Nothing is achieved because of easy choices. Hard choices give us the courage to believe.
Madhu Challa is the Founder and CEO of Pretty Pokets, a CA-based startup launched in 2017 and to empower moms with the practical and elegant products. Their current product is a premium vegan leather diaper bag that is practical, elegant and stylish. The bag features a patent-pending diaper dispenser and trash cover dispenser, thereby making the diapering process as painless as possible.
Madhu was a hardware engineer at Intel Corporation for ten years. She has a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering. Madhu lives in Bay Area California with her husband and two beautiful children.
Where did the idea for your company or organization come from?
While working as a hardware engineer, I had an opportunity to mentor a girl’s team for a Tech Challenge. Teaming with young ladies in the design process just reignited my creative spirit. Thus, I started working on coming up with a solution for a personal pain point I had as a new mom. I wanted a diaper bag which is practical and elegant! When I could not find one I decided to make one.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am a stay at home/work from home mom of two young kids. First, I had to preach myself to be realistic and then I had to educate myself to be productive. It may look like I have all the day for myself, but trust me it’s super long and super short(work hours) at the same time.
In a day I only have 4 hours, and I make them highly productive. Most days, I try to do jot down a few action items before I go to bed. This prepares me for what to expect the next day. I only choose one or two highly actionable things to do.
My day starts at 4:00 AM. I take 30 mins to get myself in the zone. So typically 4:30 AM -6:30 AM is my work mode. I don’t look at my phone; I don’t check emails. So, no distractions whatsoever. 7:00-8:00 AM is a rush hour. I am cooking for the day, packing lunch, feeding kids their breakfast. They are out of the door by 8:15 AM. I jump back into work at 9:00 and I work till 11:30. All the emails, phone calls, etc. happen only after 11:30. I am pretty much done with my work at this point. I pick up my daughter soon after and my son a couple of hours later and I spend rest of the day helping them with their homework, taking them to park, their classes, feeding them and so on.
I do workout to keep myself sane!. I try to get my workout done before 7:00 AM or else it would be in the evening when kids are at home. I call this a chaotic exercise. Kids will be jumping up and down and sometimes on me, but I keep going. We call it a day by 9:00 PM most days and then I repeat!
How do you bring ideas to life?
There is nothing compared to your own experience. If I have an idea, I don’t wait for perfection. I jump right in, and then I figure out my next steps. Unless you take that step forward, you never know what opportunities await for you.
What’s one trend that excites you?
AI, I am excited and nervous at the same time.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Whether I win or lose, I wake up every morning and take one small step that helps me move forward. I am a tortoise. I never give up. I keep going.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would have told myself not to doubt myself and that it’s OK, to not know everything.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You don’t have to wait for a perfect time to do what you want to do. In most of my conversations, I hear this one thing. I will wait for the right time and then decide. I agree that in some situations you have to but not all the time. We have to realize that things only get challenging every day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You never know where your window of opportunity is. So keep going, keep trying. Always look for opportunities. At every stage of my startup, I needed help. Whether its related to the business plan, mentoring/advise, funding or networking. I kept looking for leads, and I did find them. I met amazing people on my way. There are tons of amazing resources available for entrepreneurs.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I am still learning, and my business is very young. But I always ask myself. “What can I do to move forward? What is that one step that I can take to me closer to my goal?” It can be things like asking your friends to share your product. Reaching out to your costumes and offering them some discount or posting it on your social media page. Whatever and whichever small steps possible.
I remember a few weeks during May of this year I did not see any sales happen. A simple email with a discount coupon to my email list got me not one but ten sales. So, you will be surprised that these small steps make a huge difference. Try not to complicate things. It’s so easy to get lost and get overwhelmed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have never had any severe failures so far. Maybe because I did not see them as failures. I am always thinking, how can I unblock myself? I take every failure as an opportunity to learn. So I have never seen failure as a failure.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Because I am a mom, I want to fix the issues I see in my day to day life. I am always thinking, “How can I make a moms life easy?” So, many of my ideas are based on that one question. Toys are a challenge in my house. They are everywhere. Keeping the house clean is nearly impossible. An In-house service which would send agents/employees to sort and clean up the toys and which would also buy used toys or offer replacement then and there would be an excellent service. This service will give moms the much needed time and peace. They don’t have to post it online or go to stores etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Vision board (it’s under $100). But it turned out to be so powerful. It makes me feel that I am already looking into my future.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
There are many. I love all productivity tools like Trello, Asana, etc. But the most useful and the ones which I use often are Grammarly, Evernote, Wunderlist and Canva.
Grammarly is such a fantastic tool. I use Evernote to capture all my ideas, resources, articles to read and more. Wunderlist is a simplified To-do list app, and I love it. Canva allows me to create amazing designs whether its a flyer, Facebook post, Instagram post, Ebook, printables what not!. It’s the best.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It’s not important what you do, but it’s important to know why you do what you do. Amazing book.
What is your favorite quote?
Hard choices, easy life; Easy choices, hard life. Nothing is achieved because of easy choices. Hard choices give us the courage to believe. In any situation ask yourself “Is it a hard choice or an easy choice?”
- Hard choices, easy life; Easy choices, hard life. Nothing is achieved because of easy choices. Hard choices give us the courage to believe. In any situation ask yourself “Is it a hard choice or an easy choice?”
- Read “Start with your Why” by Simon Sinek. It’s not important what you do, but it’s important to know why you do what you do.
- Take every failure as an opportunity to learn. Never see a failure as a failure.
- Always ask yourself, “What can I do to move forward? What is that one step that I should take today which takes me closer to my goal?”