(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Here is my interview with Nikita Acharya, CEO/Co-founder of Urbangirl. Urbangirl aim to create a culture among Nepalese business industries where customers come first. Having served over 60,000+ satisfied customers, they take full pride in saying that they have been able to create happiness among our customers, the majority of which are females.
What makes you do what you do?
The Nepalese online consumer market is still at its infancy stage. Although online shopping portals such as Amazon and Ebay are accessible to Nepalese customers, such websites do not support online transactions using credit cards issued by Nepalese banks. Moreover, a lack of effective consumer protection law from the government along with the lack of legitimacy of online business from customers’ perspective, give rise to challenges to address multiple problems. These unique characteristics of the Nepalese online market required designing a unique business model that enable customers to purchase products even under the conditions where 1) they do not have credit cards or cannot use it because it is not supported online, and 2) they do not trust the notion of an e-business. I am determined to address these problems facing the Nepalese society and add value to online shopping in Nepal with a new and unique business model and I want to bring change in this industry in Nepal.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
When I was 19 when I started my first company, Urban Girl. I remember surfing through international e-commerce website and wonder how amazing it’d be if people at Nepal had the same option. I dreamt of opening one of my own. This dream came to a fruition during the fifth-semester of my Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) program. At that time, the Nepalese consumer market was devoid of an online shopping portal. I realized that while the prevailing market condition was a problem for customers, it was an opportunity for me. Taking action, Kiran (the other co-founder) and I started to brainstorm ideas to combat this deficiency in the Nepalese market. Our vision was to make our online portal a preferred shopping center for our target customers.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I knew girls love shopping as much as I do and since Nepal never had any specific platform devoted just for girls we started Urban Girl. At UG, we provide a one point stop where women can buy many essentials online. A few years later we started a gift and cake section to our website. At the beginning of the last year (2016) we started our own factory and bakery outlet as UG cakes. And we began 2017 with a new venture, UG chocolates where we make customized chocolates and deliver it throughout the town.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
There are many mentors, none, in particular, I’ve come across in my life. People who are focused and are self-motivated to follow their dreams are the ones I look up to.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
As a leader, I get to learn from the people. I get to dive into their pool of talents and get a deep understanding of their skills and knowledge. Instead of just keeping my talent, this actually sharpens it and gives me the new and fresh perspective to understand and explore everything better.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I love it when I get to learn things from different perspectives. New ideas, new thoughts and different approach of seeing things are one of the most interesting parts in the work I do. And all these comes from diversity. So, diversity is something I’d always support.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
As an entrepreneur, one has to understand that things can go haywire every now and then, despite the fact that you have given your everything to it. Keeping your focus on to the end goals instead of getting distracted due to short-term failure is, in my opinion, the biggest quality needed to achieve and lead.
Advice for others?
You live once, make the best out of it.
To learn more about Urbangirl, please see http://www.urbangirl.me.
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