Multiple tabs open on my Mac, the entire team sluggish after a happening last night, cups of coffee spread on the table and the hustle bustle of the office- it was a mundane Wednesday morning until something popped up on my screen to make us all jump out of our seats (literally) !! We had been selected by India Network to represent StyleDotMe as part of the India team at “Survive and Thrive”. The dream of taking our venture global had finally started taking shape. This was my opportunity to “turn all the cants into the can and dreams into plans” and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.
Let the Learning Begin
My lessons began from the moment I stepped at the airport and there’s no looking back ever since. When I met Rahul Narvekar, the founder of India Network and understood his vision of taking promising entrepreneurs global I immediately knew I am getting the opportunity I have been always looking for.
I entered the Club Getaway and knew this is going to be a turning point in my life. The Boot camp started with a fun game which was more like a warm-up exercise and a step to be comfortable and know everyone around.
My favorite part of the entire Boot Camp was the mastermind classes. I attended three classes where in 1st one I pitched StyleDotMe and created a visual representation of it. In the second one, I learned about Scaling and Globalization at an adventurous woods and the third was one that changed my life.
It was at Arial Park and involved walking in the air on woods and ropes. The class was about Capital and your Venture: When do you raise, when do you exit? Since it was linked to start-up management and growth I decided to take up the challenge. Sometimes it’s important to take risks, no matter how scared you are. I am so scared of height that I never thought I could do any such adventurous activity in my life…but I pushed myself beyond my boundaries this time and gave it a shot. I was walking on a single rope struggling to keep balance and with very faint hope in my heart of survival! But then, not only did I survive but also completed the challenge. It taught me the biggest lesson of life- Not to give up. Well, as they say, life will keep throwing stones at you, it is your choice to build a wall or a way!
Seeking Experience, Finding Inspiration
Marva Allen of Wordee, Sachin Narode of Xeniapp and Kean Wong of Star Producer Academy- now the founders of Survive and Thrive presented a phenomenal vision of the entire project. Kevin Harrington, the real shark from Shark Tank was a motivating and influential soul. I am sure he could give a real shark some tough competition! His talk was one of the major highlights of my journey-teaching me beyond book lessons. Since I was a part of the Indian version of Shark Tank I immediately got his attending and not only did I got to discuss StyleDotMe with him but also “DOTTED” him for his dapper look. The talks by JESSE ITZLER AND SUSIE CARDER were so inspiring that they helped me think beyond my mundane thoughts. Susie’s journey brought tears to my eyes because her struggle reminded me of my own and her determination made me stronger. Sometimes a person like her with her story is so relatable because each one of us can see our reflection in it.
Another person whose story left an impact on my life is Sachin Narode. Sachin, the Mango boy told me his interesting story in the most luxurious Limousine drive which he arranged for us. After listening to why and how he got Indian mangoes to the US made me ask myself “ Why am I doing what I am and am I leaving an impact on someone’s life?” His energy, passion, and willingness to always help others will stay with me and teach me things at various stages of life.
The Final Pitch
With everything said and done, it was finally time for the final pitch. As StyleDotMe was announced among the top finalists, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. I have given hundreds of pitches in India to multiple investors but it was my first pitch in the USA and to international investors and I couldn’t help but feel nervous. All I could feel was anxiety but the passion to make StyleDotMe a name on the global front gave me the power and confidence to give it my best shot. It was a shocker when it was announced that Survive and Thrive is funding 5 start-ups from India and StyleDotMe was a part of it. Was I dreaming or living a dream? Once the boot camp was over, we had a one to one interaction and a long meeting with Fred and Cecilia where they gave us valuable and personalized feedback and also advised us on funding. We also had one to one mentoring sessions which helped us to understand how to go global.
Work hard, Party harder
This camp reinforced my belief in the principle “work hard, party harder”. We used to work hard the entire day, learning and thriving but the evenings told a completely different story. We had the most lavish dinners and parties at Survive and thrive Boot camp. The best was the “Alice in Wonderland theme party” followed by a Karaoke night. We also participated in a fashion show based on a Bollywood theme at one of the get-togethers. Every night was different though great music, food, and dance helped us to unwind every time. If only we could have some more of those!
About the Initiative
With the vision to help mission-driven entrepreneurs to get the experience, knowledge, resources, and partnerships to grow and develop, this programme gave me the golden opportunity of presenting my idea on a global platform. This initiative of the India Network to sponsor 15 entrepreneurs to be a part of Survive and Thrive boot camp was a successful step towards recognizing new and dynamic talents and also give us the opportunity to learn how to just not survive but thrive too. As they say “it is an entrepreneurial revolution and movement of PURPOSE, PASSION, and FREEDOM.
From visiting the Statue of Liberty to taking a hop on hop off bus to biking at Central Park and watching a show at Broadway…from being at the World Trade Center to attending the New York Fashion Week and shopping at Woodbury (Ah! That was amazing), I tried to explore a piece of New York and carry it with me in my memories. But what will always remain the closest to my heart is the experience I got at Survive and Thrive and the relations I have built. Sachin and his fiancé Mithila were such wonderful hosts that it made the rest of our trip extremely exciting and memorable.
This opportunity has opened a door for StyleDotMe to go global. From pitching for selection to traveling abroad and attending the entire boot camp, every experience taught me something new. Staying at Times Square, interacting with like-minded yet dynamic people, being part of all the workshops and fun activities and every experience there taught me a wonderful life lesson. From where I see myself today, this opportunity has helped me grow not only as an entrepreneur but also as an individual. The interest from the investors has made us believe more in our product and the overall experience has helped me see the world and StyleDotMe from a different and enhanced perspective. I will forever be thankful to India Network for believing in us and our work and for selecting us for this life-changing experience. I have learned, grown and imbibed in me lessons that will stay for a lifetime giving me the confidence that nothing that you wish for is impossible in this world.
I am all set to conquer the world and make StyleDotMe go global!
I can proudly say “I am glad that in all my learning I have not learned to give up”.