Infinite Mobility Tech is a startup based in the small town of Bhilwara, Rajasthan, founded by Dr. Shashi Pandey and her mother, in May 2015. It has achieved a business revenue of over Rupees 2 crore in under a year. Their startup is unique because the women founders happen to be a Mother-Daughter duo in real life.
Both, mother and daughter, were in the teaching profession. Her mother retired from a Government primary school in the small town of Haldwani, Uttarakhand, India in the year 2000 and learned about computers and technology in her spare time after retirement.
Her daughter, Dr. Shashi Pandey, a full time college professor, was enthusiastic about technology and entrepreneurship, and eagerly supported her. They are living proof that small town dreams can become a reality, and that gender and age are not a bar to start a new venture, execute one’s ideas and achieve one’s dreams.
Within 10 months of starting their venture, they employed over 18 people and are already planning to expand to other locations. Their employee strength, client base, revenue and profit is increasing day by day.
Another unique fact about Infinite Mobility is that it prefers to employ retired individuals, women and individuals who need help in terms of finding a job. Infinite Mobility trained them making it a win-win situation for both them and their employees.
The Directors’ vast teaching experience and passion for entrepreneurship works in their favour. Until now, they have bootstrapped their venture and plan to raise funds in the future.
Naaree.com interviewed Dr. Shashi Pandey, Director, Infinite Mobility Tech, to learn more about her motivations and aspirations.
What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?
During one of Ijja’s (my mother’s) visit to my brother in the United States, while surfing on internet and checking her emails, she noticed some random messages, videos, pop-ups and some software flashes on her computer screen and smart phone.
That drew her attention and this motivated her to research more into this phenomenon. In this way, she managed to learn more about the business of digital marketing and advertising.
Being enthusiastic about technology, and being excellent in Mathematics and Economics, she now wanted to understand the monetization behind this.
She had a word with me and I, in turn, asked my son, Eeshan, about it. Luckily, he is a media professional and told us all the nitty gritties of the digital media industry finally we both landed up in partnership in business of digital advertising and software development.
I always wanted to start something of my own and so was the dream of my mother. Being educationists, we soon came up with a great product in the field of education and another in the healthcare domain.
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?
Initially, everything looked like a piece of cake to us, but when we started digging deeper, we came to know that things are not that easy to execute, as digital media is a comparatively new field and there is a shortage of trained professionals who can help us start when we ourselves are new to it.
At that time, we got support from my son and my brother, Neeraj, who is a software professional and is settled in the United States. They helped us to draw an outline of our business idea and hire a team which would realize our dream.
What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?
Entrepreneurship means a lot for both of us. It’s a real test of our execution skill. We’re sure, every one want to do something valuable all the time. But when it’s comes to execution, 80% quit, and out of 20% who tries, around 18% fails and only 1-2% get success.
We both wanted to convert our experience and skills to success, so our goals were always clear, and it is just the journey which we are travelling along and enjoying.
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?
When you’re a woman, the first question which comes up is, “Are you serious?” Actually it depends on ones’ family values and background. Here we are both lucky to come from the same family values. Our family is educated and liberal.
Still I can say, in our case, people listened to us, participated in the ideas, talks, and took part in discussions. But at the time of execution, they’ll say, “Are you serious about it?” At that time I realized that others were not very confident about us.
Convincing people around was a real challenge. And then the age at which we started was bit challenging. At my mother’s age people expect you to rest, sit home and relax.
The challenges added much more spice when you’re a retired woman and show willingness to work after 15 years of your retirement. I had full confidence in myself and the team to be able to execute the idea and convince everyone. And at the end we were successful.
What are all the things that a woman entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? Apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?
Just one thing, “TRUST YOURSELF”. If you are convinced with your own idea and have trust in yourself then you have won half the battle.
Another thing to be taken care of is hiring the initial team. The people who join you in the beginning are the ones whom you have to rely the most and that’s why, they should be trustworthy.
Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?
Since we didn’t have any angel investor/s, making the cash flow work was a tough job. The reason was obvious – no one wanted to invest in new company like us, whose founders are not so well trained or founders are just learners. Add in the age factor, and above all, being WOMEN.
Fortunately our financial management worked well. We implemented reverse engineering in the traditional business. We hired a finance person first, and trained him for digital marketing. Then we start hiring Project Managers and then executives.
Our toughest moment came when we hired a software developer on a much higher salary package than his caliber and that didn’t work out, and he left the company in frustration of underperforming.
Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?
I believe, Yes. Every individual need to have mentors, because at every instance you need to have someone who is there to give an honest opinion about things. In my case, my husband, my son and my brother played the role very well. My husband has played a tremendous role in acting as the company’s financial advisor.
On the other hand, my brother and son took a keen interest in helping me set up the operational processes. A mentor brings with him the experience and the advice which is always worth following.
How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?
We implemented reverse engineering to hire the team. We cherry picked the team which was new to the digital world but had a keen interest in learning.
Initially, it was difficult to bring people to the same pace of thinking as we have but once it was done, everything else became automatic.
What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?
Ahh, I can mention 300 here.
1. KEEP TALKING!
The more people you share your vision with, the more people will know what you’re doing, and the easier it will be for you to connect to those who share your ideas and believe in you.
Another benefit of talking about your plans is getting feedback and helping you refine your ideas and business plan to make them even better.
2. ASK FOR FAVORS
Most of us have a lot of pride and feel uncomfortable about asking for favors. We don’t want to come off as needy. We don’t want to burden people. I get it.
Opportunities aren’t just going to land in your lap. You won’t get any thing unless you ask for it. What’s the worst that can happen, someone says no? Ok, so they say no. But, at least you will have the confidence that you tried your level best.
Sometimes the best connections are forged in the strangest ways – don’t miss your chance to find yours.
3. KEEP GOING WITH THE FLOW
Keep going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and trying your best every day. The beginning is always the hardest. However, I know that if you go after your dreams full force, you will be rewarded with something extraordinary along the way.
Without great risk, there would be no great reward. I hope our story inspires others to follow their passions and create that career they’ve always felt was right for them. Your dreams can become reality.
What would you describe as your biggest moments of success in your business?
Both of us believe there’s always room for learning in every work one initiates.
Since we are the pioneer entrepreneurs in the family, the path was never a bed of roses for both of us.
Thinking of ideas is easy but the implementation part is not that smooth. We talk and discuss ways to move forward and involve other persons in the family who could help us to find right resources to proceed further.
We’re hiring and training mainly women and retired people. Trying to train them and utilize them as per our company’s culture. We’re open to hiring from any field of occupation and take the responsibility to train them.
We both believe there’s an engineer hidden in every person.
Like us, we’re family engineers. But we are excelling in the technology business as well. So our theory is, everyone is an engineer. We polish them and make them skilled person for us.
Any individual who know how to use computer (even a little bit), we consider him\her as great useful asset for us. It is always a pleasure to see a sincere team working to make the organization big.