Women Entrepreneurs - Fruits For The Future
This March we celebrate women and how far we have come. Our March issue highlights 4 amazing companies all owned and run by women. But it doesn't end in March every issue with feature women entrepreneurs with exclusive interviews. We hope this will inspire you to go after your dreams.
Meet Vicky Popat, Founder of Plantogram.com
Tell us a little about yourself and your childhood.
Hi my name is Vernic (Vicky) Popat. I am a mom of 2 amazing children Sanum (8) Sohum (5) Married to the man of my dreams Mitesh Popat. I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1982 and then moved to Orlando Fl. My childhood was exceptionally amazing, visiting Sesame Place was one of the most memorable moments of my childhood. My parents saved every dollar to take my brother and I at the time to see our favorite TV stars (Big bird, Oscar and Elmo) I am raised by 2 Entrepreneurial parents (also a husband and wife team) that moved to this amazing country to give their children a better life. I am the eldest of 3 children I have a younger brother and sister whom I love and adore and very proud of the adults they have become.
When did you decide you wanted to start your own company?
I have to say that co starting my own business with my business partner, my husband Mitesh Popat has to be one of the amazing roller coasters of life that I have ridden. PlantOGram was founded when my husband and I started a little backyard project. Installing fruit trees in our very own yard. That's when it hit us, we want to provide these amazing trees as gifts. We sat down and I started to draw what the logo would look like, visualize the website all whilst still employed at our fortune 500 companies.
Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
After installing one of our first gifts, a mango tree given to a father to commemorate his birthday. Seeing the look of joy on his face after the tree was installed made me realize that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and the potential that PlantOGram has to bring joy into others lives.
After you made the decisions, what steps did you take?
Well the first step we celebrated in our pajamas we are going to be business owners! The next day Monday morning we went down to get the necessary business licenses, put together our first home made website and made sure that we had some products to sell. (wasn't much but we made it work!)
Was there any life lessons you learned along the way?
Always trust your gut instinct. It never lies.
How did you fund this project?
We were self funded, we traded our European cars in for a used beat up work van, and what ever little cash we had saved up is what we used to make PlantOGram the successful household name it is today.
What were the hardest hurdles?
Funding our growth was the biggest hurdle that we faced. As we grew we needed more capital to fund daily operations.
What advise do you wish someone would have given you?
Be you! Meaning when you talk about your business be confident, realize what your doing is changing lives, your changing lives.
Did you have a mentor?
I didn't have a mentor, but I have to say if could have had a mentor it would have to be Skinny Girl Margarita CEO Bethenny Frankel. That is a woman that handles business, I watched her take her brand with a lot of dedication and hard work to the next level.
At any point did you want to give up?
I honestly didn't have it in me to give up. I wanted to keep going I looked at this as a challenge. I took the challenge and here we are!
What made you keep going?
My husband kept me going. Taking our dreams and making them into reality is what kept me going.
How long did it take to become profitable?
Since we self funded we were very lean on our expenditures which allowed us to turn a profit in the first year of launching PlantOGram.
What was the best thing you did to grow your business?
Taking my first marketing course! It allowed me to understand how to effectively market and grow PlantOGram exponentially.
What is the happiest memory from this journey?
Looking back and realizing, and appreciating how far we have come.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
I see PlantOGram as a multinational household name, bringing joy to everyone one tree at a time.
Do you feel it was more difficult because you are a women?
I honestly didn't feel it was difficult at all being a woman in business.
Do you think social media is important?
I absolutely think that social media is very important. It's a great tool for marketing and allowing lots of people to connect with your brand at minimal cost.
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