Srishti Sharma, a serial entrepreneur and social activist, 4 times TEDx speaker, and Asia’s most innovative women entrepreneur. She started her journey as a social activist during her teens and is a successful entrepreneur now. Her encounter with the entrepreneurial world was accidental. At age 16, she failed her JEE and had no idea what to do with her life. That’s when she started her first project KILKARI.
Journey as a Social Activist
Kilkari’s aim is to provide basic education to the kids who beg on the roads, who have no access to education. These kids are not even accepted as pupils at the government-run schools, with a viewpoint that they won’t be able to fit in and cope with fellow populations at the school.
These kids represent the broken education system of India. The kids who have outgrown the age of primary education, can’t even recite the ABCs. That’s where Kilkari comes into the picture- it not only helps these kids enroll in schools but also clears their basics through its setup Pathshalas. Today, it has around 300 volunteers in 18 pathshalas across Delhi.
After the success of Kilkari, Srishti Sharma moved on and started project REHMAT for the upliftment of manual scavengers. She identified the problem and formed a team of 13 girls who worked on it day and night. The job of manual scavenging poses a life threat and in spite of being banned in 2013, is still practiced in many areas without any safety measures. The toxics of manholes still lead to numerous deaths on a daily basis. Under Project REHMAT, the main focus was to rehabilitate these workers into jobs that were not life-threatening and pay them decently to provide for their families.
After her graduation, she shifted her focus to projects and ventures that were economically viable.
Venturing into the startup world
During her graduation, she also interned with a few startups to explore every nook and corner of how a startup operates. Even though she was hired as a Social Media Manager (Intern), she worked on each aspect of it. For a new bee who was not aware of this complex ecosystem, this was a treasure and she used each element of it to learn about various aspects of entrepreneurship including funding/investors. She knew she was impeccable at people handling and coming up with solutions for real-life problems. She already had the entrepreneurial view that most people train for.
Srishti Sharma then moved on to work on a food-tech startup for 10 months and finally co-founded a startup in the field of human science at age 20. The venture’s main idea was based around STRESS ELIMINATION with a technique that could help relieve stress in 25 mins. Her role in the organisation involved fundraising too. That’s where she realized that the ecosystem has an ugly face too. She was being treated as less of an entrepreneur than her fellow co-founder because she was a girl. On one hand, the Indian startup ecosystem is becoming welcoming for all entrants of all genders, castes, races, creeds, etc. without any discrimination and on the other hand, there still exist such people who feel women are not fit to run businesses. There are fewer women in the startup ecosystem all together and preconceived notions halt their entry even more. A similar situation was experienced by Srishti Sharma while pitching to a very renowned and vintage organization for funds. She has used this example to inspire many other entrepreneurs to fight the battles and move ahead to accomplish everything. Judgments of others don’t define who you are or what you will become, only you can judge that. She moved ahead and successfully raised funds for the startup.
She is currently working on startups- in the sector of space mining startup and esports.
A bright future with GAME
She is at present working on her latest venture called game- Gaming Gone Epic (www.gamingonepic.com). The genesis behind the idea is to promote careers in esports. Game is the world’s and India’s first unique esports platform that lets you Play, Participate, Stream and Earn under one roof. Srishti Sharma co-founded GAME with Prateek Pandey who holds 8 + years of experience in gaming, development, robotics, and technology. As stated by her, they don’t hold any direct competition but there are few indirect tournament conduction companies. With no to negligible competition, the future for GAME looks amazingly bright. India has seen over 60 % growth in the last 3 years and with Covid being in the picture, the retention user rate towards the gaming industry has increased exponentially. This is one of these industries/sectors that has experienced positive impacts of covid, in economic terms. For a business like theirs, covid acted as a positive catalyst as the user retention rate towards gaming platforms has increased manifolds.
The founders of GAME started the platform as they observed and recognized a gap in the demand and supply of the esports industry. They observed that despite the fact that the gaming/esports industry is futuristic in nature and booming, it surprisingly had no single dedicated Esports platform for gamers to showcase their talent and earn. The gap is now being analyzed by them, and hence, lead to the birth of GAME. The initial five months were invested in making the product-market fit and analyzing if the need for such a platform actually exists in the market or not. As building something that is not required cannot be monetized. And, as expected they started to receive positive feedback in no time. They made sure to build a product that customers love before launching it in the market. GAME at present is bootstrapped, it’s a complete online B2C platform generating revenue from advertisements and a Sponsorship model
Advice for new bees
Being an entrepreneur is never an easy job, you have an idea you believe in so much and you’re out there every day wanting people to back you up and believe in what you’re building. The initial days are always the hardest But I feel it’s the version that keeps the founders going.
Being focused on the vision helps to move through the tough times in an easier way.
Being open to feedback, doing a thorough market survey, talking to customers daily, and not being very stubborn on the methods of working really helps.
She rightly said, India needs more entrepreneurs and it’s time to have more job creators than job seekers. A message for any young entrepreneur is that they must focus on educating themselves, believe in themselves, and just go for it without second-guessing. Just manifest your dreams