When determinations are strong in life then it’s not at all a tough task to give shape to a dream. Prerna Mukharya decided to take a step forward to conceive the child named Outline India just after completion of her studies from Boston University. I had a quick session with Prerna to now about her dream child Outline India and also about her journey as an entrepreneur at a very young age
1) Prerna share something about the startup journey of outlineindia.com?
It’s been a great learning experience, a joyride rather. There have been highs and there have been lows. The highs helped you get over the lows. And you got over the lows thinking about the feeling of the high.
I have met people I wouldn’t have ordinarily met and learnt thinks I would not have had a chance to learn. It’s not been easy and I am a more patient person as a result.
2) What acted as an inspiration for you to start outlineindia.com?
I spent almost 7 months cleaning data in my last job as a researcher. It was frustrating.
It irritated me because everything going further, from data analysis to reports to policy making is based on that data. Data collection is the foundation for research and you cannot and must not compromise on the quality.
However, there is a lack of institutions which can go out there and do a good job. We are looking to change that. We go into the field ourselves, it’s not for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun.
3) Give a brief on the work process of outlineindia.com and its various services?
We focus on and engage in field data collection. This means we do surveys, monitoring and evaluation studies, impact evaluation studies, survey tool designing together with providing research assistance.
You could be a researcher, a PhD student, a think tank, an NGO, the government, or a corporate organization. It could be for policy formulation or to study the market you are looking to enter or to evaluate your current service/product offering. Point is: everyone needs data! Secondary data is fraught with issues such as being outdates, unreliable or incomplete. Primary data for all intensive purposes then becomes a must-do and a must have.
Recently, we forayed into data visualization as well. It’s an attempt at out end, to make data relatable to people from non-academic backgrounds in a non-boring, visually pleasing manner.
4) How much funding you needed initially to start your dream project, and where did you get the startup funding?
We have been bootstrapping till now. We are cash flow positive. Upfront investment will help us scale up technologically. But of course, we need a VC who compliments us and understands that we are not like a techie/software company and our value proposition is different.
5) Prerna will insist you to introduce your core members of outlineindia.com to my readers?
You will get the details here: http://www.outlineindia.com/who-we-are
6) What are the critical challenges which you faced while setting up outlineindia.com? How you handled those challenges?
Well, getting projects is not easy. Reaching out to people, academics is a tough job, especially since most of these projects are capital and labor intensive. These are projects that can last anywhere between 1 week-5 months (if not more). At any point, multiple things can and do go wrong. The weather could turn against you, the respondent may refuse to cooperate, and sensitive questions might make things tough. There is no one-solution-fits-all approach and we have learnt to deal with these problems and work around them.
7) Share the WOW moments you experienced being the owner of outlineindia.com?
I don’t think there’s a WOW moment. But I go to bed a happy person. It’s a great feeling to know you are building something from scratch/from thin air. My startup is a part of me.
8) What are your dreams for outlineindia.com some years down the line?
Well, hopefully we will be the name to reckon with when someone thinks of data collection in India, irrespective of the location, sample size or timeline. If it’s about data in India, we want to be the name that comes to mind.
9) How you hire you team members? What is the current employee strength?
Check out details here: http://www.outlineindia.com/who-we-are
10) What next after outlineindia.com?
Well, Outline India still needs to grow and scale up. It’s too early to say what next. Of course, I have a few ideas brewing in mind, as offshoots or support projects to OI but Outline India has my undivided attention.
11) What are your other areas of interest in life?
I like to travel, network with people who are doing interesting things in kickboxing and writing
12) So long we are asking you about outlineindia.com, but now we want to know Prerna as a Human being. Say something about you Prerna, your education and your background.
I think I’m a funny person. I’m slightly stubborn which translates to persistence I guess in the workspace. I think at the end of the day, we should all have these brilliant stories to tell, and you won’t have these stories if you don’t get out and do things, try things, meet people and see the world. I’m trying to do just that. And hopefully, I’ll come out a wiser and nicer person as a result.