What is the main idea and inspiration behind the Women’s Web?
The idea behind the Women’s Web was that there is a need for an online space that reflects the reality of today’s Indian women. I found that the women’s magazines available online (and in print, for that matter) have a very narrow focus – beauty products, weight loss, celebrity gossip – these seem to be the staples.
Yet, from the interaction on my personal blog and that on many other women’s blogs, I knew that Indian women are interested in so many, many other things.
Women are entering the organized workforce in large numbers, and this is changing a lot of things in urban women’s lives. Then there are other things that mean a lot to us – parenting, health, social issues, finances, “me-time” with books….Women’s Web is meant to cater to these diverse interests and provide interesting, thoughtful, informative content.
Who are the others on the team and how did you decide to get together on this?
I am the sole founder. Ideally, I would have liked a partner to start the business with; I do think that founding teams with 2-3 members bringing in complementary skills works well. It’s also helpful to have a sounding board for decisions and ideas.
For various reasons, this didn’t happen for me, and I didn’t want to wait indefinitely or launch with a partner that I didn’t know well enough. So I decided to plunge ahead.
Today, we are a 2-member core team (our second employee is Anne John, a software engineer turned writer, who is now Women’s Web’s Content Manager) and of course, the larger team consists of a number of writers and bloggers, many of whom have supported us right from the beginning – not just with their work, but with encouragement and ideas.
Did you study or scope out the market first to see if your idea had legs? Please explain your approach.
To be honest, I didn’t do a full-scale study. I did do some analysis on the content available on competing sites and their visitor statistics and any other such information available. I also did small online surveys to understand more about the kind of content that my audience would appreciate.
I also spoke to people with experience in the digital content business to understand the challenges from a revenue perspective – and I’ve never been under the assumption that this will be easy!
What were the main challenges you faced in starting this venture?
The biggest challenges were in terms of technology – and simply getting the site built. Most digital businesses have at least one founder with a programming/tech background; we didn’t. This resulted in getting taken for a ride by vendors and also being unable to really check the quality of work.
I learnt that it is not good enough to just go with people you know; it is important to define your requirements very well, set clear milestones and link them to payments or other incentives.
Due to me not being a hands-on tech person, we did have situations in the first year where we would do something, and then end up spending the next 3 months rectifying the issues with it! For a small team, this means valuable time that could have been spent on monetization. Thankfully, after a process of trial and error, we have finally found a capable tech team that we can trust.
How did you handle your financing needs, if any?
I’ve been fairly prudent with money throughout my career – and on my dad’s advice (rather, insistence!), started saving when I began working at the age of 22. I was thus able to draw on some of my savings as well as the PF monies that I encashed on quitting the corporate world.
What are your growth plans for the upcoming year?
We have two priorities; we really want to take the site to a much larger number of readers; we know from reader feedback that our regular readers love our work and feel that it is truly relevant to their lives, but there is scope to reach a much larger audience. Secondly, we need to work much harder on the monetization. Both these are very closely linked.
Any words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Becoming an entrepreneur is going to change your life in many ways – and in the Indian context, ‘doing your own thing’ is not always seen positively. If you are going to judge yourself against your peers and what they are making/which car they are driving, don’t do it. It’s not that your business won’t make money, but until it does, the road is tough – mentally.
Also, it helps to have the support of your spouse, if you are married – my husband has been one of Women’s Web’s strongest supporters (I call him my publicist!) and his belief that I am doing something valuable strengthens my own belief in it.
I’d go so far as to say that besides all the actual work you need to put in, the biggest challenges are mental. You can never really tell until you jump in, but do ask yourself if you’re the kind of person who can stand the anxiety and pressure. Website: www.womensweb.in