How a Teenage Entrepreneur Created a Business that Makes a Difference

10 min read

After completing a summer program on entrepreneurship at Columbia University, 15 y.o. Aarushi Gupta couldn’t wait to put her newfound knowledge into practice. But launching a successful business wasn’t her only goal. Aarushi wanted it to support a good cause and improve the lives of traders and farmers in India along the way. Spoiler alert: she succeeded!

We asked this teenage entrepreneur to share her story and plans for the future with the Ecwid Blog community. Find out how Aarushi came up with an idea for a hand-painted bag business, how she runs and promotes it (all by herself!), and how it contributes to the success of local microentrepreneurs.

Intrigued? Meet Aarushi Gupta, the founder of EUNOIA, and hear her tell her story in her own words:

Meet Aarushi Gupta, the Founder of EUNOIA

Hi, Ecwid Blog readers! I’m Aarushi Gupta, a 15-year-old from Gurgaon, near New Delhi, India. Last year I did a summer program on entrepreneurship with Columbia University, which inspired me to launch a business that makes a difference for local artisans, farmers, and traders.

Coming Up with a Business Idea That Creates Value

I want to pursue a degree in economics and make it my life’s work to offer affordable loans to small traders and farmers.

In India, the affluent and middle class have easy access to loans from banks. However, underprivileged daily wage earners and villagers do not have easy access to affordable credit or loans. They need to borrow money at very high-interest rates from local moneylenders.

If they have easy access to low-cost loans, they can build a better livelihood and be a part of the fast-growing Indian economy.

I’ve started taking steps towards solving this problem. After doing a summer program on entrepreneurship with The Columbia University last year, I decided to put my knowledge to the test. I have partnered with a non-governmental organization, Habba, to buy and sell hand-painted bags from local Madhubani artists on my website EUNOIA.

The EUNOIA website Aarushi created herself

The profits from my sales go to a peer-to-peer lending non-governmental organization, Rang De, which supports rural artisans and farmers with low-interest loans of as little as 5000 rupees ($67). I am hoping to sell at least 100 bags, profits from which will be turned into zero-interest loans to micro-entrepreneurs via Rang De and Habba.

As EUNOIA sources products at higher rates than what intermediaries pay, artisans get more money for their efforts. Then these handicrafts are sold, generating revenue. In turn, this money is used to support other microentrepreneurs. That’s how EUNOIA creates a functional cycle of kindness.

Taking Care of Day-to-Day Operations

I manage the online store myself. This includes preparing orders, packaging the bags, printing shipping labels, and handing parcels over to local shipping carriers.

As for marketing, I also do it all on my own: I run an Instagram account @eunoiabags_ and create Google and Facebook ads.

@eunoiabags_ post on Instagram

Since I cannot run a company as a minor, my father supports me with our finances and the legal side of things. He also helps me when I need help with technical expertise related to digital marketing, like account configuration.

Getting There by Trial and Error

Even though the idea behind EUNOIA came about from winning Columbia University’s Venture for All Entrepreneurship, making it work in real life took time and energy.

The first challenge was finding the right partner. I wrote emails to many non-profits, but only Bangalore-based non-profit Habba responded. They took my idea seriously and helped me source the bags.

Once I sold my first 25 bags and earned some seed money, I decided to reduce our prices to reach a wider audience of interested buyers. However, because of that, the next 25 bags that I sold did not generate any profit. I made the mistake of not checking my calculations when I lowered the price.

Now I maintain a record of all expenses to calculate how much profit I make at each selling price. Generating profit is vital to the work I do to continue to help less privileged artisans — and eventually, I found a way to make it all work.

My greatest EUNOIA success so far was generating a profit of Rs 5000 ($67). The moment I handed it over to the non-profit organization that the artisans behind EUNOIA bags work with was one of the happiest of my life.

Aarushi shared her first results in an Instagram post

But Why Ecommerce?

Having an ecommerce store allows me to look at the entire India as my market. When I started exploring ecommerce platforms, my father introduced me to Shopify, but it was expensive. I wanted a more straightforward way to set up my store. That’s when we discovered Ecwid Ecommerce.

On the technical side, my father says that Ecwid has a simple integration with Indian payment and shipping providers, which became an advantage for EUNOIA.

I was also researching what it takes to sell on Amazon, but we decided to begin selling online with Ecwid. The simplicity of running an online store with Ecwid makes it perfect for a beginner.

Using Social Media to Promote a Store

When I began selling EUNOIA bags on Ecwid, I sent out WhatsApp messages to people who knew my parents or me. That’s how I made my first sales.

Then with the easy-to-use Facebook advertising on Ecwid, I started running Facebook ads, which also gave me good sales.

However, not every platform generates the same results. My favorite social network Instagram hasn’t brought any sales yet. Also, Google Shopping wasn’t easy to start with, as my bags kept getting rejected on Google Merchant.

I would love to partner with an influencer to support my cause, but I don’t think I can afford such expenses at the moment. However, one day, I think you’ll see EUNOIA bags in a post from some famous influencer!

Top Advice? Not Being Afraid to Get Hands Dirty

I used to run my own podcast called “When I was 13,” where I would interview adults and ask them about their world when they were 13. One of my guests advised me to always “get my hands dirty” and do things rather than just learn about them.

When our team won the best pitch in Columbia University’s Venture for All Entrepreneurship summer program, I remembered the “get hands dirty” lesson. I decided to actually build an online business instead of just being happy with the best pitch award. I do not have a ready-made formula for success, but I know that I will always keep “getting my hands dirty” in my life ahead.

Aarushi and the bags hand-painted by local artisans

Big Plans for EUNOIA

I see EUNOIA bags online store as a circle of kindness: I buy the bags from non-profit at rates that help the artisans make money, then sell them online to people who want to support artisans. Then the profits go back to the non-profit and the microentrepreneurs working with it. I would like to keep moving this circle of kindness and make it bigger.

Right now, I am selling bags made by artisans of the non-profit, but I would like to add more products sourced from other non-profits. This way, I can make more money which then goes back to support the micro-entrepreneurs. So, I will continue building EUNOIA and help more and more people earn money from the products they make.

The artisans sewing and painting the EUNOIA bags

More Stories Like This

We’re so happy and proud that Aarushi chose Ecwid to power her business that creates more opportunities for artisans and micro-entrepreneurs in India. Make sure to check out her website!

Find more inspiring stories from Ecwid merchants in our Success Stories section on the blog. And if you want to start an online business but hesitate, make sure to read our new series — “How to Sell Online if You’re a Beginner”.

The first part introduces you to Nicole, an aspiring online seller who shares her experience as she looks for a product to sell, comes up with a business name, and sets up a budget. This is an ongoing series that engages you in a step by step process of launching a store — in real life!

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About the author

Anastasia Prokofieva is a content writer at Ecwid. She writes about online marketing and promotion to make entrepreneurs’ daily routine easier and more rewarding. She also has a soft spot for cats, chocolate, and making kombucha at home.

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