On my college graduation day, my father told me, “Your 20s will define rest of your life, so work hard and settle before you’re 30.” Judging by his counsel, I only had 9 more years to define success for myself, and so that day onward, my personal countdown started. Rashi Menda on her journey.

Founder Speak on SheThePeople, Women Entrepreneurs in IndiaThe first thing I did was make a life plan – a corporate job that I’d keep for three years, check. Work with a startup for 2 years, check. Retire from the 9 to 5 drill at 26 and get down to building my own empire, check. Make the Forbes 30 under 30 list – yet to be checked.

I went on a job hunt and landed an opportunity to work with an early-stage startup. That’s where I learned everything from hiring, team building, fund raising to a shutdown – Rashi Menda

To my luck and of course, hard work, almost everything went as planned. I worked with one of the Big 4s for 13 months until I couldn’t survive a desk job any longer. My dad’s words kept bothering me every single day. I only knew one thing – I need to do more. I went on a job hunt and landed an opportunity to work with an early-stage startup. That’s where I learned everything from hiring, team building, fund raising to a shutdown. It was a roller coaster ride, but it was also like an MBA unrivalled by any Ivy League.

4 years and 5 months of learning and struggle later, I was out in the market searching for my next best fit. I had moved cities from Delhi to Bangalore, and being a fashion conscious millennial woman, I found it really difficult to shop trendy wear that fit my style and my body type.

As their incomes were increasing, their disposable income was increasing too, but their fashion options were limited

So I spent more time understanding fashion, and realized that ecommerce is the fastest growing industry in India, but only catered to the masses. There was a huge gap between high street and premium fashion. Meanwhile, millennials were entering the workforce with a mobile phone in their hand, aware of the latest around them. As their incomes were increasing, their disposable income was increasing too, but their fashion options were limited. Evidently, there was a great need for an online platform that could cater to their aspirations.

Hence, Zapyle was born. A fashion-tech startup that catered to women in India, where they could find trendy fashion at great prices. But though I was 7 months ahead of my plan, things didn’t go half as planned.

Being a single founder was hard. I had to tackle day to day activities, build processes, hire the right people,

No one told me that being an entrepreneur would be the hardest thing ever. Every day, you wake up thinking you want to conquer the world, and go to bed glad that you can now solve one more little thing to take me on to the next step. The fact is no one will tell you how exciting, tiring or stressful it is to be an entrepreneur – you will only know until you experience it for yourself.

Being a single founder was hard. I had to tackle day to day activities, build processes, hire the right people, and raise money to grow the business, all at once. What helped me was guidance from my mentors me and a lot of people who I met on the journey. These are some things I learnt along the way:

  • Listen to everyone, but do what you think is right – Everyone will give you free advice but you know best how much of it makes sense to your business and your growth as an entrepreneur. I meet 5 new people every week, and I believe it is very important to get different perspectives and experiences to be creative, but I do what I feel is the best for my situation.
  • Hire people smarter than you – Very few entrepreneurs accept good talent at an early stage of their business. Yes, it comes with a price, but invest in people if you want to grow fast. It’s impossible to build a business with misfits and single talent (you).
  • Do not create a business for venture capitalists – I was approached by venture capitalists at a very early stage, I got so involved in meeting with them and tweaking my business as per their understanding of the industry, that it took my focus away, and resulted in three months of time lost. In a startup calendar, that’s equal to three years. Build a business with the market gap you feel is right, launch an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), get some early users, show traction, have loyal buyers and then go to venture capitalists, until then they do not exist.
  • Don’t forget to love yourself – My work started taking so much of my time, I ended up working 18 hours a day and get just about 6 hours to eat, sleep and shower. There was a time when I almost forgot I had a family, friends and personal life. I was always eating on the go, leading to basically no social life and a few extra kilos. Soon enough, I realized I had to make a change. In short, work-life balance is a must.

I’m still quite far from building a million-dollar company, and have a tight 2-year deadline to be on that Forbes list, but what is confirmed is – spending each day building my startup gives me an unparalleled joy. All the hard work until was definitely worth it.

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