S05E08: Upasna Dash, Founder & CEO of Jajabor Brand Consultancy, India

Just because you’re building a dream company does not mean that you don’t get to have a personal life. I want women to know that you can choose to do whatever you want, you wanna build a business, build it, you wanna get married, that you want to do both, you can do it, but let’s normalize and encourage women to feel that you actually can have it all. You just have to prioritize and have great assistants and use tools. It’s all possible.

upasna dash

Today’s episode is with an Indian entrepreneur, Upasna Dash. Upasna is the founder & CEO of Jajabor Brand Consultancy in Gurgaon, Haryana, New Delhi. 

upasna dash jajabor india
Upasna loves this quote by Robert McKee – “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world”. 

Jajabor is a PR and communications company that “has helped companies raise millions of dollars, launch amazing products, hire incredible people, shape policies and most importantly impact communities and lives positively.”

Upasna’s story is in itself intriguing because she is the first in her family to start a business. Everyone in her family had been working professionals including her grandfather who was a lawyer and he encouraged her to read in English by giving her an English book, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. 

With entrepreneurship, you do need a great support system around you. Whether it’s your family, immediate family or partner, it’s important to have that. Because when you come home, at the end of the day, you do need sometimes encouragement, sometimes nurturing, sometimes somebody just sitting next to you and say,
Hey, it’s gonna be okay. 

Initially, she believed she would return to the UK to complete her Master’s degree – she was just back in India for a quick break. Getting a job at one of the top PR agencies in India made her change her course – it gave her the opportunity to work with iconic brands such as Coca-Cola, Google and Nokia.

She eventually left the agency because she felt she didn’t have decision-making power in terms of creativity.

At that time in 2015, the startup scene was becoming more exciting in India. The startup founders she knew invited her to help them tell their startup stories. It was the complete opposite of working with big brands. Working with startups and sharing their brand stories and communication was chaotic yet she found that she had the most fun, exhilarating and creative outcomes.

Sustaining [a business] is harder, right? You know, from going from zero to one is one journey. It’s important. But to then maintain it and grow from one to hundred is definitely harder because, you know, your scale has increased. There are more people that rely on you. When you fail, you fail publicly.

One of her first accounts was OYO Rooms with its founder, Ritesh Agarwal. Founded in 2012, OYO
initially consisted of budget hotels. In 2020, it has more than 43,000 properties and 1 million rooms across 800 cities in 80 countries. 

Working with him, she was inspired to be an entrepreneur and in 2017, she decided she would start her own PR agency, Jajabor, right on her grandfather’s couch! 

She bootstrapped Jajabor to a team of 50 people in a few short years but what she really wants to do is create environments where women can thrive and have a seat at the decision-making table, especially from tier two and tier three cities of India. 

Amor Fati is her favourite quote. It’s a Latin phrase that translates as “love of fate” used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary.

She is most inspired by Naval Ravikant, Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Indra Nooyi and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. 

Musically, she relaxes with Coldplay and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Her favourite books include The Almanac by Naval Ravikant, Zero to One by  Peter Thiel, Interpreter of Maladies By Jhumpa Lahiri and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

Connect with her: linkedin.com/in/upasna-dash-54590a15

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