Me: Top 50 Startup Women in Switzerland

Woah. I am in a list of Top 50 Startup Women in Switzerland. What most of you don’t know if that I founded a startup in Zurich in the #FinTech space in 2018. The idea was to do new projects and to meet people and to earn money so I could feed my mainstream career – fiction writing.

So this accolade, is completely daze-inducing and glee. I’m surprised on how the little paths we choose to walk on, send us somewhere we hadn’t planned upon at all. Life is so beautiful.

The startup, Cooby, is a global cooperative and I’m one of the co-founders. We are developing blockchain-based SaaS products, which are open source. We also create technical and white papers for clients. It’s quite fun for the geek part of me as I get to meet people and listen to stories in the crypto, blockchain and fintech spaces.

Never thought it would get me in a Top anything list. This was something I started for fun. Isn’t that the most important? I tell this to myself as I see another rejection for my fiction in my inbox. Such is life. A constant rollercoaster.

Giving a talk at WorldCon 2019 + Evil Plan

It’s this week! I have some exciting news from my end. I’ve been invited to Dublin for WorldCon 2019, the biggest convention for the speculative fiction industry in the world, to give a talk on my work and on the work of emerging speculative fiction authors from South Asia. 

My talk will explore science and fantasy fiction voices from the South Asian community that are reworking the genre, playing with its tropes and redefining it by inverting colonial motifs.

I’m hoping to give this talk again in India sometime later this year or early next. Let’s see.

Follow this thread for updates

This is where I’ve listed my evil plan during my talk to introduce them to the wonderful work being published in South Asia. Mhahaha.

WorldCon Schedule

TALK: Current trends in South Asian SFF

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How to use Facebook groups to get a job

  • Find the right groups with keywords that are most relevant to your industry
  • Prefer local groups so that you can develop city-based professional networks
  • Introduce yourself by posting a message about you and what you’re looking for.
  • Don’t lurk in a Facebook group.
  • Don’t spam. Post links that show you to be someone who is genuinely interested in the profession.

Facebook groups are perfect for niche hiring

When Bengaluru-based Vishwadeep Gautam joined industry-specific Facebook groups, he was not specifically looking for a job. “My primary goal was to find people from my industry to exchange ideas with,” says the 25-year-old data analyst.

What attracted him to Facebook groups was that it gave him freedom to choose groups specific to his area of interest—data analysis. “The groups were a gold mine of current trends so I could update myself, learn more and understand what kind of development I can expect in the future in my field of work,” he says.

An additional opportunity that the groups offered was job postings. On one of the groups Gautam was part of, Indegene, a healthcare tech company based in Bengaluru, posted a job requirement for a data analyst. He already knew about the company since it had been active on the groups he was in. “I saw it, found it interesting, and applied,” says Gautam.

There are jobs on the largest network

With 2.27 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. LinkedIn, the straightforward professional networking site, has 260 million active users in comparison.

“Attracting talent from social media is an integral part of our recruitment strategy,” says Bina Patil, vice president (human resources) at Indegene, the company that hired Gautam. Patil and her team are present and constantly on the lookout on all company social media platforms—LinkedIn, Facebook, GitHub, even WhatsApp.

Find the right groups

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How podcasts can help you be a startup founder

Startup founders are enhancing their learning skills by listening to podcasts despite busy workday schedules.

For a busy startup founder, who has to learn a lot about every aspect of business, every little minute of a day counts. That’s the reason Ami Sata, founder, Amouve, an organic bed and bath brand based out of Mumbai, has turned to podcasts to learn.

“Since listening is non-intrusive,” says Sata, “podcasts can be heard when you’re multi-tasking, convey an idea in 20 minutes and allows you to gain immense know-how while doing mundane everyday things like travelling to work.”

Podcasts makes to discover new

It was listening to a podcast about Sarah Blakeley, the founder of Spanx, that Sata discovered the power of cold-calling. Sata tried cold-calling prospective retailers for her brand in Mumbai and found leads, follow-ups and clients. Since then, she’s hooked to kernels of knowledge offered by podcasts, constantly on the lookout for new ideas.

Other than listening to podcasts while commuting, Sata has even added other podcasts on entrepreneurial journeys (How I Built This by Guy Raz, Masters of Scale, The Tim Ferriss Show and Freakonomics) to her bedtime routine so she can learn and get inspiration before she sleeps.

New job? Learn with podcasts

Like Sata, Jayant Paleti, co-founder, Darwinbox, a software services startup, also prefers podcasts to learn and get inspired from. “I’m leading business development for Darwinbox, which means I spend a significant amount of time on the road, heading to meet clients all day,” says Paleti.

Most of his transit time is spent on calls with sales team and on podcasts about other entrepreneurs’ experiences. His current favourites are Masters of Scale and The Joe Rogan Experience, which is his “daily dose of inspiration wrapped in good humour”.

Learn as you gym, travel or before sleep

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How to be a successful gig economy worker

  • Choose your clients wisely to make sure you are paid on time
  • Be transparent and upfront about the mistakes you make,.
  • Learn to say no to projects that pay too little.
  • Plan ahead financially as there will be down times.
  • Manage the time between projects. Learn something new then.

In April 2018, after a year of considering it, Bengaluru-based Sonali Dash finally took the plunge. She quit her 10-year-old corporate career of management consulting to become a yoga teacher. It was a big step in her life. “Quitting corporate was challenging as I was used to the financial security my 10-year-long career had offered me,” says the 34-year-old.

To push herself to give up her comfortable salary, she planned it all—she did a post graduate in yoga to upskill, saved for two years and took worst possible scenarios into account. The combination of financial and emotional support helped Dash till her new career became stable enough.

Brush up your skill sets

What helped Dash through the turmoil of the initial few months was that she had researched well. Before you jump off your existing career, you should understand opportunities in the new line of work you’re heading into, says Sanjay Lakhotia, co-founder, Noble House Consulting, a platform specializing in finding HR consultants for companies. 

Choose your clients wisely

To make sure you get paid at the end of a project, do a background research on people you work with and be sure they are able to pay.

Be transparent

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How millennials revamp old family businesses

  • To take their existing family businesses to greater heights, the younger generation is trying out new ideas
  • Being in business with family as a second or third generation has its pros and cons

When Bengaluru-based Chaitanya V. Cotha, the scion of the 150-year-old C. Krishniah Chetty (CKC) Group of Jewellers, joined his family business in 2010, he identified an important market that his family hadn’t given much thought to. “For my father, business to business (B2B) wing of the business was never a focus area,” says the 31-year-old.

Owning it up, Cotha got on the road for 20 days a month, meeting potential small jewellers who could sell the CKC products. Within 18 months, the CKC Group started to supply their products to over 200 stores across four states with a team of just nine people.

A lot of change in family businesses stems from the aspirations, outlook and thinking of the next generation of family, according to Ganesh Raju K., partner and leader, entrepreneurial and private business, PwC India. “Young blood is crucial for a family business to keep abreast with changing times, dynamics, business environment, customer outlook, and digital changes,” he says, adding that it’s important to encourage this as family businesses account for nearly 85-90% of gross domestic production contribution in India. The PwC India Next Gen Study 2018 on family businesses, that interviewed more than 137 next generation leaders, 45 of them from India, found that even though more than 81 % of millennials have a clear idea on how to take the business forward and more than 89% of them challenge their seniors’ decisions when they feel it would benefit the business. A key component of success for the new generation is a culture that supports their efforts, gives them room to make mistakes and provides for independent decision making.

It’s all in the family

Family support and her father’s open mind was one of the major reasons Suzannah Muthoot, zonal strategic consultant with Muthoot Fincorp Ltd (MFL), was able to implement changes at the regional levels of her company.

Fresh out of college, when the 24-year-old joined her father’s company in 2017, she was told to travel extensively across small towns and villages where the company’s branches had set shop, to gain real on-ground experience. The travel was useful as she found inefficiencies at the zonal and regional levels across functions. “I came back with a proposal to redefine the role of a regional manager, who is responsible for profitability and performance of nearly 70 branches,” she explains.

Suzannah Muthoot
Suzannah Muthoot
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How to find a job on Instagram

  • Creative professionals are using Instagram’s visual storytelling to showcase their work and get a job
  • According to Statista, Instagram has 71 million monthly active users in India.
  • Be professional on Instagram
  • Rewrite that bio
  • Create a visual resume
  • Build your network
  • Send positive messages to brands

Always be on the lookout

It’s on Instagram that Achin Bhattacharya, CEO and founder of Notebook, an edtech startup based in Kolkata found Debangshu Moulik, a Pune-based graphic artist. Impressed by his credentials, his Instagram portfolio and the fact that he had 41,300 followers on the social media platform, Bhattacharya’s team hired him.

For 19-year-old Moulik, who is still in college, Instagram has been a good place to showcase his art. He joined the platform in July 2012 as a teenager and after six years on the network, has more than 40,000 followers. Recently, he showcased his graphic art, and as a result, has received few projects through the network.

“It is a norm for artists like me to use Instagram as an instant portfolio,” Moulik says, adding that for most visual creative professionals, the platform is a perfect place to put out “free advertisements” of their work. “Clients approach us based on both the quality of the work as well as our social media influence status. I am fortunate to live in a time when anyone has the tools to showcase their work,” he says.

Debangshu Moulik, a freelance graphic artist
Debangshu Moulik, a freelance graphic artist

Always be professional 

The first rule when you’re looking for a job through the social network is to post professionally only. That would mean no selfies or drunken party pictures. It’s best to separate the personal and professional accounts.

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Why some millennials are quitting Facebook

  • If the idea of quitting Facebook makes you anxious, irritable, or you miss out on work, it may be time to let go
  • Millennials are feeling overwhelmed by the way Facebook requires their attention and misuses personal information

In July, more than a decade after joining Facebook, Mumbai-based event manager Jason Menezes decided to delete his account. It was a big move for the 30-year-old because, like most people in his generation, he got on to the social network bandwagon in his teens and spent a chunk of his life there, broadcasting his first love, his first job, breakup and several parties to a multitude of friends.

Are you overwhelmed by Facebook?

Over the last couple of years, however, Menezes had been feeling overwhelmed by the way the network required his attention. He would log on multiple times a day, check notifications during most of his breaks, comment on most posts, engage with people, put down his thoughts at least twice a day.

He felt obsessed, almost like the platform had taken over his life. He wanted to quit, but, each time, a notification would take him back, and he would end up scrolling endlessly. “Time flows differently in the virtual world,” says Menezes, “as there are multiple things that happen simultaneously, a multitude of people saying things. You find interesting facts or information and before you know, your whole day is gone. I was addicted,” he says.

A study published in December in the Journal Of Behavioral Addictions established a parallel between symptoms of substance use and behavioural addictive disorders to symptoms of excessive use of the social network.

“The social network uses various behavioural techniques, like building up a need to validate through likes, fear of missing out, and making your status temporary—all this to create a need for you to return quickly to the network to keep engaging.”

Venkatesh Babu, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.

The result is that it’s hard to quit, and, when you try to, you face withdrawal symptoms and often relapse into scrolling despite your decision. “If the network makes you anxious, irritable, or you miss out on your work or spending time with family, take it as a warning,” says Dr Babu.

Find it hard to quit?

Apoorva Kulkarni is worried about personal information being misused.
Apoorva Kulkarni is worried about personal information being misused.
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How to negotiate a holiday with your boss

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to negotiate a holiday with your boss. And no, you don’t need to lie about a relative’s sickness, you just need to plan ahead.

  • Approach the boss with a solution
  • Find a replacement
  • Plan ahead
  • Be flexible

Approach the boss with a solution

What can you do to ensure that your work does not get impacted during your absence? If you approach your seniors with a solution, half the battle is already won.

Find a replacement

It can be a colleague or someone hired temporarily. Work should’t suffer in your absence.

Plan ahead

Don’t decided to go on a leave last minute as it would burden your colleagues. Plan it ahead so your manager also has time to figure out what to do in your absence.

Be flexible

Build your leave request around others who might be planning to take time off. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and reciprocated. 

Be honest

What you need to do is plan in advance and approach your boss honestly. “Clear communication helps your seniors plan the team capacity in advance, shows them that you have the company’s interest in mind and ensures that there is trust between you and your seniors,” says Rakhee Malik, head and director of human resources, AT Kearney India, a management consulting company.

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When your friend turns immortal

Though I called Ashwa a friend, I had never seen his face, never needed to. We had met at Bedardi Bar and usually hung out on slow nights, drinking in silence. Our relationship had always been more about silence than conversation.

‘You know how precious death is?’

He asked, looking at the gyrating crowd around us. ‘It’s a nectar, a blessing, to die. To give up life, its memories, the baggage. To start afresh. You wouldn’t understand, Anantya. You with your moment’s breath, so full of life, wouldn’t understand. Death begets life. The fear of death clutches at your heart’ – he made a claw of his hand – ‘so that blood flows faster, pumping through your veins, making you run, feel the wind in your hair … without it, there’s nothing, nothing. There’s nothing but a long, long lonely stretch of road. There’s nothing but emptiness—’

The kravyad couple above us screeched, burst uncontrollable fireballs at each other.

‘Dude, don’t talk in freakish metaphors,’ I answered.

‘What the hell happened to Guru B? How did you know—’

Ssss. Maaki had picked up a fire extinguisher and sprayed the kravyads.

‘It doesn’t matter!’ said Ashwa, lifting his head to glare at me. ‘We should all go! Die!’

‘Who?’ I asked.

‘All of us. All. Our souls they’re so threadbare, so torn, so tired. How can freedom from life be wrong for us? I don’t want to wait anymore for death to choose me. is my dharma, what’s my duty? Can I never choose right? How can something that feels so right, so natural, so much like breathing again, like freedom, cause this pain?’

He clutched my arm.

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