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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Woman Entrepreneur who dared to follow her dreams and dig into her Savings to build her Business

Investing right can help you follow your dreams, the following interview just reiterates that.

Few stick to their jobs, few take breaks and few daring souls follow their dreams to be an entrepreneur! While writing on various aspects of personal finance, One day I felt that a first hand account of financial planning would be better absorbed by all than any gyan session. So, I planned to interview some Women Entrepreneurs, who left their settled jobs, used their own savings to start new ventures and continued the journey through ups and downs and business cycles. It is not only about managing money or registering growth numbers, it’s also about taking that first step and trusting one's ownself. This would be a monthly interview series dedicated to budding Women Entrepreneurs around us. 

This is a story of lively Gunjan Varma, a loving daughter, a doting sister, a pretty wife and a caring daughter-in law, who started her career as Marketing Trainee at DNA in 2007, fresh out of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies and launched her own business after 5 years, “Something Else” in 2012, now established in North and Western India.

Tell us about your journey from DNA to Something Else
Gunjan: I completed my MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies and joined DNA Newspaper in 2007 in Corporate Sales and Print Innovations, Mumbai. I moved to Fever 104 FM at Delhi post that as Manager, Corporate sales in Radio. Both these jobs gave me a small company environment even though they were backed by established Media Houses. 

I made an inter sector and function move with Citibank. I joined them as Acquisition Marketing Manager for their S&D Division. The move from Sales to Marketing & Planning and Media to Banking was quite a feat but wasn’t as smooth. I had a team of 10 Sales Managers aligned to me with 15-20 Sales Executives under them. My profile was to create “Sales opportunity Points” for these sales executives on a daily basis through various channels. It was a heavy task but over a 2.5-year period, our division broke-even with the help of an amazing and hard-working team. During this time I had good exposure on Sales & Promotions and to vendors and chanced upon the idea of Gifting which culminated in to “Something Else”. Now, 4 years on, we plan to look at new avenues in to gifting with our Handmade and Handicraft products, Collaborations with various other partners and Consulting. 

How did your seed funding come along ?
Before taking the leap, i worked in the corporate sector for 5 years which helped me gain experience and also save. I used my personal savings from here to start my venture and boot strapped it. Its only now that i am seeking external funds. 

Who were your pillars of strength during trying times?
My parents have been the reason for where i am today professionally and otherwise. They have always supported me in my decisions and stood by me in good and tough times. 
I am fortunate to have met my husband, Kaustav, who changed my perceptions, broke mindsets and made me experience love and life. He is also my strongest critique which pushes me to get better at my game. Along with that, i am lucky to have a few close friends/mentors who just emerge from nowhere whenever i need them in life. 

Tell me more about "Something Else"  What do you offer?
Something Else is a #corporate gifting firm operational in Delhi and Mumbai catering to clients across India. We have a strong vendor base in North and West India and a steady stream of regular clients.

Our products range from Office Desktops to Promotional Products to Electronic products to Luxury Items and Gourmet Hampers to Handicrafts to Merchandise. 

Are you insured
I do have Health Insurance and a ULIP. I personally do not believe in Life Insurance
Do you invest? What are the avenues?
I started investing early on in life, which i feel is was a smart move i made courtesy my dad. I started my PPF account with in a year of starting work. It is a safe long term 15 year investment which gives best returns and tax saving. I also invest regularly in SIPs, Mutual Funds, Bonds and Fixed Deposits. 
For my company, i utilize Liquid Funds which i can access within 24 hours.
What are your long term goals? House/cars/vacations? 
I would like to have enough disposable income to live comfortably and be able to travel for atleast 15-20 days, twice a year. We also plan to have a cafe/ retreat in the hills somewhere in the long term. I also want to do philanthropic work for a few causes close to my heart.
Are you saving/investing for it? How?
I have been saving in various financial instruments but the key is to not just save more but rather create more wealth. I believe in creating multiple sources of income, both passive and active. My company currently is my active source of income. I am trying to create other sources through Writing, Public speaking and investing in property. 

Any message for the women investors?
Do thorough research from all sources, talk to people and get all facts together to form an opinion about any financial instrument before investing. A lot of times we tend to put our full faith in recommendations by people without fact checking ourselves. 

#womenentreupreneur #somethingelse #financialplanning #giftingideas

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