The cycle of life is incomplete without the hurdles that come along with it. During that particular moment, every action of yours might be decisive in the direction in which your remaining life is headed to. The hurdles bring out the best in you. The shallow minds break at the sight of troubles and stay away from the road that has challenges, to play it safe and live a life unlived. The brave ones go for the untravelled, only to unravel the fascinating moments of adrenaline rush as they run, fall, and rise again, as they savor each moment, discovering what they are capable of.
Here is such a player who fought her way across those hurdles to find what she loved, to show it to those who judged her for her moves that it is worth taking the risk. From academia to corporate, she has a brilliant career that shows how determination and willingness to learn can take one to the peak in one’s life. In conversation with Anooja Bashir on her entrepreneurial journey, the lessons and experiences led her to her venture, Ourea.
Tell us about yourself, your background, and your previous ventures.
I am Anooja Bashir, the CEO and founder of Ourea (OureaCorp and Oureansoul), Co-founder & CMO of FlexiCloud (Managed Cloud Hosting), and COO of Digitaliz (IT Consultancy), and Founder of Anooja initiatives (social entrepreneurship initiative). I handle multi-specialist roles in my organization, getting involved as a Brand Strategist, Marketing Consultant, Business Mentor, and Corporate Trainer.
I am a native of Kochi, Kerala. I had most of my professional life spend in Dubai. After ten years of corporate background and another few years in academia in 2014, I decided to bridge the gap between the talents of academia and corporate, hence conferred the idea of a finishing school which pathetically failed. Though the concept was rejected, the venture later evolved into a marketing agency. With the expansion of the IT wing, we developed ourselves into a 360-degree business management consultancy.
Could you brief us on the story behind Ourea? What inspired you to start it?
Our Company is a 360-degree corporate management consultancy which is into Marketing, IT, HR and Training. We help companies to gain a foothold in the industry.
Ourea provides its services in Branding, Strategic Marketing, Web Development, Web Maintenance, Corporate training, and HR Management. Ourea does all the chief stages of branding for individuals and organizations, from research and planning to preposition to strategy. The influence, experience, and inspiration that Ourea holds thus helping over 100+ brands, both from scratch and revolutionizing the existing establishments by giving them a facelift. The beauty of this endeavor lies in its majority of implementation being in the time of the pandemic. Ourea today supports and strategizes branding, communication, and web identity of umpteen organizations, both business-to-business and business-to-customer oriented with 1000+ clientele.
Our vision is to become the strategic partner for organizations aiming to achieve excellence in all functions. We give wings to their dreams by providing innovative solutions and helping the target audience to believe in our clients. We aim to exceed our clients’ expectations through creative and customized solutions that give the brand a marketing and corporate boost. Our seven domains will work in tandem to achieve the business goals of our clients.
We want to understand, provide and work for the best of our clients. We believe in evolving with your respect and strive to maintain a global atmosphere where we value and encourage diversity. We always aim to be righteous with preciseness.
In our creative wing Oureansoul, we always strive to blend conceptualization with creativity to bring out our creative side in interiors and events.
You had taken up teaching for a brief time in your career. What made you give it up and start with your venture?
After ten years of corporate background, I got associated with Academia for a couple of years from 2014. I knew that Academia was never my cup of tea as I always fitted in the Corporate world. But teaching was fun. Besides, I realized that the engineering curriculum was never based on employability criteria and teaching modes emphasized theories rather than implementation. Years back, when I did my engineering too, the syllabus was the same, but we were not spoon-fed like today, which made us more prompt and insightful. This is something that the present generation lacks as they don’t know how to categorize and prioritize. Again in the idea to bridge the gap of talents of academia and corporate, and developed the curriculum of an innovative Employment Skill Program. But the whole idea at the time of its inception was a long shot. Since it confronted and stood against the conventional flow of the hackneyed educational style and corrupted skill development, it harbored uncertainty and fostered widespread criticism. However, the concept was of a finishing school that later evolved into a marketing agency depending on the industry’s factors.
What excites you about your company? What are the primary goals that you have as a startup?
The passion and vigor to evolve Ourea as a one-stop for all business always keeps me excited and moves ahead even when facing hassles.
As our tagline speaks, we design visions of our clients into reality. Our corporate goal is to build more brands from the product so that our customers who are into business have more visibility and lead generations. We also provide solutions to IT hassles so that our clients are digitally supported. Ourea consulting provides the best professional aspirants to an organization making their HR strong. With our program LIKES, we train graduates with proper etiquette to fit in the corporate world. In Ourea academy, we prepare leaders for the future to be the best CXO’s in the industry.
Ourea aims to supplement our clientele with digital products other than our services to support more entrepreneurs to make a mark in the industry.
Do you have a team? How did you meet each other?
I realized that technology had been a hurdle for me, and I had to fix that as I couldn’t take another chance to let my venture fail again and me failing as an entrepreneur. It was not humanly possible to be on top of everything, and handling so many verticals simultaneously and focusing were crucial. This made me look up the right partners who are good in technology and people of virtue. I met Mr. Vinod Chacko of FlexiCloud as a co-founder, and he indeed taught me more than the basics of technology, and today I can handle technology to a far extend, rest Vinod would take care of with our strong IT team. I could trust his judgments on technical aspects blindly as he is an IT Mozart. Together we make a great team, and together each one achieves more.
Have you raised funding? If yes, how? If no, how do you plan on doing it?
We have not raised funding and remain as a bootstrapped company, but we are looking forward to seeding and grants as part of our expansion program.
What are some of the challenges you faced while taking up this career? How did you overcome these?
The biggest challenge I face is to prove to people that I am capable of building my dreams. When I started my venture, I was criticized for my business model, which has brought me success today. I feel every founder has a scar that reminds them of their struggle even after achieving their goal. I struggled to find a balance in managing the team and bringing in sales to the system. Besides, when I began my startup, I didn’t have a mentor to guide me, for which I had to do trial and errors to figure out the best strategy to make the company grow. Another challenge I faced is making tough calls that disappoint my crew. For the sake of organization, I need to be strict when I am personally so connected to my employees; I have to keep many of their perceptions in mind while making a decision.
Do you have a role model you look up to? If yes, what are the qualities that you admire of that person? If no, then why?
Indrani Nooyi is my role model in business as I always felt she had a very thoughtful and logical approach to every issue that she encounters. She is a woman of a strong mind and always showed boldness in speaking up about matters. She is an inspiration to the eve race who always gave examples of balancing personal and professional life.
My mother is my role model on a personal front as she is a woman who inspired me to never give up on my dreams. I got my multi organizing skills from my mother, who is a disciplined organizer. My mother has always motivated me with her strong will and always taught me to believe in myself.
What are your plans? Where do you see yourself in five years?
We are planning of starting a product-based company, Digitaliz focusing on developing IT products. We are also moving ahead to raise funding through investors and slowly move from a boot-strapped to an investor-funded one with our vertical training upgrading into an ed-tech platform and scaling up our total system.
Positively we look for triple revenue generation at the beginning itself and create a powerful platform in the next three years.
We always strive to make Ourea accessible where any company can rely on us to build their corporate /startup journey. We are also planning to expand our product division, and our focus is to add more products to each of our verticals. We also are looking forward to creating a platform to support entrepreneurs to help them get their ideas implemented.
The organization is on the move to create a viable organizational strategy where the system is centralized. It can be accessed with digital support even if the CXO is not directly involved in the project. We plan to improvise the HR system proving promotion to senior staff to managers while promoting juniors to the senior job positions. We are also hiring recruits for our current project, LIKES, for which many resources from the industry are required. The management also evaluates employees’ performance and provides more challenges to bring out their skills & potentials.
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