It’s the right time to start a start-up: Jaypore co-founder

20 April 2022

Shilpa Sharma, the co-founder of Jaypore, was one of the guest speakers at the launch of ‘Runway’, an incubation initiative by the UPES Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UCIE). During the event, she talked about her journey from an employee to becoming the owner of a business, and more…

In every entrepreneur’s life, there comes a ‘eureka’ moment, when an idea, inspiration or the desire to do more makes them take the leap of faith. For Shilpa Sharma, it was when she felt that she had outgrown her job.

“As a cog in the wheel, I got the feeling that I was probably too big for my boots. At that point, I decided to pursue what I believe in and what I think was the outcome of my deepest convictions and beliefs, coming from my experience in consumer-facing roles for over a decade,” she says.

Shilpa was speaking at the launch of Runway, an incubation initiative by the UPES Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UCIE). UCIE has been recognised by the Government of Uttarakhand as a business incubator and state nodal agency to encourage entrepreneurship and help incubate organisations in the state.

Shilpa has spent over two decades in the textile, craft and lifestyle retail space. After a 12-year-innings with Fabindia, building their growth story, she quit in 2010 to live her entrepreneurial dreams. She co-founded Jaypore, India’s first online retail portal for exquisite Indian handmade and contemporary design products.

“I reached a stage where I did not want to be part of the corporate rat race anymore; corporates that are large, well-oiled organisations with a straitjacket approach to building businesses and increasing revenue,” she says while underlining that she is grateful to the company for enabling her to think beyond the role she was hired for.

Shilpa says, “Fabindia was nothing short of the environment one needs to become an entrepreneur. I was appointed for setting up stores all over the country. But I always had an opinion about other aspects of the business such as products and categories. I never ever thought of my role as just a job giving me the security of a paycheque.”

However, there came a time when her aspirations for the business went miles ahead of what the organisation wanted. “By that time, around 2010, I had done about 125 stores around the country; the organisation’s focus was to get to a geographical footprint of 300 stores. I thought that there was an opportunity to do more in terms of the approach of the product and catering to the needs of the customers, which would go beyond what we were already servicing,” she recalls.

However, Shilpa did not start Jaypore right away. She nurtured the thought in her head, and it took her six years to build the brand. In that time, she and her team managed to change how the world looks at Indian craft, which was a massive achievement. She teamed up with Puneet Chawla, who had the experience of working in the e-commerce business.

Does she think there is a ‘right time’ in an entrepreneur’s life to begin the journey? “I worked for 20 years in corporates before I decided that I didn’t want to work for any company anymore. Today, I am talking to youngsters, straight out of college who want to become their own bosses, who want to create something that they believe in from day one. So, there is no such thing as the right time,” Shilpa says.

She, however, highlights the importance of a well-thought-out plan. “A lot of deliberation needs to go into identifying what it is that you want to do, followed by drawing up a plan to get there. And some of it may include going out and working with somebody in that space. Sometimes we may believe that our approach to an idea is the best way to do it. I think that is a bit much,” Shilpa says.

What is that advice she would give to people at different stages of their academic or entrepreneurial journey? “To work closely with someone who has been a part of the industry and who gives you the opportunity to learn from their experiences. If you know the path you want to walk on, then find the people who are already on that path, latch yourselves onto them, and learn from their experiences and failures.”

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