SME Interviews

Mommy Ginger shares interviews with momtrepreneurs that will inspire you through and through!

#BounceBackforBusiness: Featuring Swim Central Inc.

Summer is the perfect time for swimming lessons. Usually, during these months, local business Swim Central Inc. earns from corporate clients who want to offer these classes as an extra curricular activity for their employees. They also earn from individuals who sign up for themselves for beach season and to send their kids for these classes.

But since the pandemic hit different countries and the Philippine government mandated a complete shut down of Metro Manila, not a lot of Filipinos are enrolling (for obvious reasons).

Beginnings of Swim Central

Swim Central was started by Coach Mark Christopher Santiago, a freelance and part time swimming instructor. He started this way back in June 2012 while still having a full time job. His love for swimming later escalated to the desire of sharing with others the fulfilling experience and benefits of swimming, specifically to the young professionals.

With proper training, mentorship and research, he was able to establish a system on how to teach swimming to young adults in an efficient approach made easy and fun.

In the past years, Swim Central has been continuously growing and expanding as Coach Mark trains new swimming coaches so they can serve more young adults and teach them the proper way of swimming and enjoy the benefits it could give.

Impact of COVID-19

When asked how COVID-19 affected their business, Coach Mark mentions that there are a few swimming lessons now considering this should be their peak season.

I asked Coach Mark these three important things:

How can people help you moving forward? What kind of help are you looking for? 

Coach Mark hopes those who already enrolled for swimming lessons and wasn’t able to push through with their scheduled sessions due to this quarantine season will still continue their journey to dive into the lifestyle of swimming after this health threat dies down.

He and his team hope the swimming enthusiasts we have in our community and their alumni would rally behind them to actively promote the lifestlye of swimming for a healthy and active Filipino community.

Because of the things happening now, what changes will you be implementing in your business?

He said that he will create new strategies in ushering more students for Swim Central even after summer. He also plans to strengthen existing offers of Swim Central merchandise like SC Shirts and venture to personal swimming apparels that students can use during their actual swimming lessons.

What are the business lessons that you have learned from this? 

Coach Mark said that a business should increase their emergency fund threshold. He says that thankfully they have a fund. But somehow on “worse case scenarios” and unforeseen circumstances such as non operation for a month (like this one), there should be an increase in the minimum requirement hereon.

Please support Swim Central by checking out and following these links:

http://www.swimcentral.com.ph

https://facebook.com/swimcentralph

Let’s support local businesses!

P.S. Please follow https://www.facebook.com/groups/BounceBackPH/ to see how you can support the Philippines.

P.P.S. Please follow #BounceBackforBusiness #GInspiration #GoLocalPH for more Local SME and Professional stories that we can support!

Mompreneur Michelle of Bella Pelle tells her Story

Recently, I introduced you to a site called BellaPellePh.com. I mentioned that it’s a website where you can buy premium and hard-to-find dermatological beauty products in the Philippines.

I learned about the site, because I actually know the owner. The founder was my previous yoga instructor. This super momma is someone that I look up to, and admire. I wanted to share her story with you, so I’m reviving the “mompreneur” interview series in my blog. I think we all need our weekly dose of inspiration!

About Michelle Reyes-Navarro, Founder of BellaPelle.Ph

Michelle, Co-Founder of Yoga Manila and Founder of BellaPelle.ph

Michelle is a housewife and a mother of two. She mentions that two of her passions are travelling and Ashtanga yoga. Michelle is the co-founder of Yoga Manila, the longest existing Ashtanga studio in the country.  “Of course, the reason why I also do these two things is I want to age gracefully. I want to enjoy living a quality life of being able to spend time with loved ones and seeing the world,” Michelle excitedly tells us.

Interview with Michelle 🙂

Ginger: How did you come up with the concept of BellaPellePh.com?  

Michelle: My husband is a dermatologist and I love being the guinea pig for beauty products and machines.  My friends and acquaintances always compliment me for my skin and ask for recommendations. I realized that I could effectively recommend products as much as or even more than my husband and people trust me. 

So I thought, ” why not do a small business out of it?”  

I started with posting in IG (@bellapelleph) and it became quite a successful small business — the type that  suited my personality. I can still work while I travel and do my other duties. It’s not a 9-5 job, which I can never do.  I retired from corporate work at the age of 24, simply because I do not want anyone holding my time, and I want to travel whenever I want.  And I love helping people out. So even when I expanded to having a website, I still make sure that almost all my transactions are very personal. Customers can message us for recommendations or about their concerns and questions.  

Ginger: Who is your market for this site? 

Michelle: Mostly women, 35 and above, who want to age gracefully and beautifully (although I also have a few products specifically for men). Since the products are branded and premium, recommended by dermatologists and clinically researched, most of them tend to be mid to high end in price.  So the site attracts women who do not settle for less and are discriminating when it comes to personal care and skincare, women who value good quality and know what they want.   

But I am also in the process of testing products that cost less so that some will be more affordable for many.  I just need to personally test them and seek for feedback and research. I do not like selling for the sake of selling. I always want to be sure I am recommending effective products. Of course, like anything, beauty products require trial and error.  What works well for most might not work for some. But I want to be able to suggest what is mostly effective for most people.  

Ginger: I love it, Michelle. We, entrepreneurs, go through a lot of challenges. What were the challenges that you encountered in building this business, and how long has this business been in existence? 

Michelle: It has been a challenge growing followers since I am not tech-y and social media savvy.  I also wanted to grow it organically, really attracting “my tribe” — people who truly understand my brand essence and who are really interested in what I have to offer. So it’s not about the quantity (but of course that helps) but the quality of followers. The Instagram page started June 2018.  The website went live August 2019.

Ginger: Given how competitive the beauty landscape is in the Philippines, why should people buy products from Bella Pelle and not from other online stores?

Michelle: The comprehensive line of products we offer are not usually sold over-the-counter in the Philippines.  You would have to go to a clinic to get these products.  As a person who used to buy tons of commercial brands before I met my husband, I really got to compare them with those that are accessible only through dermatologists here. My skin really transformed for the better! I don’t have to worry about breakouts, not even during PMS.  

We earn people’s trust because we are not about how much you shop.  We sincerely care about recommending only what you need to address your concerns. A fellow of the Philippine Dermatological Society and board certified dermatologist is consulted when recommendations are asked for.  

Ginger: I love it! What I like about is that you really get to know your customers and genuinely care for them! I’m curious to know but this is for those checking out your site, what are three products that you really really love and recommend?  

Michelle: This is tough to answer because there are so many products I love recommending depending on the customer’s concern.  There’s always a great product for every skin condition. 

But if I have to choose, in general, I would have to say…

  • Viviscal Hair Growth Supplement as it is the most effective supplement I know for healthy hair growth.
  • All Heliocare products!  But if I only need to mention one – Heliocare Purewhite Radiance Max 240 Oral Capsules
  • Lumiderm Underarm Whitening Serum 

*Check the images above!

Ginger: Thank you so much, Michelle, for sharing your journey and story with us. I wish you more luck with you business!

For those who are interested to check out Bella Pelle, these are their details:

Website: https://bellapelleph.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bellapelleph/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bella-Pelle-Skin-Solutions-445768045846884/?ref=br_rs

Need a little help with your Fitness Goals? Check out Fitness Mobil!

I used to be a gym addict. I know that it doesn’t look like it. Haha! When I started working, lost my passion for fitness, and it was all diverted to my work. I never lost the love though for jogging and running. I still run, especially when I need to decide on things and if I need to relax.

Fitness Mobil

Recently, I’ve been contemplating about getting a fitness trainer who can just visit me at home to guide me. I’m not getting any younger and I’m almost in my 40s, but I still want to look good and feel good. I know that I need to lift weights and build muscles. So, when I was searching and finding a fitness trainer, I came across this site called Fitness Mobil.

I decided to interview the founder because the I loved the concept of Fitness Mobil.

Hi, my name is Leandro Cabrera!

My friends call me Andre, and my clients simply call me Coach. I recently got married to the most beautiful and kind-hearted woman I know, my best friend in life, Joy. We tied the knot just last January. I used to work in a gym while offering in-home personal training on the side. About a year after, I saw the potential in the business and eventually decided to take the leap of doing Fitness Mobil full-time. I now have 10 coaches all over the metro and was even able to ask my wife to leave corporate and help me with the business!

I am very humbled to have pioneered the business at the age of 23. Although in-home personal trainers have definitely existed way before I was born, we are the first company of in-home personal trainers. I wish to go nationwide someday and make fitness not only a one-time thing as it is with fads. We want to reach the entire country making fitness attainable AND sustainable for men and women from different age groups and fitness levels.

Interview with Leandro Cabrera of Fitness Mobil

Ginger: Hi Leandro! I really love the purpose and the business that you have! Do you mind sharing with my readers what it is about?

Leandro: Fitness Mobil is an in-home personal training company, which caters to individuals who are interested in working out at home. We are all about convenience and sustainabilIty such that we customize programs based on our clients’ fitness goals, bring the necessary equipment right to their doorstep, offer no lock-in packages and no membership fee. Fitness Mobil has been servicing clients in Metro Manila for 5 years now. It started with just myself and slowly grew to a team of 10 – all of whom are graduates of Sports Science from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Ginger: Wow! Five years! That’s great! Who are your usual clients or who are you trying to get to?

Leandro: Fitness Mobil works for those who prefer to work out in the privacy and comforts of their own homes. We do understand that there are those who want a physical gym to go to with people around them, but we are received very well by those who want to achieve and maintain an active lifestyle, but are very busy. These are usually businessmen and women, moms and executives. They are delighted with the convenience of having the personal trainer bring fitness right to their very doorstep.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Leandro: Fitness Mobil started with my desire to reach out to people who may be having a difficult time going to the gym due to their daily schedule and/or location. I myself had days, and still have days, when I don’t feel like working out. Some days, I really can’t due to schedule conflict. But to actually have a personal trainer come to my house for a one-on-one workout session would be so helpful in making fitness happen as it eliminates factors of cancellation. I also felt the need to start a company that people can trust since it is difficult for an individual who is not represented by one to be allowed inside people’s homes just like that.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Leandro: It was definitely not an easy road becoming an entrepreneur. The lack of support from a boss or colleagues, and even the freedom to work at my own pace, all added up to the feeling of being alone. I had to truly be focused and discipline was key. I had to actively seek advice from people who I knew could help me and took things one step at a time. It was difficult at first as I never was taught marketing in school (all the more payroll) but I’d like to think I’m actually starting to get a hang of it! Self-help materials played a very important role in my entrepreneur journey and it does help to ask, ask, and ask!

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in the Philippines?

Leandro: I’d consider paying taxes as the greatest challenge for me as a self-professional in the Philippines. Our country ranks as having one of the highest tax rates in the world and it is painful to finally see profit only to slip thru my hands as a huge percentage of it will be deducted as tax.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Leandro: Discipline, perseverance, and a lot of grit.

Ginger: Any unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder?

Leandro: It will not be easy and rewards are not instant. I remember giving up parties/get togethers with friends for my this business of mine. But looking back, it’s all worth it knowing that I chose to focus and build on my dreams then, so I am now able to slowly but surely see it all come true.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Leandro: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you have an idea and you believe in it, work in it! But expect that failure will be part of it.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Leandro: Not everyone should, but everyone could be if they set their mind to it. Some people are content with the stability of employment and if it feeds their family, then I don’t see why they can’t stay there.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Leandro: Lower overhead costs.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Leandro: We utilize different channels of social media and get exposure in setting up booths in events like Fun Runs. We post reviews from real clients and offer a free trial session first so people can try our service without having to worry about paying for anything.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Leandro: Nothing beats the good old smart phone!

Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important?

Leandro: Home training is not for everyone. It may work for some, and may not for others. It all depends on preference. And part of our mission is to break the mindset that limits fitness within the confines of a gym. Let’s think outside the gym!

Thank you so much, Leandro, for sharing and imparting your business knowledge with us! More power to you!

Check out Fitness Mobil!
Website: www.fitnessmobil.net
Email address: info@fitnessmobil.net
Mobile Number: 09178100211
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/fitnessmobil
Instagram account: @fitnessmobil

Ferrywrites: Interview with Entrepreneur Ferry

One of the necessities for a new year is to have a new planner! I’m sure most of us already have planners that we can use. I always think of planners as a way to see the personality of a person, and I admire those who can actually decorate it well and write on it legibly. Today, I interviewed someone whose business is help you decorate and fix your planners! How cool is that! 🙂

About Ferry of Ferrywrites

Hi there! I’m Ferry, a blogger mom with a penchant for crafts. I am married to Raymond Ko for 6 years and counting, and we’re blessed with three (one on the way, yes I am 5 months pregnant now) children. I own a small online shop for planner needs, named Ferrywrites.

I started crafting at the tender age of seven. I started with creating scrapbooks, diaries, collecting stationeries and notepads until I discovered Filofax when I turned thirteen. From then on, I started using planners as if they were an extension of myself. Decorating planners and getting organized the way I like things to be makes me more productive and aware of the things I should prioritize and thing that I need to brush off. It goes hand in hand with my other passion, writing. I don’t see this as a hobby. I consider this as my life’s focal point.

Before I became a momtrepreneur, I was working in the corporate world at the age of eighteen. I would also do sideline jobs as a freelancer that involves writing, listing, calling clients to name a few, all while I was studying in College. Now, I am a full-time mom for almost four years and entrepreneur for a year.

My advocacy is simple, spread kindness. I was raised by a single father who taught me that whenever one can help, one should help. And living with his mantra, we (my husband and I) came up with the idea that part of our monthly sales, whether it’s coming from our partner merchant or online, will automatically go to our chosen charity of the year (World Vision Philippines).

Interview with Ferry:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Ferry: I own a shop named Ferrywrites. It caters to planner needs such as weekly sticker kits, icons stickers, planner inserts, charms clips etc. I have been doing this for a year now.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Ferry: Mainly, the Planner Community. Funny because only a few people really know that our community exists. We take planning and crafts seriously. It’s a very creative community where you will find girls who are willing to help the girls how to start up or hone their planning and all.

Ginger: Oh, I think I better join that community! I have a planning addiction! haha! So, how did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Ferry: Making planner sticker kits is common in the community. I turned my passion into a small business, not only to gain profit, but to reach out to people too. Since I can doodle and I have a keen eye for what works, I’ve decided to give it a try.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an
Entrepreneur? What are these?

Ferry: Definitely! I used to get depressed whenever I cannot come up with cute or functional or unique design for my stickers. I would always compare my work to others who are doing this way longer than me. The profit was never an issue to me. It was more of how can I level up or get them to know my brand.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Ferry: Looking for materials. It’s been a challenge since day one to find a quality and affordable materials for the business. Of course, all business owners want good provisions at a low price that your clients will appreciate.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when
starting their own business?

Ferry: Vision, Resilience, and Faith.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Ferry: Love what you do, have fun and do not compare with your competitors.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Ferry: You change the path never the goal. If the process of what you are doing right now is not working that much, think of another way to achieve your goal.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Ferry: YES! because I strongly agree with what Guy Kawasaki, the author of The Art of Start said: “Entrepreneur is not a job title, it’s a state of mind of people who want to alter the future.” After all, entrepreneurship doesn’t equate to just having a business.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Ferry: Stay alert of the new things in the market and always look for ways to improve your products.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Ferry: I network as much as possible and I do sponsor craft events. By doing these, they get to know my brand, what I do and my advocacy.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Ferry: Intuos Art, Procreate of Ipad Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator and Silhouette Software.

Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important

Ferry: Be observant but do not copy. Do not believe in the saying that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I think that is disrespectful. Observe the hype and the new things in your field then come up with your own twist to it.

Ginger: Thank you so much for your insights and for sharing your experiences, Ferry! More power to you!

Contact information about your business:

Website – www.ferrywrites.com
Email address – ferrywrites@gmail.com
Mobile Number – 0916-622- 2812
Facebook Page – Ferrywrites
Twitter account – @ferrywrites
Instagram account – @ferrywrites and @ferrywrites.shop
Pinterest – ferrywrites

Leela Kids, World’s First Kids Podcast App

One of the Filipino Podcasters that I follow is my good friend, Marv De Leon. His podcast is called Freelance Blend and he talks about freelancing. Other podcasts that I listen to are the ones of Tim Ferriss and Amy Porterfield. It got me thinking, why don’t we have any kid podcasters. I was telling a friend yesterday how talkative my 4 year old is. She may be a podcaster, too, one day.

Do you know that there is a podcast app for children? And I got to interview the founder. The founder is Sandeep Jain, CEO of Leela Kids, the world’s first podcast app for children, describes himself as being ever-restless, a tinkerer and a maverick.

Based in Santa Clara, California, this full-time entrepreneur and his wife of 11 years have a five-year-old son, Kabir. Sandeep spends his time experimenting with technology in order to make smart products. Beyond that, he also enjoys hiking, running and traveling—he recently completed a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 45°C weather, has run a marathon and plans to do the Ironman one day, and has been to more than 25 countries.

 

About Sandeep! 🙂

I am a tinkerer, ever-restless, and a maverick. I like experimenting with technology to create smart products. I live in Santa Clara, California, with my lovely wife and our bubbly son. We have been married for 11 years now. I led InMobi’s North America’s Business Development & Strategic Partnerships charter before I started Leela Labs. Prior to that, I was managing a global firewall business worth more than $400M at Cisco. I am a full-time entrepreneur. My hobbies are hiking & running. I recently completed a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 45°C weather. I have run a marathon and hope to complete an Ironman at some point in my life. I love travelling—I have travelled to more than 25 countries. I like connecting with people wherever I go. I picked up a little Spanish from my extensive travels in Central and South America. I hope to do an RV trip across the USA at some point. There are two causes that I am passionate about: supporting orphans and women who were victims of acid attacks. I support these issues from the sidelines, but hope to become an active participant later in my life.

Interview Questions:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Sandeep: Our company’s name is Leela Labs Inc. We create technology so that people can listen to spoken audio (podcasts) easily. We have been in business for a little over than a year now.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Sandeep: Our current target market is kids and parents.

Kids love to hear stories, but we didn’t find any app in either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store that aggregates podcast content for kids based on their age and topic of interest. That was really surprising as both stores have millions of apps on any topic imaginable.

It’s even difficult for parents—even though there are several parenting-related podcasts, it is hard to find lists of episode belonging to a given topic, e.g., conceiving, pregnancy, life after kids, single parenting, divorce, how to deal with kid’s issues, etc.

A recent PWC report on Kids Digital Advertising  mentions that the kids digital advertising market will double to $1.2B from the $600M in 2016.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Sandeep: I was originally planning to start a business related to the online marketplace when someone suggested I listen to a podcast episode on that topic from A16Z, a podcast channel by Andreessen Horowitz. That episode was super helpful in that it laid out a framework to think about.

But what struck me most was that, despite living in the technology hub of the world, my information consumption resources had been limited to Google Search and certain print publications only… I had no idea that podcasts offered such amazing and relevant content and that I could consume this content while driving, at home, etc. I asked my techie friends and found that only two people out of the roughly 20 people I asked listened to podcasts. In fact, one study pointed out that 40% of Americans still don’t listen to podcasts. I quickly found out why—technology to access them is horribly broken. It’s like what Internet used to be before Google came along. Specifically:

  1. One is first required to find the name of podcast shows
  2. One must then individually subscribe to each show
  3. Then one must figure out which episodes to listen to from all the subscribed shows

This is a really cumbersome process for consuming information.

I figured that unlocking the podcast medium to let people find and listen to meaningful content was actually a much bigger idea than my original marketplace idea. It was much like what Google did in unlocking the Internet for the world.

Leela Labs was born with the mission of using technology and machine learning to connect people to best podcast content instantly.  Around 10 months after starting the business, we launched our first app, Leela (IOS).

The idea for Leela Kids came about much later. I wanted to play podcasts for my five-year-old son, but found it hard—really hard, even on Leela—to do so. Unlike podcast content for adults, podcast content for kids is very age-specific. What a five-year-old will like about dinosaurs, a ten-year-old will likely find too basic or even boring. And for busy parents and kids, the user interface needs to be really simple. I looked around on both IOS and Android and didn’t find the kind of app I needed. And the idea for the World’s First Kids’ Podcast App was born.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Sandeep: The biggest one for me was a substantial financial hit—I had to let go of my high-tech salary and stocks when I started Leela Labs.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Sandeep: The US is actually one of the countries which makes it easy for entrepreneurs to incorporate and start their businesses. One of the benefits of living in Silicon Valley is access to the ecosystem of like-minded people; however, the biggest disadvantage is that the talent is too pricey for an early-stage company to afford. You then look at contractor networks offered by sites like fiverr.com, upwork.com—both of these sites help you connect with talented individuals in East Europe and Asia who can offer what you need at competitive prices. As with any other marketplace, it does take some time to find the right candidate, though.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Sandeep: Grit – There will be failures—it’s not a matter of if but when and how frequent. Most successful founders have gone through challenges that moved them toward the point of stopping what they were doing. You need to have resilience and grit to be ready to face the failures and take it in stride and move ahead.

Ability to attract smart people. – Even though you may be the sole person carrying the startup torch initially, you will need people to help you in building your company. Attracting people to your company depends on motivating them about your idea and inspiring them to work with you. Besides financial gain, your hires (employees and even co-founders) will gauge you on your personality—how easy it is work with you, do you inspire them to something great, etc.

Thinking outside the box. – I strongly believe that successful startups are built on “non-linear thinking”—what I mean by that is doing something that wouldn’t normally occur to you. For example, the Airbnb founder flew to New York to meet their initial customers (people who were renting their house) to really understand them well.

Most companies struggle with getting the right PR for their company. They pay a lot to websites that host the emails of reporters and then they start spamming those reporters. But guess what everyone else is doing? Probably the same thing. That should be an indication to you about effectiveness (or the lack of it) of email spam. A non-linear thinking strategy could be to connect with reporters on Twitter—most reporters are active there and appreciate retweets or likes of the articles they write. Engage them there, and your returns will be much better.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Sandeep: 

Unforgettable moment: Right before our external product launch, our backend system went down (which it had never done in the past). After looking closely, we found that we had been hacked and were being asked for a ransom (in bitcoin, worth about $10K) to fix our situation. My background is in network security and I am highly technical as well, so I wasn’t ready to give up as yet. I eventually found an issue in our system that allowed the hacker to take advantage of us. I fixed the issue and took care of the cliffhanger situation.

Lesson learnt: You find (very quickly) who your real friends are.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Sandeep: First, start doing content marketing yourself—even before you have built your product. Early adopters of your product, reporters and even investors look for the story behind the product. Get on Medium.com and start publishing your story. Talk about why you are doing what you are doing. What are you seeing that others are not? And very soon, you will start seeing yourself be identified as an “industry expert” on the issue you are trying to solve. That’s free marketing for you even before your product launches!

Second, focus on one thing and one thing only—traction. This could mean different things at different stages of your company. As you start in your venture journey, even getting your domain name feels like a victory, and it should, especially if you have spent time researching the right name (often several hours or even days). Start focusing on external traction as soon as possible, though. This means trying to get your product out as early as possible by distilling the feature set to the most critical ones—sites like producthunt.com help you get early feedback. Some people even create pre-release landing pages for their products and start accepting email signups.

Third, start building a relationship with reporters—getting the right kind of PR is crucial for early stage startups. Create a list of Tier-1 reporters, i.e., reporters in Tier-1 publications in your country who cover your product/industry. Email each one of them announcing that you are building a product/company that they will be interested in and that you are looking to establish a line of communication—send them link to your blogs that cover an industry perspective. If you have insights, offer them. Tell them something they may not already know. Even if they don’t respond right away, they will very likely remember you.

Lastly, don’t forget to take some breaks in between. The startup journey is hard, and oftentimes we forget how important it is to clear one’s mind, slow down the body engine, and charge yourself.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Sandeep: I wouldn’t say everyone—it’s a tough life and has both financial and emotional costs to it. However, the returns are significantly higher as well. For people who are gainfully employed but are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs, I would recommend they spend 50-75% of their salary executing their idea. That will do two things. First, it will prepare you to go to a zero-monthly salary. And second, it will help you gain traction for your idea and if you don’t see it happening or if you find interest dwindling, you can fall back to your existing job.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Sandeep: We haven’t raised outside funding as yet.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Sandeep: We market Leela Labs Inc. through direct reach-out and building relationships with relevant reporters, bloggers, etc. In terms of ad-based marketing, we have used Apple Search Ads and Facebook Ads.

Our growth strategy is to keep adding meaningful content for kids and even for parents. We are also exploring other verticals like Christianity and Sports.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Google App Engine, ElasticSearch, Canva, Keynote, Gimp

Ginger: Thank you Sandeep for sharing your knowledge! I will definitely download the app for my daughter! 🙂

Contact information about Leela Kids!

Website: http://leelalabs.com

Email address: sandeep@leelalabs.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LeelaKidsApp

Twitter account: https://twitter.com/sandejain1

*Featured by Huffington Post and Forbes last December.