Voices

What Inspired Me to Launch at Startup at 23 After Battling Trauma in My Teens

Mumbai-based digital marketer Natasha Kothari shares how she was inspired to quit her job and launch a startup at the age of 23

By Natasha Kothari

As a little child, I dreamt of becoming my own boss. Of conquering the world, breaking stereotypes, making the impossible possible and creating revolutions. And yet, given the background I come from, no one could have imagined that at the age of just 23, I would be the founder CEO of a purpose-driven content design studio with a whole lot of talented young people on my team.

Both my parents made a life of their own, with no backing from anyone else. So, from a very young age, I have seen very closely what ‘struggling’ meant. My mother often tells me how there were times where we had no money to eat a meal – once, for dinner, we bought a sandwich and shared it amongst the three of us. It wasn’t easy.

My teenage life was wrought with anxiety, depression and other issues caused by an abusive relationship I had to endure. But I also knew that I had to do something substantial with my life, to make sure we didn’t ever have to see those days again.

I would see my mother struggling day and night to make sure my sister and I got the best life possible. She would be on shoot the whole day, and then come back and make us dinner. She would make sure that, no matter how much pressure she had at work, her kids were always well-fed and happy. And that is what inspired me.

After my Bachelor’s in literature from Mithibai College, Mumbai, I had little idea of what I wanted to do with my career. My mother saved up enough money and sent me to Middlesex University, London, for my Master’s in psychology. There I worked as a writer and a tutor, and had several life-changing experiences.

When I came back to Mumbai, I joined Humans of Bombay as a junior writer. I put in my heart and soul to ace that job, and in seven months I was promoted to head of content.

I was grateful to have such a platform where I could interview acclaimed personalities like Kareena Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan, Boman Irani, Anupam Kher, Naezy, Shilpa Shetty, Kenny Sebastian, Karishma Kapoor, Ashish Chanchalani, Milind Soman and Rega Jha to name a few.

Alongside the celebrities, I also interacted with acid-attack survivors, sex workers and extraordinary social workers, and curated workshops.

After a year, I realised that I wanted to level up and test my potential. That’s when I launched Studio UnGap, a social-media marketing and content-creation agency. When I started out, I wasn’t very confident that I would make it. Honestly, even now, after over a year of being in business, there are still days when I am insecure about losing it all.

But, looking at my mother and how she never gave up, I knew there was no backing down for me, even if it meant putting in 14-hour work days. If this woman, who has faced every difficulty in life, still hasn’t given up, then I have no right to complain.

Natasha Kothari is the Mumbai-based founder of Studio UnGap, a digital marketing agency.

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