“Even when I was in college I was sitting with the new business idea every week, so the thought of doing something on my own was never out of the question” says this economic graduate who completed her MBA from IMT and is now founder and CEO of e-commerce giant 99labels.com
The brilliant entrepreneur was spotted by Cadbury’s soon after her MBA completed. After a three-and-a-half year stint with Cadbury, where she handled the brand management of both the confectionary division and Cadbury’s Dollops ice-cream, Ishita was itching to do something on her own. Reason, there was nothing left to learn, and Ishita liked the learning curve’s upwardly movement more. So she quit Cadbury’s and teamed up with a school time friend to start up her first company called the Orion Dialogue which was going to be instrumental in the ITES sector in India and one of the first to focus solely on the Indian market.
“We did our research before jumping to the business bandwagon. Back in the 1994-95 the BPO industry was just starting out and it was a good time to venture into the same. We did our research and with as good as no money in our pockets and no backing we took a big leap of faith and founded what we called the Orion Dialogue private limited company” she tells proudly.
There were many times when she and her business partner would approach investors with a business plan and they would turn her away asking her to get her father and then they would discuss things further or would simply not take them seriously enough.However, in the 11-year-run that Orion Dialogue had, Ishita and her partner now were operating out of three offices from different cities in India which was quite an achievement she tells.
After leading the company to great heights, it was bought out by Aegis BPO in 2006 leaving Swarup to achieve even greater heights. While she was deciding her next venture, Ishita also helped setting up businesses and consulting other women entrepreneurs.
99labels is a pioneering innovative concept introduced to India for the first time. Partnering national and international brands, 99labels presents event based online sales for a limited time period giving members an opportunity to buy fashion-wear, accessories, lifestyle products at up to 90% off label prices.
The idea of 99labels.com says Ishita made a lot of sense as a consumer. She says, 99labels offers an exclusive chance for people to buy credible, branded items from a reliable source at discounted prices and from the privacy and convenience of their own home. So from a consumer’s point of view it was a win-win situation. E-commerce was big abroad and people in India had started to accept the idea and hence there was huge potential for a site like 99lables.com here. Swarup further adds that the timing of entering the market seemed perfect too.
The journey was new, uncharted tough and yet rewarding. Two years ago we started as an 8 member team and launched two sales per day. Today, we have a growing team of 120 employees and have partnered with more than 250 brand partners and consequently held over 5000 sales. Having said that you should know that despite our current success we are only aiming higher!
On being a woman entrepreneur
Ishita says that she always wanted to do something of her own. “You see I never wanted to wait till I was forty-years-old to become a CEO. I became a CEO at the age of 25, when the rest of my friends or ex-colleagues were cribbing about their unsatisfying jobs.
Ishita personally feels that being an entrepreneur itself empowers a person, and if a woman wants to build a career as an entrepreneur there is nothing that is more satisfying. She even feels that being a woman entrepreneur has more advantages than otherwise.
“Being an entrepreneur gives women the freedom to work the way she wants to, when she wants to and how she wants to. A woman sometimes struggles more in the corporate world than when she works on her own terms” she quips. As an entrepreneur gets to explore more and push her limits which is not really possible when it comes to working in a structured atmosphere. She even says that now is the time to start your own ventures, when the market is ready, investors is ready and when the mindsets too are ready to accept women who run their own show.