In a country, where women from reasonably well-to-do background are a graduate at least, we have thousands and thousands of women sitting at home, either never having considered a career, or taking a sabbatical. It is heart-warming then to read about many corporates trying to tap this resourceful lot, offering them good roles with the flexibility they need. We too, at Intuit Small Business India, recognize the need for women to carve out their own professional niche. Hence, starting this feature, we will run special features on those women who take over the dual roles of tending to their family as well as stepping into the big, uncertain world of entrepreneurship. The first in this series of feature is a play-school and activity-center in Powai (Mumbai) called GURUKUL. Niharika Jhangiani started it about 6 years back when her daughter got into regular school and she had a good six hours in her hands every morning!!! Being an alumnus from the renowned JJ School of Arts, Mumbai and an advance course in arts from USA helped. From a handful of students when she started to a full-grown school now, offering classes in play-school, nursery, junior KG, senior KG, dance, music, Yoga, Aerobics, Aerobics, Martial Arts, Drawing & Painting, Art & Craft, Theatre Workshops, Personality Development, Satsangs, Art of Living, Iskon, Senior Citizens, GURUKUL has come a long way.
We caught up with Niharika to find out about the trials and tribulations she weathered when she decided to venture out of her home: Why did you decide to start a play-school and an activity center? Being a student of Arts, I wanted to teach art and craft to interested students. Upon investigation, I found that there was no place where one could learn and develop various hobby interests in Powai, Mumbai. I started GURUKUL to fill this gap. Did you face any set-up issues? Oh, there were many – from availability of capital to challenges of a new environment — getting teachers with the right qualifications/background, reaching out to parents to enrol their wards. How did you manage the initial capital for the school? Since I had to purchase the property from where we operate, I sold off some of my personal investment in stocks. I also approached my family and friends for loans, which helped me kick-start the business. Now after 6 years of being in this business, I have been able to pay off the loans from the revenue I clocked. What have been your major challenges in running GURUKUL? Advertising and promotion, getting good teachers who stay nearby, teachers willing to go to teach children in their homes. How do you reach out to new contacts? We participate in various events in and around Powai in order to bring maximum visibility to GURUKUL. Emails, catalogues, hoarding and banners are the other tools that we depend upon for brand promotion. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? A website and a Facebook account is all that we have employed in terms of technology. This has enabled us greater visibility amongst our target audience and has helped in getting more enquiries. Finally, what are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Be passionate about your work. Do your best and leave the rest to God.