The Creator of Inspirational Stories — Shradha Sharma #JeenaIsiKaNaamHain
I haven’t spoken about a woman protagonist for quite sometime now, in my #JeenaIsiKaNaamHain column. Today I am going to talk about one such individual, a lady who I hold in very high esteem, an entrepreneur who has helped showcase thousands of other entrepreneurs through her media platform. Her biggest achievement is that when people speak about her “off the records” the tone and tenor do not change. She continues to earn a huge amount of respect and credibility from her peers. I can say this with a lot of confidence because jealousy (there’s no other way of couching this feeling) among rivals (even when you call them “peers”) is real, it’s common and again it’s very natural. When you put in 14 hours a day for six days a week and you do that for more than a decade, it is very difficult if not downright impossible, to not develop resentment when someone gets ahead having done what you did. There’s nothing good or bad about it and it is what it is! But when you come across an individual who has been able to break this mold in others, the respect grows ten-fold.
So let’s jump right in.
One afternoon, back in 2008, I was driving back to Chanakyapuri, NASSCOM’s office, when Shradha Sharma’s call came in. And, no, there weren’t any cops to keep tabs. I was looking for a partner who could support me in driving the Product Conclave at NASSCOM, and her name was referred by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy. At that time, there weren’t too many media houses that were writing about the founders of Indian software products and showcasing their journey. Pluggd.in focused on products and not the founders per se which wasn’t fitting in with my requirement. And, it wasn’t easy to get featured by ToI or ET back in those days. Today, of course, things are different. And, I’d even say that Shradha Sharma had a pivotal role in making this shift. I needed a writer of very high quality who could bring out the trials and tribulations of these journeys (founders’) that would read as inspirational stories and goad thousands of others to pick up the cudgel.
Enter Shradha Sharma — her expertise did just that!
Let me give you an insight into her character and you will understand what she is made of. At that time, her mother was indisposed and had to be hospitalized for a few months, and it was perhaps the most difficult phase in her life. A normal response would be to withdraw and focus on the mother’s recovery. Yes, she did that but alongside, she plonked herself next to her mother and continued to operate even as she took up the role of primary caregiver. Frankly, I have not known any other individual who is capable of such resolve. The early signs were obvious — she would be running with the wolves one day!
Fast forward three years.
I meet up with her in Bangalore in a café in Indiranagar. This time we are in an ideation mode and we leverage each other as a sounding board. We wanted to give away an award at the NASSCOM Product Conclave to recognize the contribution of individuals who would be Ecosystem Evangelists. The whole idea was how to nurture the ecosystem through collaborative efforts even as companies competed fiercely. Alongside Vijay Anand and Ashish Sinha, she was an awardee. Once again, her brilliance was evident and she put forward some sparkling ideas which helped us run the show and create a distinct brand. Brand Positioning comes naturally to her and there have been numerous occasions where this obvious quality of hers was on full display.
She put in long productive hours to shape up the 2011 edition of the NASSCOM Product Conclave and by then she had arrived. A prominent woman leader, already. Over the years, we have met up often, interacted, and discussed a range of topics. She is a wonderful host and I have had the privilege of being hosted at her Bangalore residence. On one such occasion, it struck me how sensitive she is towards humans who aren’t as fortunate as we are. When addressing housemaids, the respectful “ji” is never missed.
Thus far, her journey has been incredible but she has had her struggles as well and she continues to emerge stronger and more sensitive from these experiences. For those of you who have seen her hosting panel discussions, you would know how deftly she maneuvers these conversations to bring out the best in speakers. It’s a treat to watch just as much as it is to participate. Yourstory & Shradha Sharma has played a massive role in creating visibility for the startup ecosystem in India and we are indeed privileged to have someone like her in our midst. Overall, she has been a remarkably strong face for the D&I cause in India.
I know she plays badminton and so do I. But playing with her is one box that still needs to be ticked. I am quite sure that will happen someday and we will also have her canine best friends give us company or play the role of referee. She is an ardent dog-lover and I have apprehensions that our four-legged friends may demonstrate some bias in her favour.
We have great mutual respect and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish her a very long road ahead. And, of course, good health.
Shradha you are a rockstar and in the annals of the Indian Product Ecosystem, you have sealed your place with so much grace.
That is rare!