Stubborn entrepreneurship is all about "breaking barriers" at every step.
I would like to share the story of a little girl.
She has been born and brought up in a small village where her father runs a small flour mill.
It brings tears to her eyes when she sees her father lifting heavy stuff each day. She never saw her father taking a day off from work but always saw him smiling around her. Each drop of sweat rolling down the cheeks of her father crushes her heart million times.
Every passing day raises the same set of questions in her mind.
How can she ease the physical pain of her father?
How can she bring all the happiness of the universe to his feet?
How can she make her father proud of herself as a daughter?
The family spent all the money earned in her education. Took loans when possible but supported her way beyond their capabilities. She was always one of the richest girls in her class when it comes to the number of books a student possess.
She commuted 150Kms daily for her higher education.Many times when she travels from home to her university, if the fare of the bus is Rs.20, she carries Rs.20 only.While in university pursuing her higher education, she came closer to better educational facilities especially the internet, she soon realized that education can transform her life and all lives associated with her.
She was amongst the handful students who couldn’t afford the college fee while studying and only submitted their college fee after completing their MBA.
However, that didn’t stop her from becoming topper of the university. She secured great jobs, earning up to Rs.50,000/- per month, but her vision was grandest.
Situations in her life, triggered her senses emotionally and there she stepped into entrepreneurship leaving the lucrative job behind.
I would like all of you to meet that girl and cheer her up.
That girl is me and the name of the village is Tangra.
The hottest rays of the sun cannot evaporate the oceans and even the strongest storms cannot move the mountains. Entrepreneurs should be like oceans and mountains. Entrepreneurs should be stubborn.
Stubborn entrepreneurs should be those courageous leaders who say “Yes” when the situation says “No”.
Failure is a man-made word. Some have named it and have put down in the dictionary and the world started believing it. There are only experiences, good and bad, both contribute equally to your growth. What matters most in your life is what you have achieved and not what you have earned in the materialistic world around you. Stubborn entrepreneurs do not believe in failures and giving up.
They run, they walk, they crawl and sometimes in life they even halt, but they never look back.
Stubborn entrepreneurs step forward every time they fall.
(The above image has not been used for TEDx presentation as per TEDx rules. This image is strictly for the article to be published on my personal social accounts.)
I and my team are proud founders of our first venture Simbacart an e-commerce portal focusing primarily on high-quality footwear. My husband stays in the US supporting me in growing my venture rapidly here in India. When everybody said NO I said YES. Society flooded my life with awkward questions like, Why don’t you stay with your husband in the US? Why don’t you move to the US? Don't you love your husband? To ignore is important. I feel as I can’t expect others to share my vision. Despite being bombarded with these questions I still chose entrepreneurship, that’s a social challenge for me.
Simbacart has been totally bootstrapped. All the banks ignored my loan requests because as women I do not have any collateral on my name, neither do I have any inherited property to lease. I managed to survive and running my business
successfully for the last 3 years without any substantial help of any bank or investor.
I firmly believe when you have passion everything falls in place. In the very first year, Simbacart did sales amounting to nearly Rs.1 crore. The following year we tried to scale up our business by collaborating with two local investors. The scaling up didn’t go well due to lack of vision and patience of the investors. We faced a major setback in the business where sales rolled down to just half, I was shattered and badly opposed by immediate family and even my employees didn’t believe in me as an entrepreneur.
I lost 90% of my contacts due to my steps into entrepreneurship. I lost the closest relations, my friends, my cousins. The journey was real challenging, still, I strongly felt that when no one is with you, you still have a complete you with you. I didn’t give up, I stood by myself. When everybody said No I said Yes. I still pursued my dream I still believed in my venture.
I re-strategized our business by moving away from a city with expensive staff to maintain to a rural location where I was born and brought up. From a staff of more than 20 only one employee joined me back in the village. Everybody opposed my decision of choosing the location. There were no shipping companies serving my location and there was minimal to no internet connectivity. However, it proved to be a blessing as we were successful in training rural youth and convincing major brands for offering us shipping and internet services in the village. We revived the venture successfully.
In year three of business in August 2016, Simbacart has been awarded as the upcoming startup of the year 2016 by ASSOCHAM India, A big achievement for all of us.
Currently, Simbacart is serving 750+ locations all over the India, we have successfully processed more than 30,000 orders till date and have nearly two lac followers on Facebook.
We expect the fragrance of a rose from a rose and we expect the taste of an apple from an apple then why don’t we expect humanity from the human. For me being closer to humanity triggers me to be a stubborn entrepreneur.Every drop of sweat of my father fuelled me to give my best.It is very important to have such triggers in life which touch your senses and motivates you to perform and shine like a star.
Simbacart is social in every way. The core products we sell are footwear, greeting cards, and cushions. One common characteristic of all the products we sell is, they are all handcrafted. All campaigns and tasks are positioned around the tagline “More Smiles each Day”. How we source? We check if vendors, from where we are sourcing shoe are in real need of business. We observed a lot of shoemakers in various parts of the country make shoes at their home and earn their livelihood.
Simbacart is all focused on increasing the income of such vendors. We also help vendors to purchase raw material and then make the shoe for us. We are successful in adding smiles to their lives. Simbacart also empowered women talent by starting a range of handmade greeting cards and handmade cushions.
We are based out of small village Tangra in Punjab and we trust rural talent. We train youth for long and then hire them. Surprisingly, no e-commerce company serves our village and delivers cash on delivery order, but, my team is running a full-fledged e-commerce business from a remote location. A team who themselves never received a cash on the delivery order. They learn and make presentations. They are confident. They are happy. I as the stubborn entrepreneur is successful to meet my objective of spreading more smiles each day by generating employment for the youth in my village.
Giving back to the society, corporate social responsibility is the commonly used term. However, for Simbacart it is “More Smiles Each Day” campaigns. Simbacart continuously conducts shoe donation campaigns in rural. Till now we have donated 2000+ pairs of shoes in elementary schools, NGOs, and slums. With each purchase our customers do, we pledge to spread more smiles. We run “footprints of kindness” campaigns. Our employees actively participate in all campaigns, thus making Simbacart one of the most happening organization. Our social initiatives gave birth to a new venture Smiles.Care an NGO initiative with a theme “We Inspire Humanity”.
Smiles.Care is focusing on two objectives – Education and Health Facilities. Smiles.Care is currently running two evening schools, in two separate villages, teaching English and computer skills to more than 150 kids. We take care of their books, notebooks, and stationary items. Smiles.Care is also focusing on health facilities in rural.
I would like to share a small incident that touched me deeply. I went to the washroom of my ngo and saw two little girls completely filled with foam of the soap on their hands, arms, face and feet. I asked them “Don’t you have soap at your home? “They innocently replied, “No Madam, we do not have”. My heart repented “Why did I even asked such a question”? Sitting in our offices we cannot imagine what the world is going through and how fortunate we are? Smiles.Care
continuously conducts food donation campaigns, health check-up campaigns, and eye check-ups campaigns. Recently we did cancer check-up campaign where more than 1000 people were benefitted. I would like to show you one-minute video on Smiles.Care
I hope the video touched your heart. As being closer to humanity triggers me to be the stubborn entrepreneur and bring change to the lives of fellow human beings, who need our help. Look for your trigger in your life. Enjoy being stubborn! Here you go!
My honest writings
Mandeep Kaur Sidhu