Catapulting Women Entrepreneurs into Action – Sparkpluggers MasterClass for Women

Motherhood turns your life over in many different ways. There I was, before becoming a mother, running around corporate spaces in a 12 to 16 hours work day, tackling complex codes and handling medium sized teams. And here I am today – my own boss and doing what I am really passionate about – writing. Motherhood to me, just as to many other women around me, came as that much needed break to pause and introspect, to dare to take the leap and give wings to my dreams. After the birth of my, I started writing stories and freelancing. Soon I was writing news columns, blog articles, academic papers and a lot more. This itch in me though, wouldn’t stop. So as soon as my child become independent, I started working towards my dream – a dream that was all about creating something unique and taking things to the next level.

They say, when you really want something to happen, the entire universe conspires to make it happen for you. And conspire it did when my universe brought be in contact with The Sparkpluggers. I was scourging a forum for clients, and my eyes fell on an announcement for the Masterclass for Women Entrepreneurs on 21 and 22 June 2014. My interest piqued, I signed up. I was both curious to see what kind of ideas do women entrepreneurs bring, and eager for some much needed motivation for myself, and the dreams I was building.

My first step towards working on my idea came when I received the invite from Sparkpluggers. Their information booklet asked participants to prepare an idea pitch and come. Putting my idea on paper for the first time excited me to no end. At last, I was progressing from just dreaming to doing.

When my friend, an entrepreneur herself, and I, reached the venue on the morning of the meet, we found no indication of a workshop being conducted there. At least on the outside! We entered our minds full of doubt, ready to turn away if it the event wasn’t going to be what we thought it was. Turns out, we needn’t have worried. Once we entered the premises of Thoughtworks and met with Rohit and Vineet, we realized this was going to be much more than what we expected.

The day began with Rohit urging us all to turn into fools! Fools who question the status quo, who don’t care about sticking to the norms and who go on to charter their path to success in their own way. One of the quotes from that presentation appealed to me in particular. It said, “Entrepreneurs are those who jump from the cliff and build their airplane on the way down.” What a thought!

Before we broke for breakfast, Rohit, our host for the workshop, gave us instructions for the speed-networking activity. The session turned into a chaotic cacophony, with everyone trying to meet as many participants as she could. It was fun and this was a great ice breaker.

After the dynamite icebreaker and a delectable breakfast, the sessions started off in earnest, with Rohit going into detail about the importance of the Business Model Canvass (BMC). It was then that I was able to grasp the level of thought and analysis that needed to go into starting out on my own. The information though didn’t deter me but only made me more enthusiastic! Now that I had found the tools to map a clear direction for my entrepreneurial journey, things were getting truly exciting!

The post lunch session saw us putting the theoretical concepts into practice, by working on Nanda Ramaswamy’s idea pitch – We got so engrossed in preparing the BMC that we overshot the allotted time, but it was worth every minute spent.

We discovered the nuances that we needed to consider while sketching out the details of an idea. Before we wrapped up for the day, about 15 of participants presented their idea pitches, which were rated the other participants. I had come in the morning wondering if most of the women’s ideas would be around baking or artistry, and was pleasantly surprised by the range of ideas that were bounced about in the room that day. We went back home, high on enthusiasm, and looking forward to Day-2.

Day 2 was made memorable with two great sessions – a motivational session by life coach Malti Bhojwani, at the start and a talk by Mrs. Kiran Bhat, a successful entrepreneur. We spent the day working on the 3 ideas shortlisted from those pitched on Day 1. It had been a while since I had experienced this kind of teamwork and brainstorming and was a great learning experience to reinforce the concepts of BMC.

At the end of the two days, I went back home, with a new group of like-minded friends. Women who were raring to go, who had dreams to achieve…women who wanted to be ‘fools’. The impetus provided by this workshop got me working with a renewed zest for my venture I still have a lot of questions and doubts. But now, my confidence is high as I have found support in the form of a group in Sparkpluggers. Thanks to the Masterclass, my belief in “Nothing is impossible, even the word says I M Possible” has been reinforced.

Written By: Yamini Vijendran, Founder WriteNow

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