Tell us something about you and your start-up.
Startup Idols is a Graphic Designing, Content Writing, Web Development and Digital Marketing company in Kolkata. At Startup Idols, we believe in supporting the fresh ideas and how they shaped into a success story. From brainstorming to planning the milestones of your entrepreneurial journey, the Startup Idols wants to not only know it all but tell it all to the world to inspire the new generation of entrepreneurs.
Our primary mission is to promote start-up entrepreneurs and help them reach a bigger audience worldwide. We are here to listen and understand how you have accomplished your destination and be your mouthpiece to the world of aspiring new talents. Your motivation towards your goals is what drives us. We not only interview the Founder(s) and/or Owner(s) of the start-ups irrespective of their industry but promote them keeping in mind the best literary and digital market practices on our website.
Startup Idols is based out of Kolkata. Though we are a Digital Marketing company in Kolkata, we are serving clients across the nation. We have our clients outside the country as well. Day by day Startup Idols is immersing.
Our website will introduce you to some of the best minds in India who decided to take the challenge of becoming an entrepreneur and swam against the tide to achieve their goals. You will find interviews of start-up entrepreneurs besides reading quality stuff on how you can become an entrepreneur and suggesting tips to get there. Moreover, you will also find a section where you can post available vacancies you are aware of and share it with the world.
About the Founder
Startup Idols is the brainchild of Founder & CEO, Atoofa Khushnood. She has been producing content on various different topics for more than a decade now. Atoofa started off with her diary but gradually found her way into the world of journalism and online media. She always had the mind filled with interesting and unique ideas, which brought her to the personal milestone of starting a web portal which only has success stories to tell about the winning start-up entrepreneurs. This is one way of keeping her passion for writing and producing content alive, besides helping entrepreneurs to access a bigger audience.
Apart from a writer, Atoofa always had an entrepreneur tickling her passion for starting new innovative projects. Keeping that in mind, she has decided to start this website which will help and motivate the upcoming business tycoons in reaching their professional milestones.
What was your motivation behind venturing into this and what kind of struggles/ challenges did you face when you launched?
I have always wanted to do something of my own. You may call me a bit egoistic or in better terms you can address me as a person with a lot of self-respect and self-esteem. I never liked being bossed by anyone. I have always dreamt of being my own boss. I therefore started with writing blogs thinking that it could be one of the ways I could get into something that would fulfil both my passion towards writing and also fetch me a living. But soon after giving my graduations exam I was offered a job in Dubai by a Hospitality Industry. The feeling of working in Dubai in itself was so fascinating. Without giving a second thought I gave up my childhood dream of being my own boss and decided to have a boss for myself. But working in that tight schedule where I had to take permission even for going to washroom and where a stopwatch would be set every time an employee went to the loo was making life difficult for me. I started getting agitated and my self-esteem was badly getting hurt. I then tried shifting to another department in the same company thinking, I would get little liberty there. Just for some peace of mind, I even gave up on my high paying job and degraded myself to a job paying almost half of what I was getting. But things went worse there. And after having a small argument with my boss there, I decided that I will not continue anymore as my manager there was too kiddish. He would make issues out of little things.
Coincidentally, I was having lunch in my office cafeteria and I overheard two guys (colleagues) talking to each other about how fed-up they are with the job and that they want to quit as well. Their story matched a lot with mine so I initiated a conversation with them. “Are you from Pakistan?” was my first question because it was very clear from their accent. And then we started discussing about our issues at work.
It was 14th August 2016 when I again met that guy in the cafeteria for the 4th or 5th time. And the first thing I asked him was “Did you resign or still thinking?” He replied saying “Yes”. I couldn’t believe him and reconfirmed and to my surprise he actually had resigned. He added saying “It’s 14th August, our Freedom Day. So, there was no better day for me to free myself from this job.”
And this was where I became more determined to resign from the job. Next day was 15th August and I thought there could be no better day for me to resign and free myself of this slavery. I wanted Independence for myself. I randomly went up to my boss and said “I want to resign.” He asked me just a few simple questions and then said “Okay.” He asked if I wanted to resign immediately or if I would serve my notice period. Obviously, I had to serve my notice period because I did not want to leave my job putting a negative impact on them.
This is where my entrepreneurial journey started. I returned to India almost after 2 months from resigning. With the help of a friend I started an online business with the name “La Publicite World” (French word meaning Advertising). It was also a graphics designing and web development online business. After struggling for a year, I decided to shut it down as it was not fetching me any good. And then I came up with the idea of promoting start-ups as start-up is the new trend now. And there started the journey of Startup Idols.
Give us a brief background about founders and its core team members?
I started with Startup Idols in 2017, October 1. It was again an online platform. I was the one-man army. I started it all alone without much support. There were a few friends who helped me in choosing the name and other basic things. One of the very helpful person was Hemant Agarwal who did all that he could to help me in deciding the name and the logo. Hemant was a seller on eBay from Gujarat and I had purchased one of his products which had some concern and that’s how we connected with each other. But in no-time we turned out to be great friends.
We then started featuring start-up stories. As I said it was a one-man army so I was the one doing it all alone. Promoting, getting clients (who were non-paid), getting the questionnaires ready, getting the forms filled and then preparing the final interview, getting it approved from the clients and then publishing it and also sharing the same via email with the clients. On the course of this, there was one client who came and an angle and gifted us a logo. He knew we were struggling with finalizing our logo and since he was happy with our work. He came up with a surprise for us which was our current logo (a bit of modifications done later by us).
I then suddenly got struck with the idea of hiring intern. I started posting for internships online and managed to get a few amazing interns. Some of the building stones of Startup Idols, namely Darakhshan Anjum, Osheen Jain, Pallavi Singh, Jayant Singh Rajput and Viral Parmar. The list goes on but these were some of the building stones of SI (that’s the acronym for our company).
Everything was online, even the interns were virtual. All sitting in different locations and different cities, working at the ease of the home. There was not much pressure on the team. Our team was usually more active during night hours as they would all be done by their colleges and jobs and get free time. And the one day I chose one corner on my room where I setup a small working desk for myself, which was soon occupied by one of my interns. I decided to get at least one full-time intern working at my place. So, it was a very small space where she used to sit on a chair and work and I used to sit down on the floor beside her to guide her.
Almost after 1.5 years we are now having our office at 66C, Park Street, Ground Floor, Kolkata 700017. This would have never been possible without my greatest support Mr. Afraz Alam. He is an amazing friend and an awesome guide. I had wanted to take an office since long but I could never gather enough courage to take this big step. I was not having enough funds nor was I willing to go to one of the fund raisers. I was also lacking confidence in myself if I will be able to run this business or not or what if I end up messing up everything. But this man has proven to be a blessing in disguise. He has helped me from scratch to win. From getting a doormat to getting the furniture to getting the electric wires changed had been taken care by him. He was there with me for all the office shopping and setup.
He has supported me not only morally but physically also. We all have some people in life who will teach you all the motivational quotes in life but they will never be a true motivator. This person has not given me any motivational quote but he himself has become one for me.
There were a lot more names that have helped me in the journey, some of them being Vishal Dave, my guide and always ready to help hacker friend, Muzaffar Ahmad, always helped me with clients, M.A Ashraf, guide with HR related concerns, Sanjay Kumar Jha, legal advisor and some more names are there.
Who do you see as competition and how is your start-up different?
Honestly speaking, I thought, fund or getting clients would be a great challenge for me. But now when I have both, I’m realizing that the biggest challenge is to find good and skilled employees. We are struggling with hiring good employees. All this while I thought there is a lot of unemployment in India, especially Kolkata, but it looks like we are a 100% employed city. Some those are unemployed are not the skilled ones.
What are your future plans?
Our future plan is to see our company as the Best Graphics Designing and Digital Marketing Company in Kolkata, India and round the globe.
Any advice you want to give budding entrepreneurs.
Do it if you dream it. If you are lacking confidence, look around, you will also surely find one Afraz for yourself who will not make you dream but make your dreams come true.