• Name of the startup: The Curious Owl
• Year of Founding: 2014
• Sector: Print Media
• Based in: Panjim, Goa
• Branches: None
1. If you were to describe yourself in one line what would it be?
After working together for several years now- this description probably describes us both: Hardworking, Kind, Sincere, Curious, and Enjoy Learning.
2. A brief on your educational and professional background.
Anjali Gadre – Has been to school in Chile, India and Hong Kong. She earned her B.A degree from the University of Nottingham, UK and then worked as a writer for ‘bc magazine’ (food, entertainment and lifestyle) in Hong Kong before making the move back to India. She has contributed as a freelance writer for Upper Crust, Femina and the Asian Hotel and Catering Times. She lives in Goa.
Vinni Timblo- Born and schooled in England. Graduated from King’s College, London. On qualifying as a Pharmacist began her career at St Thomas’ Hospital, London and then went on to work at Guy’s Hospital, London. Moved to India, worked (briefly) at Manipal Hospital, Goa. Then time for a change, studied further and did an MBA while working in the Marketing Department of a hotel in Goa till 2014 when The Curious Owl was born! And then moved back to England in 2016!
We are very privileged to be able to choose whether we work or not. We choose to work, in part because we have children and especially for our daughters. We want our girls to know that they have the same career opportunities and freedoms as their brothers.
3. The one Eureka moment that led you to launch your brand
It was more like several moments of reading depressing, sensationalist, tacky news that was gramatically badly written that led us to believe that there was a need for honest, unbiased news that children and young teens could read, enjoy and learn from.
4. A mistake you made as an entrepreneur in your early days.
Fretting about the little stuff, and by little we mean really little. We started in November 2014, and within 3 weeks, the newspaper had its first typo. We were both so upset as we pride ourselves on spending time to ensure we are grammatically and factually correct. The night was spent working into the early hours of the morning changing a football score on a lead article with the help of whitener and black pen on every single one of our newspapers, and eventually adding little stickers over the wrong score.
Now 5 years on, we still get annoyed with ourselves but don’t go into overdrive. We’ve come to realise that we are only human and like everyone else make mistakes.
As it is just the two of us who write everything and proof read it too, sometimes mistakes are overlooked. Add to that worsening eyesight over the years ï_x0081_Š One us gained a pair of glasses apart from endless knOWLedge. No more whitener and pen for us. Instead we rely on our trusty Observant Owlets to help us spot any mistakes and write in if they do.
5. One key take away from your learnings as a brand owner.
The buck stops with you, the highs and the lows are yours.
6. Parenting and Running a business: The similarities.
They say ‘Entrepreneurial love is similar to parental love’. In simple terms we treat our business like we would our babies. As a mother there is a joy of raising a child and watching them grow into independent, curious, caring young people. Similarly The Curious Owl is our baby and we take joy in seeing it grow and succeed. Both have kept us up at night.
In a nutshell none of us are doing it perfectly, but every mum we know is doing her best.
7. 3 tips you would want to give to aspiring mompreneurs.
Love what you do
Surround yourself with likeminded people and ask for help
Accept that there is no such things as balance, try and find work life harmony!
8. Your answer to “Can moms have it all?”
There is a line we both like from the book, Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding:
“I am CEO of a family. My children are the most important, complex and thrilling product I have ever developed.”
And we think that sums it up quite well, as moms we were already running a ‘successful enterprise’ (our families) so when we decided to start another one we needed both to merge in the most symbiotic way possible.
The question is really can anyone have it all, we believe you can have the best version of it all through communication and being realistic from the start and then adapt to what is thrown at you.
Before we decided to start the TCO we discussed with our respective partners what this would mean and how this would affect the present status quo of how we ran our homes and lives, and what we would need from them as support and from those around us.
Having said this, be prepared it is hard, give yourself permission to accept that you may not be able to do it all and as perfectly as you would like. Most of all it is important to be present in both roles.
9. 1 milestone moment for your brand.
We didn’t have the one milestone moment but have celebrated many (registering with RNI, our first letter/email from a child telling us how much they loved reading The Curious Owl, large school subscriptions, having readers from even smaller cities, an award from KSP) along the way, and the journey is not over.
10. 3 apps that help you ace your productivity.
Just two for us
WhatsApp- that is how we both (cheaply) keep in touch with each other and work throughout the week.
Team Viewer- useful as we are in two different continents and this helps us work on the newspaper layout and make changes in real time.
11. If you could do things differently (in your business) – what is the one thing you would like to change?
We wish we were more social media savvy, as we have realised how important it is, even just being nominated on your site (KidsStopPress) has raised our brand’s awareness.
12. Key challenges in running your business.
The time difference, courier costs and sometimes slack delivery which is of no fault of ours but we are then left chasing the courier.
13. The one habit that you attribute to- for a productive day at work.
A list: make a list daily of what you want to achieve.
14. Work-life balance- is it a myth? 5 way to help moms achieve that.
Find harmony between all that you do
Lower your expectations
Ask for help
Be present and try to enjoy the little moments
15. What is your one tip for anyone with a startup dream?
Don’t over think it, just do it! Have a plan and keep at it. Look at criticism as an opportunity for improvement and always be open to advice. Also try and stay connected to the “why”. By that we mean the original reasons you set out to do this.
16. Who is your biggest cheerleader? Tell us about your support system
Apart from our husbands, children and immediate family, our Owlets and their parents. Positive feedback, contributions from them and even a short message saying they love what we do, can make our day and renew our belief that in even just a small way we are successful in what we set out to do, that is, to raise Curious citizens who want to know what is happening in the world around them.
We also have numerous educators around India who are strong supporters of The Curious Owl and have year on year promoted the newspaper to students and their parents.
17. The best and the worst entrepreneurial advice you have received.
The Worst: Early on we were told no one will pay that much for a children’s newspaper. 200 issues, 5 and half years later we are glad we stuck to what we believed our newspaper was worth. Parents spend more on an ice lolly/packet of chips a week for their children so why not on quality reading material.
The Best: It was about a year in and a friend said you NEED to hire an assistant, someone to help with the admin and day to day filing and packaging. Till then we tried to do it all between the two of us.
18. 2 fellow mompreneurs you seek inspiration from.
It would be tough to name only two, there are many women in our lives from whom we seek inspiration.
We have always been surrounded by strong women (our mums, mother in laws, aunts and friends): some who don’t work outside the home and some who do.
Vinni – My mother worked every day till she retired and she did it effortlessly and somehow I grew up never feeling that she was not around, she struck a wonderful balance. I then married into a family where my mother in law worked and continues to and keeps setting the bar higher for herself.
Anjali – For me, it’s the opposite. My mother was a homemaker. I owe so much of who I am to her to the way she raised us, and the life and work values she instilled in me. It makes me proud when she says she is proud of The Curious Owl.
There’s no better or worse scenario. We are who we are because we had wonderful women raise us.
We never refer to ourselves as a mompreneurs no more than our husbands are dadpreneurs. We work and we love what we do.