Start early, start young, seems to be the catchphrase these days. And its not impatience but confidence that spurs young women to jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon early. The many e-cell activities of Ethiraj College for Women helped four women take the plunge into the startup world.
Meet Adhithya A, Saranya S, Jayapriya S and Aishwarya P, final-year BCom students who floated Camouflouge with the tag line ‘Changing Colours’, in February 2010 to print customised cards for people in their college.
However, it was their classmate Samantha Sarathy who came up with the idea of Camouflage.
“When she became president of the college’s students union, she couldn’t devote much time to Camouflage so we took over. Saranya and I look after the functions of a CEO while Jayapriya and Aishwarya are the finance and creative heads respectively,” says Adhithya.
Camouflage started with a small investment of `500 from each of the girls. “To be frank, our business is not on a grand scale. We bought some machines and paints. We saved a lot of money on space. We mostly get orders from within the campus only. The profits aren’t much. We are happy that Camouflage keeps us engaged and it is a huge learning curve,” says Saranya.
The quartet owes a lot to competitions like TATA First Dot — organised by National Entrepreneurship Network — that has helped them gain national recognition. They came third in the people’s choice category of TATA First Dot, held in January. “This ensures a year’s training and mentoring under entrepreneurs, angel investors, workshops and much more,” beams Jayapriya. They are equally lavish in praise for their college.
“Our college attaches a lot of importance to extra curricular activities. Every year, we have about 20-25 certificate courses on various topics like fabric painting, online trading and screen printing. This exposure has come in handy for our venture,” says Aishwarya.
The four have already made up their minds to hand over the reins of Camouflage to their juniors but are determined to help and mentor them in whatever ways possible. Does Camouflage take up most of their time?
“At Ethiraj, you learn to multitask with ease,” they say in unison. So far they have managed about 20 orders that include visiting cards, invitations, certificates and brochures.
They agree that Camouflage could do a lot better if it expands its base. “We are trying to contact other colleges, friends and relatives — better networking should bring in the orders,” says a hopeful Adhithya.