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Roshni Mahtani is the CEO and Founder of Tickled Media, the publisher of leading parenting website, theAsianparent.com.
She holds over 10 years of media experience across the US and Asia Pacific. Her company, meanwhile, has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, reaching 1.3 million Asian mums monthly.
As an entrepreneur based in Singapore, Roshni is also actively involved in the startup community. In 2012, she founded the Female Founders Network, a group of 250 female founders. She also sits on the board of TiE Singapore and is a mentor at JFDI where she works with early stage startups.
You started your business at a young age of 25, what made you start your own business so young? What is your main driving force?
I had always been entrepreneurial. I laugh when I look back at the email proposals I used to write when I was still in school. I had one hare brained business idea after another, from running a “love concierge service” to help husbands be more romantic to creating a “Job a day internship programme” which allowed undergrads try 90 different jobs in 90 days, so that they would know which industry they should enter upon graduation. But one thing I discovered about myself all these years is that I don’t jump into an idea blindly. I jump into it wholeheartedly.
That’s why, like most businesses, Tickled Media started with a strong personal interest in parenthood — and fortunately this interest resonated with many others, thus building a solid foundation for success.
But, oh, the follies of youth! I had no idea how tough it would be. While passion triggered the idea behind Tickled Media, determination, focus and the support of those who believed in me carried me through.
Your company has grown significantly since you started, what key lessons could you share with our women in how to scale a business?
Every business is different, so it’s tough to answer this question. In my industry, I would advise fellow founders to:
Talent is hard to come by. How do you or did you find the right talent?
I agree. Good talent is hard to come by. And we have had our fair share of hits and misses. It’s really critical that start-ups hire the right sort of people. Hiring wrongly can take away a lot of time from running and scaling a business.
At Tickled Media, we generally avoid job ads — as this usually yields applicants who may appear to be the right fit on paper, but then prove themselves otherwise upon the initial interview.
We discovered what a waste of money and time it is to sift through what are apparently bloated resumes that flood our email. So now our strategy to finding quality candidates is straightforward and simple: we go to networking events or get personal recommendations. For example one of our key hires, our VP of Operations, Stelvin Tham was referred in by a Tickled Media employee.
What has been the most important influence in your life until this moment?
I am very thankful to have a supportive family that could see my passion and determination to build what Tickled Media is today. Like any other entrepreneur starting a new business, I encountered many challenges in the beginning. I would not have been able to overcome those hurdles and achieve this without their encouragement and understanding.
What was one thing that was missing that you wish you had when you started your business?
One that certainly stands out is how much the Singapore entrepreneurship ecosystem has grown. There are many more founders and organisations now, like TiE Singapore and the EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), for example, that founders can tap on for assistance.
Have you had a mentor or several mentors? If so, would you suggest that anyone starting a business have a mentor(s)? What do you look for in a mentor?
The smartest thing I’ve ever done was to surround myself with mentors: people with high integrity who want to give back and help others become successful to keep that cycle going. My first mentor was William Klippgen, who was the cofounder of Zoomit which later got acquired by Yahoo. William is an exemplary leader who is intensely passionate and is a big contributor to the success of Tickled Media
How do you manage your time? What’s your daily routine?
I generally spend between 13-14 hours a day working during the weekdays and about 10 hours a day on weekends. I try to spend a maximum of 5 hours a day in the office. So either I am in the office at 9.30am-2.30pm and spend the rest of the time working from home, or I work from home in the morning and then spend the hours of 2pm-7pmin the office.
When I am in the office, I generally attend back-to-back meetings with various members of my team. At least once a week, I try to network with other entrepreneurs, so we can share ideas or solve problems together.
Any tips on being productive?
I am a big believer of the 80-20 Rule: 80 % of the importance of what we do daily lies in only 20% of the activities. Therefore, if you focus on accomplishing the top 20 % of your daily tasks, you are bound to feel productive.