Sonal Verma from Glow Road on Scaling Twice
Sonal Verma from Glow Road on Scaling Twice

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From Accidental Entrepreneurship to Scaling Twice in different domains

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.

Dr Sonal Verma from Glow Road along with Kunal
Dr Sonal Verma from Glow Road along with Kunal


Let’s look at some interesting excerpts from the conversation.

15:55

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.

19:34

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.

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Regulations!

23:03

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.

31:01

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

46:10

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.

Listen to another Entrepreneur, who has Scaled Multiple Times: Vaitheeswaran of IndiaPlaza and Again Drinks: Season 1, Episode 4

53:30

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.

Overcoming Mental Barriers

1:15:55

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.

Show Notes

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Here is the word cloud from the share from Dr. Sonal Verma from Glow Road

Word Cloud for The Episode
Word Cloud for The Episode

Episode Transcript

(Automated Transcript - Errors may exist)


Krishna Jonnakadla  0:01 

This is Maharajas of scale, a podcast where we go behind the scenes and talk to founders who are demolishing the myths around building and scaling a big business in India. These are the stories that have shattered the assumptions around Indian consumers and are changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of FLIT, the Fashion Locator In Town and start up mentor bringing you these stories. Hey, listeners, this is Krishna from Maharajas of scale this afternoon, right in the midst of perhaps one of the greatest healthcare crisis that is ever struck the planet. We have the good fortune of speaking to a Maharani of scale Sonal Verma of Glow Road. In fact, I should say Dr. Sonal Verma of Glow Road who's doing some amazing things, and I'm certain that at this point in time, a lot of the people that work with Glow Road and have found their livelihoods through Glow Road will be very, very happy for what Sonal has done. Sonal Welcome to the show.

Sonal  1:03 

Thanks Krishna. Thank you for having me here.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:06 

Awesome. So Sonal we are talking in unprecedented times. A lot of Mayhem is going on. Mostly On the economic front while some stuff seems to be going on the health care front. How is life for you guys at Glow Road admist Coronavirus crisis.

Sonal  1:24 

We are working from home. We are trying to do our best from home. The team has cooked very well actually they have taken well to the work from home scenario, back to the on ground activities have come to a halt because the couriers are not working. The supplies are not working, not working back. I believe this is a transient phase and we are using this to do many things which we otherwise don't find the time to do. So it's, we are just taking this as an opportunity to do something different.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:58 

Interesting. I had some Somebody sent me a WhatsApp with about hundred things to be done which included stuff like wills to be made, obviously finding a lawyer at this type is tough. But that list definitely made me reflect to say how much time we do have on our hands and how we could use it productively so awesome. You are an enterprising lady, I'm sure you're only taking your game to the next level in this times. So let's jump into the discussion. So tell us what you're working on right now and tell us something interesting about Glow Road in numbers.

Sonal  2:34 

So Krishna, I'm digressing a bit from the topic, being a doctor at the moment I am also very stressed and concerned about my friends who are all doctors and facing the Coronavirus patients. They're on the front line, quite a few of them are abroad. So since I am talking to people and I know People are listening. They're listening to me as a doctor, I just request everyone to, people are already doing that. But we are it's a very, very difficult time for the medical community we have, they have literally become soldiers overnight, risking their lives. And to be very honest, the anxiety with some very near and dear ones are into this. So it was a little difficult for me to say yes to this talk, because here we just want to be optimistic and look at the positive side of the picture. I just hope that I sound enthusiastic enough and excuse me if some of the troubles of the corona crisis affecting my friends is obvious.

Krishna Jonnakadla  3:52 

Well, we pray for them. These are definitely very different situations. Being a chartered accountant myself, I've never seen a scenario in most business planning. If you're at x, you either factor in a point one five x or a point two x of growth, or maybe given an economic climate you possibly factor in a point to xd growth. Perhaps a lot of industries right now are facing zero revenue. And on top of it, the speed with which this seems to have cascaded across the world. And a lot of people from the healthcare community are still clutching for answers. It's definitely left a lot of us un nerved, our hearts go out to them.

Sonal  4:36 

They're just questioning about our entire approach and philosophy. So at the moment, we're all just thinking about how to get over this and what so how much health really and how small we are in this before a virus who has just overpowered us anyways. Leave that aside, I'm very sure we are making a lot of progress. I keep hearing from everyone and the people are cracking the pathophysiology treatment, I think things will get very, very much in control very soon.

Krishna Jonnakadla  5:13 

Well, I joke about it saying if it's Apocalypse, then none of us are going to be alive, perhaps then nobody has any troubles. But if it is not, but if it is not an apocalypse, and then some of us, a majority of us are going to survive. We'll definitely draw some lessons from it and live life in a slightly different way. But definitely positive.

Sonal  5:34 

Sure. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  5:35 

And you are an entrepreneur. You've seen tougher times and certain many of them. And then while this may be very different from what you've seen, optimism is what defines an entrepreneur.

Sonal  5:48 

Yeah, there is no other way.

Krishna Jonnakadla  5:51 

Awesome. So tell us a little more about Glow Road and also tell us some interesting statistics and numbers and the kind of impact that you've delivered with it.

Sonal  6:00  

Okay, so Glow Road is, we are a social commerce platform. We are a resellers platform. This app is meant for helping you make money, start a business of your own and without investing any money. So it sounds a little scandalous there you start a business of your own without investing any money. But that is exactly what we are. We have 10 million plus downloads, more much more than that. Actually, most of our resellers are in tier three and four cities. And I think it is it has been an amazing journey. It's surreal to think that so many people, lakhs of people are earning every month on our platform. And we have been able to build an earning tool to use social media for making money effectively, if you want me to elaborate more on what Glow Road does, I can tell you.

Krishna Jonnakadla  7:07 

please do.

Sonal  7:08 

So what Glow Road does is that it brings together, connects resellers with suppliers. So reseller is any person who does not have products of their own, either manufactured or purchased. So you have just about anyone sitting at your home with an app in your hand the Glow Road and an intention or willingness, capability or whatever you may call it, to sell products and make money. But you do not you do not manufacture anything and you don't hold any stock either. So what do you do? So typically, this it's a very well understood term is drop shippers. It's very popular in India. So you are basically a drop shipper. So you are in touch with the supplier who has the goods who holds the goods and will ship the goods to your customer, the customer who you find so your job is just to find the customer. And the rest is all handled by Glow Road and the supplier. Now what is new or good or strange about it? It's drop shipping has pretty much been around for a long time very long time, very well established way of earning abroad. But the difference that you will see with Glow Road is that it is extremely easy to use. It is targeted at the women most of whom are housewives and with mostly no professional education. And we connect the suppliers, we take care of the customer service, we take care of the logistics, cod and return so that makes it kind of unique. That is the end to end solution for the drop shipper who can simply download the app and start earning money. So to give you an example, we have a lot of suppliers with us who list their products on our platform. Say the product is listed for 500 rupees. The app allows you to share this product with your friends both as images, as simple images or within the micro store of your own and sell it at a price that you want. So it could be a 500 rupees and you could sell it for if you think that this product will sell well it can fetch say 700 rupees in the market you sell it for 700 rupees. Now once you have sold the product that is the customer has placed their order Glow Road will pick the stuff from the supplier delivery it to your customer. Collect the money it is a cash on delivery. Have send you your 200 rupees commission that is the margin that you made in your bank account. And of course they pay the supplier and the logistic partner and the Glow Road margin everything in between. So that's that's what we do broadly.

Now, what is the beauty of the entire model is of course the ease of the app very much, the kind of products that you bring in, one could say so why could I buy I could as well sell, I could do Oriflame and so many other things. What's the big deal I could sell AliExpress products by this. So we have products that are absolutely relevant to the Indian market. The shipping time is small as good as your regular ecom and the product variety it is quite curated to suit the customer base of a woman sitting in a tier 2-3-4 city. So that way we have been able to build an earning tool for these ladies our resellers. And now we also have a lot of men on board because they have seen this ofcourse as an attractive option. And we saw no harm in opening the platform to men.

Krishna Jonnakadla  11:31 

Very interesting. So in effect, your product, perhaps one of the first few platforms to take advantage of a person's influence or their network and in some sense directly monetize it.

Sonal  11:44 

True true jokingly, we were having a conversation that one day people are going to get tired of like wasting their time on Facebook and WhatsApp and we'll probably they will inch to do something better over here. So yes, we caught that eventually people will look at social media for monetizing for earning something.

Krishna Jonnakadla  12:07 

Yeah, the fundamental difference though here is you're actually letting somebody, in some sense play a small celebrity or a mini celebrity, maybe even directly. So with their network, promote a product and benefit out of it. It is incredible what you've done with the model.

Sonal  12:25 

Thank you so much. That's so nice to hear. Yeah, but we were we were looking. We were very much keen on giving the person who has not worked before, never run a business before. A sense, a feel good feeling.  Yeah. That was very important to me personally, to give them an identity and something to look forward to feel excited about.

Krishna Jonnakadla  12:47 

Let's talk about the starting point a little bit. You're a medical doctor by profession. Have you ever practiced as a physician.

Sonal  12:55 

So? Not really, because I finished my I did my Post Grad, during which we I did clinical work, of course, but never practiced. Immediately after finishing my post graduation, I came to Bangalore and I joined a company, which was servicing big, big pharmaceuticals. It was a secondary research firm for big, big pharmaceuticals and we were like, we were doing some research and intelligence work for them. It was very nice. It was good work. I stay with them for about two more than two and a half years. And then I started along with some co founders a tele medicine company, so I did not know what we were actually starting. We just thought that technology should be paying a doctor I had seen that people need doctor's opinion very often, they call up a friend and actually that incident that happened was that People would start asking me a lot of questions in chat rooms. Yahoo chat was very popular at that time. The moment somebody knows that it's a doctor on the other side, they start asking medical questions, and sometimes they would be serious questions and you want to help. So yeah, while talking to some of my friends who were tech people, they were already running a startup in Bangalore, very much entrepreneurs and wanted to do another business. He came up with this idea that let's use technology for connecting doctors and patients. And that's how we formed Healthcare Magic in 2008. At that time, it was a one of its kind platform. Totally, absolutely nothing like that existed on the internet. And there was a just just answer in US, but that did not have physicians that had nurses who could answer your questions are registered nurses. So Healthcare Magic went very well. And my founding team stays with me. We're founders, it's the same set of co founders. And one or two more people who joined us later in the founding team. Healthcare magic, got acquired, it was a profitable company, it was doing very well in 2014 it got acquired by a US public listed company, and for a good exit for all of us. But I think we are or we were, I should say, we were all pretty young and to retire and naturally wanted to do more with life and in life, and so forth next was what I had in mind. And when I had started a family, I had two kids. While I, in the course of raising my children, I started interacting with more and more women. Just to give you a background of mine the psychology behind me is that I will belong to North India. India any part you know this the Status of Women has something that has concerned me always.It's not the status,  the kind of opportunities available to women have made me something very uneasy restless you can even say frustrated, but it's always likely "Kar kya sakte ho" you cannot change the world, you cannot work different. So, but there was this very strong desire to do something to make the world a little bit better for women, that was the prime motivation. So I was actually thinking very, very hard for, for ideas that could help women or that need to be very well. So it was as specific as that. I did not know whether it would be reselling or what it would be. But the fact that I was an urge, it was a deep desire to make something that could help women and earn pretty much there. So I wanted to I just started exploring and doing some general research around it what's happening and so, you know, you start seeing a lot of encouraging things that you we saw at this time was one that the internet penetration data looked very, very exciting and the projections looked very interesting that it's just going to increase and increase and everybody is right up to the deepest pockets because people are going to have to buy in forums. And retail is booming, consumption is growing, fashion industry is growing, ecommerce is growing. All these factors but still we were not able to waste, it was not as good as we could instantly join the dots. But then we started seeing that women are one way or the other, trying to use social media for business. So this was new to me I had not seen because I do not come from a business family, everybody is in jobs. So I, I really started seeing that a good number of people do run home based businesses. And these people are just trying to now leverage their WhatsApp and Facebook circles to get more sales. So because the context, now after this I had some very face to face personal conversations with some of such women who were doing this, and the challenges that we were facing, so yeah, so it was it. There was no it was a long list of challenges in the "capital nai hai". No capital, no spaces. So the biggest thing was of course the capital investment that if you want to buy stuff and stock stuff, say you're a housewife your husband runs another business or is in job or whatever you are housewife. And you want to start a business from where do you get the money? I mean, imagine for most low and middle income families in a small city that kind of capital is to experiment with the businesses always comes with the risk is not available and these women were naturally did not have the capital even those suppose the capital is their capital is not a concern. So the space is not there. Because you cannot, you have to run it from home and how much can you stock at home. And you have to do all this while taking care of your family. So even if your family is like, yeah, you want to do something, do something it doesn't mean that you can, you are, you don't have to do your domestic work so time. Then another thing very unique to women is the manpower support. You have the money, you have the time everything but how do you network with these wholesalers and manufacturers and courier people who are all men, it's a men's world. So if this 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 catch the customer. So that's how we step by step we design the platform.

Krishna Jonnakadla  20:34 

That's fantastic. You went through a lot of stuff, just right now, so I'm going to pick up the pieces and dive a little more deeper. Let's talk about the healthcare startup. That's very interesting. And changing gears from healthcare into ecommerce or social commerce is interesting. We'll come back to that. What sort of scale did you achieve on the healthcare startup and how did the exit happen?

Sonal  21:03 

So, with the healthcare magic we built a network of 15,000 doctors all over the world. And yeah, so and we were doing we had customers we had global customers, we were relatively smaller in India, because it was a deliberate decision to not to market too much in India. Primarily because the economics, the unit economics did not work. But other than that, globally, we had a network of 15,000 doctors and we were answering like 10 to 12,000 questions every day.

Krishna Jonnakadla  21:51 

All through chat.

Sonal  21:52 

Yeah. No through chat. We initially used to do chat, but see, we are talking 2008-9-10. At that time, apps weren't as good. So we had a technology technical challenge this chat wasn't working that well. It was an absolutely technical challenge. So we had moved on more to Q and A platform where you submit a question along with your reports. And the doctor goes through it answers it, and then you ask follow up questions. Also, because we have customers abroad to the time zone was a problem. So we had for practical reasons, we move to a Q&A format. For the now most of these companies are doing an app based chat consultation, at that time that did not take off, but as a Q&A, Q&A was working very well.

Krishna Jonnakadla  22:52 

Interesting, in some sense, a second opinion format as well in some cases,

Sonal  22:58 

Very much, very much opinion was a very good and big use case for us. So we had super specialists, a good percentage of doctors were super specialists. And at that time, I don't know how things are now, we were the only place on earth where you could reach a neurologist or an oncologist at the click of a button. It was unimaginable so for somebody who has been given a diagnosis or wants to know more about their illness, they cannot reach their doctor that easily, reaching us meeting a super specialist is UK US, it is impossible because if they think that you don't need to meet a doctor, you don't meet your doctor. So there is a lot of regulation around it. You get an appointment, which is only one month away. Even in India you travel you wait outside for. Do you allow the doctor, it depends that how much in how much detail you get to your answer? So again, second opinion, we were very much being used for second opinion, and a lot of questions which people are not very comfortable asking in person to the doctor. Either they're too personal, or they're perceived as too silly. So there were many use cases.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:31 

Interesting. I can directly relate to that use case because way back in 2008, around the same time, my daughter was a little over one, I think, maybe 18 months. And that's the time all kids start contracting ear infections, right? If they're in a Montessori, one kid gets the flu or the cold and then it spreads. And there was a point because I was traveling a whole lot, and then my wife had just resumed working. And we, she had ear infections back to back. When the fourth infection happened, the ER actually told us to go visit the ENT. And the ENT surgeon suggested that we should have tubes inserted onto the eardrum. In fact, my wife was at work that day, there was an auditory test that was conducted. And funnily, the test was about Winnie the Pooh and see we don't teach our kids Winnie the Pooh when they're young when they're a year or 18 months old. Right. So she hadn't responded to that and then the audiologist had actually concluded that you know, there was severe severe loss of hearing Okay, so and this ENT surgeon only needed that as an excuse. Because the way he spoke about the whole thing was that hey, you need to get surgery done. Otherwise this is going to get out of hand. And what happened? Fortunately, my father in law is a paediatrician, okay. And he practices in India, and we called him and inform him about that. And the funny thing is he wanted us to send copies of the X rays and the report. And then we scheduled a remote session. And a super ENT specialist actually looked at my daughter did a remote diagnosis through Skype, or I don't remember and then he said, in fact, you can go on for another nine months with this kind of situation. Don't get any surgery done. My father in law was actually furious at me for even considering getting those tubes inserted. So I can imagine so you were channeling very similar use case.

Sonal  27:05 

The kind of anxiety that you will undergo and the technology was making it possible that the reports could be exchanged people's opinions could be changed and we faced out a lot of questions around it. That No, no, no, this is not done. You don't see the patient you don't touch the patient This is not flying. But there were. So when you are in the patients shoes or the caregiver shoe, you find your use case. Now, there were very, very relevant use cases. And how did the acquisition happen? So we had to, we had to we were doing pretty well. The business was profitable because we were earning in dollars and almost well but there was a lot of regulatory grey area around it. That was number one. And Ebix who acquired us we had a very good presence in US across multiple businesses, including healthcare. And they used to provide some health insurance solutions to a large number of corporates. So when we talked to them, it seemed like a very fruitful, meaningful partnership. We just felt that we could reach a much larger patient base. If we as a part of Ebix, and then Ebix takes care of all the regulatory situations around it, being an Indian company, expanding out Links in the US was becoming good. It had its own challenges there is only so so much that we were able to do purely online. So that was the idea behind it. And it actually fortified after unknown to us, it seems that a few Ebix people posted genuine questions, cases and situations that they or their family had been through. And they found the lead and quality of response to be very satisfactory. So on the whole it was, it went well.

Krishna Jonnakadla  29:47 

Interesting. It begs the question, how did that founding team come together? Because the founding team for Glow Road is essentially the same founding team has Healthcare Magic, isn't it?

Sonal  29:58 

So that's another team which comprised of Kunal and the Nitesh and Shekhar, these three were together even before healthcare magic in pure technology startup called tech unified. So they were together and so for them this trial, it is the third venture together. And I boarded the bus as Kunal's wife, so, so so we met we got married and that's how that's how the team got into the healthcare space.

Krishna Jonnakadla  30:40 

Very, very interesting. Did you ever imagine that you were going to be an entrepreneur?

Sonal  30:43 

No, never not in my wildest dream.

Krishna Jonnakadla  30:47 

Well, looks like more dreams wilder than your wildest dreams have come true with the acquisition and what you've done so far.

Sonal  30:55 

Touchwood that is I think I have been we have all been quite blessed, Lucky does feel good. But yeah, like I sometimes say that to you know. So destiny finds you on the road that you take to avoid it. I was I used to say that I would never get into a private practice of clinical practice. Because I hate this talking about the counting number of cases that came and all the business side of it, it's too much I'll get into some kind of research or teaching institutional Institute so that you can imagine that's where I was. And then I am knee deep into this, but every bit every bit enjoying it, sometimes it just feels that we don't know ourselves. Maybe well enough, and you should never say never to anything.

Krishna Jonnakadla  31:52 

So let's talk about this. There's one thing that I want to pick your brains on and allow the fact that a lot of us want to do things, there are issues that we care about. There are people that we care about, there are sections of society that we care about. But it is not everyday that you can parlay all of that intent in creating something meaningful, just like what you said, doing something for women that you very strongly felt. And so let's talk about that initial starting version of the idea a little bit after you spoke to several women. And it's usually thought of that there is very rarely a case in among startups that an idea was version A and when the idea actually takes off, it usually is not the version A there is, there are some aspects of versioning in the idea, but once it metamorphosis into something bigger, only a small tiny seed of the original idea remains. So in your case, is that true in your case? So talk, talk to us a little more about that.

Sonal  33:05 

Very much very much true. It actually, it happened in the healthcare magic cycle also, but I'll leave that aside. Let's come to glow road very much. So, see I do not have any business background, none of my  founders, co founders have any business background, nothing. So we are all professionals, professional people and the networking platform, which we knew of is LinkedIn. Okay, so the initial conceptualization was that we will connect the resellers and the suppliers in the LinkedIn type fashion. That there are profiles there are a lot of reseller profiles and there are a lot of supply profiles so you know, which suppliers are there and what they sell. And bla bla bla and x y z number of information and recommendations and stuff starts everything. Then you connected with each other or central person and take the business forward. This will not fly at all because we just felt that the need and the attitude I should say the need of this segment was entirely different. See you do not go on LinkedIn and say that Hey Linkedin you connected me to these four candidates and if they were not bogus and you don't curse Linkedin that hey I went for four interviews through LinkedIn and they were all I did not get selected, but for some reason, on the when we connected suppliers and resellers as in we were making these b2b connections, especially with these lady resellers or the home base to the sellers who were relatively knew the business themselves. So many anxieties, many doubts, don't know what to do what to say. For instance, they were, they were just not very happy dealing one to one. And people, some people, although many people were very, very professional in their dealings, but a good bunch were not so. So they would be orders that won't get dispatched. Or, you know, you can imagine the kind of things that started going wrong there and least and at one point, we had to say that no, we will not let them connect directly, but rather we would make a master inventory for them from multiple suppliers. So the reseller at the moment doesn't know exactly who the suppliers are. They don't speak to them directly. We do not encourage that. And the same and people also started bypassing the platform in the sense that no matter how much we encourage them to transact on the platform, they won't do so. And that will leave us with pretty clueless on what to do because you don't know. And number of transactions happening was pretty good. Very good. I mean whatever estimating at that time, the number of people who were saying, Hey, I'm glad I'm happy the number of suppliers who were coming forward. So we could see a lot of action happening but the chaos was too much. And it seemed like that this at least this cannot be scaled. So we had to move to the current scenario, where we make master inventory and in a way we take care of it all. You would, simply take the product sell the product and the supplier's job is used to ship the product. And yeah, that was a major, major change that had to happen. So, apart from that, apart from that, yeah, we also try to services because many startups approached us many businesses approached us that your ladies can promote this, can promote that and we still want to do that. But many of those things had to be shot down. Till now we have, we were at that time we said that no, we will not we will keep our focus to consumer goods for the time being.

Krishna Jonnakadla  37:45 

Amazing. So let's let's zoom in a little bit. You initially did the supplier to reseller connect and then disintermediation of the platform was happening dealings outside of the platform were happening. And maybe some of them were facing trouble. What was that piece of insight that drove you to say? Well, there are two pieces of insight there. Right. So one is, let's separate the contact, let us not even let them talk to each other. That's one aspect. And then the other aspect is creating that master inventory, and enabling them to draw their own subset or a mini store. How did you make it feels like a giant leap? How did that leap really happened?

Sonal  38:31 

We were pushed into that. So we would ask us suppliers , hey once you ship the goods, please enter the tracking number over here. This is the place they had a nice place in the dashboard and they had to do nothing just enter the tracking number with it. But it was not happening. And if that doesn't happen, I'm unable to show the tracking to my reseller so they don't know where the product is and they are irritated with calls that where is like, where is my stuff, naturally can imagine in an ecomm if you do not provide the tracking ID to your customer what happens. So that made it pretty clear that oh my god, the only way I can ensure that the tracking is clearly visible to the reseller at all time is by taking the charts of the logistic and it was a big decision and something that we saw no point in doing but the experience for descent experience it became necessary so that was one. The other thing is about we are not letting them talk to each other or not letting them connect not encouraging them to connect. That's not their preferred way of working. They would pretty much as, that is not what they're used to, especially the supplier. So  they're short on time. They don't want to be making their own group and dealing with people one on one. So what they are used to is that I give you my catalogue and then you do whatever with it. That's what they wanted. The reseller also, we felt that eventually the resellers also were, very much the product is about the care for and if they don't have to deal directly with the supplier, they don't really mind and they do actually see it as a one less thing to worry about. So it seems, it look like that we would be able to give a better experience to all parties involved by doing a bit more by getting more into the operations part of it, which to be very honest, we were not very enthusiastic about because that was we wanted to be appear to be a largely platform play, but it turned out to be a big, big operations.

Krishna Jonnakadla  41:26 

Well, it's like a nicely balanced three legged stool. You have your resellers as one leg and you have your distributors are the manufacturers on one leg and you provide all the technology support. I think it's fascinating how you put it how you put it together. So have you raised any funding for this?

Sonal  41:47 

Oh, yeah, we have raised a series A in the year 2017 itself and we raised our Series B last year in April-May.

Krishna Jonnakadla  42:02 

What were the two sizes, the round sizes.

Sonal  42:05 

So the first the first was 2.5. Excel was our investor for the first round, and it was $2.5 million. And the second round was $11.5 million.

Krishna Jonnakadla  42:20 

It's a big bet on the fact that you're growing.

Sonal  42:23 

Yeah, thankfully investors did the social commerce space itself who took off and our investors. Yeah, well, thankfully, they thought that we were doing the right things.

Krishna Jonnakadla  42:36 

Interesting. So let's dive in a little more on the tier two, tier three and tier four city aspect and but before we do that 10 million downloads in some ballpark. How many products are sold on the platform? How many manufacturers, how many resellers what sort of money do they earn on a monthly basis or some whatever time period that you measure.

Sonal  43:02 

Its a lot of data points there. So before the lockdown before this, I'll talk about the lockdown, I mean this is not steady state. So we were doing about 50,000 transactions in through Jan to March this year.

Krishna Jonnakadla  43:21 

That's per day.

Sonal  43:22 

Yeah. Per day.

Krishna Jonnakadla  43:23 

Wow.

Sonal  43:24 

So, yeah. And the speed and the growth has been phenomenal in this one year after the Series B especially, because I recall very, very clearly that in 2018, March or April, I was pacing desperately one evening waiting for people to share that we hit hundred transactions.

Krishna Jonnakadla  43:48 

This was 2016?

Sonal  43:51 

2018. So 2018 April, we had did our first hundred transactions. After that, it just we have, we saw  this whole amazing growth, it seems that some critical mass of supplier and reseller was needed and then the 1000 and 10,000. April was, April of 2019 was 10,000 under 50,000 now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  44:23 

So hundred in 100 transactions per day in 2018 April and 10,000 transactions in 2019 April now. That's fantastic. So that's hundred times of 100.

Sonal  44:35 

Yeah I know things are not going to stay like this, but yes, this this part has been quite challenging and exciting.

Krishna Jonnakadla  44:45 

Phenomenal and how about resellers? How, how many how many lakhs of them.

Sonal  44:50 

So at the moment roughly about two lakh resellers transact on the platform, actually do business on the platform every month.

Krishna Jonnakadla  44:58 

Wow.

Sonal  44:59 

Download downloads are uncertain, which is like so many people have attempted to use the app.

Krishna Jonnakadla  45:05 

Right? So that's interesting. So we see these, at least in Bangalore around where I live. I see all of these signs on trees printed in laser paper earn from home or work from home. And we've seen lots of work from home scams over the years, right, essentially. But it is fascinating what you've done. Tier two and tier three, not a lot is discussed about those markets, they are always still projected, as you know, sunrise markets, the next frontier where India lives in and I, I can only imagine that, given the demographics of that it has taken off because one, women possibly lack the mobility, and they are possibly in a much more stricter environment. More homemakers, they don't have even if they are educated they possibly can't pursue a career of their own because of lack of opportunities. Right. So talk a little more about that demographic. And also, some surprises that you've seen about those are tier two, three and four markets.

Sonal  46:10 

So you have what you've said is correct and constraints are there. So it is nothing like Bangalore. Number  of working women is much smaller. 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 or something finding work, 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 is a person who doesn't have have professional education and who has most likely done, has not been in the workforce before and will most likely not be in the workforce before but still has the aspiration to do something to be something and also the need to go augment the family income very much. So, with that pick demographic in mind, you have to bring suppliers accordingly. So you would agree that the fashion sensibility of Bangalore market and saw a small city market in UP or Bihar is not the same, absolutely not the same. And coming to the surprises, the way there were many pleasant surprises in terms of the willingness and business acumen of these women. We were, it was heartening, actually. So they are quite a good number of them are very, very driven, very committed. And oh, they were able to they're willing to learn and just put there just because they and they appreciate that I have a genuine opportunity in front of me. Yes. The other thing I would say that with product selection, we had to course correct quite a bit. We realize that being sitting here in Bangalore could not being able to judge people for what is good and what is bad. So we have to go entirely by data. So quality involves a lot of perception. So it made no point for me to sit here and select thick loads and say that these are fantastic and create value for money. We had to go very, very data driven, because we do not. We are not a part of the target audience. If I'm making sense to you like if you you know, you could, because we use Uber we use Ola, we can use book my show, we can talk about it, we know how it feels, but that was not the case.

Krishna Jonnakadla  49:20 

So go deeper. This is fascinating. How did you bridge that gap? It is one thing to know that you are not part of that target segment, but a totally different thing to actually jump in, maybe with both feet and both hands and headfirst. However, you did talk about that.

Sonal  49:37 

Once we see the initial days were totally we were all full of supplier finding suppliers finding resellers how to put the catalogues together and everything. And then we started to and at this time, we have not even a lot of transactions not happening on the platform. So we don't have unfortunately, we don't have a lot of concrete data. So we have a lot of what we say a proxy matrix of what people are interested in and what's happening, which pictures are receiving more shares or more likes or clicks. And then we started seeing that there are very drawn patterns there. It's not something look very evenly spread out. Or it's not as though that if we thought that something we brought, brought in the supplier and contact the supplier is marvelous, and this design is fantastic and it just won't work. It is nobody is showing an interest in it. So we started just observing and capturing data in multiple ways of what people see of and eventually what people buy. And even though it would be at times be counterintuitive to us, also you see we are not even ecommerce people. So now I know that this is the rule in a ecommerce. This is a common thing in e commerce that is what sells sells can keep selling for several years, we were always asked from a common sense approach, we would say that freshness is a great thing, bring new things. So two things, then you start seeing that no, there are certain things that are popular, more popular and will always be popular day after day after day. So we just kept putting our faith in data and started doing some reseller calls also. And I would say that analytics mainly helped. Plus putting both the qualitative and quantitative analysis together has helped us. It's not something that we have found absolute answers to it's an ongoing process of finding what the resell involves or what the reseller is able to sell back to. That's how, to a large extent, extent, that's how we solve it. And then some part was also when we got the funds, and we the team size grew a bit. We also had started putting teams who would do research the social selling platforms, like work was trending on Instagram.

Krishna Jonnakadla  52:21 

Interesting. Very interesting. So, so then the first turning point, if I may, if I may say so it was about taking an inventory based approach where there was no direct connect. The second one was obviously noticing, what was clicking, using proxy metrics. With that let's jump in the scale that you saw, what were some breakout moments what were some turning points that convinced you that scale was happening?

Sonal  52:49 

So I'm taking charge of the invention, but I hope it is clear that we do not stop we do not we are still.

Krishna Jonnakadla  52:57 

Yeah, that is Yeah, yes, yes, yes. So obviously, what you do or offering is a representation of the inventory.

Sonal  53:04 

Yeah, taking control of the digital inventory.

Krishna Jonnakadla  53:06 

Right, right. Yeah. So what were some of those moments that were, in some sense, defining moments or breakout points which convinced you that you were on to something and then it sort of you saw it scaled.

Sonal  53:22 

Absurd as it may sound, but when you speak to the resellers and the conviction in there, I don't know whether I should call it conviction or the strength in the voice, the often seen the voices that yes, we need this itself is a very big driver and it kind of tells you that this is something which people require. So I recall a good number of days when one day in particular when you have these moments of, I don't know what to do where to look. And it was a lunch hour, so the Customer Support Team it was a small team at that time and the customer support people were all away at lunch and I was I was just happened to be in the room  and the phone rings and I pick up and so this I tell her that okay let me connect you to customer care and this lady tells me that I must tell you you have built a wonderful platform to build something beautiful. So, a very, very emotional take on it. But this happening was till date it remains true to remains the strongest motivator and we thankfully we do get these words very often. And speaking entirely, commercially and data wise when we felt, also the supply response was also pretty enthusiastic at one point before there was a small phase, the linkedin when we were doing it the LinkedIn way, we were trying to monetize the supplier by selling them a subscription to the platform and that was that was suppliers were quite in for it. So in terms of monetizing we could have monetized the model but scale and the customer experience would have been very bad. They would not have let us grow. But yeah, coming back to so reseller resell the qualitative reseller feedback and the supply feedback gives you faith more belief in what you're up to. And then once we put them see the cash or when we once we started offering cash on delivery, just the transactions picked up like anything. And we were very off opening cash on delivery because it has its inherent problems. But once we just open the platform for cash on delivery orders, the order number just started to increasing and the rate itself. The speed told us that yes, this is this is happening and we need to just streamline it really fast.

Krishna Jonnakadla  56:23 

Amazing. And when you went from 100 to a 10,000 in a year span, was there anything different or was it already on the base off a foundation that you had already laid by then?

Sonal  56:36 

Actually no, in this time being, I should say yes and no in the sense that taking control in around June, July, we took control of the logistics and the partly doing better cataloguing around June, that could change things that did change things. So and plus we started experimenting with a lot of viral acquisition techniques, especially the referral program, so that helped, that helped in the initial phase.

Krishna Jonnakadla  57:10 

Okay, so I think this is a fantastic segue into the initial starting points a little more, mostly on building up the supplier base and the reseller base. This is a marketplace, right? So all marketplaces have the tyranny of creating dual flywheels of momentum. You won't get quality resellers until you have quality suppliers, you won't get quality suppliers until you have quality resellers in some sense that chicken or egg situation. So 2014 was when the healthcare magic exit happened. Yeah, and 2015 is when you all started glow road, right?

Sonal  57:47 

Oh, no, no, so we registered Glow road in 2017. And we will be toying with the idea but it was not, not nothing was happening.

Krishna Jonnakadla  57:58 

I see. So talk about those initial moments where you created something, how long did it take for the first user to sign up? How long did it take for the first reseller? And then there is this moment in every startups history, right? Where you've built something, you've done a set of things, and no matter what you do, the traction just doesn't seem to be cutting in. Did you have that phase?

Sonal  58:24 

About the, before while we were building the technical platform isn't the tech work was going on. We would every day have a longer discussion around what would be more difficult getting the reseller or getting the supplier. We would just be keep throwing ideas at each other what may be good or bad. So and then when once the platform was ready to take registrations, I just started putting some posts in Facebook groups saying that we have this platform and you can, that same scandalous green dipper thing that you will earn money from home. So, the good thing is that no matter how spammy it sounds people look at it, you must empathize with the fact that when somebody needs money, they will explore all options, even though they may know very well that a good number of them will turn out to be bogus. So they did start getting inquiries pretty fast. Since the registration was free, people started registering the reseller started registering not like in hundreds and thousands but people started registering. Every day we put posts in groups we talked to some admins and totally free marketing not putting any marketing money. People at resellers did start registering getting decent suppliers was time taking, if I should not say challenging, there were going to learn a lot of learnings along the way. Because we had zero experience in this domain to find the right supplier and we were, especially when you're not, you don't have foot on ground like you're not sitting in Gujurat or Jaipur, you're sitting in Bangalore. So to find the correct supplier was, it took us quite some time to figure out that how shall we go about this? We actually, were able to go get around this by hiring the right expertise. We had to get people who had done this before. And surveyed required a different team all together as in to build a team who could get these suppliers on board. It was not happening through just throwing Facebook ads or putting Google ads that this is a platform or cold calling people it wasn't happening. So we put an experienced team there people who had done it for Flipkart and Amazon's found some good people. And then slowly the products started the catalogue started trickling in. And when you have domain expertise, they were able to tell that what is correctly priced what is not correctly priced. Then came the fact that the our supplier base needs to be different from the normal ecomm supply base. So this team also has a challenge they can't go back to the same supplier who sells on Amazon or who sells on Flipkart because here we are, in a different way I made the product. We are not going to charge them a commission we don't. We for a long time we were not charging. We were not monetizing in the sense that we are not charging any Commission on sales so to convince the supplier to give us a better price point, a different design than what they are selling  on Amazon or Flipkart to see that a reseller is supposed to sell it to the end consumer, you cannot sell something to an end consumer at a higher price than what is available at Amazon. So to figure out processes so that none of this happens that we find the right product right supplier at the right price so that we give that we are able to create value for the reseller and eventually for the end consumer. All this did take a lot of legwork hard work.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:02:36 

Outstanding. So wow, that is really fascinating to hear. So along the way, on the personal side, it must have been and I'm still sure it certain it is one hell of a journey in learning and feeling challenged every single day in maybe facing situations that are possibly new.

Sonal  1:02:56 

Yes, it is exciting as well. So to especially with coming from this was a U turn double U turn from turning from medicine to a pure ecommerce, social commerce fashion so my days and night and my entire conversation is around price and fabric. And, you know, you know what this consists of very different from medical world. But it's nice, I would say no complaints at all very, very blessed to have had the opportunity to experience so many things in depth. Very challenging also, but yeah, it is if you kind of it's something close to your heart you carried on.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:03:50 

So I'm going to ask you a slightly personal question. It was your idea and then it must have been one hell of a partnership between you and Kunal to say you are going to lead it and for the other team to rally behind you and actually work together. So was there any discussion on who was going to lead it out? Or was it always you that was going to hit this.

Sonal  1:04:13 

See, to be really honest on the ground, we do most of between me and Kunal we have done things together since the healthcare magic days so there is absolutely no division between our personal and professional life. We, work talk home talk kids talk family talk it all just nicely flows one into the other not that we don't fight we do have a lot of arguments about everything every now and then. And about who will lead the thing is see, I have there are things that thankfully by mercifully, we have very different skill sets. So he is good at certain things and I am really bad at that. I am good at certain things and he has zero interest in that. So, that has that has kind of led to the division of who does what in a less what you say less violent way. There was also there was no power struggle as such. So officially Kunal is the CEO of the company and he is he manages public relations also, people he's much more of a people's person and he likes some doing that he has done it before he is operationally also very skilled. I am more of an analytics and detail oriented person. So I can like, go into the details and details of something to me, any end I can keep on researching finding finding a solution and I can put many hours so, I don't know I never maybe because I wasn't supposed to be a doctor. So, I never thought that you were supposed to work eight hours a day it was always like any number of hours. So, at the moment yes somehow plus the design is also something Kunal is not exactly interested in, so it and because when somehow something is born in your head, it just so happens that you know it and you can see it and the other person does not. And so he in spite of being a medical and not knowing, to begin with not even knowing what a product manager is, I became the de facto product person for the company. So at the moment and right from the beginning, I have been taking care of all the product part getting the product design the supply part by the sheer virtue of the fact that I am a woman and most of our resellers are women and customers are women. So I understand them a bit more. I like to play with look into data also. And yeah reseller relations so I am anyday happy talking to the resellers than say the investors, I take care of that part. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:04:40 

Awesome.

Sonal  1:04:40 

So, yes, we have, it has not been too bad.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:04:41

So, let's talk about decision making. And this is one of my favorite questions just because of the way decisions are seen. A common myth around people is that there are some people that can make great decisions and some people that can make average decisions. I am of the opinion that some decisions work, some don't. And there is a confirmation bias in when we make statements like that. So on that count, what have been some decisions that worked out and the ones that did not work? And are you grateful for some decisions that didn't work out. And for the ones that did.

Sonal  1:05:13 

Immediately, nothing very big comes to mind. There is always small and big things happening every day, in terms of the decisions working and not working. I think we've already talked a lot about because all the initial changes happened around decisions that we're obviously not working. And coming to the decisions that obviously a lot of decisions have worked so good, which has brought us to this point, but I can't recall anything, which was absolutely, you know, like any one particular disaster or any one big, huge hit. I would say one thing which you we were being told him the general advice would have been that no do not. See the ecommerce people they work they work in a very structured way and the way the kind of stuff the way they work with suppliers is very different and structured. There were a lot of people who would discourage us from doing that differently. Like to date, till date if I find a good supplier, I would accept catalogues from that supplier on WhatsApp because that supplier doesn't know Excel and it is very difficult. They have a mental block around it. And a lot of suppliers they are, the scale is less, they are too remote. So generally, this was an unconventional decision that has worked for us that it doesn't matter no matter if the supplier is giving. I don't need white backgrounds. I don't need very fancy photos. I don't need my model photos. I don't even need a lot of product details as long as the critical things are there, I will take this apart first show the suppliers some sale and then slowly we will prove it so till date we are open to the idea of taking, you know, onboarding a supplier who is otherwise who wont be a great fit for e commerce.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:07:25 

I have to totally agree with that. I'll let you complete and then I have something to add.

Sonal  1:07:28 

So, that is so one thing. Secondly, yeah, I think I think that's, that's about it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:07:34 

I completely agree with you on the catalogue part. In fact, I co founded a startup called FLIT fashion locator in town. And the funny thing was, initially we were doing a lot of cataloguing for the merchants because they were all unique brands and unique merchants. And it was a huge logistical and a financial nightmare. And I always used to think, these were, this was way back in 2015. And OYO was still smaller back then we would compare ourselves with somebody like OYO and say, Hey, OYO is selling a hotel room. And in their case, they only have to photograph their product only once. Right? But when it comes to fashion, especially if it is of the non mass variety, and if it is unique, that is changing on a regular basis.

Sonal  1:08:26 

Oh, yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:08:28 

And the funny thing was, we looked around, and we saw, we started observing what was happening on social media. When we saw that the pictures that were actually generating inquiries or sales were not the fancy ecommerce background pictures. They were not the ones with white background. They didn't have in many cases, they did not even have a human being on the model on the dress. Right. So we realized that so we did one hack where we took this social feed and allow them to convert it into a product feed directly.

Sonal  1:09:04 

Okay.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:09:05 

So I can completely relate to what you're saying that if somebody didn't have fancy photography as long as they had decent photography that did justice to the product in some some form or fashion, it was something that you could totally agree. It is one of those things where you will learn from what's working and do not really stick. Yes, I can understand if you're, if you want your app to look really really classy, but that can come later when you are threatened for survival. You have to be pragmatic, right?

Sonal  1:09:32 

That and plus see it is, it was a double edged sword that because you cannot and when you are talking to an investor you can only tell so much of the story and sometimes people are so repulsed at seeing your app that oh my god these people don't even know how to put a decent picture and there is no detailed mention I don't even they have not even there is no sleep length filter. This is not, app is trash. You have to say that fine okay, but it's not it's not. It had its, in what do you say risks it begs a lot of risk and maybe the impression risk. So if somebody is most the nitty gritty of it, they will understand why you're doing what you're doing. But to the first time observer, of course, the app doesn't make a very great impression.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:10:24 

Totally, totally. I, but I think the shrewd investor who's looking at transactions happening from this would realize that ultimately, the true test is transactions. Even the most fanciest picture is not really generating any revenue. I mean, it's it's that is that that possibly counts as art, but not necessarily as a commercial picture. Right. So

Sonal  1:10:47 

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I will, I will. I'm just talking about the initial reaction and of course, yeah, what it actually clicks with the investor is something that it is so many put together.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:11:01 

Oh, certainly certainly awesome. So Sonal what's the dream scenario for Glow Road, I'm sure you've possibly gone past several dream scenarios and scaled what's the next dream scenario or the ultimate outcome for Glow Road?

Sonal  1:11:16 

See, the number of resellers who make a decent income if on glow road we have certain numbers in mind I will say set if 1 million ladies at the moment two lakh people transact on the platform make money or that is two lakh equal we may pay margins to two lakh resellers per month and on average, we want this number to grow. That is the that is the most important parameter and the earning power reseller is two things that are very, very crucial. The Dream scenario is to become extremely Easy to use Shopify, a mini Shopify with a supply built in, a dropshippers paradise. So if somebody thinks that I need to start a business if somebody thinks that I have the capability to sell goods, and they should be their default choice. At the same time they should be able to grow with us means if it is the most sophisticated reseller, the platform so there are plans of making the platform technically superior in the sense that, well, once the reseller starts scaling, they, they do, they plan to do and they do things like running their own ads and wanting their own analytics. We want to be the one stop shop for the person for that person right from the day one of the business to the final day where they're running a large business of their own.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:13:02 

And I suppose international is somewhere there in the cards.

Sonal  1:13:06 

International to be honest is not in the immediate plan. There is a lot to be done in India right now. Not jumping into not going international immediately. But we have seen, we understand that how that works the Healthcare magic to quite some extent. Yes, yes. Not saying no to it, but first making it a beautiful place for the Indian reseller.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:13:34 

Yeah. Well, I like that. I think there's definitely a ton of opportunity still left in India.

Sonal  1:13:41 

Oh, absolutely.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:13:42 

And alternate distribution models like yours are not while you are there and you have scaled to a great degree. We are now starting to see because of the internet, a lot of smaller, brands emerge in all sorts of categories. And while social media at one point in time was available to some of them, especially the kind of the physical products and consumer goods, you need alternate channels. Not everybody can think about appointing the usual FMCG type distributors, incurring four to five crores in investment, even before they register the first sale. And then, you know, extend huge lines of credit. That's the traditional playbook. Right?

Sonal  1:14:33 

Yes. So the the kind of strength that we bring to the merchant community is also amazing.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:14:43 

It's unparalleled.

Sonal  1:14:45 

Not everyone, it means to be found on Amazon and to be found on Flipkart for a small merchant is a nightmare.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:14:51 

I agree. Totally agree. So what would be your advice to women in general out there who are contemplating entrepreneurship who are thinking of starting something on their own having done to successful, unintentional entrepreneurships?

Sonal  1:15:09 

First thing first is that you need to get the whole I am a woman thing out of your, at least you need to get out of your head, even if the world has not you are capable you can. You can think you can analyze, you're just good as 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. Because I just felt that in the medical community because we have seen a lot of women in leadership positions. I just felt that that thing that Oh, I'm a woman is a bit bigger, a bit stronger in the tech environment. Still, because naturally, the women in tech are relatively much less visible than women in medicine. So overcome that your own mental barrier. Secondly, have the family on board. Because you cannot fight this fight on all fronts. Up, it's absolutely very, very necessary to have the family on board. Third thing which I have done is, of course, outsource a lot of all the responsibilities that can be outsourced and make peace with the fact that you will not be the most perfect mother or the various other roles that you play. So you have to make peace with that and just focus on the most essential or precious things that you want to do in your personal life. That was about the being a woman part of interesting being the entrepreneur part of it. I think people have there are many, many people out there who have a lot of the same advice. The similar advice which comes from all quarters and which is very, very valid. Is Don't care of your expenses. be frugal, be persistent. And just beep I think this persist, analyze a lot. Don't hesitate to change, don't hesitate to say that this is not working and just change.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:17:18 

Amazing. The funny thing is, when somebody is a man, very rarely this question gets asked to them at the cost of incurring that wrath. I'm going to ask you, because what you've done seems superhuman, superwomanish, in some sense to me, because being an entrepreneur means you're actually running multiple parallel tracks and whether you like it or not, and no matter how much support you get at home, there is that mother and then there is the family side that come that has to come together. How do you make sense of it all? How do you keep it all together?

Sonal  1:17:55 

You know, I have just, I believe I strongly believe that doing this well creating Glow Road and doing it well. And showing I have two daughters and showing them that these things can be done you can actually do give shape to your plans, your dreams, your ideas, is the best thing that I can do for them. So I have pretty much that mode that motivates me. And I know it that my children think the same way thankfully. So good if I tell them once, if I tell them that I am, I just jokingly told my daughter that no office anymore and my mom is going to be at home and she says she's so vented that no then who's going to do glow road who's going to do them. So you know that I have the the support that psychological support, I believe that it is it has a positive impact on their personality. Keeping it all together has not been easy honestly it takes a huge toll on you psychologically. But over the years, there have been times when things have gotten really tough in the sense of I just feel very anxious, out of control, but you know the things like meditation, exercise, I mean, I was not really I just thought that this is all top but somehow very proactively working on your own emotional health. And I would most importantly, say the spiritual health your entire philosophy your outlook towards life helps a lot once you have that. If that is in place, the anxiety level and the stress level, so no matter how you do it, you just need to over go above your stress and anxiety and not let it take control of yourself. It may, everybody has been doing it. I'm just describing what I have done.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:20:25 

So on that count, do you ever worry that what you've built could all unravel?

Sonal  1:20:32 

Oh you know I see Only time will tell and in times of Corona. What will be will be. It is also I think it is best if we just think positive and think what we can do. There is no point I mean that is the last thing one needs to worry about. there is enough already on it. Absolutely. If one starts getting anxious about that how it could all go wrong. I would just say that don't even go there. Don't Don't worry, you just worry about what you can do today.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:21:09 

Right. Awesome. Terrific. Sonal, this has been a fantastic discussion. Lots of amazing takeaways from your story. Love, your humility, and your candor with which you've talked about it. And more importantly, you are someone who's put your money, where your mouth is, you've gone behind a cause that you were passionate about. And one aspect that I forgot to ask early on, when you jumped in both healthcare magic and glow road. Initially, both of them were bootstrapped. Am I correct?

Sonal  1:21:52 

Yeah. Right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:21:54 

Okay. Was glowed bootstrap for a lesser time than healthcare magic because of the success that you enjoyed?

Sonal  1:22:02 

Oh, yes, definitely. So we had, we had some, we put in some capital of our own and the excel came on board very soon as well. They were our investors in healthcare magic also. And they were very, very enthusiastic about the idea.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:22:17 

Interesting. Great well, and we say this to everybody that comes on Maharajas of scale. Thank you for being a Maharani. And thank you for what you do. Maharajas of scale will be there cheering you to greater heights, I'm sure you will make a lot more amazing things happen. And this is just the beginning for all the things that you've done. I'm very certain this is just, you know, scratching the surface of the possibilities that lay ahead of you and your platform. We wish you the very best and we will be there to talk to you again when you reach your next peak.

Sonal  1:22:54 

Thanks so much Krishna. This has been amazing. It has been amazing talking to you. It made me go over a lot of things all over again and has me thinking on many more points. Really awesome. Thanks so much for this. This was fantastic.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:23:00 

Thank you. Sonal.

Nida  1:23:02 

We hope you enjoyed the story. If this story made a difference to you tell us by leaving a comment on the website or our social media channels. Help us spread the love by subscribing, liking and sharing our show. We welcome speaker suggestions and collaborations. Write to me at heythere@maharajasofscale.com