Sometimes, the best ideas for an entrepreneurship venture can come direct from your own needs, as former banker Richa Singh discovered when, one day, she groused about not having time to visit the salon. And then stopped and really thought about what she’d just complained about.
When Richa Singh saw a personal need go unfulfilled, she saw a business opportunity
She couldn’t be the only woman facing this problem, she realised. In a fast-paced world, all women, whether they work at an office or in their home, often don’t have the time to fit in necessary grooming, making the idea of a visit to a salon just as stressful as any other task.
Singh, who worked at Merrill Lynch at various cities abroad, was struck by the thought. She’d been interested in the idea of starting her own business in any case. Could she work on this as the basis for a venture, she wondered.
It turned out she could. And BigStylist, which brings the salon to women right in their homes, was born.
“I love doing new things,” says Singh about transitioning from a salaried job to a business of her own. “Even the word ‘new’ excites me. And the conducive eco-system in India for start-ups made it fun too. I love having the space and freedom to implement my thoughts. I love the fact that my work has so much more impact on the lives of people.”
Singh returned to India to set up her business for a couple of reasons. First: India is in a churn right now, with its growing economy and shifting social and financial patterns. “The chaos will soon settle into organisation,” she explains. “I wanted to contribute to this process.”
And second, she was clear that she wanted to provide employment for women from poorer backgrounds whose options for an occupation were limited.
“I wanted my work to have more impact than any job could offer,” says Singh. “Specifically, my work had to have social impact. And I am very proud that I have provided employment to 100+ women.”
I am very proud that I have provided employment to 100+ women.
Singh studied at India’s most prestigious institutes, IIT and IIM, before heading abroad to work with Merrill Lynch. All three places, she says, were the best places to be, gathering together the smartest thinkers in the world – and the smartest doers. “I learned how to be both a thinker and a doer from these places,” she says.
Even the fact that women tend to be underrepresented in banking was a learning experience for her, especially when she worked abroad.
“Being the only woman in a team of 20, and the only woman among four Indians, forced me to get out of my comfort zone almost 20 times a day,” she explains. “It made me bold, confident, smart and fearless over time, elevating me socially and professionally.”
Once she identified a problem she could solve and a need she could fill, Singh used all her experience to make her business a sustainable one. “Beauty and wellness are inherent consumption needs for women,” she says, cent per cent sure she’s on to a good thing.
BigStylist is based on the digital platform that has transformed the lives of entrepreneurs everywhere, thanks to its economies of scale, and its convenience in terms of ordering, tracking, cancelling, paying, etc.
But all the convenience in the world cannot substitute for the team behind the business, and for Singh, putting together such a team was her biggest challenge.
“People either build businesses or destroy them,” she says. “People make and destroy eras. Getting the right people was the biggest challenge and always will be.”