After completing her engineering program in Bangalore, Kamala Raghunath decided that starting her own business was the right move. The idea of a 9 to 5 work environment did not appeal to her and with an entrepreneurial spirit, she wanted to determine her own schedule, which at the time, gave her the flexibility to pursue her passion for tennis as well.
Kamala’s business, R K Industries, was established from modest beginnings. She started the business by personally manufacturing 50 small, complimentary quartz watches framed in sandalwood for the local market. As with many small businesses, 50 became 100, another team member was added, and then a large event order of 3,000 watches paved the way for innovation and growth.
R K Industries went on to establish itself as a reliable manufacturer and supplier of designer clocks in wood, acrylic, and metal embossed with an exclusive clientele all over India and abroad. Due to excessive demand, Kamala further diversified into corporate gifting and expanded her business to Gift Links, which has since established itself as India’s best and most respected corporate gifting company, catering to the vast gifting and promotional needs of Corporate India.
To expand further, Kamala joined WEConnect International. She participated in many WEConnect International events in India as well as in Texas and Florida. These events gave Kamala a networking platform that enabled her to break through the corporate hierarchy. She was quickly introduced to members of members which would otherwise have been out of reach.
“As a small woman-owned business, the networking platforms that were introduced to me were immense.” Said Kamala.
Apart from the networking, what really helped Gift Link’s and Kamala’s growth was the lateral learning from other WBE’s that gave her invaluable insight & learning opportunities. “It made a difference to know that you were not the only one facing certain issues in running your business. Gaining meaningful perspective really helped establish a close group of entrepreneurs who shared lessons and learnings that facilitated business development and growth.” Kamala explained.
Through WEConnect International, Gift Links has solidified partnerships with IBM, Accenture, and Ernst & Young (EY), at which Gift Links was able to establish itself as a preferred vendor for Corporate Merchandise and Promotional Gifts. EY’s ongoing commitment to promoting women in business and their aim to ensure support to women-owned businesses provides fair and equal access to corporate and public sector procurement opportunities.
Kamala’s success is undeniable. When asked if she had faced certain challenges as a woman entrepreneur, Kamala said that in retrospect when she thinks about personal challenges, she feels that as a woman entrepreneur in those earlier years, the skepticism of taking big risks was her only limitations. “I was not a very big risk-taker and so I was following the old school business growth and development model, where business developed slowly and steadily. It probably would have increased more quickly had I been able to take the big risks that big businesses take in terms of financial support, business strategies, etc.” She said.
“Every small business should strive to earn profits and review them regularly. This keeps the embers of the entrepreneur fire alive and vibrant and it will drive them to increase those figures.” Kamala said. Today, she continues to share her knowledge and vast experience in mentoring women entrepreneurs through women’s organizations like WEConnect International.