Pooja Bhayana is the other co-founder of Let’s Barter India.
A communication graduate by degree from Oklahoma City University, United States, Pooja started her professional journey with a magazine in Singapore where the learning factor was really great. Post completing her studies, she came back to India and got associated with a leading PR company where she contributed as Account Executive for almost two years and ultimately quit to look for happiness and found it at Let’s Barter India. She is currently leading Let’s Barter India as a co founder and is also a fellow at WEE, IIT.
Tell us about yourself and your background
I had a very sheltered childhood with a loving family. My parents always supported me to be independent and do something of my own. But they were also very protective. It is when I went away for college to Singapore that I finally became independent and learnt how to handle issues and take responsibility.
I am from DPS Mathura Road so I grew up with people from varied walks of life. I interacted with so many different people with different stories, and learnt to live the independent life. It made me a more open minded yet inclusive person.
I am a sort of lazy person but I like to have productive days. A normal day in my life includes waking up a little late, meditating, going for a jog, and then rushing to work while having my breakfast on the way. At work, my days are generally busy with meetings, planning and team discussions. I don’t like to stick to my desk so I am always roaming around. I try to come back home on time and have some time by myself to cook. I spend some time after dinner to catch up on reading and my favorite sitcoms, and hit the bed by midnight.
Tell us about the company you have set up – when did you set it up, what products or services do you provide, what is your target market?
Let’s Barter India is a platform for Indians to come barter their goods and services with other Indians. It is the world’s largest community for barter on Facebook, and our app is available on Play Store and App Store. The vision of Let’s Barter India is to enable Indians who might not have the money to spend on extra needs and wants. You can safely barter anything like electronics, services, books, gaming consoles etc. We started as a group in October 2015 and it is currently at the pre-revenue stage. Going forward, after capturing a section of the audience, we shall be introducing a free-mium model of sorts where some premium features will be paid access only. We are also working to introduce our own LB currency that’ll help people barter across categories, with ease.
We target young adults in the age group of 20-30 years who want more value for their used products. By bartering, these people can get whatever they want, without any money! We are India’s only C2C barter platform that helps you exchange with Indians around you.
Why did you set up the company? / What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?
Let’s Barter’s idea was sort of a light bulb moment. We started Let’s Barter India as a Facebook group for our friends in September 2015. A coffee conversation between two school friends (Sahil and I) turned towards us discussing how Sahil is not getting any value for some tablets that he had bought. When I suggested he barter it with some other goods from our friends, he was in love with the idea. We started as a Facebook group because we didn’t have much capital to invest, and this seemed like the perfect medium to converse. Today, this group is a platform of 1,83,000 engaged members that helps Indians across the country barter their goods, and even their services, and get more value for what they have.
The motivation for me to leave my corporate job and step in the startup world was one- To find happiness. As superficial as it sounds, I quit so that I could do something of my own and something that makes me happy. And I found that happiness at Let’s Barter India.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Initially we faced a lot of problems in terms of making people trust the concept of barter. We’ve read about the concept in school but to make the transition to real life was the problem. We created a platform for people and wanted to prove that tech enabled barter is the way in future. Getting the right technology in place and executing it efficiently to provide a good solution for customers was also a struggle.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
With Let’s Barter, our greatest achievement comes in the form of the impact we made in people’s lives. Our customers have shared so many stories of being empowered to get whatever they need when they didn’t have cash, and that Let’s Barter India helped them in their life. These stories like a housewife from Varanasi exchanging her cooking skills to get stationery for her child, are our achievements.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration has been my father. He started on his own at a young age when he already had children and many homely responsibilities. Leaving behind a business in construction, my father had the courage to follow his passion and dreams and make a great business in the food industry. Even today, his zeal to do new things inspires me!
How do you balance your work life and home life?
I think balancing work and personal life is like taking a conscious decision of letting go a bit of both, and hence adding balance to both. We often put too much focus on one aspect, so we need to prioritise our activities of the day and keep an order. Personally, I am a fan of checklists and lists but people have their own personal ways that help them achieve balance and prioritisation.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
When you don’t know what road to follow, follow your heart. The most important part is to unapologetically be yourself! It is important for one to maintain their uniqueness in this world, and that is what will set you apart and take you far, in life!
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
In my journey, being a start-up based out of Innov8 co working has really helped my career. Organisations like IIT WEE and female entrepreneur groups are highly supportive and help propel your growth.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Good mentorship from leading women entrepreneurs
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully it holds more success for Let’s Barter India and some new interesting projects for me as an entrepreneur.
Email at [email protected]