Swathi It is not so easy to fathom the hardwork and the struggles of the work that goes into building a start-up as we get to see or hear of those who have succeeded but very rarely hear of those who have started up and are trying to make it big despite numerous failures and struggles. Swathi after finishing her masters decided to start up a web designing company whose focus is all about, designing and marketing. She spoke to Chitra Saikumar on the difficult circumstances, monetary pressures and her efforts in launching the start-up, Akhara, and seeing it through On what led her to start the company “First of all, it all started vaguely. I just finished my masters and it was lock down time, my co-founder and I, we both are like friends, we wanted to start a business. What happened is we got a project by a customer and they first asked if we were freelancers and of course by the tone of it we understood that freelancers are not entertained. We said that, no, we are not freelancers. We have a company, we are going to start it and we are going to register it very soon. Back then we didn’t even have anything in place. Then slowly we just planned it out but however we were unable to get that project, but we thought we anyways register the company. Then, eventually we started it between August – September 2020.” On the monetary pressures “After having started up the business. Funding the start-up was not easy initially. I thought there has to be some funding and I thought I’ll do that but that didn’t work. I worked for four months and as I could not spend much time on our venture so I left the job. Initially I thought we would do a lot of branding projects, but since our investment very bare minimum we had to spend from each other’s pockets. It was all completely bootstrapped, so we thought we need to get a lot of the clients initially, to start to sustain the kind of monetary pressure. So, we took to digital marketing first and then we handled branding, video production, photo shoots, video shoots, a website, designing, which slowly came one after the other through contacts. We pitched for a lot of projects and then we got it and that’s how, we are doing a lot of things like printing and print related design. Our business is all about, designing and marketing for small and medium businesses. Word of mouth has really helped and right now we have more than 30 clients with us.” On the hurdles that she faced “In business initially you cannot expect anything and you shouldn’t and it is a really tough thing to handle people and it is all about people management and initially what happened is we had to work a lot. There are multiple things where we had to keep giving and working for in our business but we were not really rewarded, things like finances, talking to clients, interacting with the team etc. It was all more like giving all your energy, all your thoughts and all your ideas into the business but end of the day it is your business. That’s the, only satisfaction out of all the struggles, we just feel that it is ours and we are doing it for our baby. Definitely there is a lot of struggle. There is a lot of effort that goes into it, but end of the day, it’s a pressure. You cannot expect a lot of things in the start, and even if you get something, you will have to, again, put it back into the business. That is the satisfaction, but it is a very tough thing even now, even today I would say does it is just like what it was a year and a half back, we are still struggling.” Finding right talent key to success “We have a space we have been paying Rs 53,000 towards rent for the past four or five months and the team is expanding and we need more people, therefore, finding skilled people for a job is our first priority and then comes the finances. If you’re really confident about the work that they do, I don’t think money will matter so much, but of course, end of the day you have to have some money. Initially I think, building a startup itself, needs, right people and space and each of these I think are literally expensive.” “We need a way of getting a lot of clients. We need more people to handle it. The work from home was unexpected we were in a situation where we could not handle it and we had to come out, we have come out of it now. We are just planning to get out of that space. The work from home caused a lot of disturbance. This is what I was talking about. It’s not like anything major, but I think going one step or taking one step at a time is the best thing to do,” she signs off.