by Anjali Gupta
I recently met a young Canadian girl, Daphnee, who has chosen Pune for her startup too.
She has been a yoga practitioner for over 8 years and came to India in 2005. She has been traveling and teaching in different parts of the country and finally decided to start up in Pune. I enrolled for her first batch of Power Yoga and have loved every minute of the 75 minute class she conducts twice a week.
A lot of friends commented on the irony of learning yoga from a “firangi” especially in Pune. Well, competition in all areas is always good for the city. I look at her class just like another startup, that comes with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and delivers a compelling product that makes me keep coming back for more. Every startup needs early adopters and her’s is no different.
In my conversations with her, she explained the poor economics for yoga teachers who are associated with gyms. Branded gyms offer them a measly Rs. 200 per class not to mention the problems of loud music while trying to teach शवासन. These new gyms offer a “pay once and try any of our activities” vs. a “pay as you go” pricing model. This ends up de-motivating (by underpaying) the teachers of various activities (power yoga, salsa, bollywood dancing) and the really good ones have to step out to create their own brand.
For customers like me it’s a bonus to go to her, A) The difference in attitude and health that comes with a good yoga teacher is worth every penny and B) it’s actually cheaper than paying the gym for stuff I’d never use because I want to focus on this activity.
So how did she bootstrap her first batch of students? Well, she attended Shiamak Davar’s dance classes as a student for a few months (associate yourself with a known brand) and collected friends and referrals who would be her first customers when she started up. That’s where I met her and so did most of the others in the class. Incidentally, DARE magazine recently featured a story on Shiamak’s entrepreneurial journey.
The problems she faces are no different from those faced by the startups in the Pune Open Coffee Club – power backup during classes, balancing rent vs. attracting customers in popular locations in the city, and most importantly, building a brand from scratch. Her being a foreigner with no family or financial support makes it no easier.
I’d like to see entrepreneurs like her join the Pune Open Coffee Club. Despite the heavy majority of tech-startups, I’m hoping the Club format will always stay Open and encourage all kinds of entrepreneurs.
UPDATE: I get a lot of emails asking for contact information for this power yoga workshop. Here are the contact details: Get in touch with Daphnee 9921214332, punepoweryoga at yahoo dot com. Her website is http://sites.google.com/site/punepoweryoga/