Hari Ghotra spent 13 years as a Tesco marketer before launching her start-up
Hari Ghotra spent 13 years as a Tesco marketer before launching her start-up
A view from Hari Ghotra

One entrepreneur's journey from Tesco marketer to Indian cookery school

As part of a new series where Marketing shines a light on the entrepreneurs moving from the corporate world to start-ups, former Tesco Clubcard marketer Hari Ghotra - now director of her online Indian cookery school - sets out five key ingredients for a successful first year going it alone.

Earlier this year, I decided to ditch the corporate world to realise my ambition of bringing Indian food to the masses using digital media.

With 13 years of experience in the corporate world under my belt and the backing of digital marketing agency Jellyfish, my online Indian cookery school, Hari Ghotra, was born.

If you’re thinking of launching or joining a start-up, here are five key ingredients for surviving the all-important first year.

1. Invest in something you’re passionate about

It may be a cliché but it’s also true. Starting a new business requires bags of time, energy and financial investment so having a passion for what you do is a must. I’ve spent many a late night knee-deep in spices for the launch of my new Lamb Madras spice kits. Let’s just say that I couldn’t have got through it without an unshakable belief in my brand.

2. Understand your market

If there’s one thing I learned from working at a big corporate, it’s the fundamental need to understand your market when launching a new product or service. The marketing methodologies that I used in the corporate world stood me in good stead when it came to defining my brand and its point of difference.

Understanding which platforms and devices your audience is engaging with is also crucial. Hari Ghotra is a brand for the digital age so it’s important that we stay on top of the latest innovations if we’re to reach the digitally-minded consumer.

3. Use all of your past experience in your new role

From my early days as a food microbiologist at Unilever to my time as a trainee on the Tesco graduate scheme and my role as marketing manager for Tesco Clubcard, I’ve been exposed to the entire customer journey. And I’ve had to use all of my past experience and knowledge.

While I’m fortunate to have the backing of a digital marketing agency, I still need to be involved in every part of the brand’s development, from website design to market research and packaging. Draw on everything you’ve learned in the past, you’re going to need it.

4. Surround yourself with the right people

We host live cookery demonstrations via Google Hangouts, create video content for the website and share tips and recipes via social media. From the very beginning the brand has been backed by those with expert digital knowledge; having that at my disposal has been vital in bringing the brand to life and getting it in front of the right audience.

Making the move from a big organisation with an established support network to going it alone can be very daunting. Getting the right backing, whether it’s financial or otherwise, can make the process a whole lot less isolating.

5. Be prepared to make decisions and fast

When you’re part of a big corporate team, you’re making decisions in collaboration with others. Your decisions often relate to one small part of a project, which is then passed to another team to do their bit.

In the start-up environment, you’re likely to be the one who needs to make all the decisions and fast. On top of this, you’ll constantly be faced with new challenges so it’s important to face them head on and be resilient to change.

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