Could you give up a life you’ve led for 27 years, throw away a high-flying corporate career in the power corridors of Washington DC, and fly to a new home in India with two babies to start from scratch? Sana Sood did. And she brought along her husband Nitin, who clearly loved his wife enough to drop his own job and launch a startup with her in India. Yes, it’s just bizarre.
Born Sana Hoda in Gorakhpur, UP, Sana grew up in Assam and Meghalaya where her father worked in the civil services. When he got a job at the World Bank, Sana and her two siblings moved with their parents to the US capital.
After completing her Master’s in foreign affairs from George Washington University, Sana fell in love with Nitin, who was doing his MSc in computer science at the same institution and was taller than her. She’s 5’10”. It was a clincher.
But it was also a tricky situation. She was a Muslim from UP and Bihar, he was a Hindu from Punjab, and there was an army of relatives with difficult questions in between. So they did what anyone would do in such a situation.
Nitin wrote an email to Sana’s dad asking for her hand in marriage, and they proceeded to elope to Hawaii, where they wed with the sea and sky (and a lone photographer) as witness.
They showed the same spontaneity a few years later after their two sons were born. By then, Sana worked in international risk management while Nitin was an enterprise architect at the World Bank. “Shall we give up our careers and move to India?” “Yeah, why not.” And so they landed up in Delhi, without a plan.
But there was a desire to create something of value together using their own unique talents. So, in 2016, they launched the social retail portal HappyShappy.com, where users can not only save photos, but also go a step further and contact vendors to purchase the item in it.
The portal covers all aspects of a woman’s life – from party décor to workwear. It’s more than just a Pinterest-kind of digital scrapbook – these ‘saves’ are actionable and translate to real-world sales. Vendors can use it to display their wares, and users can collect useful links for future purchases.
With their commanding personalities and all-American sense of humour, Sana and Nitin make an attractive couple. It’s hard to speak to Sana without Nitin interjecting with wisecracks. When she does get a word in, she is focused and strong, allowing pressure to propel her: “A lot of people are relying on us; we’ve moved the seven seas to do this. Failure is not an option.”
For a change, Nitin doesn’t joke about it.