With a view to fostering women entrepreneurship, Sify.com, in association with TiE Streeshakti (TSS), an entrepreneurship platform for Indian women, features a series on successful women entrepreneurs. TSS, set up by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), was conceptualized to reach out to women who run micro, medium and large-scale enterprises across manufacturing, services and social sectors.
The first in the series: Fusing fashion with passion
It was only natural that Namrata Sharma got into animation and multimedia. The creative bug in her never ceased to itch even after her degree in mechanical engineering. In fact, during her college days, Namrata was so active in painting, music and dance that she won the artist of the year award. It was this creative itch that impelled her to join a course in multimedia after her degree.
Marriage took Namrata to Hong Kong and a few other countries where she worked as a business development manager for an Indian IT firm.
But once back in India, the creative bug took control of her again. By then, Namrata's exposure to the IT industry had given her an idea of merging technology with creativity. That was when the software industry was starting to become very active in animation. With guidance and support from a few top guns of the industry and associations like TiE Streeshakti, Namrata founded Antrix Animated, a computer gaming company. From then on, her career graph took a new turn.
On seeing the wide recognition for Indian animation talent, Namrata formed a full-fledged animation feature film production company, Krayon Pictures. And today, the 37-year-old artist is co-producing two full-fledged animation films with Bollywood directors and hopes her films to hit the screens by December 2009.
And guess who, apart from the 150-odd people at Krayon Pictures, helps Namrata design her characters? Her two sons - 11-year-old Janak and 6-year-old Galav.
In a tete-a tete with K. Sreedevi, Namrata talks about her transformation from a classical dancer to an IT professional and to a successful entrepreneur.
How did you get interested in entertainment industry? Why a shift from software?
In spite of working in the IT industry for a while, I have always been passionate about creative arts. And also I believe that the entertainment industry is very well linked to the IT industry.
Some of the most advanced IT infrastructure and software is used to create special effects, graphics and animation in the entertainment industry. I believe that a synergy of IT and artistic creativity does help in building the entertainment industry.
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Why animation films? What do you think is the scope for the same?
Firstly, I believe animation helps give wings to the creativity of an artist. It is of interest to people of all ages - from one-year-olds to adults. Every age group enjoys watching animation films. If you notice, animation breaks all barriers of languages - you can make the background and characters speak through their movement and emotion. No wonder you see a 10-month-old child who may not understand the language watch cartoons with a fixed gaze.
Secondly, movies have transitioned from a standard traditional mode to hybrid and fully animated movies. The global animation and gaming market is expected to increase to USD 75 billion by 2009 (CAGR 8%), according to Nasscom. India is adapting to the animation movies very well. All key producers are today venturing into this space. In India, the animation market is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35%.
Entertainment industry has traditionally been a male dominated one. What impediments did you face during the initial stages and how did you tackle them?
Well any industry can be viewed as male dominated -- whether it's the hospitality industry, fashion, IT or entertainment industry.
The animation industry, though, has started witnessing a great change. We are now having more and more ladies coming forward. Women, apart from multitasking, are very creative. I believe this industry gives us an opportunity to bring out our creativity.
My experience has shown that women are now well respected for their skills. In our industry they compete with and complement the men.
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What is your take on the mobile gaming market in India?
The gaming market is growing faster than expected. Results of the gaming devices from leading players and the emergence and sales of mobile phones as a powerful gaming device in India is a classic example. People of all age groups -- from 3 to 70 years -- are today spending some time on games Ã¢Â€Â“ especially on their mobile phones.
What is the kind of support you get from your family?
My family is very supportive. I strongly believe I am here because of my family.
How has TiE/ TiE Streeshakti helped you in your career?
TiE has really helped me build my confidence. It has helped me network with and learn from the best. The various forums have helped me in interacting with people from different countries and different industries that has helped me to understand business and people better.
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As an initiative, what is your take on TiE Streeshakti and its role in fostering women entrepreneurship?
TiE Streeshakti is an important initiative that has helped bring out the entrepreneurship among women and is now helping them face challenges and grow. This they do by getting them mentored from the best in each industry. I, too, faced initial scepticism from male colleagues who underestimated my capabilities in business, finance, creativity and above all my ability to build and lead a team.
This is the forum where interacting with women leaders I see the confidence levels build and increase. Here is a forum where women entrepreneurs can ask questions on business, markets, finance, leadership, people management, strategy, etc., which they may not ask their male friends and colleagues or those that are not taken seriously.
What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Set a goal and then give it your best. Nurture passion for what you are doing/what you want to do. And above all, believe in yourself. There are bound to be hurdles, and some real tough ones. You have to just keep moving. Invest in people with passion, domain and the right attitude. Keep your finances under check - that's the hurdle that keeps coming all the time.
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