A quest to discover new places to eat and visit in New Delhi made an entrepreneur out of Suchita Salwan. When she found herself bored of visiting the same old restaurants, bars, with the same people, the idea of providing a service which brings to you what’s new in your city started taking shape. And thus her venture was established-Little Black Book or LLB, a one-stop guide to everything a city has to offer, be it food, shopping or entertainment. LBB covers you in Delhi, NCR and Bengaluru. With the company recently receiving an investment of 1.2 million dollars from IDG Ventures India and Indian Angel Network, there seems to be nothing stopping Salwan. In this chat with Ria Das of SheThePeople.TV, she talks about her entrepreneurship journey.
Entrepreneurship was born out of a personal need
I was born and brought up in Delhi. I went to Hindu College to study Economics as a part of my undergrad, but I always had a more creative bent of mind, and wanted to work with companies that helped me explore that part of me. After College, I worked with Wizcraft for a year and then the BBC for a couple of years. My experience with Wizcraft on the opening and closing ceremony of CWG where I worked with a cast and crew of over 14,000 people was an overwhelming experience. But I learned a lot about what it takes to operate an experience at scale. My work at the BBC was very challenging, as I was a part of a 2 member team that led Marketing and Communications for BBC’s newly launched channel. I wasn’t from the TV industry, so I had to spend a lot of time understanding the nuances of distribution, programming, and driving social media engagement and PR for a TV channel.
My experience with Wizcraft on the opening and closing ceremony of CWG where I worked with a cast and crew of over 14,000 people was an overwhelming experience.
I started LBB while I was with the BBC. I never really woke up one day thinking “I want to be an entrepreneur”. It just so happened that I started something to address a personal need- How do I find things to do in my city? And I find this need resonating with 600,000 people every month, in Delhi and Bangalore. I think when you really believe in something, and see your colleagues, and users love the product too, it motivates you to learn whatever you can, and do whatever it takes to make your company grow.
You need to be patient through challenging times, collected when things are going great
Discover something new with Little Black Book
The idea was to create a one stop for finding the best in your city. As a young, urban consumer, working with the BBC, I’d use a couple of listing sites- like Zomato, Justdial, BookMyShow- that would give me information about places I already knew of. But I had no source of finding out what was new in town, or even just new to me in town, across interests, and was curated for me. And that kick-started LBB.
Our mission is to connect you to the best experiences in your city! We’re a media-tech company that creates and curates content about a city, and delivers it to our users in a timely and relevant manner, so they spend less time searching and more time doing awesome things in their city.
Finding original ideas is a challenge
For me, the big challenge has been to show the original ideas, and a fresh approach to local discoveries works. I don’t want to emulate something that 5 other people are doing, or pick other successful ideas and adapt them for India.
That we understand the perspective, requirements and approach of a very very significant audience, is what makes us, as women founders, create more effective and efficient products that can target a larger audience.
I’d like to believe we’re approaching the problem in a unique way. This reflects in our growth, in our ability to scale to another city (Bangalore) in 20 days where we crossed 150,000 monthly uniques in 2 months, that we have sticky and highly engaged users, and that our revenues have scaled at par with our user growth. We’ve supported a plethora of local businesses, while also giving city specific reach to the biggest brands out there.
Patience and Confidence: The hallmarks of an entrepreneur
In my experience I’ve found patience to be the most important skill. You need to be patient through challenging times, collected when things are going great because that’s the only way one can objectively learn from the highs and the lows. And I’d follow patience with confidence. It’s really easy to get dissuaded by people, or get frustrated by things not working out the way you want them to. But you’ve got to be confident in your product, your team and your Users.
Surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you are
Family is the backbone
My mother is a doctor and my father is a lawyer. Both of their stories motivated me as they built their career from scratch. My family is always my backbone then and now. Other than that I’m most inspired by Elon Musk’s confidence. And Howard Schultz’s chutzpah.
Women entrepreneurs have a different perspective
We understand women. We understand the half of our country’s population, the majority of India’s digital population, and the decision makers of homes. That we understand the perspective, requirements and approach of a very very significant audience, is what makes us, as women founders, create more effective and efficient products that can target a larger audience.
Advice for young entrepreneurs
Surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you are, and learn from them.