Everybody has a story to tell, and I help make yours unforgettable. – Ramya Sriram.
While a good measure of the millennials keeps wondering if their life choices are right, one young entrepreneur took charge of her professional journey and found her passion. Meet the 29 year old founder of The Tap, Ramya Sriram. Ms. Sriram enjoys expressing life through comics, using visual vocabulary to break language barriers. This simple and enjoyable hobby led Ramya into starting up her own business.
However, becoming an entrepreneur was not her first career choice. Like every child, Ramya, was very sure about what she wanted to do in her life. The only problem was her career choice seemed to change every few weeks! When she was 15, Ramya started coaching for medical school. Two years later, she dropped that idea altogether and joined the Vellore Institute of Technology, to pursue engineering instead.
Just like the majority of engineers feel in India, after graduating from VIT, Ramya believed a MBA was the next logical step. However, after joining a reputed Business school, Ramya realized Management was not her cup of tea. A few days into her course, she decided to quit and join a publishing house instead. At the new job, Ramya spent her days editing, nights writing and drawing, for the next five straight years.
During our conversation with Ramya Sriram, she shared about her journey from working in a publishing house, to the leap into entrepreneurship and setting up her own company.
1. While you made the move from MBA to publishing, who was your inspiration and why?
I never really wanted to do an MBA. I was quite confused when I started the course itself, though I had voluntarily studied for the entrance exam! What bothered me was that I might be stuck in a field that I might not enjoy. A week into the MBA, I knew that the course wasn’t right for me, and I needed to first find what kind of career I “fit” into. It wasn’t inspiration as much as it was resistance really. The major issue with the MBA was the time. Two entire years seemed an enormous amount of time to spend on something I wasn’t convinced about. When I got a job in a publishing house, my decision was made.
2. What would you tell other potential entrepreneurs who still are unable to make that final jump?
I can only speak from my own experience of running a very tiny outfit as a freelancer/self-employed person.
I would say that if the circumstances are favorable, then just take the plunge. Don’t let fear hold you back. I get so many mails from people who are really unhappy in their jobs. Life is too short to feel trapped. If there are people financially dependent on you, or if your circumstances are such that you can’t quit your job without some planning, then I suggest taking up small steps towards what you want to do. Even a couple of hours a week can make a big difference. I think the great thing about having a 9 to 6 job is that it gives you some leeway to freely experiment outside of it, since your bread and butter isn’t dependent on the experiments.
Before taking the plunge, it helps immensely to expose yourself to a variety of audiences and get feedback/advice from mentors. And when you really want to do something, you will.
Ramya’s path, from making the move from engineering, to MBA, to working in a publishing house, to finally starting her own company, Ramya has written about her journey in a Linkedin post. She states, “You can’t always find your passion within you, you have to get out there and look for it. Make things happen. Unless you try a whole variety of things, you might never know what truly brings you joy or satisfaction. As Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
And so, The Tap was born! The Tap has now become “a storehouse for stories that originate from my wandering mind and pondering pencil.” What started off as a hobby brought in her first customer via Facebook when a friend asked her to run a comic strip for his magazine. Since then, Ramya has worked on a variety of projects that involve ideation and content creation.
3. What was the hardest part about deciding to start The Tap?
I have to admit that it wasn’t very hard, mostly because I knew what I wanted to do, and had a lot of support from my family. I had started The Tap as something on the side, along with a full-time job. By the time I decided to work solely on The Tap, I had a general idea of what kind of time, energy and effort it would involve.
I think I have to emphasize that I never really looked at The Tap as a big commercial venture or something that I wanted to grow into a big company. I wanted to focus on learning and doing good work for good clients. During the initial few months I was a little alarmed whether I could actually make it work. But there was only one way to find out.
4. What were some of the first milestones and major challenges of The Tap?
The first milestone was my first (very unexpected) commission. I was doodling for fun, and putting up my work on Facebook, when I received a request to create a custom comic. I was very surprised and happy, and that was what prompted me to start taking up paid work. Another huge milestone was Comic Con, in Bangalore. I went with some T-shirts, bags, pillow covers and coasters, and was thrilled with the response. Having your audience in flesh and blood in front of you makes such a huge difference, after an online following. The biggest thrills have come in the form of mails from readers online — lots of folks have sent me their own stick drawings — people aged 7 to 70!
The major challenge was being able to understand what the scope of The Tap was — there were so many things I wanted to do — make merchandise, take up commissions, work with social enterprises, create custom products, collaborate with other artists/writers AND continue to write. I finally decided to pick a couple of things every year.
5. What’s the next step for The Tap?
I would like to focus on social issues. I did a series with CRY India last year, and I’m hoping to work with more NGOs this year, so that people not only read the comic but there is some follow-up action. I would like to create stories that will drive people into taking positive, effective steps — though I’m not sure that can be achieved easily.
Here’s a comic I did on the International Day of the Girl Child last year.
6. What would your message be to other aspiring and confused entrepreneurs?
Well, I think the confusion is good, because it can be a great motivator. I think my advice would be to just do something which makes you wake up every day feeling excited and energetic (sic.) We are our own demons sometimes, so clearing your path of self doubt would be a good step in figuring out your next steps.
Like Ramya said, the future is all yours to grab with just a little bit of luck, a dose of courage and a whole lot of determination! We wish Ramya Sriram all the very best for her future with more projects, more milestones, more drawings and more stories!
Iconic Power Couples At The Top Of Their Game
Corporations run the world in ways like never before. They provide technology, healthcare, innovation and development across the world. Some of these corporations are headed by influential leaders who changed the course of technology and quality of life over the years. The head of the corporation may be a man or a woman, but it is no secret that what they achieved can be credited to their special someone as well.
Let us have a look at some of the most prominent power couples at the top of their game.
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates run the world’s biggest private foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates founded one of the world’s largest software companies, Microsoft. He decided to dedicate his life to philanthropy and with his wife, he started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates pursues issues related to climate change, while Melinda Gates’s focus is on gender equality. In an interview, Melinda Gates revealed it is important to have a spouse who views you as an equal, a quality which she credits to Bill Gates and their successful marriage.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
Mark Zuckerberg runs Facebook, one of the largest technology companies in the world. It is no secret Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who is a pediatrician, were already in love before Facebook launched. Priscilla Chan was one of the earliest users of Facebook when it was just starting out as an online social networking platform. A day after Facebook went public, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan got married. Soon after Facebook became one of the largest technology companies in the world, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to promote equality in the fields of health, education, scientific research and technology.
Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy
Narayana Murthy is the founder of Infosys, one of India’s largest information technology companies. However, Narayana Murthy and his wife Sudha Murthy are most often known for the simple and humble lifestyle they follow. An interesting piece of information is they met through a mutual friend, G.K Prasanna, who is now the global head of Wipro. Sudha Murthy dedicated her life to social causes and was a trustee at Infosys Foundation, a position she used to establish libraries and offer scholarships to students. Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy are an inspiration to many even today and their love for each other has not diminished over the years.
Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher
Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher are the founders of the iconic apparel brand GAP. Initially, Donald Fisher leased out some space to Levi Strauss & Co. to sell their jeans. Donald then realised Levi’s only had a limited number of sizes in their line up and saw the need to open a store which carried all styles and sizes under one roof. Donald and Doris Fisher opened their own store named GAP. The concept was a success and soon after, GAP filed for an IPO. Before Donald Fisher’s demise in 2009, Donald and Doris Fisher were active in philanthropy in educational areas of interest.
The above mentioned couples remind us the world is a better place because of love. Let us know about any other power couples who inspired you!
Best Valentine’s Day Campaigns Run By Famous Brands
With Valentine’s Day right round the corner, every brand and organisation is scrabbling to have a strategy in place to increase their brand visibility and awareness. Needless to say, the advent of technology and digital platforms gave us some unique campaigns over the years. Some simple, some extravagant, but each one of them special because they all came together to celebrate love.
Let us have a look at some memorable Valentine’s Day campaigns we witnessed over the recent years.
Cadbury is a brand known all over the world mainly due to their bestselling chocolate, the humble Dairy Milk. It comes as no surprise Cadbury decided to theme their Valentine’s Day 2018 promotions around chocolate. The campaign, ‘Pop Your Heart Out With Silk,’ aimed to celebrate love in all forms. For the campaign, Cadbury released exclusive Dairy Milk Silk chocolates which had a heart shaped chocolate piece which could just be nudged out. The chocolate is a part of a gift hamper which contained two such Dairy Milk Silk bars and two Dairy Milk Silk Oreo bars, a customised greeting card and a photo frame.
Watch the video to know more about the campaign.
2. Dunkin’ Donuts
One of the world’s favourite desserts, the unassuming donut, also got a campaign of its own for Valentine’s Day 2017. Whether it is simply glazed, sprinkled or with toppings, the donut comes in many shapes and forms. Leading donut chain Dunkin’ Donuts did a campaign themed around Valentine’s Day by creating a contest named ‘Dunkin’ Love.’ The campaign urged users to show their love for the brand by sharing photos of the brand on Instagram. Lucky winners had the chance to win a year’s worth of free coffee, donuts and a cash prize of $ 2,500. The campaign also made use of geolocation so that exclusive Valentine’s Day content could be viewed at Dunkin’ Donuts’ stores. This year, Dunkin’ Donuts is running a campaign named #ValentinesDaySweepstakes, where anyone can tag a friend with the hashtag to get a chance to win a year’s worth of free donuts.
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Open 💌 for a sweet GIVEAWAY!✨ 🧡 All hail the Vanilla Frosted donut 🙌 Inspired by our special Dunkintine, we’re giving you the chance to sprinkle yourselves with FREE donuts for a year! 🍩 🧡 Tag the friend who’s a sprinkle of joy in your life with #ValentinesDaySweepstakes to enter ✨ 🧡 No purch nec. 18+ US/DC. Ends 2/12/20. RULES: www.ddsweeps.com
Taxi hailing giant Uber did their own version of a Valentine’s Day campaign by branding it ‘Romance on Demand.’ Uber has its own creative ways of running campaigns. For example, on Pride Day, Uber changed the colour of the car icon on its app to a rainbow colour theme. However, for Valentine’s Day 2013, Uber turned into a rose delivery service. Users could just log into the Uber app to request a bouquet of roses, which were delivered to their special someone’s address by a driver in a suit. Although the service was expensive and was priced anywhere between $ 100-150, it became popular and encouraged app downloads. In the year 2016, Uber teamed up with the Kisses brand of Hershey’s to run a campaign named #UberSerenade. Users could request a serenade for their loved ones, wherein a person would go to the address given and sing songs about love.
In 2015, the iconic brand, with its red and white colour theme, came up with a very unique Valentine’s Day campaign which aimed at getting people to interact with and get to know strangers at bus stops. Two consecutive bus stops were set up with screens, cameras and a mic. People could see who is at the other bus stop and interact with them. The distance between the bus stops offered safety and was intended to make people shed inhibitions and converse with strangers. The people who interacted were in for a shock when the person with whom they interacted got onto the bus at the next stop. However, the conversations resumed once they greeted each other.
Watch the video here.
Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee brand, created a fun campaign for Valentine’s Day 2015. Starbucks partnered up with Match.com, the United States of America’s leading matchmaking platform, to run a campaign. A feature named ‘Meet At Starbucks’ was added to Match.com and users could use this feature to send out an invitation for a coffee date. Users who clicked the button could email each other and meet up at a nearby Starbucks.
We hope these campaigns made for a fun read. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, let us know of any other fun campaigns like these which make for a good read about marketing strategies.
The RAW Pressery Story -Juices Without Preservatives On A Shelf
Being a tropical country, India is home to unique and exotic fruits people all over the world have come to savour. Mangoes, ice apples and custard apples are just some of the fruits which are unique and found in India. Fruit and vegetable juices have always held a place in the Indian culture and civilisation in the form of medical remedies or coolers. From the humble lemon juice to the exotic mango juice, Indians love to make them a part of their daily routine.
Juices in India sold at supermarkets or retail stores always have preservatives added to them in order to increase their shelf life and keep them safe for consumption. A relatively new player, RAW Pressery, broke out on to the market by advertising their juices as preservative free and all natural, to take on established market brands like Tropicana and Real Fruit Power.
RAW Pressery was founded in 2014 in Mumbai by Anuj Rakyan when he realised there were no preservative free juices available in the market. Anuj Rakyan began experimenting in his kitchen with various juices and ingredients to come up with a product. After investing INR 80 lakhs from his own pocket and borrowing money from friends and family, Anuj was able to pool INR 1.5 crores to start RAW Pressery.
Growth of RAW Pressery
Once Anuj Rakyan was able to successfully develop juices, he began to deliver the juices himself to his initial clients. All this had to be done before any bacteria formed in the juices, therefore time was important. As his nutritional and fresh juices started seeing more demand, Anuj Rakyan employed the famed Mumbai dabbawalas to deliver to his clients in Mumbai. The juices saw their demand surging and before long, RAW Pressery added Pune to its market base.
Godrej Nature’s Basket and Foodhall became retail partners to sell the juices on shelves across their retail locations. Anuj Rakyan got his big break when investment firm Sequoia Capital decided to invest in RAW Pressery. A cold press was later added to increase the production of juice and also to increase the shelf life of products to 21 days. A cold press is a technology which avoids oxidation and preserves the nutritional value of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
With the growing demand, the product offerings shot from just six to eighteen present now and divided into four categories—Benefits, Basics, Boosters and Shooters. Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez was roped in as the brand ambassador for RAW Pressery.
Shelf life and beyond
The juices have a shelf life of 21 days and RAW Pressery makes sure the juices do not go to waste. Seven days before the shelf life expires, the juices are recalled to be sold at events while it is still safe to consume them. RAW Pressery also recycles their plastic bottles by collecting them from shops and homes and turning them into polyester fibre. This fibre is used to stitch school uniforms and distributed for free to poor students.
This is the story of a startup which, under the leadership of Anuj Rakyan, was able to capture the market with its strong and original products. Although RAW Pressery still has a large market to capture, it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Therefore, it comes as no surprise RAW Pressery saw its valuation grow from INR 5 crores to INR 250 crores in just under four years.
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