Between the point of starting up and becoming successful, there are long dark nights. Nights which test you to the extreme. Some fail, some quit while some conquer. If you fail, nobody gives a shit about your struggles. It is only after the success that everyone starts taking notes.
Shradha Sharma, founder of YourStory was at the top rung of CNBC and even to this day, holds the unique distinction of being the youngest AVP in the company. He connected to the entrepreneurs. Connection in a way that was emotional yet radical. She found one thing common among them. All of them had some great stories to tell. Stories that could inspire generations. Unfortunately, nobody was ready to scream out their journey. Shradha decided to take command.
So, she quit her high paying job to start on her own. She clearly remembers that day in August 2008. She told a gathering of entrepreneurs in Mumbai that she is going to start a venture that will tell stories of entrepreneurs who are not superstars yet but have something in common, the spark. The spark to create revolutions.
A few entrepreneurs said “Do It” while most of the experts said, “It won’t work”. They said that the idea won’t survive for more than 6 months and that it was just a social hobby. And nothing like that could make commercial sense.
Shradha spent her growing ages in Patna, Bihar. She was there when the state was experiencing its worst times – socially, politically and economically. Shradha shares that going to school back day was a big deal if the child was a girl.
However, Shradha’s hard push got her to one of India’s most prestigious colleges – St. Stephens in Delhi. She was among the social catalysts. She always kept her busy volunteering various works and projects in college. She pursued her MBA from MICA.
After experiencing the job culture at Times of India for some time, she joined CNBC where she spent quite a few years of her professional life. CNBC acted as a catalyst in shaping the entrepreneur inside her because it was the place which exposed Shradha to the world of entrepreneurship and helped her create a network of entrepreneurs.
At CNBC, her job was to trip to different places, meet new entrepreneurs and hear their story. Soon, she realized that there wasn’t any dedicated platform to tell their stories. And being the entrepreneur, yes she was an entrepreneur by heart, she found her unmet need. YourStory was born.
Shradha shares that YourStory was received very well by entrepreneurs from day one – “I think it meant a lot to the guys whom we’re writing about. They felt empowered that they weren’t alone and all of them said that nobody else wrote about them in the same way.”
She says, “Everyone who starts up will face challenges, especially if you’re building something disruptive. I think the biggest challenge that I faced was how the same people treated me differently after I left CNBC. The name matters a lot. Also, a lot of the big names in the industry didn’t really acknowledge what I was trying to do. But that just motivated me even more as I knew I had a point to prove; it drove me to be successful with this effort.”
Shradha didn’t feel that her being a woman posed challenges – “In fact, it helped me,” she says, “In the world where men are the ones trying to make it big, a woman trying to do the same helped me stand out from the crowd.”
YourStory is now an over 50 members team that publish content in 13 languages. Founded in 2008, the YourStory network reaches more than 10 million active business readers and clocks more than 20 million page views each month.
YourStory.com has published over 41,000 stories of entrepreneurs, innovators, and change-makers and provided business networking opportunities to over 50,000 entrepreneurs through the various conferences and meetups across the country, such as TechSparks and MobileSparks.
Shradha has managed to attract sponsors and clients like Amazon, Cisco, Dell, GoDaddy, Google, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Nokia, Nokia, Vodafone, VeriSign, and VMware, venture capital funds like Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, and Sequoia Capital; government bodies like Karnataka Government, DIPP, and independent bodies like the British Council and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
Shradha’s advice is for everyone – “If you’ve got an idea that you believe in, then just go ahead and do it. It is the most simple and the most powerful mantra for every entrepreneur starting today. Life will be full of challenges and how they affect your lies in how you look at them. You need to be positive, it’s all in your head.”
YourStory raised $5M of venture funding from Kalaari Capital the with the participation of Ratan Tata, former Infosys board member T.V. Mohandas Pai and Qualcomm Ventures. Vani Kola, co-founder and managing director of Kalaari Capital joined the board of YourStory following the investment.
YourStory primarily generates revenues from advertisements on the site besides the events it hosts. It has about 50 employees of which 18 are in editorial, according to an employee who did not want to be named.
One source said the company ended FY15 with revenues of around Rs 5 crore. However, this could not be confirmed independently.