Interview With Growth Evangelist Uttara Parikh
Uttara Parikh is a leader in growth hacking. She is a Growth Evangelist, CMO at Bannerbuzz.com and Co-Founder/CEO at Neonearth.com. We have been following Uttara very closely. After chasing her for a while, we managed to get hold of her for a quick chat. Here are the highlights :
UTTARA, PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
I am someone who loves to create, build and grow businesses. I feel passionately about impacting entrepreneurs and sharing my story and expertise to enhance growth.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY FROM A BANKER TO A GROWTH EVANGELIST?
Banking gave me a very strong skill set, and was my first introduction to corporate life. In many ways banking is the ideal introduction to the world of business because it opens the doors to the nitty gritty workings of what makes businesses weak or powerful. As a mergers and acquisitions analyst, I became a powerful data geek and presentation expert, with insights into the strategies that make businesses valuable.
My MBA gave me very valuable skill sets in leadership, and in the wider aspects of managing businesses. As an e-commerce founder, through my first venture, I was forced to burn the midnight oil, face gritty situations and really get down in the muck to push my business forward and to enhance its growth and to please venture capitalists. The business did not do very well, but following on from that, my career took off, as I applied the lessons learnt through grit to other businesses, large and small.
I love watching my suggestions come to life, as they add to the top lines and bottom lines of businesses. I love creating strategies and helping drive the vision of a founder led company. This growth that I am able to help in driving, is a massive motivating factor for me. This is what I wake up excited for, every morning.
HOW IS YOUR UPCOMING E-COMMERCE PLATFORM NEON EARTH DIFFERENT FROM ITS COMPETITORS?
a. We are very well integrated into the parent company’s print on demand infrastructure which uniquely handles manufacturing and stitching for NeonEarth. Because of this vertical integration, we have focused on creating products with unique printable fabrics. For example on Neon Earth, you will find throw pillows in 5 different fabrics – velvet embossed, jacquard, gold shot, silver shot, canvas. The focus on fabrics and on our own stitching facility allows us to offer some unique product combinations and customizations.
b. We encourage 3 distinct consumer behaviours:
i)Those who simply want to shop artist led designs on unique products
ii)Those who want to create personalised designs on unique products
iii) Those independent artists who want to sell to the buyers in i). We offer a royalty on every sale to the artist whose design is printed on the product
c. We have a very comprehensive design platform where artists can customise their art using a range of tools including text additions, clipart elements, colors etc.
CAN YOU TELL US THE STORY BEHIND NEON EARTH AND HOW YOU CAME UP WITH THIS NAME?
Neonearth was born when I realized that there is a massive community of independent artists who are looking for alternative ways to earn through their art. I was looking for artist designed home decor when doing up my own home. An artist friend came up with wallpaper designs and pillow designs. But I wanted someone who could custom print my upholstery. I couldnt find that someone. I also wanted to find someone who could print my artist friend’s designs on a wallpaper and pillow – and it took a lot of hunting to find a supplier and to convince them to print a one-off for me,
The printing industry has traditionally worked on volume orders. Personalizing for the indiviual has been prohibitively expensive in the past. As I delved further, i was able to identify a very interesting phenomenon.
a. Technology was changing – printing technology now exists to cost effectively print in short runs.
b. The demand from artists and from consumers like me for printing+ stitching in short runs, the need to be unique and the need for self expression – all these were trends that were on the rise
This gave birth to neon earth. It was a classic case of need identification and opportunity.
The name NeonEarth. I like to think of myself as a global citizen – thats where Earth comes from. I wanted something that was not limiting geographically, and that indicated width and vision. As a person, I like to think of myself as bold, energetic and vibrant. Neon fits the bill. My co-founder, partner actually had this domain name which he had bought a very long time ago. He showed me a bunch of names and I fell in love with Neonearth.
AND HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR CO-FOUNDERS?
I met Nishant Shah as a friend first. When he found out the I help founder led businesses as a growth evangelist and that my specialization is e-commerce, he asked me to take a look at his own fast growing e-commerce company. I started off helping him with growth strategy for his company Bannerbuzz, and over multiple conversations, the idea for NeonEarth.com bubbled up, as I was decorating my new home.
YOU ARE A SUCCESSFUL PERSON, BUT WE KNOW SUCCESS DOESN’T COME WITHOUT PAIN AND FAILURES; PRESUMABLY, YOU MUST HAVE TASTED DEFEATS TOO. WHAT, ACCORDING TO YOU, IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN LIFE?
Defeats are meant to be lessons to learn from, rather than instances of life pushing you down. I have learnt a lot of course from times in life that were painful. I have chosen to not look at pain and failure as permanent or defeating. I have chosen to look at those times as opportunities for growth. The key to success in life according to me is compassionate giving. I’m a big believer in Bob Burg’s Go-Giver philosophy. I am also a big believer in continuous personal transformation and growth which allow you to take failures as stepping stones to success.
LASTLY, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO TELL OR SUGGEST BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS
Build a business that serves people. Real leaders focus on people and not on themselves. So, start by asking the question – “Who does this business serve”