Paru Radia once faced an all too common challenge experienced by many of us. Durtti wants to know how she defeated it.
Can you tell us what is so special about an iKen Watch, Paru?
It’s awesome! Each watch is created from 5 parts and they can all be different colors if you like. You get to choose. Match your outfit, your mood, your sneakers, your team. The list goes on and the possibilities are endless!
You’re a successful entrepreneur now, but it wasn’t always like that. Can you tell us more about your own experience of being bullied and what effect, both negative and positive, that had on you?
Hmm… that’s a tough question. I try to forget those years. I was always made to feel different, which usually meant inadequate or inferior.
The negative impact was that it took me a while to believe in myself, my dreams and my ability to live them.
As for the positive, I buried my head in my books to get away from it and ended up doing really well in school!
Also, as an adult, I’m a lot more empathetic to those around me and support those who are weaker than the people around them.
Can you describe where you were and what you were feeling when you realised that your business, iKen Watches was actually becoming a commercially viable reality?
There were different levels of realisation.
The first was at my first trade show, when people were placing orders based on just a handful of prototypes and no marketing material. I was new to the game and didn’t know that much back then. I was thinking, “WOW! You get it! And you like it too! OMG, is this real?”
The next time was in my living room, the evening I (and my close friends) had just completed picking, packing and shipping approximately 100 orders to my first set of stores in the Spring of 2013. I sat there, in shock. It was surreal. My idea had become a product. People liked and ordered that product and within 5 days, the watches would be in 100 stores and on real people’s wrists. It was an amazing feeling.
The third time, was over the holidays at the end of 2014, when I signed a deal with a group of investors. They have the passion, the drive and the people to take iKen to where I have always dreamed of taking it. This is real. This is happening!
With the benefit of hindsight, would you now deal with the bullying that you faced any differently?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t be so afraid. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have stuck up for myself more. I would have stood my ground and been proud of who I was, what I liked and what I did.
If it was possible to bring anyone back from the past, which 3 historical icons would you invite to dinner?
Oh boy. Um… Lady Diana, Michael Jackson and Gandhi.
What do you think you might cook for them?!
I’d cook them a rich Indian meal. It’s what I know best!
Finally Paru, what advice can you give to an entrepreneur who has a great business idea but doesn’t know how to go about taking it to the next level?
Do your research. Get the product right. Make sure there is a market for it. Don’t waste money. Don’t waste your time. If you are serious, be prepared to work around the clock and not have a social life. Choose a partner. A good one. Working alone is overwhelming.
Above all, be committed – else don’t do it!