Chetana Anagol spent 13 years in Silicon Valley with various technical roles. She moved to India 2003 and joined America Online to support revenue operations.
She generated millions of dollars of revenue and was Vice President of Media supporting the US, APAC, and EU3 market audiences. She joined Ozone Media to head their Operations as Vice President and turned around their negative margins into 35%.
She started Stunnerhomes, a turn-key solution provider for construction where they offer architectural designs, structural engineering, and civil construction. She started the venture with her husband who is also a software engineer.
After moving to India, they met with several reputable architects who didn’t have time and mediocre ones who simply canned the designs to build their dream home.
So her husband built the home himself – designed it and built up a team. The house was show cased as “One of the best garden homes in India” by an MNC! So many NRI approached them to build their homes.
Chetana saw the opportunity and recognized her husband’s passion coupled with unique talent. She managed the operations and marketing while her husband focused on implementation.
Today, they’re one of the finest architectural and construction company and have architects with degrees from Spain working with them.
- What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?
One tends get limited by the vision, role, hierarchy, and structure in the corporate world. When you’re an entrepreneur, the only limitation you have is yourself! When you think about it, this is the most inspiring challenge for anyone who wants to explore their potential.
I’ve spent a long time in the corporate world in Silicon Valley as well as well as with MNC in India in leadership role and ran by unit like a start up. I loved it! While I didn’t always have the courage to break out of a smooth path of corporate ladder, I did know my free spirit and love to run a company of my own.
- When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?
When you start executing strategy to grow business with a singular focus and are ready to evolve, idea shape into a reality and conviction into a proof point!
- What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?
There’s nothing like being your own boss! It is the biggest motivating factor to be only limited by your own self rather than the boundaries established.
Some of the learning has been that if one believes in the potential, one must be persistent about addressing them rather than questioning the potential. Often people interpret difficulties as a faulty model but most of the time it is lack of persistence and ever-evolving approach that fails one.
- What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them?
Coming from a software background and moving into architectural and construction domain was a tough sale! In the US, this is considered dynamism and you often find psychology major to be programming!
In fact, Siliconeer in the Silicon Valley covered us as “From Bytes to Brick” after receiving an amazing input from some of the NRI customers for whom we had built homes in Bangalore.
But when you’re passionate, honest, and competent, there’s very little that stops you from succeeding.
- What are all the things that a woman entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?
Find the right complementary help even if it comes at a cost. Women are used to juggling many things and often don’t ask for help when needed. Business require multi-faced skills and when collaborating with the right people, you can jump start a business.
- Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?
Women entrepreneurs may find it tougher to get funding for their business as it requires the right contacts. Given men have been in the business world for a long time, they inherently have wider network that help them connect with the right contacts. Apart from that, women may be looked upon as someone with constraints and less serious about their business priorities.
- Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?
It sure can be helpful to have a right mentor to kick off a business. They tend to alert a person about potential risks and provide a balanced view on the value of the proposition. It helps to have strategic guidance and connections to make things move in the right direction.
- How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?
In architectural and construction industry where semi-professionals are also part of the team, it is a challenge to build up a team that is quality conscious and driven. But after a lot of hiring and firing, we’ve been able to build reliable teams.
- What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?
The 3 key things that I’ve learned are:
• Believe in yourself especially when you’re about to give up!
• Honesty and passion are amazing combination for word of mouth business!
• There is always a customer for what you are trying to sell—all you need to do is to find them or create them!
- How important is social media in building a business today? How has it played a role in helping you build yours?
Social media is a great channel to spread the word about your business. We are in the process of leveraging it.
- Can you share some tips for women entrepreneurs to maintain a balance between work and family life?
There’s no magic formula that can be defined to create a balance between work and family life. Each one of us has to decide for oneself about what’s important and what they want to achieve and proportionately devote the time and effort. But the balance can be struck for most part!