Gizmodiva is in conversation with Sherina Kapany, entrepreneur at heart, a seasoned business development executive, and head and creative director of her company sunSTRATEGIC. Besides the fact that she’s had a very enriching life having lived in different parts of the world, an education to be proud of, its her success story that appeals to us. Her hardwork paid off as she turned a company that started with only one intern right from her living room and currently has grown to a 15+ staff with their offices in the media hub of Mumbai. She has expanded operations to Dubai to serve the Middle East markets. Talk about inspiration and Sherina will give you oodles! Read the interview to learn more about her zeal, mottos and mantras of life and more…
1. So much achieved in so little time! How did this mesmerizing journey to success begin?
– The idea for my business was borne of an amalgamation of my experience in technology, marketing and creativity. I was strolling in Park Avenue with my father when I told him that I will be leaving the US after 13 long years and had decided to go back to India and start my own venture. Surprised at my decision to leave a great job and a greater country, he asked me if I realised the risk that lay in the move to a country I had never worked in. The Sun never dies, I said. It always shines. I am your sun. And that’s how I decided my company will be called sun. ‘Strategic’ came from the realisation that India is on the path of being the next superpower, if it strategises well. That’s how sunSTRATEGIC was born. After having lived and worked in 4 continents, I had a lot of experience to bank on; and it seemed fitting to start an entrepreneurial venture in a country that didn’t ask me to apply for a visa. So I brought my values from a country where I grew up as an adult to a country where I was born.. and born again as an entrepreneur.
2. You have donned different hats, of a business development executive, to now being an entrepreneur. Which role defines you best?
– I love the role of an entrepreneur best. Its comes with its own bag of responsibilities but the high which comes of doing your own thing and holding your fort is the craziest adrenaline rush. Imagine that every day of your life!
3. What interests you more marketing or advertising and why?
– A bit of both! I love chalking out marketing strategies, brainstorming the ideas and nailing the perfect one. When it comes to advertising, it’s the ideation which has me hooked. There has to be something in the storyboard, something which goes beyond bland marketing of the product, something which touches the soul as well.
4. Your start-up story is truly inspiring for young guns, what’s that one valuable tip you would want to share with such aspirants?
– You’ve to be the first one in, and the last one out. It’s as simple as that, and as tough as that. People think once you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve an easy life ahead of you. But, that’s where the real struggle is – maintaining the zenith. People emulate the example you set at your workplace. I wouldn’t like to stop at anything short of brilliance.
5. Any startup success stories that left an everlasting impression on you (other than your own)
– Nastygal’s story of Sophia Amoruso is my favorite startup story – how a 22 year old college dropout who was practically homeless and a high school dropout, opened up a side biz selling vintage clothes which turned into a 100 million grossing company. You can’t, not be inspired!
6. What’s your motto in life?
– Sherina Kapany wasn’t born for mediocrity and of that and only that – I am sure.
7. Of all the countries you have lived in, which one remains a favorite?
– I’ve lived and worked in 4 continents and I’d like to believe I carry a bit of each in me. There’s a Ruskin Bond quote which says, “…for every time I see the sky I’m aware of belonging to the universe than to just one corner of the earth.” I lived by water bodies in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Monte Carlo, Dubai and I carry a little bit of each place – the stories, the people, incidents and accidents. They shape me, they make me.
8. As an author, who inspires you?
– I don’t have any particular genre. I like to read novels which have a voice which resonates with me. It could be something quirky like Plum Sykes’ Debutante Divorcee, or the daily dose of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop! I have read almost every book of Devdutt Pattanaik and the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi. The one author I can’t stand is Shobha De. I love Patricia Cornwell’s novels.
9. Mumbai is a bustling city with abundant hot-spots, any particular place that you think everyone must go to at least once?
– Oh, I’d strongly advocate the Sea Lounge of Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. It’s a compelling combination of humility with a dash of royalty. Its grounding and at the same time, very, very uplifting.
10. Food or fashion? What can you not live without?
– While I am a fashionista, it’s definitely food all the way! I love gorging on various cuisines especially japanese. It probably stems from my love for travel.
11. Businesswoman or author? Which hat do you truly love to wear?
– I would love to wear the hat of an author! To give voice to my thoughts and to kill a few bad boys here and there (wink!)
12. The urban Indian is a globe-trotting, go-getter and in the chase for ambitions and wealth, health often suffers. What’s your fitness mantra? How do you keep yourself healthy and strike a balance?
– I detox every few months. I head to the gym a few times a week. I swim every evening. I cook and eat sauteed vegetables. I make my own breakfast and take time to get dressed. I take pride in my appearance and make sure I look and feel good – I end up feeling so much more energised!
13. Before we end this interview, we would like to applaud your achievements and are sure our readers would love to learn of a true Diva such as yourself; would you like to give them a message or something that gets you going in life?
– In my entrepreneurial journey, I firmly believe that if you’re brave enough to start a company, make sure you don’t sell your company before it starts. A start up is not established just to be sold. The race to get maximum funding is a race to disaster! India is a country of start ups. But entrepreneurship success levels are correlated to the funding one acquires. That is not the meaning of entrepreneurship… It’s something people give their soul to, to realize their dreams. Its not a big hotshot corporate office, no, its one better than that. Its a bunch of people who realize what it is to start from scratch and work their way up. Keep the thought of funding at bay and see what value you can add to people’s lives, start from scratch, grow organically, have investors flock to you and then scale up.