Meet Anu Handa – Interior Designer turned Edupreneur, Blogger, SEO Expert, and Co-Founder at Mosaic Institute of Design and Startup Bindaas.
She is the Co-Founder of Mosaic and provides entrance preparation material for Design & Architecture exams across India. She specializes in SEO & her website, with multiple keywords appearing on Page 1 of Google Search results, receives 100% organic monthly traffic. She has been the lead blog writer at Mosaic Design since 2009. Her educational background in Interior Design, Urban Planning, and the English Language has given her a broad base to cover a range of topics in her articles. She has spent 15+ years training Design & B.Arch Aspirants for entrance exams. She likes to write about Design, Architecture, and related fields on online platforms and aims to challenge the conventional & age-old teaching methodology. Her second venture Startup Bindaas provides Digital Marketing Guidance for Startups & Small Businesses.
Anu is also National President, WICCI E-Commerce Council, and aims to promote representation of women in the e-commerce sector, encourage & empower them to venture into e-commerce.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Anu Handa: I chose to study design because, from a very young age, I had a good aesthetic sense. I liked to draw & would win prizes in all the Art & Drawing Competitions held in School. I was a creative kid. This was a time when there was no internet & even desktops were rare. So, we used to subscribe to various design magazines for inspiration. As a child, I was good with drawing, painting, crafts & various DIYs. So transitioning into the design space was a natural choice.
So, I studied Interior Design but was drawn to the academic part of it. After teaching Interiors in a Design Institute for 3 years, I co-founded Mosaic Institute of Design along with my husband. We started by offering classroom coaching for Design & B.Arch entrance exam preparation namely NID, NIFT, NATA, JEE Mains Paper 2, CEPT & IIT-AAT. Very soon, we started getting admissions, not only from Gujarat but all across India, some even from foreign countries. Most of our students came from references and word of mouth.
In 2009, we launched our website Mosaic Designs, and started to offer self-study books for exam preparation. In 2017, we decided to stop with classroom coaching and moved fully online. We discovered a subcategory of the audience who were ready for instant deliverables. We explored it further and added e-books, videos, and online tests to our product list. By this time our website had grown to a full 800 pages, with multiple keywords appearing on Google Page 1, driving 100% organic traffic. This was the story about my first venture “Mosaic Institute of Design.”
Now let me share the story behind my just-launched second venture, Startup Bindaas. Last year during the lockdown, I had joined an Online Women’s Startup Program, where I found quite a few fellow founders dealing with a common problem: they were facing issues with launching or running their businesses online. Since I had an existing online venture and many years back had gone through the same struggles, I helped a few of them with their websites. This is how “Startup Bindaas: Digital Marketing Guide for Startups & Small Businesses” was launched.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Anu Handa: In 2007, I co-founded “Mosaic Institute of Design,” and very soon we faced the biggest challenge for which we were totally unprepared. It was the competition. Our competition was big, with big budgets for online & offline advertisement campaigns, countrywide presence & big teams.
Our most powerful weapon to face the competition was good content: whether in the form of our course curriculum or free mock papers on the website or the informative blogs. And that is the only reason our website ranks on the search engines for a majority of keywords: just good quality, updated content.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Anu Handa: Entrepreneurs, especially those who have just started their ventures are often in a hurry to reach their goals. They start with a lot of energy but later on lose the steam.
My suggestion is, “If you have a dream, chase it, but also be prepared for the hard work and toil that comes with it. The fruits of your labor come at a later stage, and many give up before that. You should have patience & determination.” Also, it is important to choose an entrepreneurial journey that aligns with your skillset and excites you. It should be something that you are passionate about.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Anu Handa: My answer to this question will touch the spiritual realms. This pandemic has seen businesses go through tough times. Some had to shut down their shops, but many also found new opportunities. Entrepreneurship is uncharted territory, no one knows what lies ahead unless you take the first step. The first step is what you need to take… I would like to quote Rumi here, “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” When you are in a deep crisis and have no clue what to do next, trust yourself and have trust in the supreme almighty. In spite of the uncertainties, if you are ready to take the first step, you somehow receive guidance or intelligence about the way ahead.”
The definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from past losses or difficulties. If you watch a sportsman at play, when they suffer a fall & not seriously hurt, they simply get up, clean the dirt off their bodies, and start playing again with the same spirit as if nothing has happened” To play the game of entrepreneurship you need the sportsman spirit and a degree of non-attachment towards your goals. Then only you will be able to enjoy the game.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Anu Handa: To me and to my organization, our values of honesty, transparency, and integrity are very important. These are the foundations on which we have built a relationship of trust with our clients. The visions and mission of the organization are important and we are working hard to achieve them, but no accomplishment is bigger than the core values.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Anu Handa: I think the three most important character traits which helped me succeed are honesty, dedication, and 100% commitment towards the job I undertake to complete.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Anu Handa: Your personal brand represents your company. Be authentic, be honest. Your customers are not buying your products or services, they are buying into the values for what your personal brand stands for. If they don’t trust you, they won’t trust what you are selling.
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Anu Handa: I always wanted to do something of my own and launched my venture in the year 2007. The concept of startups and the kind of support women entrepreneurs get today from various government and private organizations, I don’t know if it existed back then, but if it did, I was not aware. We did not plan much except for the course curriculum. Our growth was very organic, just took one step at a time and did what made sense to us.
But today, the scenario is quite different. I can see young entrepreneurs, incubated with their ventures at various startup cells, ready to present their pitch decks to investors. They have so much clarity as to what they want from their ventures.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Anu Handa: A beautiful quote by Rumi will answer this question, “What you seek is seeking you.”
You need to listen to your true calling, what you are passionate about, what gives you true joy, and understand your life purpose. And then work towards realizing that purpose. In my case, I’ve always undertaken activities that excite me and help me grow, monetary benefits have always been a by-product.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Anu Handa for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Anu Handa or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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