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Riddhi Sharma- CEO & Founder of Thought In A Dot

Riddhi Sharma

Riddhi Sharma

"Empowerment and support ignite the hidden sparks within us, fostering a culture of growth and connection" Riddhi Sharma

Shaping My Journey: Childhood Roots

Right since my school years, I was always encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities be it being a part of debate clubs or speech competitions. My parents always supported me and never stopped or questioned me,  if my extracurricular would hinder my studies. When I was in college I wanted to do something apart from my academics. This led to me bagging my first internship, where I just walked into the office of Hindustan Times, inquired for a job, and luckily got it. I worked as a campus reporter for them.

Even then, I was still open to new things. Hence when a friend from college asked me to collaborate with her on a college newspaper, I welcomed it with open arms.  What started as a fun collaboration with a few friends on campus became one of the first and biggest student-run newspapers, currently known as DU BEAT. It was just a stepping stone in the long road that lay ahead of me. I was the first editor of the newspaper and covered the entire campus on foot. I remember friends laughing when they saw me and many of them ran away thinking I would hand over a pile to them to distribute.

I was part of a startup when it was not a buzzword or even a word in 2006. I am glad my friend Kriti chose me as the first editor and part of the founding team to be part of the exciting journey. After that, I worked as a journalist for a few years and eventually, made my journey into content and digital media. Since I was never stopped, I could try out everything and this is what helped me.

The 3 things that helped me in my journey as an entrepreneur are persistence, mindset, and flexibility. The passion to meet challenges head-on, the persistence to consistently get it right, and being patient through the process; from a journalist to an entrepreneur, this has been my journey and I am grateful to have made the journey to be where I am holding on to these values.

Genesis of Thought In A Dot

I always say I have a “keeda” to work with startups, that’s because I  like working from scratch and contributing to things as if it were my own organization. Thus, I was a part of several ‘firsts’, whether Arvind Kejriwals’ first media co-ordinator, DuBeat, or Purplle; and since I was already building things from scratch for so long for others, I figured why not for myself?  That is how Thought In A Dot started. Also, yet another thing that inspired me was my newborn. I wanted to spend more time with him and be a part of his childhood, while simultaneously working on my career. Thus, Thought In a Dot turned out to be the best of both worlds and thus, a new chapter began. Even though the initial years were slow, I did not mind it as it gave me time to spend with my child.

Some of the initial challenges that I faced were similar to any startup. It was difficult to get clients, no one was taking me seriously, as I was new to the industry and a complete nobody. The industry itself was new, and only established advertising agencies who had converted into digital agencies were respected. However, amidst all this what inspired me was Purplle, being run by Manish Taneja and Rahul Dash. I liked their energy and the efforts they continued to make. I have always loved to work with new organizations instead of already established ones.

Empowering Women: Project Sakhi

What inspired me to start Project Sakhi was my own journey as an entrepreneur and seeing the rise of entrepreneurship in my village. However, I noticed that not everyone had the right connections or resources.

I recall my mom's story when she had to finish her MA exams right after her wedding, but my grandmother initially objected. My aunt stepped in, allowing my mom to take her exams while she took care of the household. This incident motivated me to begin Project Sakhi, as my mother had the opportunity to pursue her dreams because of my aunt's support.

Another source of inspiration was the strong women in my life. Before I got married, my mother supported my career, and after marriage, my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law helped me succeed. I realized how crucial female support is in a woman's life. When women support each other, half the battle is already won.

This realization led me to create a women's community.

In India, we often underestimate the value of small gatherings like kitty parties and satsangs. These are places where women come together, share ideas, and recipes, and support each other. These gatherings hold great power for women. So, if we can have these events for everyday rejuvenation and emotional support, why not create something similar for entrepreneurs?

Project Sakhi's goal is to support women-led small businesses by establishing a resource center, information hub, community, digital learning space, and a platform for sharing stories among entrepreneurs. Our aim is to create support networks across the country, especially for women in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Currently, Project Sakhi is in its early stages. We are working on building a community that connects women entrepreneurs, equips them with digital skills, and provides them with access to resources.

Mastering Life's Triple Juggle

I didn't follow a specific strategy; I went with the flow, making mistakes and learning along the way. Maintaining work-life balance isn't easy, but here are some things that have helped me:

·        Plan ahead and make to-do lists to prioritize tasks. Small wins can lead to big achievements.

·        Have a strong support system both at home and work that allows you to be yourself.

·        Trust in your abilities.

·        Share responsibilities and learn to delegate.

·        Take time for self-care without feeling guilty. Motherhood has its challenges, and it's okay to have doubts and low moments.

One important lesson I've learned is that you must choose your battles. This is a mantra to help you achieve work-life balance. At times, a child's test may take precedence over a client's call, while on other days, a client meeting may be more important than attending your child's parent-teacher meeting (PTM). It's ultimately your decision which battle to prioritize on any given day.

You can't please everyone, and there will be moments when you must make a choice between the two. On those days, I feel fortunate to have a supportive partner on my journey. We are both parents and partners, and the key is finding equilibrium in our responsibilities.

Mentors: Catalysts of Growth

Mentors play a pivotal role in personal growth. While parents, grandparents, and school or college teachers often serve as early mentors, professional life requires individuals who truly understand you. I, personally, have not worked in a traditional corporate environment. Instead, I've discovered mentors among friends, network gatherings, college seniors, online communities, and social media networks.

One of my initial mentors is my friend's brother, Dhaval Gupta, who was also an investor for the campus newspaper we operated, DUBeat. Dhaval has consistently supported my journey since day one.

In the realm of social media, my dear friend Soubhik Mukherjee has been a significant guide and mentor. He introduced me to the world of social media back in 2010, a decision that shaped my career positively.

Another influential mentor is Nishad Ramachandran, who noticed my potential at a networking event I organized. He has been a steadfast source of guidance, offering valuable insights during moments of uncertainty. More recently, Papa CJ, a fellow member of the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator cohort from India, has become a guiding light in my journey.

Last but not least, Manish Taneja, Suyash Katyayni, and Rahul Dash are not just mentors but lifelong friends and family. During my time at Purplle, they gave me not only a job but also the courage, confidence, creative freedom, and a dream to fuel my future path.

Unveiling Riddhi: A Hidden Spark

One day in the office, during a discussion about financial incentives, some of my teammates shared stories that left a lasting impact on me. They mentioned how I had sponsored their first laptops, holidays, and phones, and even supported their educational pursuits during their internships with me.

This was the moment I truly realized the profound effect my small venture was having on people. Parents would visit my office and express how their children were happier working with me compared to their previous jobs. Although these individuals are in their twenties, our organizational culture has naturally led me to play the role of a nurturing figure.

My aspiration is to create a company where everyone feels deeply connected and leaves with more than just a paycheck. Our work environment is not confined to the typical nine-to-five routine; we balance hard work with fun, and there are moments of downtime when we can catch our breath. Throughout it all, we support each other.

Driven by my own experience as a mother, I have made it a priority to hire moms who are returning to the workforce after taking sabbaticals. I understand the challenges of being a mother and making the decision to rejoin the workforce. Our confidence can take a hit after motherhood, and it requires significant courage to come back to work while managing it all.

As a result, I have been deeply involved with my team, and I've ensured that the company's growth aligns with the pace and needs of every individual within it. My goal is to maintain our core values and keep our supportive culture intact.