Interviewer - What made you think of combining 'gifts' with 'business'? How was the idea of 'The Doodle Soup' born?
Keya Shah: The Doodle Soup started out as a hobby for me. I created doodle posters to brighten up my room and my best friend made me realize there's a market for these products as well. Everyone continuously looks for gifting unique things but the need for a personalized touch is growing everyday to show a bit more effort and thought. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity created for me when people approached me to make custom gifts for them. That's where "The Doodle Soup" finally took form - I realized very quickly that there is a gap in this market for affordable yet completely customized work.
Interviewer - What struggles and challenge you faced when you started?
Keya Shah: I started when I was 19 so as you can imagine, not a lot of my suppliers and vendors took me seriously. It was difficult to negotiate contracts with agents for framing, mug printing, etc. However, once they saw the bulk of my orders, they soon realized I meant serious business. Another challenge I faced was also studying, giving exams, (I am a ranking financial markets graduate and am pursuing Actuarial Science) and still handling calls for orders with designing, packing and delivering. It was a real test on time management.
Interviewer- There are many websites offering customized gifts, what makes 'The Doodle Soup' different?
Keya Shah: There are hundreds of websites out there that will put your name on a mug or cushion but there aren't as many that can fit in years of memories into quirky cartoon designs that captures the real essence of the your relationship. I am personally vested in your story. It isn't an automated design, I doodle everything by hand. I make it as unique to you as I can. Not a lot of businesses can boast about the personal connections I've made while doing this business.
Interviewer- You are from a strong academics background and you are doing something which is not at all related to your field, what was your family's reaction when you told them about this?
Keya Shah - My parents and sister have always always been super supportive. As this was something that had a very natural course and not something I took up suddenly one day, they've seen me grow through my orders. They know how happy this makes me. It definitely helps that I am as dedicated to my academic background as I am to this business!
Interviewer- What suggestions would you like to give to the young budding entrepreneurs?
Keya Shah - I was often told I'll burn out and I can't manage everything - that I need to choose what I want to do and do just that. I am here to tell them that's absolutely untrue. You make the time for what you want to do, the rest are all excuses. When you really feel passionate about something, however simple it might seem at the beginning, it can really be a viable business. Never think your idea is too small or insignificant because well, I've made an entire business on doodling! If I can do it, so can you!