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From Bumble Bee Studio to The Big Straw – Vidya Pai

An ex-banker by profession, activist by heart, entrepreneur in soul, and a successful working Indian woman-preneur in reality. Feministaa was proud to interview Vidya Pai, a woman, who has donned various hats throughout her professional life. A graduate from NYC, Vidya worked at a Wall Street investment bank for a couple of years, before coming back to India.

Some time down the line, I wanted to start up my own venture. My family was a bit apprehensive since I had no experience in sectors I wanted to pursue, and they didn’t fully understand my product

Her Ventures

Currently Vidya runs two ventures, The Bumble Bee studio and The Big Straw. The Bumble Bee studio comprises of a group of people who are passionate about children and their learning experience through fun and play. Bumble Bee Studio believes that children need the space to play, explore, interact, socialize and absorb at their own pace in an environment that excites them. Whereas Big Straw is a fast and popular expanding chain of bubble tea stores in India.

We tend to make time for almost everyone in our lives and leave out the most important one, our self

An activist, entrepreneur, analyst, engineer, chef, nomad and a bubble tea aficionado, Vidya says that family support is vital to one’s success. Her family had a business in real estate, so when she got back, she had joined them.

“It helps that I come from a business family. I didn’t have to answer to them at all for quitting a high paying corporate job and starting something so hands on, because they already come from a place of having faith in entrepreneurship.”

Vidya has never been the one to stick to a single stream. One could say she is the jack of all trades.

Solo travelling is something I truly believe in. The experiences will help you discover yourself; it helps to get in touch with your inner self! 

A speaker at many events, most recently at the TEDxBMSIT, where she shared her ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. At the event, she spoke passionately about her belief of changing the world. She said, “If there is one thing that I believe could bring about a change in the world, it would be the collective opening up of minds.”

Vidya at a Tedx Event: There are probably a million brilliant ideas trapped in the minds of people; whose voices go unheard or remain silent because of a social taboo or fear of being mocked 

Vidya believes in endless realm of possibilities when it comes to change. Be it in her travels, or in her life as a single-by-choice feminist, navigating her life in a society and world that has been built for conformists. She thinks acceptance and emancipation of one’s inner self is what will take the next generation forward.

Her chain of Bubble Tea Cafes in Bangalore improvises on the Taiwanese Boba or Bubble Tea concept. They currently have 3 outlets in Bangalore, and plan for national expansion soon.

We asked her how different her journey has been, and the challenges she has had to face:

A big challenge was the lack of a pay-check at the end of the month. I had to keep in mind that I am creating an asset, and that requires self-motivation. Also, it means I have no boss. So I need to drive myself to deliver my best

“While it is not critical, and I would not advise you to wait until your family is 100% behind you before starting your venture.” She also says that having an understanding cofounder for your venture is an absolute must. “I have great partners in both my businesses, and it does give me some off time when I really need it,” she says.

Hiring the right talent is a great difficulty

While there are a lot of challenges everyone faces while starting up, Vidya claims that hiring is a great difficulty. “Available resources are either not professional enough, or not qualified enough, or just not available,” she adds.

“Since resources were not available all the time, I had to learn to do everything that my business required; while some of them were enjoyable, some were not, but they all needed to get done.”

Message to other women-preneurs!

She repeatedly tells other womenpreneurs to believe in themselves and work towards the goal.

Don’t listen to the voices (real ones/the ones in your head), which tell you to play safe. With enough drive, you will do it. It may take a little time, but your family will adapt, your kids will turn out fine, and you will be happier doing something that you really want.. 

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