When I am asked about NuSocia, I not only see a 20 member team, 30 clients, 50 projects and 5 years of hard work to get where we are today but also 3 passionate individuals from different walks of life, marching toward a common goal of making social responsibility more meaningful and impactful. I see their realisation that together they can do far better than as individuals and their drive towards creating impact that’s evident. That is what NuSocia is all about. Times might be changing, but we and our values fit all times. That’s why we recently celebrated our 5 –year walk. ‘Together’ might be actually a good word to describe NuSocia.
Here are some of my own reflections and lessons from these 5 years.
Only 1 project in the first year…Yes, just 1!
Like any other ambitious social entrepreneurs, we wished to solve many problems at a time. However, after several brainstorming discussions, we decided on a ‘quality over quantity approach. We spent extensive time on market research before designing our very first service offering. Thus instead of focusing on the 20 things we listed our purpose, we narrowed it down and only after that did we deliver our very first assignment.
Future is powered by Tech
Technology (innovation, novelties, disruption etc.) is either killing some businesses or producing unicorns. Its societal impact is one of the few certainties that are here to stay. We too were totally consumed by the word “technology” and spent days brainstorming how we can use technology to solve the problems we identified. Sooner, we realised that the problems that we are trying to solve cannot be solved by technology alone. It needs human intervention and should be enabled and facilitated by technology. Therefore we became a research and consulting company armed with adequate technology use.
We were location-agnostic even before the Pandemic
We always thought great work can be done from anywhere. Somehow from the beginning, we encouraged a flexible and free working style that allowed people to perform out of a traditional office environment. We consciously kept away from surveillance and evolved to build defined results and trust. And here we are, 5 years young, with our team operating from over 12 different locations in three countries.
However, we love the exchange of smiles, discussions by the desks, laughter and ideas brewed over a coffee, and value the merit of personal meetings. Going forward, we would try and make room for these too.
My way? No way
Sometimes, as founders, we tend to get married to our solutions, but, we achieved quite the opposite. Our mentors and advisors led us to speak to as many potential customers as possible. With little humility and a lot of discovery, we allowed solutions to develop and we were saved from biased assumptions.
Walk the talk
Creating an inclusive culture is no easy feat, especially in a start-up environment with constantly shifting priorities. Probably the easiest part is to have inclusive policies, but it needs far more sincere efforts and investment from founders to make sure that inclusivity is implemented. One of our greatest takeaways has been seeing the strength of different individuals as a team strength. We have sincerely made some efforts to be inclusive and we are proud of our small contributions.
Advice is important
The mere act of collecting and evaluating advice, even if it’s ultimately discarded, can be the compass that guides founders in start-ups. Being an introvert, it took me considerable effort and hesitance to ask for help. I was then reminded by someone that NuSocia was not about me alone. I realised that finding the help I need is part of my job as an entrepreneur, and learning to ask for it will bring me much closer to the organisational purpose.
Failure is the first step to success
We have failed to bag several contracts in spite of being in the top 3 contenders. While it felt miserable, it gave two advantages, experience and feedback. We have continued to focus on what needs to be improved and also mindful of retaining what worked well. I now look at the bright side that we have made it to the top 3 in such a short time.
Some confident choices
It’s common for a start-up to be judged or be undervalued simply for being young or not (yet) in the top 5 in the industry. NuSocia has also faced judgements and negotiations that felt unreasonable. Instead of grabbing the deal for the sake of business, we remained firm in some such negotiations and their power to lower the stake. We fully believe in our collective experience and technical merit. I personally feel proud of such bold business choices by NuSocia, while keeping those doors open for business in future.
Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten
As I already shared, quality is sacrosanct! We always focus on ensuring quality outputs. Whenever there was a slip-up, we faced critical feedback, both, internally and externally leading to immediate corrections and improvement. As they say, we become what we repeatedly do, and we are gradually becoming a place of excellence.
Your Company is only as extraordinary as your people
It may seem like an obvious point but companies often overlook the importance of acknowledging human capital. NuSocia is all about its people and well-wishers. It is the collective magic of people that not just helped NuSocia survive through the Pandemic but also enabled it to grow revenue fourfold, in the last year.
As we complete 5 years, we hope to keep learning, keep building talent and keep delivering quality, impactful and purposeful work.
Manju Menon (CEO, NuSocia)