Soni Shah is an alumnus of INSEAD Business School. She has had a successful investment banking career in companies like Citibank and Anand Rathi. She has lived the Wall Street dream and is now an entrepreneur, challenging the status quo in the home cleaning product space with her brand Raaso.
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do professionally?
At present, I am the Founder & Managing Director of Raaso Cleaning Products Pvt. Ltd. We are engaged in the R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales of household cleaning products.
RAASO was born out of a very basic requirement to provide highly effective, non-toxic and safe cleaning products consumers. Our unique formulations are made of 2 potent ingredients; Vinegar & Baking Soda. I wear many hats at Raaso and I am primarily responsible for product development, business strategy, planning and sales.
Besides work, what do you enjoy doing?
I am a huge bibliophile and have been an avid reader since my childhood. One of the categories, I absolutely enjoy are autobiographies / biographies. A few favorites include Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (an absolute must-read), Losing my Virginity by Richard Branson & Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie.
I also find cooking and cleaning very therapeutic.
Is there any childhood instance (that you can share) that has shaped you?
As I grew up in a business family, it was quite common to hear family members discuss business at the dinner table. While, I was too young to fully comprehend the conversations, the world of business fascinated me. I think that is when the seed of entrepreneurship was planted, without my realising it.
I decided at a very young age that I would pursue a career that would involve finance and business. I spent about ten fulfilling years in equities and investment banking before I took the entrepreneurial leap.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me would mean not conforming to the status quo as well as the pursuit of excellence. For e.g., when we started Raaso, the market was flooded with generic / legacy formulations that did not take into account the dirt, hard water and hygiene conditions of India. We decided to completely go against the grain and introduce a one-of-kind product.
Success is also a continual process and requires single-minded determination, risk appetite and a desire to bring about a change for the better.
What traits would you recommend young women to develop to be able to succeed in today’s world?
One of the traits that I highly recommend we develop, is the ability to compartmentalize. As women, we are adept at multi-tasking and juggling personal and professional commitments. However, many a times, our personal emotions do creep into our professional spaces. Further, as women we are prone to pursuing perfection at all times.
It is hard managing expectations from various corners and it does take a toll. Therefore, an ability to separate a few areas of our lives into boxes goes a long way in relieving some of the stress. Just take a deep breath and tackle one issue at a time!
Ethiko salutes the spirit of a determined woman!