Beyond Business, Passionpreneur, Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Divyaa D: An Enthusiastic Shlokapreneur, Founder Gurukulam, a Beautiful Journey of Transforming lives

“If you can make small children smile or laugh…..if you can even catch their attention, you definitely have a special skill, right? On top of it, if you encourage them in a right way where they want to come back to see you and attend your sessions, willingly & happily…. then that’s the true impact on little kids” Divyaa uttered these words with a big smile on her eyes.

The excitement, pride and happiness were so visible, and the energy started spreading positively in the room.

Divyaa D - Shlokapreneur
Divyaa D, Gurukulam, Shlokapreneur – SLN Brand Studio

Our Founder, Suba Lakshminarasimhan, in conversation with Divyaa, the Shlokapreneur who runs GURUKULAM, the first of its kind Online Shloka School. She founded Gurukulam in 2014, aiming at keeping traditional roots in place and supporting the kids abreast of cultural knowledge thereby tapping an area left untouched.

At present GURUKULAM caters to 50 kids across the globe and is on the verge of expansion in the years to come.

Suba: Working in a software company to founding Gurukulam. Divyaa, it must have been an exciting journey, right? Tell me all about how did this happen, the triggering moment.

Divyaa: “Thank you Suba for this conversation, that too, when I have received a ‘Special Recognition’ award from MSME world for the great things happening at Gurukulam. Yes, I would be more than happy to talk about how the journey started.”

Divyaa went into a deep thought and I allowed the time to pause….

After a few seconds, she regained her smile and said,  “I am a spiritually inclined soul Suba, always surrender to reciting shlokas, at ups and downs of life experiences, which kept me grounded. I have always been passionate about shlokas, carnatic music and classical art forms. I don’t have to sit and do any meditation, reciting few shlokas helped me to get into the serene mode quickly.

Prior to starting GURUKULAM, I was a Branch Head with a Software Testing Company, Suba. That was a period when I was undergoing a problematic personal life, and unsatisfactory professional experience.

And, during that challenging time, a thought occurred about changing my passion into profession. We have music schools, dance studios, art classes, a yoga center in every nook and corner of Bangalore, but I didn’t find even a single school or an entity dedicated to teaching shlokas. That’s how I founded GURUKULAM on 20th October 2014.”

Divyaa D - Shlokapreneur 3
Divyaa D, Gurukulam, Shlokapreneur – ©SLN Brand Studio

Suba: That’s nice to know Divyaa. I come across many women out there with unique ideas, but do not know how and where to start. I support them on their journey.  I am sure your story will inspire many out there.

Tell us about the struggles you faced when Gurukulam was an infant. Was it easy to create awareness?

Divyaa: “I started with six kids in my apartment in 2014. Creating awareness was not easy. Beyond business, I worked very hard in creating awareness on how important it is for the kids to learn shlokas and how it will help them in all ups and downs of life. I spoke to many parents and happy to see kids joyfully joining my classes.

I wanted to serve more and more in our society, keenly advertised and reached out to many parents. Today, we have more than 50 kids and, recently, our curriculum is a part of ‘Little Millennium, Vajarahalli Kanakapura Road’ pre-school. Working with Ms Rittuu Goel is one excellent experience.”

Suba: That’s awesome Divyaa. What do you think you have gained as a Founder of Gurukulam?

Divyaa D - Shlokapreneur 2Divyaa: “Anger management and practicing patience; I acquired these two virtues by interacting with the kids. Their innocence, thirst to learn, determination in practice, everything for the love & care I showcase made me realize many great things in life. They become my ‘Guru’ many times in acquiring various life skills.

Everybody is facing different battles. With little care and love, If I can change lives, how about adopting it as a part of my life. I give my best to everyone around me, try to improve positivity around me. I owe my students a lot and am grateful for bringing in such a transformation.”

Suba: Beautiful indeed Divyaa! Imagine the world full of kindness and love.

Now, tell me about the support system you have built. How do you manage your personal and professional life?

Divyaa: “Universe is indeed great in that perspective Suba, irrespective of various challenges I faced, I get tremendous support from my family who love me for what I am. Even if I am worried or feel helpless, without me telling, someone will show up and encourage me to take the next step.

And, the parents of my students are my pillar of strength. It has been five long years; each one of them travel with me with complete trust. Such trust is what keep me going. They are the reason GURUKULAM is growing day by day.”

Suba: Tell us more about your students and their age group. If someone wants to reach out, how can they do so?

Divyaa: “Gurukulam has a structured and well-drafted lesson plan Suba, designed based on in-depth research, experience and learner-centric approach. We have students in varied age groups.

Yes, even though we started with the little ones, we now have students who are C-Suite professionals, awesome Homemakers, Scholars and Professors. The appreciation and accolades we receive from such high profile students encourage us to do more research and keep adding critical elements in our lesson plans.”

Suba: We wish you & students a great journey together Divyaa. Your noble profession is indeed much needed for us all. Can you please share one thing for the Women Aspirants out there?

Divyaa: “Transform your passion into your profession no matter how much you can earn initially. It is not about MONEY all the time, but it is all about being HAPPY, CONTENT and feeling COMPLETE as an individual first. Believe me, rest will follow automatically. Challenges are inevitable. Keep your chin high and  pick yourself up no matter what the circumstances are.”

About the Interview: ‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms Divyaa D is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal branding and career growth opportunities for working professionals, Students and Women with a Career Break, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions such as SPBQ, SVEP and SWCP.

Beyond Business, Mompreneurs, Passionpreneur, Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Continuous Growth – Janani Uppiliappan, the enthusiastic educator shares her secret with SLN Brand Studio

Janani Uppiliappan is a passionate educator, founder of Sai Vruksha Academy. Started with 10 students in 2014 to teach creative writing, Janani is now running numerous batches training phonics, creative writing, and grammar and enhancing the lives of numerous students. She has been teaching Phonics, Hand-writing, Creative Writing that enrich the vocabulary, writing and speaking the English language skill among students.

“Beyond core skills, the parents are happy seeing the improved self-confidence, discipline and habit forming in children.” Janani mentions proudly. 

Storytelling being her core strength, the students adore their ‘favourite mam’ and rush to attend her classes. Janani is thriving to take the fear, stress and anxiety associated with learning English through her fun and creative methodologies.

SLN Brand Studio, Women Contentment Program,
Janani Uppiliappan, Sai Vruksha Academy

Happy children……happier parents……the most delighted teacher.

“Continuous learning is the reason I continue to grow in what I do and deliver the best,” Janani says with a smile.

Suba Lakshminarasimhan, the founder of SLN Brand Studio, spoke to Janani Uppiliappan and shares the key learning from the journey of Sai Vruksha.

Read ahead…..

Suba: Janani, What are all the educational credentials you have related to your current job?

Janani: As the Founder of Sai Vruksha Academy, I am currently educating children of 4 to 13 yrs age group on Phonics, Creative Writing, Hand writing. Basically the children are equipped with speaking and writing in English very well like a champion. I am a certified trainer on Phonology from the American Tesol Institute. I also had accomplished Jolly Phonics, and Jolly grammar certification and ISO certified handwriting and speed writing coach.

A recent addition is a Certification on Story Telling by Eric Miller, the Director World Story Telling Institute.

Janani with kids
Sai Vruksha Academy

Suba: How do you choose the courses & institutes in this Journey to study further?

Janani: (with a proud smile) Born in the family of teachers & headmasters, I had identified a flair towards teaching since my childhood. Becoming a teacher when I decided to re-start my career was a conscious decision that I took. To comply with the modern day requirements and my passion for teaching the kids the essential skills, I started with the Phonology certification course from The American Tesol Institute.

As I continue to identify various needs in children, I equipped myself with further education. Beyond a mere certification, I am always keen on learning from the right places and experts, I chose the institutes very carefully.

Story telling workshop Chennai
Story Telling Training – Eric Miller

I want all my students to get the best from the global educational systems and methodologies, I happily invest on my continuous education.

Notably, the recent addition in my repository is the certification on ‘Story Telling’ by Eric Miller. Attending the workshop itself was a lifetime experience. Beyond the core skills, I learnt hugely from the Master himself.

I spend quality time researching for the right training & educational institutions to deliver the best for my students.

Suba: Janani, Tell me about the investments you have made on personal growth strategies

Janani continued with a keen interest.

Janani: Yes, I have invested huge in terms of time, effort and money. Managing the classes, family and studying, time was in fact predominantly a demanding element for me. The best part here is the strategies I developed to manage career and family. I am sure you would agree with me, without investment in personal development, it would be very tough to grow in any career, right?

Suba agreed with a nod and continued with the subsequent question.

Story Telling by Janani Uppiliappan
Story telling by Janani in Chennai

Suba: How frequently you plan to do courses for continuously growing?

Janani: I am in touch with my industry, user base through the process of continuous learning. I have developed my continuous learning process into two categories. One is day to day learning which is happening on the job. I learn huge every time I come with the new set of worksheets, new fun formula to teach my kids. The second category is learning from the masters, industry experts by attending workshops or training programs, which varies based on the skill I want to build.

Suba: Specific guidance you want to give our viewers related to ‘growth and continuous learning.’

Janani: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” – Anthony J. D.Anglo

Teachers play a huge role in developing the society and responsible community. English language and communication skill make a great difference in the way professionals grow. It is important to focus on improving the language skill in children from the early years  – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder Director, SLN Brand Studio

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Ms Janani Uppiliappan is an initiative for ‘Women Contentment Program,’ a Mentoring program for women.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal branding and career growth opportunities for working professionals, Students and Women with a Career Break, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions such as SPBQ, SVEP and SWCP.

Beyond Business

Ramanan, IT professional turned Environmentalist, a perfect Role Model for Empathy induced Altruism

“My ‘work-life’ started during my college days itself Suba. Looking back, beyond my educational credentials, I have acquired numerous skills through hands-on experience. Even my entrepreneurial journey is the same as well.”

I straightened myself to listen keenly as Ramanan started talking in a measured tone.

Ramanan Image
Ramanan, Shudh-Labh

Ramanan is the founder director of Shudh-labh, the fast-growing waste management organisation based in Bangalore, India. The entity aims at decentralising – sorting, collecting and recycling – all types of domestic waste. As the name suggests, the overall goal is to implement innovative recycle options for increasing profit. Thereby, up-cycling dry waste and enhancing the value recovery from waste. Aerobic Digester is their product that recovers the resource by composting the food waste.  

While doing my bachelors in Physics, I also got an opportunity to join the first batch of NIIT in Chennai where I acquired knowledge on software development. I was working in my father’s factory at the same time. After my NIIT course, my life took different turns. As a part of the Software Industry, I travelled across India, Singapore, and the USA. When I landed in Bangalore in 2004, joined a software firm and worked for three years. However, the thirst towards Entrepreneurship flaming up every minute, started a Training & Consulting firm focusing on Project Management/PMO certification.”

Ramanan took a pause here. I realised that he was introspecting and virtually gone back to 2007. I didn’t want to disturb the flow of thoughts and let the silence continue.

 “I tasted the reality behind Entrepreneurship during that period. It was not easy for me to come out comfort zone where I needed to ‘sell a Service.’ Discussing even with my friends and contacts about my company was highly challenging. I also realised the importance of pushing oneself harder, continuously learn, thrive on sustaining and succeeding during that period. Talking about that experience itself look so different now.” Ramanan chuckled and continued “In fact, I wouldn’t call it as ‘Entrepreneurship’ now.”

I looked at him quizzically.

Ramanan continued, “I understand what you want to ask Suba? Everything changed when we started Shudh-Labh. One beautiful morning changed my life drastically. It was, in fact, a normal Bangalore day as I was sipping my morning coffee looking outside from my veranda. A pile of waste on the street and a stink emanating from it, I just turned around and came inside. Sanitary workers were collecting and transporting into a vehicle. It was heartening to see them using bare hands to manage the waste struck me really hard.

Further learning on waste management and a discussion with some experts led me to understand the impact such landfill has been creating on our mother earth. Further R&D and embracing technology as the right solution we found Shudh-Labh,”

“That’s quite an exciting start of this journey Ramanan. In a new business and a market, How did you handle the transition as a leader here? 

“Yes, exactly. My earlier entrepreneurial journey taught many lessons by biting me financially and emotionally. But the passion, excitement was totally different this time. Responsibility and accountability somehow excited me instead of scaring. However, I was conscious that mere passion or enthusiasm is not enough to keep it going. This is a high scale initiative, I spent quality time in planning and executing.

Most importantly, my family is my great support system, Suba. If not my wife and daughter, I don’t see a possibility of Shudh-labh in my life. Their constant backing is the primary force here. You will be surprised to know Suba, we are running our family expenses solely on my wife’s salary for the past four years. I have invested all our savings in the business. Our extended family and friends have funded as well. As we are growing now, we are working on getting external funding as well.”

“You know what pushes me ahead amidst challenges…..even so-called educated people do not want to pay for managing their waste effectively but willing to dump it in landfills – a sorry state of affairs and depressing at times. Creating awareness in this space continuously is a task I have taken voluntarily, and, seriously.”

“Can you brief about the product – Aerobic digester?” I asked.

“Yes, definitely.  Food waste comes under ‘Wet Waste’ category where the kitchen waste, vegetable peels, leaves and related ingredients are wet. When the air is used to process this food waste, we get ‘organic compost’ as a final product. This organic compost improves crop yields, reduces the carbon footprints without using any chemical substances. Using air, the Aerobic Digester helps in locking the carbon in the soil, convert the waste into reusable resource as organic compost.”

“Very thoughtful Indeed Ramanan. Now, tell me about your first client acquisition. Any Entrepreneur including me would agree that ‘getting the first customer’ as the toughest of many challenges. How did you convince the buyer to purchase your product?” I asked.

“Oh yes, that’s where my relationship building strength helped. I can connect with people very well. Moreover, Aerobic Digester is a product of many brains and hard work of people who are passionate about Environment. We are a bunch of people who are conscious of leaving greener earth to our future generation. Every household has someone suffering from serious health conditions like cancer, cardiac issues and many modern-day illnesses. People including you and me, knowingly or unknowingly, have already polluted our land and air; we are breathing and eating wrong things. It is hugely our responsibility now to correct it. We, from a business point of view, focused on creating awareness and showcasing the value proposition.”

“We are ever thankful to Sovereign Park in Basavanagudi who believed in Aerobic Digester and us. Later, the product and our continued support in handling the initial hiccups to day-to-day functions spoke on behalf of us. The association members have become our brand ambassadors. Our unique design in the Aerobic Digester now become the defacto standard across Bangalore and Chennai. Compared to our competitors, our design has gained huge acceptance in the market due to its ability to addressing numerous issues related to waste management. Our composters have one of the lowest Opex and Capex, and easy to use process create a competitive edge here. We take complete accountability on the site and, beyond a mere product company, we work as partners with our clients.”

“That’s encouraging information for the budding Entrepreneurs. Appropriate planning, value proposition and customer experience can help to break many barriers.”

I paused and got myself ready to ask the most critical question.

When it comes to running a business, that too, bootstrapped, managing finance is a more significant challenge, right? Since you are scaling up, is there any other major challenge that you face now?” I could sense the concern and curiosity raising in me as well.

Ramanan continued thoughtfully, “Yes, Funds are a greater challenge. We are cutting a big fat now. We are also working on getting the right people and skills on board which is posing a huge challenge. Those who seem to be passionate and interested do not show any inclination when it comes to really play the game. Not only Shudh-Labh, but many waste management start-ups also face skill scarcity. People struggle to make the decisions to join hands here.

We look forward to onboard more talents.”

“I understand and see a considerable gap in creating awareness about the opportunities available in the waste management Industry. Hope and wish things change for good and make our earth greener.

Now, tell me. If I ask you about one personality change you had to implement in ‘yourself’ to sustain and succeed as an Entrepreneur, what will be your answer?” I posted a question and got myself ready to listen to the answer.

Ramanan continued with a confident smile, “Oh, yes, the attribute seems as strength might pose a threat at times. I was a bit on the ‘Naive’ side when it comes to managing People. I have always been Empathetic and try my best to help others to grow. But, I realised that this attitude could work against the growth of my company. Beyond extending support, motivating and training, some people cannot change or perform as expected due to various reasons. ‘Letting them go’ still gives me a nightmare. However, I am changing, and I could see how such decisions help the company to grow. Every day becomes beautiful with such learning and consistent implementation of actions” The determination in his words showcased a more robust transmission that had happened from within.

Your ‘Single’ advice for the upcoming Entrepreneurs/Millennial/Corporate Sanyasis?

Perseverance and passion, but with a stable & practical action plan backed by data, is critical for success.

About the Interview‘Words of Wisdom’ Interview with Mr. Ramanan Natarajan is an initiative for bringing gems out to the limelight as a part of ‘Beyond Business’ series from SLN Brand Studio.

Ms. Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder director, SLN Brand Studio conducted the interview. Women Contentment Program (WCP) focuses on elevating the lives of Women by helping them create a new career, get back to the career after a break, develop Emotional & Social intelligence and build a Personal Brand.

About the Company: SLN Brand Studio offers Consulting, Mentoring, CXO Resume Writing and Corporate training Solutions. Aiming at building the personal branding and career growth opportunities for working professionals, Students and Women with a Career Break, SLN Brand Studio has developed numerous customized solutions such as SPBQ, SVEP and SWCP.

“Breaking inner glass-ceiling is the continuous process for human to grow” – Suba Lakshminarasimhan, Founder, SLN Brand Studio