Bringing Science, Logic and Art to Advertising & Content to create & drive meaningful conversations between brands and consumers -Neena DasGupta, CEO & Director, Zirca Digital Solutions

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  1. What is the most valuable advice you got as a woman entrepreneur?

ANS: I’ve never got any advice as a woman entrepreneur, so I have followed my own path. However, if someone asks me for an advice, as a woman entrepreneur I tell them: Value yourself and love yourself. Don’t let others tell you who you are, what you should do, and where you should be in life. Make your own choices and be courageous to live with any outcomes they bring.

2. How challenging was it starting off in a competitive environment?

ANS: A competitive environment only encourages us to think beyond the status quo and respond to the market needs with agility. If the competition is already doing it, why has it not been effective in addressing the need gap?

The only challenge in starting off in a competitive environment is making your voice stand out in the noise that already exists. In our case, we saw that the customer engagement narrative really had to change to bringing brands and consumers closer by facilitating meaningful conversation between them.

“Our clarity of thought and the ability to gauge this need and respond with innovative solutions, helped us hit the ground running and has only helped us carve our own space in our ecosystem. It is also our ability to reflect the brand responsibility of a brand in our engagements with the market that have won us partnerships with major brands, as they could trust us to maintain their brand integrity in all our engagements.”

3. How important is it having the right team to be successful?

ANS: Having the right team is instrumental for a business to be successful and having the right team is having the right mix of people working with you and alongside you. In addition to having a team that is driven and purposeful, it is important to have a diverse set of minds working together to achieve the business goals. In doing so, you always know there will always be new ideas, fresh perspectives, and a highly collaborative, solution-oriented approach to tackling business challenges.

4. Your ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ moment?

ANS: As an woman entrepreneur, I’ve had to balance myself on the tight rope walk between the guilt of a mother, a wife and a daughter and leading an organization without bringing that emotional baggage of guilt into my professional life.

As I balance my life at work and home, my family and my children have become more self-reliant, my household has become smoother and efficient in its functioning.

This has only made me stronger and enabled me to convert my emotion into success at my work and brought me immense satisfaction as a person and even as the business person I am.

5. How do you measure success? What is your success mantra?

“Success is directly proportional to satisfaction and sound sleep. It is all about how many lives have I you managed to touch as a professional, how many people have you influenced, brought value to their lives and how many consumers have you managed to create for the brand.”

The satisfaction that it brings me for having achieved all of this is how I measure success and not from a balance sheet.

6. Any specific advantages and disadvantages of being a woman entrepreneur/professional

ANS: I believe the challenges faced by a person as an entrepreneur/professional are more on account of them being individuals rather than their gender. Traditionally, societal bias may have played a role in how women were perceived in professional and leadership roles and therefore may have faced challenges that were different from their male counterparts.

However, in this digital age, both men and women work side by side, tackling the same business problems, but bring their own unique perspective as individuals to solve these problems and are even able to find tremendous success as individuals.

At times, you need to push harder for what you want, but I have fought such challenges without complaining and managed to turn every experience into an opportunity for learning and personal growth. It all depends on your mindset and how you own your place as a woman.

At Zirca, I’ve ensured that we incorporate gender, location and cultural diversity. That is why over 39% of our employees are women, some of whom have re-joined the company after a career break.

7. Can you give us insight into your business?

ANS: Zirca started as an entrepreneurial venture with a singular purpose of facilitating meaningful conversations between brands and consumers. Since its inception, Zirca has brought science, logic and art to advertising and content to create and drive these conversations for brands.

With our global experience and outlook has enabled us to build and grow businesses for global majors such as The Economist, Microsoft, Outbrain, INC., Fast Company, TubeMogul, Ad Form and MediaMath.

The gamut of our representation and technology platform partnerships, our flagship platforms, ContentdB and ContentiQ and our Brand Solutions practice, means we can leverage a powerful combination of smart technologies and relevant data to facilitate meaningful conversations between brands and consumers through content and advertising.

What started as a two-people entrepreneurship has today grown into a multi-million  dollar enterprise that has over 100 people today.

8. What are the three most important lessons that you have learnt in your journey?

ANS: I studied economics and management in Delhi, where I got most of my education living in a hostel. Staying away from home was another big adventure. Everyone must get the chance to live away from home because it makes one responsible, strong, independent and balanced. My resilience, as seen today, is an outcome of my experiences growing up.

My view on life is that when I am down and low, I accept this state of mind instead of fighting or ignoring it. Like everything else, such moments too, pass. At these low points in my life, I choose to remain confident about myself and never, ever doubt my abilities.

Work and life throw many challenges. Some you win, some you lose. It is about how quickly you bounce back each time you lose. I never let setbacks deter me from achieving my dreams. The day I stop dreaming, I stop living.

9. What does being a mother teach you to run business?

ANS: I developed patience that helped me hone my listening skills, not despair with teams dilemmas, but suggest solutions. It taught me to innovate. I was naturally looking for ways to make solutions more innovative for better impact.

It made me creative. My approach to business and client interactions had a creative style that won me many accolades. It taught me prioritization.

It made my time managements skills sharper. I knew what kind of time I needed to spend to achieve the desired outcome. It taught me resilience while making me tenacious. I know knew my limits and was not scared the stretch myself.

It helped me look at development in a more organic way. It taught me to not expect from anyone apart from my own self (emotionally) – an important learning that causes quite a bit of dissonance. It taught me how to nudge my team towards taking some risks – like egging a child when he takes his first steps.

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