TomorrowMakers

A unique concept along with a foolproof growth plan is all that convinced her investors, says Chadda.

Shubrah Chadda, Chumbak

Women entrepreneurs run almost 14% of all business establishments in India, says a National Sample Survey Organisation’s report. Shubhra Chadda - co-founder of Chumbak - is a proud contributor to this small number.

‘Quirky’ is how most people would describe the offerings from her venture, which makes Indian motifs on laptop sleeves, mobile covers, magnets, bags, and a host of other objects that make for great collectables and gifts.

In this interview, Shubhra talks about the challenges of running an entrepreneurial venture, maintaining a work-life balance, her inspiration and much more.

On her personal and professional background

 

“Coming from a defence background, I got to live in various parts of the country throughout my childhood,” says Shubhra. "My family finally settled in Bangalore when I was in high school."

After graduating from Mount Carmel College there, Shubhra worked at several multinational companies (MNCs) - first as a staff accountant at KPMG, and then in marketing and communications.

On switching from a regular job to running an entrepreneurial venture

“I got the idea of Chumbak after the birth of my daughter,” she says. Shubhra always liked the idea of running a business – a tremendous sense of responsibility coupled with the privilege of being in control of the entire process. With Chumbak, her primary aim was to build on the idea and establish a successful business.

In March 2010, along with her husband, she founded Chumbak in Bengaluru.

On maintaining a work-family balance, while running Chumbak

“It was never a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. job. In the first year, I managed to work out of my home as most of my work was done over email. This way I could also spend time with my family, including my daughter who was an infant at the time,” she says.

Shubhra reveals that her husband and daughter have been extremely supportive throughout Chumbak’s journey. “I always made it a point to spend quality time with my daughter - whether it is taking off on a short weekend trip or accompanying her for keyboard lessons,” she says.

On financial or other challenges and dealing with them

The first challenge was to look after everything single-handedly until her husband joined Chumbak full-time. “I have been highly involved in Chumbak right from its inception,” says Shubhra, adding that except getting some help for warehousing and packaging their products, she practically managed everything else on her own.

In 2011, Shubhra’s husband Vivek Prabhakar quit his job at Sun Microsystems and joined Chumbak as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He looked after marketing and sales, while she managed the design and product development.

Another challenge was funding. When asked about how they funded Chumbak, Shubhra says, “I had risked losing a stable salary when we lacked the infrastructure of a well-setup system. We had invested a large amount of our own money in the company.”

The two then started looking for funding when they were confident about their products and had clarity about what the brand would stand for. Being the only venture offering a unique proposition like theirs, raising equity for Chumbak was a smooth journey. Last November, Chumbak raised Rs. 85 crores in funding.

On encountering obstacles because she is a woman and dealing with them

“Fortunately, I didn’t face any gender-specific challenges,” says Shubhra. Chumbak’s investors needed to be convinced only about its story and growth plans.

“However, an entrepreneur cannot be laid back and must constantly prove the relevance of his or her brand to customers and stakeholders,” she adds.

On her role-model and source of inspiration

Shubhra reveals that her mother has been a constant source of wisdom in her life. “She always looked at the big picture and didn’t sweat over the small things,” says Shubhra.

A lot of conversations between Shubhra and her mother revolve around their interests, passion, and how they would like to lead positive and healthy lives.

On the future of Chumbak

A few years down the line, Shubhra hopes that Chumbak will turn into India's first choice for design-led lifestyle products. She also hopes that her company will establish a with a foothold globally while offering its customers a feeling of unparalleled joy.

Her advice to fellow women entrepreneurs

“Get your hands dirty! Being involved in every function of the business is the best way to learn and grow your brand," says Shubhra.

She adds that women are extremely capable of balancing different roles and should use this skill to their advantage.

Shubrah Chadda, Chumbak

Conclusion:

Shubhra Chadda's journey is an inspiration to many women entrepreneurs who wish to make a mark in the Indian business scene. 

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