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Everything had to be built from scratch! Fortunately my uncles were kind enough to lend me

As a part of the series of conversations with some of the leading women achievers of the Indian digital media industry, we present to you Chhaya Balachandran Aiyer, founder and CEO, BC Web Wise.

As a part of the series of conversations with some of the leading women achievers of the Indian digital media industry, we present to you Chhaya Balachandran Aiyer, founder and CEO, BC Web Wise.

Chhaya Balachandran Aiyer has over 11 years of success in driving growth in the digital media and marketing industry in India. In her previous assignment, Chhaya was the Asst. Editor of Business Today magazine. In a conversation with AlooTechie, Chhaya shares some glimpses of her personal and professional realities.

From a career in journalism to an entrepreneur in interactive marketing, how did the shift happen?

I started my career as a business journalist and my primary beat was Advertising, Marketing and Media. Towards 1999 in particular I used the internet for most of my research, and was drawn in by the wealth of information that could be made available with just a few clicks. This made me move from the print medium to start a venture on my own in the internet media.

I started off with an out-of-home operation with the portal Tips4Me.com. The idea was to establish communities of interests ranging from beauty to finance, health to recipes. The portal provides content, and is subscription led. Uses register to receive tips of their interest by email.

Being armed with a really good design and content team, we explored the extension of our services to brands and corporates in 2003. In 2004 we signed up biggies in the business including HUL, ITC, Pepsi, Yahoo, and from then on there was no looking back for BC Web Wise.

What were the challenges that you faced while taking the entrepreneurial plunge?

Everything had to be built from scratch! How to do business, learning’s about how the medium operates, finding people who understood the medium, infrastructure. I was self funded to begin with and had to dig into whatever little savings me and my ex-husband had, which were soon wiped out. Fortunately my uncles were very successful in the logistics business and saw value in the digital business I had ventured into. They were kind enough to lend me office space and angel funding when I had hit rock bottom. More than anything else their experience and knowhow on building a business from scratch had helped.

What is the single thing that you keep telling to yourself while facing challenges?

In the early years I kept reading the ‘Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale, prayed a lot, cried a lot too, and promised myself to never give up. My mantras: `Where there is a will there is a way, and tomorrow the sun will be shining, although it is cloudy today. My song in the very early years, Flashdance: “Take your passion and make it happen.”

One account or client whose digital media duties you would like to handle at any cost?

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) corporate and HUL brands — Definitely the most dynamic marketing company in India which is fast mover, early-adopter, and a benchmark setter.

One client or account you regret loosing.

Pepsi, we did some really kick-ass work for them on the web, and I haven’t seen any other agency coming anywhere close to what we delivered for the brand between 2004 to 2009. We lost it simply because the client operated through Yahoo. We were not even involved in a pitch where the client decided to work directly with an agency rather than Yahoo. So we were not a part of the re-haul. I wish we had a direct and closer relationship with the client, I am positive we would have retained it.

One campaign (international or domestic) that you wished would have been made by BC Web Wise?

The work done for Stella Artois in 2008 is something that I have admired the most.

One ‘WOW’ moment in your career.

When the client decided that SunsilkGangofGirls will become the focal point of their activation platform in 2006.

Looking back, any regrets in your life and career?

Several, but I see them more as experiences that one has learnt from.

What are the tips to success or motivating mantra that keeps you going?

“Karmanye vadhika raste, Ma phaleshu kadachana!”

Any role model whom you would have wanted to be?

No role models as such but I truly admire some people for what they achieved, the wealth and employment opportunity they created and the social impact they made: Bill Gates, Dhirubhai Ambani and Mark Zuckerberg.

Topping the list of course is Sir Tim Berners Lee the creator of the World Wide Web. The Time Magazine’s quotation says it all for him: “He wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century. The World Wide Web is Berners Lee’s alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, non-proprietary and free.”

What do you regard as the biggest achievement of your life?

Becoming a mother.

If not an entrepreneur, what else would you have been?

Kindergarten Teacher.

A wish that you would want to fulfil by the end of this year.

Buying a bigger home coupled with a fancier car.

Two years down the line, where do you see yourself and BC Webwise?

Two years from now, I definitely want us to be recognised as the BEST digital agency with a team that is most capable in the business, and is financially the richest. I see myself at this goalpost and at this beginning.

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