The Indian Entrepreneur
Darshana Rajaram founded India's first Norwegian kindergarten. "We’ve been called brave and crazy, but also visionary and inspiring".
Position: Co Founder
Employer: Papagoya Education Pvt Ltd
Papagoya is our long-term dream to influence early childhood practices in India.
- The story goes back almost 15 years. My co-founder and I have lived, studied and worked in Norway. We observed how Norwegian couples are able to maintain a work-life balance even after they enter parenthood. We realised that for career driven Indian parents, particularly mothers, a Norwegian kindergarten would be a valuable service.
Darshana was working in the energy industry and looking for bigger challenges when she did her Executive MBA in Energy Management at BI. But, finding a business opportunity that she felt so passionately made her quit her secure daytime job.
- Being an entrepreneur means that I have the opportunity to build my dream right from scratch into something which is already valuable to a few today, but will transform the lives of millions tomorrow. It is the vision for Papagoya that inspires me every day.
Papagoya follows the Norwegian framework for kindergartens and focuses on socialization, communication, language, development and learning through play. It took some time for Indian parents to understand this rather radical, in and Indian context, approach to early childhood, but they were quick to realise and appreciate its value.
- Papagoya is our long-term dream to influence early childhood practices in India. We’ve been called brave and crazy, but also visionary and inspiring. A friend once told me, “In India, an entrepreneur’s life is being everything from chairwoman to doorman”. I have played all those roles.
Broad range of skills
Rapid decision-making and problem solving, managing and implementing change, leadership skills, financial planning and strategic thinking are important qualities for a kindergarten entrepreneur.
- The list could go on, and essentially covers everything I learned at BI. I use my skills from BI to create impact at scale and to turn Papagoya into a resilient movement. From an implementation standpoint I see three key areas: human capital development, service consistency and creativity.
Darshana’ s advice to someone who wants to start their own business is to have a have a strong reason and a clear purpose.
- The journey is fraught with ups and downs and knowing why you are doing what you are doing is critical.
Knowing the industry, the competition and always staying up-to-date with the latest developments is also important to Darshana. And lastly, she believes in disrupting your own business, or someone else will.
At Papagoya every child is encouraged to explore, and stay curious and Darshana also takes important lessons from the children.
- That life can be uncomplicated. I see everyday how the true joy of life is hidden in the smallest things – like watching ants march across the garden.