Co-Founder of India’s number 1 coupon site, Swati Bhargava is an entrepreneur to watch out for. After graduating from London School of Economics in 2005, she worked with Goldman Sachs, London. She then moved on to start her own enterprise in 2010-2011 called Pouring Pounds. In 2013, she and her husband took a step closer to home with CashKaro.com.
A fashionista by choice, Swati loves to travel and shop and this is where the idea stemmed from.
We take the opportunity to get to know her a little better.
Q: 1 – From Ambala to London, the journey must have been quite something. Tell us more.
My journey began from Ambala; a small town north of Delhi where I studied at Convent of Jesus & Mary school there till the age of 16; then got offered a scholarship to study in Singapore in 1999 to complete my high school. In 2002, I was again fortunate to get a scholarship to study at the prestigious London School of Economics in the UK. I graduated with an Honours in Mathematics & Economics in 2005 and was offered to join the Investment Banking team at Goldman Sachs. After my stint at Goldman Sachs (was there for 5 years) I started my first entrepreneurial cashback business PouringPounds.com with my husband Rohan in 2011. Today Pouring Pounds is one of UK’s leading Cashback and Voucher websites and works with 2,500 popular brands like Tesco, Debenhams, M&S, Expedia and Argos. In April 2013 we started CashKaro.com.com and came back to India. The journey from a student in Ambala to an entrepreneur with two successful running entities in 2 different countries has been both exhilarating and fun and definitely a great boost.
Q:2 – Did you always want to start something of your own?
Initially I had no plans of being an entrepreneur. I had a cushioned job in London and a pretty comfortable life, however I always believed in starting something new. It is this belief that ultimately led to me to leave my job at Goldman Sachs and choose entrepreneurship. Today both our ventures PouringPounds.com and CashKaro.com are extremely successful and this zeal to succeed keeps me going as an entrepreneur. Whether it was being one of the first people from my city to attain a scholarship to study abroad or leaving a cushioned job to start my own venture, I have always believed in getting out of my comfort zone and to bring my dreams to life.
Q:3 – You started off first with Pouring Pounds in the UK. What difficulties did you face as a women entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship, like any other profession comes with its own set of challenges. I believe the big challenges faced by an entrepreneur are gender agnostic. These include growing fast, finding good talent and maintaining good unit metrics. I have always been in male dominated workplaces and I have never let that affect my performance.
Q:4 – How are they different from the obstacles you faced in India?
Challenges faced by entrepreneurs are similar – regardless of geography or gender. Indian ecommerce is an incredibly exciting place right now and slowly becoming as dynamic as its global counterparts. More and more women are donning the hat of an entrepreneur and even offered strategic positions at workplaces. We often still have to deal with stereotypes though that question a woman’s ability to work in tech or finance or simply her stability at work. However this also gives us all an amazing opportunity to strive to be better, fight harder, be stronger and bring to life the incredible feats a woman is capable of!
Q:5 – What are the positives and negatives of working with your spouse? And any advice you’d like to share with us regarding this?
I think working with your spouse is a great idea. The best part is that you both get to live and realize the same dream on a daily basis. Since my husband Rohan & I work together, it becomes even more enjoyable and are able to grow as a couple. Rohan has been an incredible partner to work with. As a Co-Founder and a husband he has not only been a great support but also a source of encouragement. I don’t think there are any negatives of working with a spouse, however my advice to couples who are working or who want to work together would be that a sense of mutual respect and encouragement should form the crux of any partnership.
Q:6 – Any advice for our readers who are also entrepreneurs or looking to start out on their own soon?
I think it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur! Work hard and have faith in what you have set out to achieve. You’ll only be able to do justice if you really believe in the idea and your ability to execute it. If you feel that the going is getting too tough… just stay at it. Sometimes people are successful just because they lasted. And, never feel you can’t do anything because you are a woman. In fact, you can do everything BECAUSE you are a woman! Also develop a logical & analytical mindset which enables you to break down problems, analyze solutions and optimize, all of which is very handy when you have your own business.
Smita Diwan a Television Journalist and Communication Specialist with an experience of 10 years in media and leading satellite channels started whatshelikes.in as a digital hub for women in India. Smita specialises in Lifestyle, Home Decor, Health, Food and Product reviews. When she is not working,she is researching or practising yoga! @SmitaDiwan