A Tale Of Timing, Perseverance And Friendship, For Hopeful Entrepreneurs

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We tried starting our own venture in 2016. We failed. Miserably.

We had a great idea and we desperately wanted to start something of our own. We were both in high-pressure jobs at the best advertising agencies in the country, working on power house brands and we thought we could juggle both things.

Therein lied our folly.

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We couldn’t make the commitment to one, or take a break from the other. The thought of losing our salaries, coveted titles, sea-facing seats overlooking Marine Drive, didn’t feel like ‘sensible’ options, and so, despite our well intentioned attempts, we gave in to our fears and shut down our brilliant idea.


Thankfully that isn’t where the story ended. One of us was more determined to see the dream through, so she quit her fancy agency job and give her to-be-partner one year to get it together. She believed we could still build something from the ground-up. So we took the year – to gain experience, discuss our business ideas, consider how we would survive financially and accommodate the inevitable cash crunch, sort out a basic home office, and in March 2018 we were in business.

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And that’s really where this story begins. We trusted our gut and each other and took a chance on something we both loved equally – design. When we look back at our journey we don’t know how we had the audacity to do it, knowing as little as we did – about the market, the consumer, the business. But that’s really where the friendship helped. It motivated us, made us accountable, and having failed at it once, we were more determined to make it work this time around. We learnt from every misstep and refused to give up. We backed each-other through questionable client choices, financial woes and emotional upheavals. So now, three years in, as we’ve grown from strength to strength, we’re happy to share a few things we’ve learned along the way.

  • Youve got to give up something to gain something. In our case it was our jobs and salaries. We had to let go of them to fully immerse ourselves into our new venture. It was a (tough) choice, but we’re thankful we made it.
  • Failure is par for course. And it’s good we didn’t let our first one define us. Don’t let yours define you either. Learn, grow, move on.
  • You cant know everything on Day 1. We learn something new everyday. Every project, every client, every pitch teaches us something. We’d be foolish to think we know it all even three years in. We’re leaving ourselves room to grow.
  • Partner your Clients 200%. If not more. Cultivating a deep understanding of their business, product, consumer and finding innovative solutions to their problems is the only way to succeed.
  • You will need allies. Having each other means everything. It motivates us and makes us accountable. But we also reached out to ex-colleagues and trusted friends who supported us with their time, advice and partnership even when we had not much to offer them.
  • You will fight. On WhatsApp. In person. It will happen. And it’s ok, as long as you learn from it. That’s where cultivating relationships based on trust comes into play.
  • Entrepreneurs need support. You will too. And we mean the emotional and physical kind – from your spouse to your parents to your staff(if you’re lucky to have them). It’s important to align everyone, get them to pitch in, and accept that life is going to be messy for the foreseeable future.
  • Ugh, N E G O T I A T I O N S: Indian’s love to bargain and we’ve done our fair share – and can now confidently say – know your worth. Stand your ground and don’t settle for less than what you deserve. Your time and commitment should be compensated. Draw the line when it comes to doing ‘favours’ for friends and family. Once you’re an official business you need to be duly compensated.
  • Your company becomes your life: It’s hard to switch off from something that you’re building. And while we strive for balance we’ve accepted that it does take insurmountable faith and perseverance.

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Hopeful entrepreneurs be aware of timing, and the signals your gut is giving you, persevere hard, and find your ally/allies – we strongly believe that trust and friendship makes for a winning business, it has for us anyway.

Alishka Anand & Hetal Desai are co-founders of Openhouse, a Branding & Design Studio that specialises communication design and helps brands build their business through hardworking visual solutions. They’ve been friends for 30 years, and now business partners for three. The views expressed are the authors own.

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A Tale Of Timing, Perseverance And Friendship, For Hopeful Entrepreneurs
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