Helping them tell their story

Helping them tell their story


Helping them tell their story

If you have watched The Pitchers series by The Viral Fever Videos, chances are, you certainly didn’t miss out on the moment when the startup founders are told that they had a chance of being featured on YourStory.

Maybe, one can count that as a benchmark in the path of fame — when one’s entrepreneurial venture starts to find a place in youth entertainment — for better or for worse. And that is just tip of the iceberg for YourStory Media, one of India’s biggest platforms for entrepreneurs to share their startup stories. As for its founder and CEO Shradha Sharma, the learning curve never ceases.

From being one of the youngest assistant vice-presidents at CNBC TV 18, to being on the advisory board of the Bangalore Chapter of TechCrunch in 2013, Shrada has done it all. In 2010, she also won the Villgro Journalist of the Year Award and the Nasscom Ecosystem Evangelist Award. And all these laurels have come as a result of years of hard work, dedication and persistence.

Born and raised for the most part in Patna along with three sisters, Shradha grew up hearing a lot about “girls being problems.” It was certainly not the best of times, she concedes. She was a loner and there was not too much happiness around. “Which was probably why I can always relate to pain. But it is such difficulties, tragedies and challenges that shape you and make you who you are — tough and gritty,” she reasons.
Shradha went on to study in New Delhi and work as a media professional for a few years. It was during this time that she had the opportunity to interact with numerous people from different walks of life and learn and form ideas. An ambivert by nature, Shradha says she always had an inclination to do something different even as a student. She constantly felt that the media was not valuing news and she sensed that some stories were lost before their voices could be heard.

“Our stories are all so personal and universal at the same level. They deserve to be heard. It was then that I thought of leveraging my idea and turning it into a business,” she recounts.

But why document entrepreneurs and why not anyone else? “Well, I never really thought about it that way. These are words that are just coming up now. These were individuals who had stories to tell and who needed people to listen to them. They needed to share what they were doing and I decided to give them a stage to express themselves,” she reasons.

A true test

Shradha has much to say about the bustling startup scene in the country at the moment. “Running a business is like staring into a mirror all the time. It is a true test for yourself. In an organisation, you can hide behind hundreds of people. But with your own venture, it’s impossible,” she says.

Talking about her own journey as an entrepreneur, she says it gives her the
ability to impact people: “This is my quest for meaning. I love doing what I do. I’ll
admit it is extremely tough. But that’s where lies the fun. If I liked doing easy things, I wouldn’t be here.”

Of course, there’s no forgetting the added complex dimension of being a woman CEO. “Let no one fool you,” she avers candidly, “There are lonely and dark days, when you’re constantly questioning yourself. Your good gestures are sometimes misconstrued. People tend to think that there is some strategy behind it or that you’re not able enough to run your business.” And all this, despite YourStory having recently raised venture funding.
“But I have grown thick-skinned over the years and realised that being emotional is not the answer. After all, I like being positive. When I see startups by 80-year-olds and 20-year-olds alike, I feel associated with every one of these stories. They are a great way to show how we are all similar. Some people can’t express themselves too well. I believe in helping them do that and it gives me happiness. And positivity matters more than a trillion dollar evaluation,” she muses, poetically.

But she is also not someone to let go of pragmatism and lose touch with reality. Tread with caution, is what she hints at. “Passion can’t be the sole driving factor. If you are someone in your 40s and have several EMIs to pay, you need to have a solid plan for entrepreneurship,” she asserts.

Talk about the trite concept of work-life balance, and she says she has never been able to crack that line. “I barely dissociate myself from work. There is success and failure everywhere. And I am constantly thinking ‘What is it that we are going so mad for,’” she elaborates.

“When we wake up everyday, we have to make a choice. So, please stop cribbing about things not being in your favour and move on with your life. Don’t expect and always accept that people will judge you,” she offers, as we wrap up our conversation.

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