Sudha Sundaravaradan inspires women entrepreneurs to think Out of the Box
Globalization and growth of Industries have impacted lives of women in a very positive way. With the spread of education and awareness, women today are playing major economic roles in our society. They have demonstrated their capability of performing at higher levels and hence their contribution in the rapid development of Indian economy is inevitable. Though they have come a long way from the entrepreneurial landscape which had limited women’s opportunities, they still encounter a lot of resistance when it comes to specific and traditional sectors ruled by men. Often, their delineated social roles accompanied by lack of support and motivation from family put limitations on their potential. Women find themselves alone and begin to struggle with business issues that their fellow men don’t.
However, there are a few stories of women entrepreneurs in modern India, who despite long odds against them have believed in themselves and their ventures and succeeded in rising above social structures and limitations that have confined their abilities.One of these gems is Sudha Sundaravaradan, who stepped into a unique venture of creating a bounce house rental company for children when she observed a lack of safe, clean and professional rentals in India. Sudha founded Jumporee, the first exclusive Bounce House rental company based in Bangalore which provides a wide variety of inflatables (castles, bouncies, slides and obstacles) at one’s doorstep.
Sudha finished her Bachelors in Banking Management, Masters in Commerce, ICWAI (Inter) and ACS (Inter) from Chennai and worked with Ford India as Treasury Analyst for two years. She got married in 2001 and moved to US. There, she finished her MBA and worked as a Product Analyst at Bank of New York Mellon Corporation for two years. After moving back to India in 2009, the entrepreneurial spirit in Sudha constantly drove her to look for innovative ideas for starting a venture. She conceived the idea of founding Jumporee when she observed substandard condition of the bounce house that she rented for her kids’ birthday. She felt there was a huge gap in that segment with a lack of clean, safe and professional bounce house rentals. She realized that people in India are not aware of the significance of safety and cleanliness of the bounce houses. That birthday party fueled her desire for starting Jumporee and proved to be a turning point in her life. In a chat with The CEO Magazine, Sudha says, “I always wanted to have a unique idea for my business. This idea attracted me a lot as I would be the only one to offer a bounce house rental service without compromising kids’ safety.”
Sudha did a lot of research for two years before launching Jumporee in 2012. To guarantee utmost safety for the kids, Sudha did all the groundwork for safe operation of the inflatables and getting them complied with US and European standards. She also obtained an advanced certification from the most reputed training institute (Safe Inflatable Operators Training Institute) from US to equip herself with the complete knowledge.
Sudha had to face a lot of challenges at the initial stage of her business. To keep operating costs low, she planned it on a small scale and decided to run it on a mobile concept which would be to reach the venue and set up play zone for the kids. She consulted a lot of investors and advisors but nobody showed interest in her idea as it wasn’t going to make a huge profit. Initial reactions to the idea of a woman running a male dominated business, were full of pessimism. In a chat with The CEO Magazine, Sudha says, “Everybody was pessimistic about the whole concept of the venture and people were more pessimistic about a woman running the business. But, I didn’t bother about what people said. I knew I can do it and make it successful.” She defines herself as a goal achiever. “I am a goal oriented person. If I want to achieve something, I definitely complete that. I don’t give up until I succeed”, she adds.
Having faced a multitude of challenges, Sudha eventually succeeded in establishing the brand. Jumporee is now a recognized name and people even plan their party dates according to the availability of its services. Now people in Bangalore equate ‘Bouncies’ with ‘Jumporee’. Nobody wants to hire a bouncy but a Jumporee. This is a great achievement for Sudha. With her remarkable efforts, Sudha has achieved success in reaching out to kids’ heart and creating a great impact in their lives with her service. To her, the happiness that innocent kids derive from playing on a ‘Jumporee’ is the reward. So she always puts a lot of effort on maintaining the quality of her service rather than focusing on the quantity.
Being a woman entrepreneur handling a business dominated by men, Sudha finds working with male employees very challenging. She says, “You have to be very careful while giving instructions to them or speaking with them lest you should hurt their ego. It’s a very tough business and I am glad that I survived five years.” She also feels there is a lack of acumen and positive outlook towards unique ventures in the entrepreneur communities in India as people only welcome traditional or money making businesses. At times, she used to get depressed but her husband constantly motivated her to move ahead and give her best. She thinks family support is very important for a woman running a business in India.
Sudha is one those few people who come across business ideas by observing eluded little things around them and focusing on what could be done to bring a big beneficial change in social perspective. She wants to set up another company, not for making a huge profit but to serve a social purpose. She says, “I want to solve a real problem and make a significant contribution to the society. I am looking for an out of the box idea that will benefit society at a greater level.”