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WeMakeScholars (WMS) is an online study opportunities search and discovery platform providing information on scholarships, internships & educational service providers globally. Started by Damini Mahajan, it aims to connect the world through education by providing the right opportunities. Damini started this company when she moved back to the country after graduating from England. “When I got back, my parents were expecting me to join an MNC with big name which they can flaunt among relatives,” says the founder. But she was determined to start something of her own.
“My father being a Self-made Real Estate tycoon in Jammu, didn’t oppose to starting something of my own. He always advised my brothers to start their own company but for a daughter, he was not sure. He used to ask me “How can you do it? You are a girl. For girls, it is better to have a settled life with a decent job. Starting a company is not a girls’ thing”
She believes that family support is the most important thing while starting up. Her parents are very encouraging of her decisions. “There are many women entrepreneurs who are pressurized for marriage by their parents. But my parents understand my vision and goals and leave marriage and other such decisions on me,” she adds. Damini advises men to support their working daughter, sister and wife by sharing family responsibilities so that they can focus on work. She adds on to say that ‘Behind every successful daughter, there is a selfless father’.
Damini is an alumnus of the University of Sheffield (UoS), UK where she pursued MS in Bioprocess Engineering. Apart from starting up WMS, she is also on the board directors of Naturlich Global Beverages Pvt. Ltd (NGB). NGB is a beverage technology company which manufactures functional health beverages.Under her guidance, NGB came up with an innovative formulation and process technology for a health drink which was recognized as one of the most innovative technology by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, Government of India and was awarded a 5 million INR grant.
Entrepreneurship requires you to come out of your comfort zone and bite the dust. “Financial hurdles hit me hard when I started up. Like most other entrepreneurs, I didn’t want to ask my parents for money and I was surviving on my savings from my part-time jobs in the UK,” she says. But the inner fire reminds what I am running for, every morning. That boosts me up to extend my limits even further.”
WMS is a Not-for profit startup having its roots developed in accordance to a social entrepreneurship model building the whole venture in a community-oriented way. The growth of our portal accelerated due to the fact that students couldn’t find a single place where opportunities like scholarships, internships, courses, universities are accessible via smart sorting based on the user preferences. We have crossed 1.5 million page views in just 3 months of our launch.
She believes that women have better multitasking skills and that’s how they balance both their professional and personal life and succeed in both. While she is successfully taking care of both aspects, she believes that there are many sacrifices which have to be made in the path she has chosen.
“ An entrepreneur’s life is quite lonely because they don’t have an active social life. Though you network with many people every day, the good thing is that while you are a part of a start-up, your co-founders become your closest friends”
Among all the challenges entrepreneurs face every day, one of the main challenges is hiring, especially for a technical role. “There are too many technical people out there but there are very few who are skilled enough for the job,” says the founder.
A start-up has many stages and at every stage, it polishes you and your skills as a founder. When you have an idea and nobody believes in it, your self-confidence and trust in yourself is tested. When you are converting your idea to reality, your hard-work and persistence comes into picture. When Damini started up initially, she says that she was not good at managing people or even at networking. “I was good with the core work my company involves but there is lot more which a founder should know and learn”.
“Being an entrepreneur helped me learn how to manage people and most importantly, taught me how to stick to something even when nobody believed in it”.
She advises the future womenpreneurs to stay focused! “There are many hurdles you are going to face. If you are in a non-IT start-up, dealing with blue-collar people is going to be a tough call. But you have to stay stiff and go ahead. And please ignore when your relatives are pushing you to get married.
“It is your life, your idea, your baby, you have to take it ahead,”
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