1.) First, tell us a little bit about your background and experience. What, or who, inspired you to pursue your ideas?
I’m Anishka Verma, a sophomore at Saratoga High School. My dad is my greatest inspiration. Not only is he really encouraging, but he has a lot of experience in the area of writing and business. My father has his own business and has written multiple bestselling books on real estate and mortgages. Growing up, I admired him and his work ethic, so I would say my dad really inspired me to pursue my ideas.
2.) What was the first business that you chose to pursue and what process did you go through to start it? What did your friends and family think?
My first business dates back to 4th grade. At the time, I needed some cash for a new game for my PS4, and to do that, I thought of an idea of selling my belongings that I no longer needed. Throwing these loose items in a straw basket, I went around the neighborhood trying to sell them. My family was very supportive, encouraging me to go out and try to gather sales. My friends didn’t really think much of it because it was a really small scale, but some of their parents bought a couple of products from me.
3.) What obstacles, challenges, or setbacks did you face as you began to learn the in’s and out’s of entrepreneurship?
A big issue that arises in starting a business is the question of, “What are other people going to think?” Not sure if it is because of my younger age or all entrepreneurs feel the same way. I was really afraid of breaking out of my shell and asking my friends or relatives to buy my book because I was afraid they might say no. Not too many people expect a sophomore in high school to be this ambitious, and I was somewhat afraid that people might make fun of me for it, especially in this culture of online trolling in which no one cares about bringing anyone down.
It’s hard to step out of one’s comfort zone, but it’s necessary to start a successful business.
4.) How did you celebrate your milestones and successes?
Usually, I treat myself by buying something that brings me simple joy, like a video game when my book became a bestseller, I bought God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn for my PS4 with the proceeds, and I went out to eat with my family.
5.) What kind of feedback have you heard from your customers/clients/community and how does this make you feel?
The best piece of feedback I’ve received was from a Freshman English teacher. Even though she wasn’t my English teacher, I was still relatively close to her because she was a family friend. I sent her the first manuscript of my book was she who made me realize that what I was creating was truly special.
After going through the manuscript, she said, “Anishka Verma has written a compelling, well-articulated, and thorough manual for English students everywhere to help guide them through their formative high school English classes. As a high schooler herself, Verma’s voice is both authentic and relevant. I’ve been a high school teacher for 16 years and I’ve never seen any other guide like this, at least not one written from the student’s perspective, let alone one this comprehensive and engaging. I highly recommend teachers and students alike checking it out!”
Getting such positive feedback from someone in the same field and someone I truly respected, inspired me to take this book further. Based on her encouraging words and my own vision, I went a step further and decided to create a tutoring business based on it.
6.) Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments as a kidpreneur?
One of my proudest moments as a kidpreneur was definitely making it to the amazon.com bestseller list. I remember the thrill of it. For the book to make the best-seller list, I was calling and texting everyone we knew, urging them to buy my book. That sense of stepping out of my comfort zone in order to achieve a certain goal was one of the scariest, yet greatest things I’ve felt. At the end of it all, seeing that we made the top ten was one of my proudest moments as a kidpreneur. It made the hundreds of hours spent in writing, publishing, and promoting the book worth it.
7.) What advice would you give to a young person who has the kidpreneur spark and wants to start their own business?
Be willing to take risks by stepping out of your comfort zones. This is a concept that I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, but it’s really important. One cannot grow if one is always comfortable. Starting a business means networking, putting yourself out there for feedback, and sometimes, rejection and criticism. At times, you may find yourself calling everyone you know, practically begging them to purchase your product, and that’s because when you are just starting, it is important to ask for help. There’s no shame in this; the people you love will want to help you! You need to create a solid support base for your business, so make yourself uncomfortable and start connecting with your future audience.
8.) What three words describe you and/or your work ethic?
Creative, resilient, and ambitious.
9.) Who is another (or more than one) entrepreneur that you admire?
Bluboy is a designer entrepreneur who I have been following on Instagram for three years. He has been working nonstop on his clothing brand for years. He was recently invited by Kanye West to his studio and Bluboy gifted his first design book to him. We all know how big a deal is that in the world of fashion, especially for someone so young. His following is growing fast too, he’s at 50k followers on Instagram and uses that influence to grow his business and brand.
When I discovered his IG, he was a sophomore in high school, the grade that I am now. I have witnessed his growth and his relentless pursuit of his dreams. I admire his work ethic and his persistence.
10.) What’s next for you in terms of your goals and projects?
My book has given me a good starting point with credibility and curriculum design. My next goal is to expand my tutoring business of coaching elementary and middle school students to get better at English in general and writing in particular. This summer I plan to interview, hire, and train tutors. While I am in San Francisco Bay Area, I’m hoping to extend to helping kids with their writing worldwide and creating a much larger impact. I have a certain amount of privilege, being raised here in the Bay Area, and I want to use that privilege and help other people. There are so many great writers out there that just need a little help, and my business Writing Bud plans to do just that.
11. ) What is the most important thing you have learned by being a Kidpreneur?
Resilience. Writing a book is extremely difficult, and I can count dozens of times staring at my Google Doc, questioning why I was writing a book. After the book was published, it was sort of a drag at first to start up the tutoring business. I had to call up people I knew and jump into a pitch, “Hi, would you be interested in doing a trial class for your daughter with me?” Offering classes for free was essential for me to improve my skills and for the parents to trust me with their children’s improvement needs. I would then follow up by creating curriculums for them, making tests for them, assigning homework, brushing up on concepts for them, etc.
The process of creating and refining is a constant process. It was the same process when I was writing the book, I would have to keep writing and editing to make it better. Even when I thought the book was done, I remember it took me more than 3 months of editing before I was confident enough to publish it. Just having a dream alone won’t get you far. With a dream and no work ethic, no resilience, I could have shut down my computer when it felt like a slog, a drag. I would’ve never finished the book, would’ve never started my business, would never have had the opportunity to help other kids.
12. ) How did you get the idea or concept of your business?
So the idea for my business originally came from a personal struggle of mine. I saw that there weren’t many resources available to help kids by kids, especially in areas such as writing. I also felt that in tutoring, kids were often more comfortable speaking to other kids rather than adults. So these two concepts essentially inspired my business.
13. ) Do you have other employees or helpers that work for your business?
At the moment, I do not. We are still in the beginning stages but I do hope to hire more people in the near future.
14. ) What are the roles your business needs to fill to have a successful business?
Currently, I need more tutors, admin support to schedule classes, and possibly an accountant in the future.
15. ) How do you advertise or promote your business?
One of our biggest advertising strategies has been word of mouth. Not only do I mention my business as much as possible whenever I can, but I also encourage my friends and family to do so. Many of my friends and family are connected with people who can benefit from my business, so it’s important that I encourage them to spread the word of my business. More recently, I started Amazon advertising for my book as well. I believe the more people will get to read the book, the easier it will be for me to market the business.
16. ) What’s your company’s goal(s)?
We want to spread the gift of writing to kids around the world.
17. ) What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
As of now, pretty much everything – curriculum design, marketing, scheduling classes, and teaching classes.
18. ) What made you choose this type of business?
As I mentioned before, the idea for my business originally came from a personal struggle of mine. I saw that there weren’t many resources available to help kids by kids, especially in areas such as writing.
19. ) Does your business help any charities or offer volunteer time to non-profit agencies that are important to you and your vision?
Yes, we offer free classes to students who can’t afford to pay for my classes. I also allow sharing the kindle version of the book for free. I am currently talking to an organization in Africa to offer my classes to hundreds of students without any fees.
20. ) If you had one piece of advice to a kidpreneur just starting out, what would it be?
I think being mentally prepared for the journey is very important. Remember that it is not going to be easy; you will feel like quitting a few times. You will need to do new things and step out of your comfort zones. You might feel judged, even rejected. All of this is part of the journey. Keep an eye on the prize, the goal, the vision of why you are doing it. I can guarantee you the thrill of achievement and the surge to your confidence is well worth the agony and the effort.