Strategy for Startups – An Upcoming and Insightful Mentoring Session

Is your product compelling enough to solve a real problem ?
Do you have enough users who care about what you have to offer ?
What problem are you solving for today’s users of your product
What in your product is truly differentiated in the market to solve this problem. Does it solve deep issues for your potential customers ?

– How is it different from what is already existing in the market ?

If one or more of these are part of what you are asking yourself OR you are looking for clarity, then join us
March 18th to triggert thought and have an insightful interactive discussion with one of our mentors Rakesh Mishra, Co- Founder and Director of Excubator

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Rakesh Mishra, Co-FOunder, Excubator



Rakesh Mishra is Co-Founder & Director at, an organisation that assists entrepreneurs and enterprises to multiply their business value and build world-class businesses. His area of specialisation are incubating advance technology based businesses, innovation portfolio management, technology research and delivery scale-up. Rakesh is also the co-founder of the PAN IIT nation building program ‘IIT Mentors’. He has been engaging with various IIT institutions and IIT alumni community as part of this program to develop the mentoring hubs across the country.

Rakesh brings 20+ years of industry experience that cuts across wide spectrum of industry verticals, technology platforms and geographies.
Rakesh is heading the HackSpace (AI-ML-IoT incubator) program at Excubator. He works very closely with Technology focused MNCs to help them evaluate and engage with innovative startups. Rakesh is advisor to SIDBI for their startup ecosystem development program and also leads platform initiative to collaborate with various central and state government bodies and industry bodies.

As a professional coach, Rakesh has touched lives many senior executives for assisting them with their personal development, job satisfaction challenges and corporate-to-startup transition readiness. Rakesh is recognized as one of the top Gamification experts in India. Rakesh is a graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

We are very happy to have Rakesh lead this discussion on March 18th, and open it up to you all to engage.

See you

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Chase excellence, and customers will chase you.


One of the biggest lessons I learnt early on in my career is that it is vital to be excellent in whatever you do.

This applies equally to any sphere of activity, anything that you do. I have observed (in my own life and in that of others) that it is important to first identify what you are good at, what you have a flair for and then simply keep getting better and better at it. This means that rather than take up many different things and try to do them all (and hope that you’d succeed in them and make money), it is better to sharpen your focus on the one or two things you can do well. The key word here is ‘focus’.

We live in times of overload. There is information overload, choice overload, competition overload, confusion overload, distraction overload, everything overload. And as God is my witness, there is mediocrity overload.

In this context, it is very easy to get railroaded by things that won’t really get you anywhere in life. It is also very easy to get lost in the sea of humanity.

Which is why it is important for us to beat this ‘overload’ tendency by focusing. By saying a loud ‘NO’ to anything that doesn’t make sense to us.

In these times of overload, the only way to stand out is to specialize in something, become the expert in something. This is all the more relevant for an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurs have to hustle, irrespective of what they offer – hustling is a reality for us. But, it is important to hustle on the bedrock of domain expertise. You may be offering financial consulting, software products, landscaping, catering, fashion accessories, sports equipment, whatever.

The point is, are you a specialist, an expert in your field?

If your answer to this question is ‘yes’, you have a great chance of differentiating yourself from the crowd.

You can command a price premium from your customers with great confidence; your customers are more likely to keep coming back to you and to refer you to people they know. All this will positively impact your venture.

But, if your answer to the question is ‘no’, you have some more ground work to do. You have to learn some more, speak to experts in the field, take more customer feedback about your offering – in a nutshell, you have to upgrade yourself and your offering.

To summarise: ‘Pursue excellence in your field. And customers will automatically start pursuing you.’


Ganesh Vancheeswaran is co-founder of Vibha Women. He is also an author, branding specialist, freespirit, mountain man and occasional nitwit.

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Owning It – It really is More Than a Title

Should leaders ( everyone is a leader in their own right. Anything we are responsible for, turns out, it becomes ours to own, ours to deliver and ours to also learn from ) be OK NOT KNOWING ?

I mean, we are living in a day and age where fundamentals in business and / or even in a corporate setting can make our lives easier if we equipped ourselves with ‘knowing the HOW TO…’

Whenever I hear folks say – I don’t know and walk away, to me that tells me
– This thing you’re doing? It just isn’t THAT important to you
– You wanna pass the buck on
– You think you’re ABOVE it ( Heaven knows how – pun intended )

And then we whine, complain and shout from the rooftops about how ‘ Noone’s helping me’.

Are you serious???

If this ‘thing’ really really matters enough
– You WILL make it happen
– You will learn
– You will not be ashamed to say , ‘ I DON’T KNOW’
– You will push yourself out there to get the job done

Some of you reading this might think this sounds pretty dictatorial. It’s cool. i’ve really been labelled worse…

But, palming off a job, procrastination and just plain ol’ shoddy work is just unimpressive.

I think as entrepreneurs, we are responsible 24/7.

Because its ours.
Because we wanted it bad enough to get it off the ground.
And because we owe it to ourselves to finish what we started.



The author, Caroline Fernandes, is an Educationist and Social Entrepreneur

twitter: Carolinevibha

Caroline Fernandes

Seriously, Intelligence is Over-Rated.

I used to wonder where the point of getting good to great would happen.

I mean, how do you know when you’re getting really really good at what you’re doing?

Simple. You’ll find people, a steadily growing number of them actually, will want to meet you. Not because you’re known or something, and yeah, that happens to happen anyway, but because what you do is getting the results people want.


So, we are seeing a lot of tense hesitation with women when they transition between where they are, to where they need to be. The Real versus the Ideal states.

We find that all this is to a very large extent, a state of mind.

Through our interviews, discussions, coaching and events, more and more we are realizing women do not take the step into the unknown, simply because it’s the unknown.

Sure, you’re probably thinking how is this different from the way men think, correct?

Correct. To look at it from the surface it is human nature to resist change and resist it we will. Excuses, delays, avoidance and denial flood our minds and stop us dead in our tracks, sometimes self-indulgence in opting to be mentally paralyzed too.

But, studies have shown that when it comes t0 us women, these challenges tend to take on a slightly if not grossly skewed shape. We have a gender based lens that enables us to perceive events that lead us to go into self- deprecation. We bring ourselves down, and filter situations from this world view.

In due course this takes us into a loop which stops us from progressing to getting to that ‘ really really good space’ aka, becoming experts at what we do.

Some of of the basics that can incrementally lead to disengaging this thought process are:

  1. Developing a clear Leadership Vision
  2. Self- Confidence Building
  3. Understanding what Success Means to us
  4. Networking
  5. Influencing and negotiating
  6. Others

We invite yoou to take notice of the fact that core skills around what you do have consciously not been mentioned here, as we consider that a given for success.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we at #VibhaWomen plan on addressing these facets via our workshops that will work in tandem with more sharing of thoughts and experiences that you can read here as well.


Join us either at our workshops or read more about this here shortly.

We also invite you to share your own thoughts around this.

More to follow, see ya soon.


The author is an Educationist, Social Entrepreneur and Coach

Twitter: #CarolineVibha

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #carolinecaresfernandes

Caroline Cares Fernandes

Coaching is Much Deeper Than You Think!

Coaching is focused on enabling you to get a grip on your self, gain more and more clarity about what you want ( career goals) and then..the most valuable part of the master plan
Actioning everything you outline in your framework!
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Do not assume that a coach is some random image consultant who helps you with your hair and make-up and gets you all ‘poised’ for success
😦 Such a disappointing reputation some folks have built around this heavily responsible role.
Events are doled out by the dozen, but carry nothing fleshy in it. facades are great to show, but they will eventually crash if substance is missing.
Your name and reputation will carry you only that much farther, until people begin to see through the cracks and holes!!
And yes.
A coach can listen to your troubles ( personal woes and downfalls) -but only for the first leg of the process. No wallowing, it’s just not done!
Your coach has a responsibility to ensure you KEEP GOING!
That you are on track, no matter what!
And that you will carefully, patiently stay the course everyday!
Take sports and coaching and you will associate a person who is there to get your prepped, help you stay focused and make sure your thoughts and actions are goal- oriented!
Don’t you think your careers and business ventures need that ?
Don’t you think you as an entrepreneur need that too?
There is nothing frivolous about the role a coach plays in your life and for your career- growth !
Take yourself seriously – things will materialize ! 🙂
The author is a Coach and Educationist
twitter: CarolineVibha
Caroline Fernandes

Dear young mom, are you actually a barren woman?

To celebrate this month of Being a Woman, Vibha Women’s Co-Founder, Ganesh Vancheeswaran has captured a topic which to me, spells what quite a few of us women folk experience sometimes ( hopefully a phase that’s passing)! After all, it’s in a  state of mind 🙂






While motherhood involves many sacrifices, it definitely does not mean giving up on yourself. But, that is exactly what many women have done.

This Woman’s Day, do you want to change something about yourself?

Ramya opens the door to her flat to let me in. She is glad to see me. She is an old acquaintance, who I was meeting after nearly six months. Though we had never been close friends, we were good acquaintances. We had gotten to know each other well when we lived in the same colony for three years. I remember her as a spunky girl, filled with a zest for life. Outside of her job as an architect, she was keen on a bunch of things like trekking, dancing and cycling. Why, she even used to find time every week to volunteer at a small school in our locality!

When she got married, she moved away to another part of town. But we continued to be in touch, meeting off and on. I had met her husband too on a few occasions. A pleasant chap with a ready smile, I remember telling myself.

Some work has taken me to her neighbourhood today. I remember that she lives in the area and think it’ll be good to catch up with her.

I call, she answers and says ‘yes of course, you must come over’. And so, here I am at her flat.

As the door opens, I am puzzled. The woman at the door looks so different from the Ramya I know. For a few seconds, I actually wonder if this is she at all. Gone are her hallmark features: a wide smile, a face brimming over with vitality and a very eager manner. In their stead, I see a woman who has lost weight to the point of looking skinny, a tired face, drooping shoulders and a look that can only be described as ‘drained’. In short, I see a listless woman who is making a brave attempt at smiling.

My mind is in a daze. I hope she doesn’t read the shock on my face.

We get talking. She tells me that her husband is at work and is expected home any time now. He works for a leading construction firm and is doing well in his career. He is ambitious, spends long hours at work and frequently brings work home too. I notice that our conversation is disjointed. While she is talking to me, she is also feeding her son, who is about six years old. She answers me in short sentences, looking distracted all the time. Sometimes, she doesn’t even look at me as she answers. Her eyes constantly flit from my face to her son – to her maid who is dusting something – to the clock and then back to her son……And all the while, she is talking. I have the surreal feeling that she is addressing several other people in the room.

Ramya tells me that she took a year-long maternity break and then got back to work. But, when her relatives and a few friends started questioning her decision (‘Are you sure about this?’ ‘But what about the child? How can you leave him and go to work?’), she started feeling extremely guilty. And when she could not take it anymore, she quit her job and turned housewife. Ever since, she has hardly stepped out of home, spending all the time looking after the child, the husband and the house.

I think to myself ‘No wonder you look like this. You need some fresh air, girl.’ But I refrain from voicing my thoughts, because after all, I don’t know her too well. Something tells me this is her personal space…and I am not close enough to go there.

A little later, I ask her ‘You are looking tired and weak. What’s up?’ She shrugs her shoulders and mumbles ‘Oh, nothing. Aise hi yaar.’ After that, the conversation goes something like this:

Me:  ‘But you used to be very healthy. You have gone pale and look weak. The change is pretty dramatic.’

She: ‘Really? I hadn’t noticed.’ A short pause and then ‘But, I am feeling ok; so, chalega.’

Me: ‘Did you have lunch?’

She: ‘Of course. A paratha.’

Me: ‘Just that? But how will that be enough?’

She: ‘Oh, it is enough. Anyway, who notices yaar?  One eats whatever is there. I had so much to do today, you know? Fold clothes, buy groceries, pay some bills…. and then, this little fellow woke up. In between all this, I just didn’t get the time to eat properly.’

Me: ‘But you can eat after you have taken care of your son. After all, he is what…six years old now? He’ll keep playing as you eat. Or, your maid can be with him for some time.’

She (with an extremely unconvinced look): ‘Yeah, I know. But Mayank really needs me. How can I leave him alone or with the maid?’

Me (it is my turn to look unconvinced now, but I let it go and change the topic): ‘We are off for a fortnight from Friday. As soon as we return, you must come home. Charu (my wife) will be happy to see you too.’

She (surprised): ‘Oh. Where are you guys going?’

Me: ‘To a place called Fort Kochi and from there, to Thenmala. It is a beautiful hamlet up in the hills of Kerala.’

She (with a wistful look washing over her face): ‘Wow. Sounds like fun. Wish I could come with you too.’

A small pause later, she continues ‘You guys just up and go on the spur of the moment. I love that. I often tell my husband about this habit of yours. I wish we too could be that way.’

I smile in a slightly embarrassed manner and say: ‘But you too can be just like this, you know. It is not as difficult as it seems to you. You just have to allow yourself to take these breaks. ’

She (lost in thought): ‘Hmm….but somehow, we are just not able to do it.’

By now, she looks positively distraught. I sense her dilemma and don’t want to rub it in. I talk about this and that for a few more minutes. Just as I am about to leave, her husband Amit walks in. We shake hands and I stay back, talking to him for a few more minutes.

As I finally leave, Ramya says to me earnestly ‘Call me when you folks return from your vacation. I will surely come over to your place. We could even do lunch somewhere and catch a film.’ Her face lights up as she says this, but I feel a pang of I don’t know what. I say ok.

As I drive back home, I am deeply disturbed by what I have seen and felt at Ramya’s place. Her hunched shoulders, drawn face and sober tone flash past in my mind. Something is very wrong with her. Her entire personality had changed for the worse. She seems to have just collapsed into herself! Deep at heart, I know what the reason is.

She is obsessed with her role as a mother and as a wife, and has stopped thinking of herself as an individual. It started off because her relatives and friends thrust upon her a sense of guilt which she did not probably feel herself. But then, the sense of guilt seemed to have grown on her like a cloak, covering her completely and masking her true self – the woman she really was.

And perhaps, over a period of time, she grew used to being like this…and had slowly degenerated into a zombie state. In a sense, she lost her emotional and mental fertility – and become a barren woman.

And for this, I would not blame her husband or anybody else. Amit was not a tyrant who insisted that his wife sacrifice herself for her home and hearth. On the contrary, I know that he often asks Ramya to take it easy and to go out once in a while. He has even asked her to get back to work if she wants to.

But, she has been stopping herself from doing any of this.

I have seen this happen to other women – friends, cousins, neighbours in my colony. All of them seem to have gone into a shell after the birth of their child (or children, in the case of some) and have simply forgotten how to laugh and enjoy life. They rarely step out of home, other than to take the child down to play. There is no question of watching a movie, getting together with friends, hitting a pub or going out of town on a break. In short, none of the things a normal, healthy, self-respecting adult would want to do.

It is as though, in becoming a mother and a wife, they have forgotten to be themselves. They have forgotten the women in them. Which is such a tragedy!

Dear young mother reading this, do you see a Ramya in yourself? Have you too forgotten the woman in you? Are you too leading the life of a zombie? Are you taking your ‘job’ as mother and wife too seriously? Scandalous as it may sound, perhaps you have become a barren woman?

This Woman’s Day, how about breaking out of it and rediscovering yourself?

How about rediscovering the multi-hued joys of life? How about realizing that while motherhood and wifehood involve many sacrifices, they definitely do not ask you to sacrifice yourself? How about getting back to your passions in life? How about chasing that long-forgotten dream again? How about becoming mentally and emotionally fertile again?

In other words, how about finding the woman in you again?



Do check out this nice article here:







More on Ganesh and one of his writing blogs :  You can find my writings at and connect with me on Facebook at


My life’s been a series of serendipitous incidents that way!

As luck would have it, this fine lady has probably been at the right place, at the right time !

Say what you will, but to me, it’s an artistic blend of what you see in front of you and how you choose to respond 🙂

It’s interesting how perception shapes our reality.

When we absolutely love what we do, it sure does Nithya.jpg

seem to enable us to open our eyes to a world of possibility!

Meet Nithya David and read on to know more about her:

‘  I started my career in advertising account management with JWT Chennai, handling mainly Lifestyle and Pepsi businesses. My passion and dedication to the Lifestyle brand, displayed during their Bangalore store launch, caught the eye of Mickey Jagtiani, the founder of Landmark Group. I was offered a Marketing Manager–GCC role with Landmark Group in Dubai. After a couple of years with them, I was back in Bangalore with Ogilvy & Mather. Another chance encounter with Shekhar Kapur (the director) led to a marketing job with Gotham Comics.’

On Starting Upstream

I’d always wanted to do something on my own, and had always dreamed of starting my own company by the age of 30. So I guess the universe just conspired to make it happen for me. Only, I thought my enterprise would be in the retail/fashion space. I have no background in HR but I have extremely good networking skills and unbridled passion for anything that I do. In short, the craving for independence combined with ambition resulted in Upstream.

On Target Customers

Upstream is a talent recruitment firm. It was started in 2007. We do placements for advertising agencies and corporate houses across India.

Our target customers are two-fold: qualified personnel and corporate houses who are looking at a right fit both ways. My job is to understand the requirements at both ends and match them.

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On Taking Initiative in the face of Challenges

First, the perception of this business itself. People think this is just a hook-up job, and the existing recritment firms are largely to blame for this image. They are neither well-versed in the functions of advertising and marketing and end up just supplying ‘people’.

I go a little deeper, and sometimes I can sense annoyance at the other end. But unless I am convinced, there is no way I will pass on a talent to the organisation. Even after that kind of screening, you end up placing someone who hops to another job too soon.

The industry is filled with such job-hoppers who move from organisation to organisation in search of more money and better designations. Perseverance is rare in this business. The sad part is, even organisations don’t curb this itch to hop. And that happens because skilled talent is in such short supply  especially when it comes to advertising.

On Marketing

My business relies completely on word-of-mouth and references.

On Inspiration 

Schuana Chauhan, Head of Parle Agro is an inspiration and so is Indira Nooyi, Chairperson and chief executive office of PepsiCo.

On Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Not really advice, but some directions:

–  Never never let go : It’s going to be an extremely tough ride. But remember, if it doesn’t kill you, it will only make you stronger.

– Always keep your eyes and ears open. Life is series of opportunities strung together and do not miss even the smallest one.

– Trust your instincts – Being an entrepreneur  is like venturing into the unknown. And in such times, your instincts are sharper. Trust them blindly. If you allow your instincts to guide you, there is no way you’ll fail.

Wanna know more  about Nithya? Here’s how you can explore:

Website link –

Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin/Pinterest/Google+ links

Email/Phone number for Business enquiries – 9900822077 –


The author is a Social Entrepreneur and Learner

Twitter: CarolineVibha