At BrilliantRead Media, our aim is to bring to our community some of the finest stories from the startup ecosystem. As part of this endeavour, we invited a passionate entrepreneur – Amrita Tiwary for an exclusive interview with us. She is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Mentor, Consultant and Coach. Amrita is the Founder and HOD at Kreative Minds. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Amrita:
We are aware of your contribution to the ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please;
I come from a very small town called Jamshedpur (also known as Tata Nagar). I have been a go-getter throughout and wanted to do something on my own from a very young age but there were limited opportunities. Probably, because of the generation, I belong to had little access to present day opportunities. Since childhood I was into sports and extra-curricular activities. Maybe that is one of the reasons that gave me the feeling to start something on my own.
As soon as I completed my education, I started working in finance and then moved into sales. When working in corporate I often introspected and used to feel that may be I am not for a 9 to 6 job.
I had creative bent of mind so even in sales, I used to make my own ideas and different ways to pitch the clients than those imposed by others. That gave me the confidence and courage to start my own venture and call it a day after 11+ years in the corporate sector.
Since I have done my master’s in fine arts and have good expertise in this space which gave me a certain level of confidence and fuelled me to start my own art venture.
While I was working in corporates, I got a lot of opportunities to teach students and it was something I thoroughly enjoyed. That’s where it all started. I started with just 4 or 5 students in 2016 and today it has grown significantly to 500+. Slowly and steadily I have started with this and got in touch with many other teachers who are in many other different art forms. Today, they are a part of ‘Kreative Minds’ family. Surprisingly all of them are women.”
If I talk about my journey, it has not been easy, honestly. There were quite a few ups and downs. As we know that in our country unfortunately art forms are available in abundance. In every corner or house, you will find an artist. When something is available in abundance then people don’t understand its value. As it is considered to be an extracurricular activity. Whereas this is where the true gem lies. It is from these extra-curricular activities, you find some extraordinary talents in various art forms.
My aim from day 1 has been to tell people and make them understand that art is equally important. It is one of the best life skills one can possess and we should not let it go down the drain.
Art can teach you what academics cannot. Academics is important, I’m not saying it is not. After all you should know the fundamentals and the ABCD to communicate with each other. But it is the art that can do wonders. So as soon as you see some art in someone, nurture them into the artists they can become and help them unlock their true potential. That’s what Kreative Minds aims to do.”
What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?
What attracts me towards entrepreneurship is that “You are your own boss”, “You take the call”, “You take the decision”. But what I enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur is that ‘You’re a Leader, not a Manager’. The manager thinks about me and the leader has to think about ‘ we, us and collective success.
In order to expand, in order to grow, in order to make your presence felt in the world, in the market- you would require a team. They will support you and help you grow only when you respect them. This is something that I have learned in childhood. You cannot demand respect, you have to earn it.
You have to support the team with whatever they need and when the time comes, they will support you too. You have to treat them as equals. A leader will always say – come on let’s give it a try and do this. A manager will say – I’m gonna tell you – you have to do it.
The leader delegates in such a way that he becomes a part of the team. That is exactly what I try to do as an entrepreneur.”
‘Kreative Minds’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving?
‘Kreative Minds’ basically means a mind being creative. Thinking not out of the box but thinking beyond the box. Out of the box, schools and companies are teaching. We would tell you to take the step when the box is not even there.
Our tagline is – inspire, learn and create. So we try to inspire people, with our stories and with our creativity and then we teach them in a way they can learn. After that, whatever learning they have got, they try to create something of their own creativity.
The problem we are trying to solve is very simple, which is stress. In Kreative Minds we have students. I don’t call team students, I call them learners. Because they are learning something. Students are those who go to school and study. They only study academics, sports which is up to the limit that has been taught to them.
You know there is a golden rule in drawing, which I really love and that’s what I teach to all my learners is ‘We don’t draw what we know, we draw what we see’.”
There is no age restriction so our oldest learner is 4 years old and the youngest is 76 years old.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
Earlier ‘Kreative Minds’ was only in US and India. When we say India we were only in Noida and Bangalore. For US and Canada, we used to conduct sessions over Skype.
It was 24th of March 2020 at 8 PM when PM Modi announced lockdown, and from 26th March 2020 Kreative Minds went online all over the world. So that opened a new world of opportunities for both our learners and us.
It was a blessing in disguise for us. The challenge that we faced online was how to teach the learners online in a group. It’s always easier to conduit it faces to face or with a group of 50 learners but online was new for us. So we figured out, new ways to do it. We started breaking the groups into such numbers to make it easier for the learners and for the teachers as well.
I am extremely thankful to all the parents for being a part of the Kreative Minds family today. They immensely supported and helped us. They also gave us time to figure out the challenges we have faced when we were transitioning online. Instead of stopping their child to attend classes, they gave us different kinds of suggestions to help us facilitate the classes better.
With the support of everybody, within a month’s time, we were good to go. Since April 2020 we are running our classes smoothly and seamlessly. Steadily Kreative Minds expanded considerably to Delhi NCR. Now, we are in Chattisgarh, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and growing. We have covered almost all the major parts of India. We have expanded to Germany and are now covering Atlanta, California Florida (USA)and Austria.
The reason why Kreavtive Minds is surviving and will survive is because we work as a team which is getting stronger every passing day.
How do you manage to keep going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Well, it is my passion, my love for art that drives me.
My interest and focus towards making people understand that art is equally important as academics. What we are doing and what I can bring with the name of Kreative Minds is now making a huge difference in the life of these students at a very young age.
It is now making a difference in the life of working professionals and to those who are above 60, retired but still have that spark to do something.
All of this keeps me going.
Who do you believe has been the biggest source of motivation in your daily life?
‘Myself’. I’m a self-motivated person. I believe in Lord Ganesh. I pray to him morning and evening. I don’t know since childhood, I’m very much towards Lord Ganesh. I’m superstitious and I can’t help it because I am a businesswoman and I have to be superstitious at certain points in time.
My family has been a very big support. They always believed in me and they know I am a different kind of person. They know if I think of something, I’m going to do it. You know there is a word in Hindi, which is called ‘Sanki’ Ek baar sanak chad gya na then I’m going to do it.
The biggest motivating factor for me is when somebody tells me that you’re not gonna do it. Thanks to all those people who are doubting my ability and say no that’s not possible. That fuels me do that particular thing more intensely. I don’t want to prove to anybody but I want to prove to myself that if I have taken the task, I’m capable of doing it.”
What are some of the strategies that you believe has helped you grow as a person?
(1) Taking ownership of my work
(2) I maintain a to-do list and prioritize everything.
(3) Being a leader rather than being a manager
(4) Working as a family
In your opinion what are the keys to success?
> Believe in yourself.
> Never be afraid of failure and take lessons from it.
> Believe in your team and stop using that I trust my team.
> Face everything with a smiling face
> Don’t let others set your limit
What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career?
In today’s time, we have a lot of options available in front of kids. Especially people who are coming out of 12th or coming out of graduation.
One piece of advice I would give – other than academics, have some talent of your own which you that that you’re capable of doing and the work on both the things together. Because you never know which is going to help you in the near future.
I never wanted to become an artist to be very honest. I always wanted to make a career in sports because I always hated studies.
Another piece of advice to the working professionals or young professionals who are at the beginning of their career – Please don’t hop jobs. In today’s generation they spend max 1 or 1.5 years on a company and they start feeling the pressure and move to the next company.
You should rather spend at least couple of years in a particular company harness your skills, make your foundation very strong and then grow as an individual. Because if the foundation of a building is not strong, it will fall down sooner or later. If you make your foundation strong then the companies will call you, you don’t have to call or go to them.
Don’t leave your job immediately. I don’t want you guys to do the same mistake what I did earlier. I left my job and started my own venture and therefore I had to face certain financial challenges and then I had to start everything from zero. Keep doing your job and keep exploring. Once you feel that you’re confident then make a move. Don’t betray yourself! Stick to your words and Think before you speak!