If a seven-year-old says she owns a business, what would be your first reaction? If she insists that she is an entrepreneur, would you believe her? Probably not. This is the story of one such seven-year-old who was inspired by characters in Enid Blyton’s books from whom she learntthe concept of earning pocket money for odd jobs. She drew inspiration from this and decided to start her own library business, one that made a profit of Rs.2.25 over a month in those days. However, the housewives in the building complained to the girl’s mother about her taking money from their children. And this was the end of her very successful, yet short-lived business. When confronted, the girl proudly said, “I am running a business!” As a daughter of two working professionals, where she learnt the word ‘business’, no one knew! This born entrepreneur is Monisha Advani, and this is her story.
The co-founder of Emmay Entertainment got her hands dirty in the big bad world of business as a young 21-year-old. She dropped out of her college in the US when she was 19, because she “was insolent enough to think there was nothing in the classroom that cannot be learnt by oneself. So, I decided to drop out of university and return home like a true black sheep.” Like most families, Advani’s parents weren’t too happy about her decision, but eventually warmed up to it. Now, her mother is her biggest support system. Advani currently lives with her parents as flatmates, and enjoys the new equation.
In 1989, she set up her first business in the student counselling segment, called Emmay Consultants, which focused on assisting students to find universities to study abroad. Her work put her on the Persons to Watch For, Asiaweek in 1993 and got her featured as Savvy Magazine’s Woman of the Month in 1992. Though the business got off to a good start, it was her relentless pursuit that made her look out for new and different avenues. “I was looking for something that had more longevity, and so along with my childhood friend Madhu Bhojwani, I decided to move into the human resources space in 1996,” Adv