaper or easier travel. By the time, people started looking to make bookings, Sabina made sure Yatra.com was already in place. Sabina was the former Head of India Operations of eBookers, which is also an online travel company based in Europe. Along with this, she was also working with Japan Airlines which further adds to her experience in the travel industry.
5) Rashmi Sinha-SlideShare
SlideShare allows people to upload and access their presentations online. While this feature is presently available everywhere, SlideShare was one of the first players in making this happen. Rashmi Sinha was one of the founders of the presentation sharing platform SlideShare. The company became so successful that in 2012, LinkedIn acquired the company for an amount of $100 million.
Let us know in the comments if you know any other wonderful women who have become leaders of their right or have started up and are doing extraordinary things. We at Startup Stories wish a wonderful Women’s Day to all the women in the world who are changemakers.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
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