NXg spoke to a few of Chennai's young entrepreneurs to find out how they went about their business. Here's what they had to say…

Anek Ahuja, Whoa Mama Design

Making the choice

I chose to turn entrepreneur because I didn't really want to take orders. But invariably, you do take up orders. Even if you're an entrepreneur, you do take orders from clients! But basically, the only reason I did that is that we believe in what we are doing, that we can handle the kind of involvement it takes to work with clients, and we believed that we could do it ourselves, instead of working for or under someone else.

Biggest challenge

There are a lot of misconceptions about being an entrepreneur. Young people think that you just get to keep all the money, and you're going to come home at the end of the day rich. To start off, no one knows you. You need to know how to make a good amount of noise about yourself, before you become an entrepreneur. If you are working somewhere for, say two years, then you need to show that you can do good work, maybe win some achievement awards, and make sure that people know your name and the quality of work you do. That's one of the biggest challenges of being a young entrepreneur — credibility. So before you just jump into your own business, I would say that you should have a good amount of work experience, so people know you, and you yourself know what you're getting into.

Manasi Shah, Orly

Making the choice

My biggest reason was the flexibility in time. Plus, entrepreneurship let's you to do what you want to do. You have total control of what you want to do. In a job, you are restricted to do what you have to do.

I was in advertising earlier, and you think something would work, but then the client might say no, and you didn't have the freedom to try new things. Being in control of your own business allows you that freedom.

Biggest challenge

Sourcing clothes, and getting good quality things. Getting the right kind of clothes was important. Orly is primarily a men's store, but to get men to come and shop is very difficult. So the stuff had to be enticing. In chennai, men know exactly what they want, and so it's very hard to get them to experiment. Therefore, I needed the right kind of stuff.

Nanditha Sashidharan, Sugar Hut

Making the choice

I've been in the arts field for years now. I thought of cooking and baking, and thought why not make a living out of it. In March this year, I started getting calls after uploading pictures of things I did, and I called it The Sugar Hut. That's how the Sugar Hut started!

Biggest challenge

Credibility! People wonder why I have started this. It's hard for people to take youngsters seriously; some still think I'm in college! That kind of thing happens. But once people see me work, and taste my food, they start to appreciate me as an individual. When they see how serious and different I am, they appreciate it. I also customise my food and so people see that I'm not doing what the other bakeries around town do.

Karthik Kumar, Evam Entertainment

Making the choice

Well, I thought that the joys and the labours of being on your own, or an idea/enterprise of your own, is much more rewarding than working for someone else. The second reason was that the field I got into — theatre — didn't have any current players in the industry. I needed to create a company, the likes of which had never existed before. There are many in this field in UK/US but not in India.

Biggest challenge

As young people, you have a lot of energy and enthusiam. But you need a lot of guidance. We needed to have relevant people from various businesses to guide us. There are a lot of things we didn't know; we made mistakes, but that's the most important challenge. You try too many things when you're young, you need to be patient. Also, when you're young, you have big ideas but you may not have the means to get them all accomplished. That's another challenge that young entrepreneurs face.

Omar Sait, Gatsby

Making the choice

Well, I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My great-grandfather started it all with a woollen business way back in 1905. While I did look into going into law and finance, this was just a calling. I worked for five years at an electronics company in the US, and I realised I didn't want to work for anyone else. I would rather put in the hard work for myself, and see my own business prosper instead of working under someone else.

Biggest challenge

It wasn't very hard for me to set up a business because my family is in the same field; my business is just an offshoot of the family's business. Also, they were very supportive of me. I would say that the biggest challenge for me and any young entrepreneur is getting people to take you seriously. When you're an entrepreneur age doesn't matter; it doesn't matter if you are still young, you have to deliver. So, getting people to understand that you can do it, and treat you with seriousness, is probably the most difficult thing.

Samvitha Ram, Grade XI, American International School.


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