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!
Wallmantra: This Indian Startup Is Upping The Home Interior Decor Game With Their Modern Designs
India was always home to some of the oldest and most diverse art forms which have received a lot of international attention over the years. The advent of internet technology and smartphones meant these art forms have found a new lease of life. Wallmantra, an Indian startup is at the forefront of bringing these artforms to homes all over the world and India with their humongous modern variety of home and interior decor designs. Ever since designing and selling affordable wall and interior decor out of their own online marketplace WallMantra has come a long way.
WallMantra was founded in 2013 focusing solely on an online presence. Wallmantra has more than a thousand unique products which are listed on their website which means customers are simply spoilt for choice. But what sets Wallmantra apart from their competitors is they have ownership of end-end processes right from design and procurement to sales and shipping and therefore have complete control over quality and timely delivery. This Make In India startup focuses on design which brings out the best in interior spaces while every product is designed keeping in mind its utility and space requirement.
Wallmantra has a very unique range of products like Wall Aquariums- a new and easy way to keep fishes in house, 3D Frames-layers design with LED, Garden Shelves-a short of portal Garden in your house, Wall Shelves-designs inspired from real life characters, Wooden Wall Hangings, designer clocks, and many more and all of which can be accessed through their website. The website is quite responsive on mobile and desktop with clear division of products in defined categories. Some of their best selling products include a Planter Shelf Wall Hanging, Mandala Designer Wall Clock, a Golden Buddha Canvas Painting and a Deer Do It Yourself (DIY) Painting Kit.
Although the entire world has been coming to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallmantra have shown no signs of stopping and in fact have used this crisis as an opportunity to expand their operations as well as generating a whole lot of employment responding to Govt’s call for #VocalForLocal and #AtmanirbharBharat. Wallmantra has trained a workforce consisting of restaurant workers, contract teachers, factory workers giving them an opportunity to learn new skills. Wallmantra has expanded, hired and trained a workforce of more than 100 people and is still continuing to expand steadily. This is due to several factors but the most important one being its complete online marketplace. Wallmantra has also expanded its presence into the social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram which contributed largely to their growth.
So head over to their Facebook, Instagram and their website to browse their huge collection of various interior and wall decor products to brighten up your house. Wallmantra is committed to providing an artistic touch and elevating the interiors of your home.
How Do IPL Franchises Make Money
If there is one thing that every Indian and every cricket fan waits for all year, it is the Indian Premier League, which is the world’s biggest cricketing league. Professional cricket players from all over the world vie to get selected by one of the eight franchises which compete in the league. The entire league is a star studded affair and Indians manage to forget their differences and band together for all the time the league is aired. Each franchise boasts of a loyal fan following who have supported their teams through thick and thin ever since IPL was inaugurated in 2008. While the entire league is a melting pot of entertainment and competition, have you ever wondered how the franchises make money in IPL? In this article we will decode the business models behind the IPL teams and how they earn money.
Franchises need to bid for players every year before the start of the IPL season in an auction. Each franchise has a maximum spend limit of Rs. 80 crores to buy players in the auction. Apart from buying players each franchise also needs to bear the cost of travel, support staff and logistics. The following are the different avenues from which franchises earn money.
Franchises earn a major chunk of their revenue from sponsorships, but they do not get the money from sponsorships directly. The IPL governing council gets money from sponsors and in the case of this year it is from Dream 11, which is the title sponsor while VIVO was the title sponsor last year. All the money which is earned from sponsorships is divided into a ratio of 60:40 with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) retaining 40% of the sponsorships. The remaining 60% is distributed among the ten franchises. BCCI owns and operates the IPL in India. The ratio of distribution might change in the coming years depending on the decisions taken by the BCCI.
2) Media rights
Broadcasting companies bid for the media rights and the winning bid will get to air the IPL on their channel. Star India bagged the media rights for IPL with a bid of Rs. 16,345 crores for five years (2018-2022.) The money from media rights are also distributed in the 60:40 ratio with BCCI keeping 40% and the franchises getting an equal distribution from the remaining 60%.
3) Franchise sponsors
Each franchise has its own dedicated sponsors which pay a huge amount of money to the franchise. The logos and names of the companies which you can see on the sporting attire of every IPL team are actually the dedicated sponsors of their respective franchises. The profit from dedicated sponsors depends on the deal the franchise has made with their sponsor. The income generated from dedicated sponsors might differ from team to team.
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4) Sale of tickets
Each franchise can choose a home ground from the available venues in the BCCI roster like Sunrisers Hyderabad, choosing Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders choosing Kolkata. Only the home franchise can fix the price of tickets for the matches happening in their home ground. Bigger stadiums with large seating capacity earn the most from ticket sales. Kolkata Knight Riders home ground Eden Gardens has the highest seating capacity in India and therefore KKR earns the most from ticket sales.
Each franchise makes some money by selling official jerseys, caps, wrist watches, souvenirs etcetera. The merchandise is sold through the official franchise websites.
6) Prize money
Franchises battle it out in a long season to become the winner of the IPL season. The winning team also wins a hefty prize money which is an additional source of revenue. In 2019, the winning franchise won Rs. 15 crores while the runner up won Rs. 10 crores.
IPL is a big stage for franchise owners to earn their revenues as well as the perfect opportunity for players to make their mark and win big auctions. This is how franchises earn their revenues from the IPL. As this year’s edition is off to a flying start, IPL has been a blessing in disguise for millions of Indians in the gloomy times we currently are experiencing.
Six Innovations By Elon Musk
Elon Musk is perhaps the boldest business leader, thinker and entrepreneur of this generation. Elon Musk dabbled in multiple ventures over the years and most of them might seem like they are straight out of a storybook. Elon Musk’s perseverance to achieve his dreams have paid off and he now owns several highly successful companies. Elon’s ambitions are bold as he is determined to send humans to Mars, offer highly subsidised or free internet to the world and develop the world’s fastest mode of transportation with his ventures.
We give you six innovations conceived by Elon Musk which prove he is a true visionary.
Tesla is a car manufacturing firm which mainly focuses on cars which run on electricity powered by batteries. The company name Tesla, is a tribute to Nikola Tesla who was an electrical engineer. Elon Musk’s Tesla pioneered the concept that electric cars can look and feel like premium cars as well as powering their vehicles with powerful artificial intelligence which lets its drivers to sit back and relax while the autopilot does the driving. Tesla cars are only sold online as Elon Musk believes a traditional dealership will have conflict of interests while selling electric vehicles. Tesla is the first automaker that sells cars directly to consumers while the rest use independently owned dealerships.
Space X is perhaps the most ambitious undertaking by Elon Musk as he believes colonising Mars is the future of humankind. SpaceX is also short for space exploration and has drastically reduced the costs of undertaking space missions as Elon Musk figured out a way to reuse the rockets. Unlike most rockets, which are expendable launch systems, since the introduction of the Full Thrust version, Space X’s Falcon 9 is partially reusable, with the first stage capable of re entering the atmosphere and landing vertically after separating from the second stage. This feat was achieved for the first time by SpaceX in December 2015. A 2011 NASA report “estimated that it would have cost the agency about US $ 4 billion to develop a rocket like the Falcon 9 booster based upon NASA’s traditional contracting processes while “a more ‘commercial development’ approach might have allowed the agency to pay only US $ 1.7 billion (sic.)”
Hyperloop aims to be the provider of the fastest mode of transportation on the planet. Hyperloop is a sealed tube or system of tubes with low air pressure through which a pod may travel substantially free of air resistance or friction. The Hyperloop could convey people or objects at airline or hypersonic speeds while being very energy efficient. In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that greatly exceeds the speed of sound, often stated as starting at speeds of Mach 5 and above. Mach 1 is the speed of sound which is 1234 kmph. The Hyperloop Genesis paper conceived of a hyperloop system that would propel passengers along the 350-mile (560 km) route at a speed of 760 mph (1,200 km/h), allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes, which is considerably faster than current rail or air travel times.
Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by SpaceX to provide satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO,) working in combination with ground transceivers. SpaceX intends to provide satellite internet connectivity to underdeveloped areas of the planet, as well as provide competitively priced service to urban areas.
5) Boring company
The Boring Company is a tunnel services company and Elon Musk cited difficulty with Los Angeles traffic and limitations with the current two dimensional transportation network as his early inspiration for the project. Musk claims the tunnel trip will take five minutes, compared to above ground driving which takes 45 minutes in normal traffic to go from LAX to Westwood. These trips were planned to be implemented by placing a car on an electric sled and traveling at 120 miles per hour (200 km/h) through tunnels.
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk for developing implantable brain machine interfaces. Neuralink announced it was working on a “sewing machine like” device capable of implanting very thin (4 to 6 μm in width) threads into the brain, and demonstrated a system that read information from a lab rat via 1,500 electrodes. The company is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence. These enhancements could improve memory or allow more direct interfacing with computing devices at broadband speeds.
While some of the companies and their vision might seem far fetched, Elon Musk is adamant on making them a reality. Elon Musk and SpaceX successfully made history as being the first private organization to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS.) The entire operation from launch to docking at the ISS has been live streamed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was watched by millions from all over the world. Neuralink’s progress was displayed recently as a pig named Gertrude had a chip implanted in her brain which tracked her neural activity and was publicly displayed to everyone.
We at Startup Stories hope Elon Musk will continue to push the boundaries of science and imagination for as long as he can and make an indelible impact on humanity.
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