4 commandments a woman founder should remember to get funds and keep their startup going

Published in The Economic Times, March 03,2018

By Vishakha Singh

I like elephants. A she elephant always leads the herd, no questions asked. But in the world of startups, where sometimes founders are bigger than the idea, the first question that gets asked is: Who are the founders? Fair enough. But what if there is just one founder and that too a woman? A single woman founder is a discussion that dies before it begins. Many a time.

There are two sides to the story — one glorifies the startup w ..




Sambit Bal & his note on Martin Crowe

This note is dedicated to the note written by Sambit Bal on death anniversary of Martin Crowe. Sambit has poured his heart in this piece. You can see nuances of his feelings while he sketches out Martin’s profile. Sambit tries to stay at a distance and yet he is so beautifully close to the Hero. You can actually feel the tremble in his fingers when he would be writing it.

But what moved me most and stayed with me are the lines as follows, ‘Most of his golden career had been full of torment, anxiety and self-loathing, before enlightenment – and the love of a good woman – lit up his last years, despite two bouts of cancer.’ The love of a good woman is life changing in his words. Must have been.

Sambit also writes, ‘I was going to skip writing that day in order to watch him watch his team.’ And this, ‘I was watching him closely throughout. There were no signs of distress. Instead there was a serene glow about him. He was at peace, he said.  This team, just by reaching the final, had banished ghosts of 1992, when Marty’s New Zealand were unable to defend a reasonable target in the semi-final as he nursed an injury in the dressing room.’  He writes about the pain and the medicine, he writes about the agony and the relief.  And Sambit’s closing sentence, ‘Me too, Marty, me too,’ leaves you with the ache that he is nursing. The entire note is a great read not only to see another side of Martin Crowe but also an elegant piece of writing.

Read it aloud to your child/children, it is worth it.

Stars in my sky

Many years ago, the incident that shaped my thoughts was that of Nirbhaya. I wondered how to make the world a better place for my children so that they could grow up as unbridled, independent adults. It was then that I decided to work for respect, respect for women, respect for human kind.

Red Polka runs on this mission to build a community of respect for women. Especially those women, who create businesses, no matter the size of the business. They are self-starters who with their creative thinking and determination have built something from the ground up, while creating designs that are truly world class.

Each designer on Red Polka is ‘the chosen one’, someone who not only makes beautiful designs, but also has a beautiful story. We believe that each business makes a difference; many of them may not be the family breadwinner, but their attitude is to feed many families through other breadwinners – their tailors, embroiders, packers, coordinators…

But not each one is adequately respected in her community for creating a business out of fashion and design. Many women face their efforts being written off as ‘hobbies’. Their work and the spirit of living a dream often gets overlooked. In my view, no work is small, as long as it is a sincere effort. As a client gave the term, ‘personal jihad’ to my approach, and like a personal jihad for respect, we are trying to earn respect for these #starsinmysky.

Next time you come across a lady who runs a boutique, give her the same respect that you would give to the lady who goes to a corporate office to earn a living.

Mother Teresa

The Chosen One
May your light keep us warm
And remind us
to be a better human today
And everyday

Beyond religions
Beyond boundaries
Beyond hierarchies
Is the human kind

May we rise above
May we spread love

The Next Ten

The Next Ten

In 2004, I was busy strategizing launch of the news channel Times Now, with a working title as PQ.

In 2014, Times Now today is a household name. Television industry went through ups and downs in last tens years, programming evolved, and Times Now made sure that it gained respect in 2014 ensuring that PM designates thought carefully before giving interviews. Media evolved in these years and is evolving faster.  Next ten years will be very different from last ten years. It will not be about television or print or radio or mobile. It would be about the brand and accessibility. I am hoping, it would still be about Times Now, the brand, but not only on cable and satellite, but also on Internet- mobile, laptops, tablets, phablets. It would be about brands and how fast they run to keep pace with the changing consumer.

My Next Ten Gems that would keep the media and advertising industry running would be:

  • Accessibility is the Media. Where I access my content, becomes my media. Be it my Facebook timeline, my mobile apps, newspaper, my car, my whatsapp group, my television etc.
  • Big idea: the big idea would flow in small measures, in forms of stories in our day to day life, and the longer they keep flowing, the bigger that idea would grow. It will not be just a burst of advertising campaign.
  • Communities in communication: media reach will have to address to communities or affinity groups and not just general consumers.
  • Digital is not a medium, but a way of life. It is not to be seen as a media, but how it enables the life and if brand is a part of this enabling journey, communication goal is achieved.
  • Emerging is the new experience when it comes to talent. While sourcing or honing talent, one would not look for experience but for emerging talent. So, if you are not emerging, no matter how old you are, you will be lost.
  • F: Not Fan following but friends: Brand’s love will continue as friends and  not as fans. While friends are about reach-ability, fans cannot reach the celeb i.e. brands. Brands need to build reach-ability with consumers like friends. The closer you are, the better relationship grows.
  • Global is not threatening any more for anyone, it is about the affinity groups across borders.
  • Happy is the new rich. This is my fav as more and more people will spend to get instant happiness than to save to be bank rich. And all those actions from brands that would evoke happiness would be loved.
  • Instant and how: it is all about now. Information now. Transaction now.
  • Judgment: Consumers are not only taking calculated judgment, but also faster judgment. Little knowledge is in abundance: courtesy Google Uncle. So essentially no, ullu banaoing.

Keep emerging!


Written for and published in Impact magazine’s Tenth Anniversary edition

Tum na hota…

अगर हमारी शब्दों के कोष में ‘तुम’ ना होता
तो, कोई छोटा ना होता
अगर हम सिर्फ ‘आप’ कहते
तो शायद आदर की समझ होती

काश, हमारे शब्दों के कोष में सिर्फ ‘आप’ होता
हमारे बच्चे ‘आप’ होते
हजारों पत्नियाँ ‘आप’ होती
लाखों युवा ‘आप’ होते
हमारी नींव कमज़ोर ना होती
शायद छोटेपन का एहसास न होता
शायद सिर्फ सम्मान होता

काश, हमारे शब्दों के कोष में सिर्फ आप होता

एक भिकारी भी ‘आप’ होता
वो नौकर भी ‘आप’ होता
हमारी बाई भी ‘आप’ होती
हमारी बच्चियाँ भी ‘आप’ होती
कोई छोटा ना होता
कोई बड़ा ना होता

काश हमारे शब्दों के कोष में ‘तुम’ ना होता
हमारे आँखों में एक ही भाव होता
हम इंसान होते, शायद इंसानियत होती
कोई छोटा ना होता, कोई बड़ा ना होता
काश हमारे शब्दों के कोष में सिर्फ ‘आप’ होता


Are you scared of some words?

I am amazed with the energies of SMEs. Limitless. And such outstanding work that one struggles to think why should I classify them as SME. I will call most of them as curators in their respective fields. However, they seem to be wary of the word Brand. They want to build it, they drive all the way for a strategy discussion. And after layers of discussions with various founders, it is becoming clear that Brand is just a word in the dictionary, which is not so friendly. For many, brand building means advertising. For many, Brand is on the list of things to do, but the last thing to do.


Some words are there in our daily lives, but are difficult. They sound unapproachable, they sound esoteric, they sound as if they are in context with the neighbour or even neighbour’s neighbour. ‘Brand’ is one of these set of words. Especially for many start ups and small businesses where the founder is writing the whole story, she finds, ‘Brand’ as a distant relative.  While she knows Brand is an important word for the story, but still it goes on the back burner because there are other, more operational things to attend to, apart from the product.

However, there are three things to remember if you wish to grow:

1. Brand is the story, not just the name. It becomes the product. The product never becomes a brand.

2. Brand is a personality you can carve. Chisel and chisel and it will take a memorable and lasting personality.

3. In initial years you…

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When true leaders leave at their prime, celebrate, don’t mourn. You have been lucky to be a part of their journey!
The same applies when an elderly person dies. Why mourn the death of 80plus or even a couple of years younger to that? One day, the end has to come. Be happy, that you were a part of their journey and that they lived a full life.


Running taught me that when u reach the end, greet the finishing line with the same enthusiasm as when u started, no matter how tired you are.

The meaning of brand building

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

It is not about the product that smells like a rose, but if you call a fragrance a rose, you know what the fragrance would smell like. The name Rose has a personality. So wherever it goes, it will carry that personality.

So what is a brand- A name? A Logo? A tagline?

Is it all of the above?

A brand is a name to start with. And that name slowly showcases it’s personality. Sometimes the name is functional- like the service you provide, your brand name may indicate that directly. Sometimes it is not linked with the business. It is just a name. It still has a mission- to be etched in the customers’ mind. A name is just the beginning.

The logo of the brand is like the signature of that personality. It is not critical initially, but it starts seeping into the customer mindset slowly and it does influence the behavior. It could be soft, it could be bold, it could be bright, it could be subtle. Whatever it is, it adds a layer to the personality. It is like an individual’s dressing sense. It is the closest visual-aid for the name of your brand and anything visual sticks in the mind for the longest.

So a brand is a name, a brand has a logo and a brand has a tagline. What is a tagline? It is simply the promise that you make it to your customer. It is the promise of your product, the promise of your service. Do you need a tagline when you are a startup? No, it is not necessary to launch with a tagline. But what you need is to be clear about how you would like your brand to be remembered and this message we call as the communication goal. Tagline of any brand evolves from the brand’s communication goal. The communication goal is never advertised, it is written down for clarity of action and to shape brand’s personality. The credibility and the reputation of the brand are built on the communication goal. And this message caters to:

  • your partners, your vendors
  • your customers
  • your employees
  • your potential investors
  • your media presence- your website, your social media presence
  • and in your advertising, as and when you go ahead with that

Continue reading “The meaning of brand building”

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