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My journey as a mother and CEO

[By Niyati Shah]

Every entrepreneur has that moment- an experience, an epiphany – that inspires them to start their own adventure someday. For me it was the sound of my baby’s heartbeat on the machine.

I felt exhilarated as well as content at the same time and that was the defining moment when I had decided to go for the big idea so that I could spend time with my child.

Being invited to write about my journey and challenges for Point Blank 7’s ‘Spirit of Woman’ series, I was happy and eager to share my story. And as I started penning my thoughts I realized that challenges are a part every venture and gender biases will take eons to be forgotten. But what is important is that being a woman is a celebration in itself and it is a magical power to create life – for me especially so – as a mother and as a businesswoman.

Fortunate enough to have worked with the giants of the entertainment industry like Universal, Zee, Sify and Yahoo I always found my career very interesting and personally satisfying. But it was my son’s birth that prompted me to think out-of-the-box and that’s how I started my company. 

I realized that I never wanted to leave my child alone but at the same time it would not be possible with the crazy work schedules that I followed. I am a single parent, that puts more responsibility on me and as much as I love it, time management became my biggest priority.

Leaving my comfortable job as Head of Entertainment in Yahoo! India and opting for motherhood meant saying goodbye to a good salary, affluent position and of course my savings. That thought was unnerving in the beginning but investing all my personal finance in the business was a risk that I had to take in order to have a successful future for both me and my son.

As a woman entrepreneur, for me the biggest challenge lay in making business partners look at me beyond being a woman. The only way to deal with this was to assure them of my knowledge and experience through my professional conduct and a passionate belief in my concept. Once the gender bias was out of the way, it was easier to take discussions ahead.

Even then, when I approached people with the idea of Shotformats, besides being taken seriously as a business woman, the hurdles arose out of conflicting ideas with music record studios.

One of the challenges lay with the fact that music studios tend to trust multi-national organizations more than Indian companies despite their contributions in the industry. I believe, possibly because multi-nationals are armed with financial support and reach to carry the product to larger audiences. Convincing content providers to trust Indian ventures as well was half the battle won for us. And then there was the age-old battle with the influx of pirated content. For companies like ours, which delivers copyright content at a price, we have to ensure and focus on quality of the content as well pricing. We had to create awareness among our customers that pirated content may be harmful for their devices in the long run and they should opt for legal content which was a fraction of a price otherwise.

The launch of Biscoot, our offline app store, was another big challenge for us. No one in the world had attempted to have an offline app store which catered to content and apps, so we had no reference case study. The concept being so unique, it was a difficult task to bring distributors onboard. We had to hand-hold them through the entire process and demonstrate the possibilities the store offered. It has truly been an exercise in humility for us.

Starting Shotformats was the biggest gamble of my life but I have never once regretted my decision. Every day I wake up as excited about the fun activity I would do with my child as much as the new projects I would work upon. Some days are great and while some moments are frustrating but I love that I am working on my own terms. Besides my son, this is my biggest high in life.

About The Author

Niyati is the MD & CEO of Shotformats Digital Productions and has successfully completed her management education from Kenya Institute of Management. Niyati’s exceptional contribution to the segment of mobility and digital space has been regularly recognized and rewarded. She has been chosen as a Winner of the prestigious World Women Leadership Congress Award at World Women Congress, Indian Leadership Award for Industrial Development; Indian Achievers Foundation, Indian Economic Development and Research Association; Business Leadership Award for Industrial Excellence,International Achievers Conference; and Fastest Growing Indian Company Excellence Award-2013.

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