CollegeKhabri aims to fill the gap between a student and their dream college. The website focuses on education-related facts and figures in a simplified and well-structured information portal. Their aim is to allow students, parents and educational researchers to evaluate, compare and browse through colleges and courses. We speak to the portal’s founder Arshi Khan, who is nominated for this year’s SheThePeople.TV Digital Women Awards, on being a women entrepreneur in India and what inspires her to keep going.
How did your big idea strike you?
I gave up my education because of my father’s ill health and the second time I dropped out of engineering when I realised that this is not the right thing I wanted to do and from here I got this idea.
How has tech and digital been an enabler in your entrepreneurship journey?
Being based in Bhopal which is a tier two city, reaching more students offline was a difficult thing. Since I wanted to help students not just in Bhopal but in other cities too, digital played not just an important but a crucial role as an enabler in my journey.
At any point in your journey were you stuck with self-doubt? How did you deal with it?
After my father’s death, I wanted to look after his business but in my family, women aren’t allowed to work, so running a business was something that I could not do according to them, this led me to doubt myself and for few a months I wasn’t convinced that I could do this. I was into depression and developed anxiety, but I wanted to be the motivation to other Arshi Khans in the world, just like my father was for me, and that kept me running even when I had self doubt.
Since I wanted to help students not just in Bhopal but in other cities too, digital played not just an important but a crucial role as an enabler in my journey.
What have been your greatest challenges and struggles in your entrepreneurship journey?
The biggest challenge is the tag of ” women” which I was told by a mentor, can only be removed by hard work, and hard work alone. Other big challenges I faced were starting a company all alone and when I wanted to expand my team, lack of initial capital haunted me.
As a woman entrepreneur would you say you have faced discrimination in your journey? Could you share with us?
I remember when once I was told, you are not a good fit. That day I decided I will remove all the limitations I’ve faced as a woman. I started learning to ride a bike in order to overcome my fear and then I ventured into entrepreneurship and started my own firm. After reaching a certain level, I went back to that person and thanked them for motivating me.
What do you think women entrepreneurs need more of, from venture capitalists, government policy makers, start-up support programmes and others? And Why?
Women entrepreneurs need more unbiased support! They have of to get rid of this mentality that women are not good at business. I and many other women are leading their companies which are not only growing but are profitable.
What would you say have been your greatest learnings on the entrepreneurship journey?
Entrepreneurship is very hard, many lose their will while pursing it. Irrespective of who you are, you have to go through this, be prepared for this, because if you are not prepared, you will break into pieces.
I remember when once I was told, you are not a good fit. That day I decided I will remove all the limitations I’ve faced as a woman.
What advice would you share with other women looking to become entrepreneurs?
In India, a mother never cooks food for herself but for her kids, If you aspire to become an entrepreneur, don’t work for yourself but work for your customers.
Your legacy in one phrase.
You can be what you want to be, don’t let people pull your dreams down.
An entrepreneur you admire.
Your greatest strength.
My team is my greatest strength.