A Medical Doctor by profession, Dr Sonal found herself become an entrepreneur, courtesy of her marriage with Kunal. In the course of time, she channeled her medical background and her analytical ability into creating and scaling their first successful venture – Healthcare Magic which was acquired by a US-based Health Insurance company – Ebix. Listen to Sonal Verma from Glow Road on scaling twice.
Riding on the success of this exit, the same team parlayed into Social-Commerce. Driven by Sonal’s desire to help women better their livelihood. With 100 times growth in a span of a year and helping lakhs of women earn an alternate source of income, here is an incredible story of humility, scale and success, Dr Sonal has some amazing advice to women and entrepreneurs in general.
Let’s look at some interesting excerpts from the conversation.
Retail is booming, consumption is growing, fashion industry is growing and e-commerce is growing. All these are factors but still, we couldn’t instantly join the dots. This was new to me and I had not seen because I do not come from a business family. I really started seeing that a good number of people do run home based businesses. And these people were just trying to leverage their WhatsApp and Facebook circles to get more sales.
Another thing very unique to women is the manpower support. You have the money, you have the time but how do you network with these wholesalers, manufacturers and courier people who are all men, it’s a men’s world. So keeping this picture in mind that how do we make all this very smooth for a woman, where she has to do nothing, but only acquire the customer.
Reaching a super-specialist in UK, US is impossible because there is a lot of regulation around it. You get an appointment, which is one month away. Even in India, you wait outside for the doctor and it depends that how much detail you get as an answer? So we were very much being used for a second opinion and a lot of questions which people are not very comfortable asking in person to the doctor. Either the question is too personal, or they’re perceived as too silly.
Destiny finds you on the road that you try to avoid. I used to say that I would never get into private practice or clinical practice. Because I hated counting the number of cases that came and even the business side of it, it was too much . I thought I’ll get into some kind of research or a teaching Institute so you can imagine that’s where I was. And now, I am knee deep into this, and enjoying every bit, sometimes it just feels that we don’t know ourselves, maybe, well enough; and you should never say never to anything.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 Cities and Working Women
There are constraints so it is nothing like Bangalore. The number of working women is much smaller in tier 2 and tier 3. There is no support infrastructure to allow a woman to stay in a job. So daycares and creches are near non-existent and it’s not considered very great to use them even if they exist. Unless and until you are extremely educated. You have a professional qualification, like you’re a doctor but otherwise, mostly you cannot. So it was a conscious decision of sorts, that these are the people whom we wanted to target, that my reseller persona. Who doesn’t have professional education and who has not been in the workforce before and will most likely not be in the workforce but still has the aspiration to do something, to be something and also has the need to augment the family income.
I don’t know whether I should call it conviction or the strength in the voice, often as yes, but the need itself is a very big driver and it kinds of tells you that this is something which people require. So I recall a good number of days when you have these moments of, I don’t know what to do where to look.
Over coming Mental Barriers
The first thing is that you need to get the whole ‘I am a woman’ thing out of your head. Even if the world thinks that you are not capable, you still can. You can analyze, you’re just good as anybody. So it’s a very small, small thing to say it’s just a very obvious thing to say. But yes, that is number one. I just felt that in the medical community because we have seen a lot of women in leadership positions, so it’s normal. I’m a woman. The thought is a bit bigger in a tech environment. Even today, because, the women in tech are relatively much less visible than women in medicine. So, one needs to overcome their own mental barrier.
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Here is the word cloud from the share from Dr Sonal Verma from Glow Road