Maheima Kapur had been working for 9 years across different FMCG organizations when she quit her job to start her new venture with 2 of her co- founders. A Physics graduate from Sri Satya Sai University and an MBA from IIM Bangalore, Maheima had been working in marketing across organizations such as Unilever, Tata Global Beverages and Britannia.
I was on my own, without a job and without a clue about what I wanted to do next. It was not an easy place to be – there were lots of questions, uncertainties and doubts plaguing me
But the start-up world had worked its charm on Maheima and she loved the freedom and creative opportunity that it held out as a promise. That’s when she thought of starting Talking Street – a street and local food discovery platform. The platform was built to discover exciting food in different cities in India when people travel, and find answers to what to eat and where to eat around them. When she started, people around her were very supportive. “There was excitement and encouragement from my friends across all ages,” she says.
It is not easy to get used to not earning, when you’re in the process of setting things up and figuring out the business side of things
Though her parents were a little skeptical about her start-up, the ecosystem built around entrepreneurship made it easier for Maheima to explain the start up space to them. “They couldn’t understand why, after all these years of working and trying to build a career in a specific space, I wanted to give it all up to do something which was so uncertain. But today they are far more supportive,” she adds. Maheima says that her husband has always supported her move from a regular, fairly high-flying, corporate career to Talking Street and trusts her with her vision.
I often feel that most of the challenges entrepreneurs face are in their minds.
Maheima believes that a start-up is an accelerated journey of self-discovery. “Getting used to working on my own – all decisions, responsibilities, and ups and downs – takes a while. It’s even more pronounced in case of single founder start-ups like mine,” she says. She also says that finding the right set of people to work with is a tough task. While working day and night on Talking Street, Maheima says that she has sacrificed her peace of mind. “Work is constantly on my mind and however hard I try, I’m rarely able to shake it completely off. I don’t like it that way but I’m still working at that,” she says.
Apart from that, she has made her exotic and long vacations into ‘workations’ where she travels to a new location and works during the day covering eateries for Talking Street. “Increasing engagement with users and growing the traffic have been among the tougher challenges we’ve faced” says the IIM Bangalore graduate.
Talking Street journey involves visiting different cities to figure out what’s best to eat there or connecting with people in these cities to understand the food culture. And Maheima and her team definitely finds it fun. “Who wouldn’t love eating delicious food, traveling to places, meeting locals, hearing their stories every day?” says Rupam, a team member.
A year and a half into this journey, Maheima says that the title entrepreneur is a euphemism for an accelerated, self-discovery journey. “I have learnt more about myself as an individual – my strengths, weaknesses, confidence and insecurities – in this phase than in any phase of life before. Every day is challenging and every day is rewarding,” she adds.
The joy lies in finding unique solutions to the challenges which come up, in finding innovative ways to move forward and in taking one step at a time, while having a view of the horizon.
She advises the future entrepreneurs to have faith in themselves even when the chips are down and things don’t seem to be progressing as well as they thought of. “And go with your inner instinct – I feel that women perhaps have a stronger instinct and they should tap into it for answers,” she ends by saying.
Website Link: talkingstreet.in