In Conversation With Sharmin ALi- An author, Entrepreneur And Writer
Please share your journey how it started from tech person to storyteller to an entrepreneur
I began my career with Mu Sigma, a technology company, and got the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 companies in the USA. I am an avid reader and hence being a storyteller comes naturally to me. I wrote two books, the first one ‘Y.O.U’ was announced as a best-seller by The New Indian Express & the Oxford bookstores, and the second book was titled ‘How I was forced to become a staunch RACIST’. When I decided to pursue entrepreneurship, I decided to stick to the media space where I authored 70 original scripts. I exited after 3 years when my company was acquired by a Bombay-based production house. My experience with my first start-up gave me the insight that even large corporations make marketing decisions based on how they feel about the content instead of using data to get the best results. Here is where I stepped in with Instoried to help marketers/ content creators or just about anyone to create content that is more empathetic and thereby more likely to convert. Humans are emotionally driven and it is important to communicate with empathy be it in business or in personal relationships. Instoried has been on the forefront of the empathetic revolution for content.
What are the biggest hurdles that you faced in your journey?
My biggest challenge was getting the team in place and ensuring that there are always enough funds to spend for the same. After my savings were exhausted, I had to break my PPF account, despite my parent’s disapproval. Subsequently, I mortgaged my jewelry and used the money to pay salaries. Once the team was set, I was confident of our journey being positive even if it would have a few hurdles in between. I am very happy to share that we now have an outstanding team, 60% of which are women.
Failures are the best teachers so how did you overcome that?
I strongly believe that a failure only happens if you conclude it as a failure. If you are persistent, innovative, and agile you can always convert a failure into an opportunity. In my own case, because I knew that a fund shortage is only a temporary setback if you allow yourself room to innovate and grow, I persisted and invested my own personal savings to grow. You don’t fail if you persist and are quick enough to make changes to the way you do things.
Your opinion on the current situation of OTT platforms or the scope for young writers
OTT platforms provide lucrative prospects to budding content creators. Demand for OTT content based on geo-demographics is on the rise, both within India and internationally. I think the year 2022 is definitely going to be an exciting year for OTT players as the content pipeline will be stronger than ever.
Share 3 advice for young entrepreneurs and storytellers
- Persevere and don’t stop!
- Team is everything. Running a start-up is not a one man show!
- Money, name and success are all transient. The only one that prevails is the relationship with humans. So be grounded, humble and empathetic in life.