parenting

New Woman
Oct 1999


Are you happy homemaker, perfect housewife and mother, looking out for a challenging career that comes without the strait-jacket of a nine to five routine? Forget arduos journeys on crowded buses, choked local trains and traffic-clogged roads. There's another way to success and right within the confines of your home. If you have the inclination, we give you the initiative. The recipe is perfect. Begin with the sturdy base of enterprise, creativity, strong will and dynamism, garnish with crisp green capital and lo! You find an exciting woman in place of a drab housewife! In this issue, we feature Nirali Sanghi, who provides the essential details of setting up a website right from within the confines of your home.

It all began when 31-year old Nirali Sanghi, was expecting a baby. She logged onto the net for information about pregnancy, childbirth, diet, babynames and complications during pregnancy. "I couldn't find any tips specifically for Indian women. That's when I got thinking and thought why not setup a website catering to Indian needs. I can say my daughter was definitely the first inspiration for my site," she laughs.

"I wanted to spend more time at home, since I had a baby. And internet was the best option for me as it is intellectually challenging and offers flexible hours," says the young mother.

Today, Nirali has a swank office in one of her bedrooms, with a huge collection of impressive books, four hi-tech computers, her own team of people and baby shyamoli in the next room! Nirali set up the first website in the world that focuses on the Indian aspects of parenting called IndiaParenting.com."
 

And She sets the balls rolling

A control over her time and hours was a tempting incentive for Nirali to 
work from home. "I have done my MBA from U.S.A and even worked with Cititbank, abroad. My husband and I moved to India in 1995,during liberalization because of the numerous opportunities offered for growth in here," remarks Nirali.

To start a business of your own, support and encouragement are essential, which Nirali got in ample doses, from her husband. "My husband, who is an internet consultant, is my greatest help," she reveals. "Not that I was any bad in this field. Being in a calling where working for six months is like spending a lifetime, spending seven months gave me the required experience to make a go. There is so much happening in this occupation that every month makes a different. Though one must know how to capitalize on it." She adds. Another prerequisite for the business is finance, for which Nirali never had to run around. Her savings for a rainy day came to her rescue here.

"I started work in October last year, while I was pregnant. The site was officially launched on May 14,this year, before which I had to develop the content. This required a lot of planning, reading and preparation," opines Nirali. "For instance, you can't find anything on the net which replies to your queries, like whether it is fine to apply Kajal to a baby's eyes. You also have no access to any information about counteracting weight gain, which is common amongst Indian women because of indulgences during and after pregnancy. When I needed to find Indian names for the babies and their meanings i could get no inputs."
 

Storehouse of information 

After doing all the work for the website and the research that went into it, now Nirali identifies with most problems that parents face. "The additional advantage is that being a first-hand mother. I am in a position to advise on almost anything and everything now," laughs the bright entrepreneur.
On Nirali's site, one can get over 2000 pages of information on pregnancy, childbirth, new-born care, developmental milestones, common childhood illness, tips on raising children and much more. There is also a section called Doctors-on-call where you send in your medical queries and a panel of doctors will answers them. There are also over 3500 baby names along with their meanings, nursery rhymes and prayers in various Indian languages with the select audio clips, stories from the Panchatantra, Akbar and Birbal, Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
 

A Steely determination

To get all this information onto the net was a lot of hard work initially. "Luckily for me I have always been working with computers. And my husband helped a lot being in a related field. First of all, to set up your website, you have to book a domain name which is done instantly on the Internet. Next, you buy server space either in India or U.S. It cost anything from Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 per year. Then of course, comes the investment of the hardware, scnners, printers, modems, and incase you have a team, the investment increases. I have team of 10 people with me, which includes three writers, programmers, graphics designers and a couple of engineers."

Once the content is ready, it put onto the page format in an attractive layout. It is coded, programmed and then uploaded to the server and one is ready to launch the site. Even earlier in life, as a student, Nirali was very clear about she wanted to do. "After my HSC, I went to the United States to do my Bachelors in Economics and Computer Science from Barnard College in New York.

Later I did my MBA in Finance and Marketing from the Columbia Business School. I was the Assistant Vice President at Citibank in New York in the credit Card Marketing Group. I then came back to India after nine years, in 1995. Here, I joined the Boston Consultancy Group as a management consultant, wherein I was required to put in long hours at office. When I conceived, I decided that I could not stay back any more. When I decided that to enter this field, I realized that it was a virgin territory to create one-shop for parents. There are sites for parent but some problems are every typical of India."
 

Weaving the intricacies of website

Being an MBA was of great help for Nirali. "But the qualification has certain merits and demerits. You can get into any business, so making a choice becomes very difficult. And with my background of finance, I could enter any field." But time and proximity to baby shyamoli was of utmost importance. "And setting up a website was the best option, "she adds.
Nirali believes that the Internet is a boon for women who want to work at home. "One doesn't have to get into the nitty gritty of setting up a website but contributing to a site is also an occupation by itself. Women sitting home are often a wealth of content. There is always a requirement for good writers and graphics designers. Some women can develop their artistic skills if art interests them. Today, there is such a wide variety of books available in the market that teach you everything. One can learn Photoshop at home or practice and become more skilled to get into page layouts. Others can contribute by writing recipes, rhymes, medical notes and lots more. The bets part is you don't have to be present in an office. E-mail does it all for you."
 

High creativity and returns

As for an income, there are two sources of revenue: One from the companies and individuals who place ads on the net and other through e-commerce, wherein one gets a commission on every item you sell on the net. The percentage ranges from 5-25. "On my site, I can have children's products like books," explains Nirali.

"I am working full-time but with lot of flexibility. I do the marketing myself and supervise the content. But at present, the focus is to build traffic." That is to make sure that more and more people access the site. This is done by direct marketing, word-of-mouth publicity. "Technically, the traffic can be ensured by registering the site with the search engines. This service is free. One can also get statistics that inform you of how many pages are being visited. I am happy with the response my site had got as we are the first movers, the only people in the filed of parenting." So all the while, it is innovation and getting people to interact on the net for Nirali. "We have a poll every 10 Days on interesting topics like 'When to introduce sex education'. We also have a baby photo contest. For all this, we update our matter at least once a day," says Nirali on a concluding note.

So if you are expecting a baby, or have one already, you know where you can get all your answers!
 
 

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