Kavita Rajwade was always a girl who took risks and did what she loved most. Rajwade has a curiosity to learn something new every day and excel at it. Today, her varied experience and knowledge led her to establish a podcast company, which is said to be the first of its kind in India.
Now the co-founder of IVM Podcast, she is considered one of the most significant figures in the podcast industry. After working for two decades and holding almost seven years of entrepreneurial experience, her company has now emerged as one of the leading players in India’s podcast market.
In an interview with SheThePeople, Kavita Rajwade discusses her journey from being a new girl in the city to becoming an entrepreneur. Rajwade explained the challenges of running a podcast company, her growth as a leader, and why women need to express themselves.
IVM Podcast Founder Kavita Rajwade
Rajwade said, “Women know they have a place at the table, so own it! Don’t be shy about sharing. Women are usually reluctant to express themselves, so it’s time to express and play your advantages.”
Kavita Rajwade came to Mumbai two decades back in 2003. Rajwade, who completed her advertisement and mass communication course in Pune, always aspired to be a sports presenter but landed her first job with Elle fashion magazine. After a year at Elle, she decide to take another ship and climbed aboard the radio industry. She worked at radio for almost four years because, for her, it was fascinating to learn new things every day. Rajwade also worked with TV, Sports events like IPL, live experiential events like NH-7 weekender, and music labels. Rajwade calls this time ‘the most engaging experience of her life.’
One can notice she had a dynamic work profile. Rajwade stated, “I never thought of sticking to what I am best at or creating a career out of it. I wanted to explore different industries and learn the process. Now, I have a whole gambit of experiences – accomplished magazines, radio, live sports, live music, television, and the business of music. I thought about where to use all this experience and make something out of it. In 2016, IVM happened and while I came to work as a marketing head initially, I was interested in the fact that it was audio again, but this was everything that radio is not. It was an opportunity to club my love for audio and do smart content.”
While Rajwade has been a carefree woman, she has also been calculative in her decisions. She believed in treating jobs as a project. Take up one, do it with sincerity, and move on to the next. Several times Rajwade was advised podcasts are risky. However, she always believed in never taking advice from everyone and had faith in IVM. She was confident with her ideas.
Speaking of insecurities and success, Rajwade said, “As long you work daily and do a good job, you are in a good space to be solid. Today, every organisation wants a dependable team who can think and be sincere in their work. With this thought, insecurity, and fear vanish. The biggest contributor to my success has been the ability to be agile. One has to flow like water and not stand like a building, being rigid. My agility at IVM is also something I am proud of. I can move around and get my own way. People usually create hindrances for themselves with their set beliefs, value systems, family pressure, and principles. Everyone is trying to put you in the box, don’t allow it!”
In a business, challenges are a common phenomenon. Rajwade also has her fair share of hurdles. The podcast industry was just taking shape in India, and Rajwade being a new entrant, in fact, the first of its kind, was challenging. According to Rajwade, she had to think of how to be a market leader in a category no one has touched.
She stated, “First-mover advantage is overrated, you are the guinea pig, and there is no benchmark, so you make your own benchmark and define what is good.” Secondly, “entrepreneurship is not taught, risk-taking is uninduced, and no one tells you – What it is to walk a path that was not trodden before. It is a temperament thing and you have to pick. So, one of the risks was running a non-templatized business that can get exhausted. We had to build our own podcast ecosystem. Today, we have 170 shows in the span of 7.5 years”, added Rajwade.
Challenges push to achieve bigger goals, rich milestones never touched. Rajwade also had a fair share of notable moments. For her, the biggest milestone has been to run a podcast network in the non-existential podcast market. Second, it’s the ability to continue to work on the child. One of the remarkable moments was working with the Bachchan family. She said, “I am happy we had the opportunity of equals. Also, could sell the company and build our new office, and a new team.”
She continued, “The biggest compliment received was – IVM makes people intelligent for free, and that is something I will take to the grave.”
On women-centric shows, Rajwade pointed out that the audience in the early phase was an 80-20% split, and men formed a large part of it. Since 2019, as we produced more women-oriented content, for instance, the show Agla Station Adulthood, where two girls in their late 20s are making conversation, the listenership slightly changed- it became 70-30%.
“Honestly, women are busy! I try and make valuable content as they have little content. I must over best for their time. For instance, if women have 10 minutes, I will tell them how to live a better life instead of giving them entertainment. Women want smart content and want to learn things. After five years of working, I can say the world is undesigned for women. I have struggled! Seen younger men becoming CEOs much quicker than women. While women are still navigating issues and leadership that come their way. So, it is important for us to build a content strategy that helps women get better at what they are already good at.”
Rajwade also stressed not falling for tokenism and fighting for what you deserve. On the empowerment of women, she said, “There is no doubt we have to work harder. However, now there is a conversation, and the narrative has moved forward. I don’t feel like tokenism. When I go to an event, and all panellists are men, I am okay because in a few sectors- if men are prominent we shouldn’t feel bad. Women’s education and understanding came much later. People should stop falling for tokenism. If you deserve the place on the table, own it.”
Rajwade concluded by advising all the women out there that-
“Women, please don’t tell yourselves- ‘ghar ka kaam is less’, and you can do more going out. If you want to be in the workforce, be it, own it. We have a well-rounded ability to solve problems, whereas men are linear. Women are inherently jugaadu, have a solution-based mind, and put money on that. We should stop try being like men and be who we are because women are great, don’t underestimate the power.”