They say every crisis within it carries gifts, if only you look for them. Right when Corona was beginning to dig its fangs in India, I met Aneesha, the Co-founder of Language Curry, a platform for learning Indian languages. It was my gift in Corona times to have met Aneesha and see her drive and capability towards her business. We clicked immediately and I found her to be inspirational, determined, passionate about her platform and app, and in true entrepreneurial fashion dedicated to it 24 by 7. As I got to know her more and developed familiarity and acquaintance leading up to a new friendship, I got to know more about her story -How she was born and brought up in Gujarat and Canada, how her roots called her back to India and how her life in Canada inspired her to start language curry.
I admired few things immediately about her story – that she did challenge and voice out the bias that women entrepreneurs face because of their gender with investors and public.
And that she has the courage to dream, to turn it into reality in a still heavily patriarchal society of India.
And that, from India she is playing a huge part in promoting Indian languages around the world and helping people connect with our country.
If these initiatives and projects don’t deserve support, funding and even government recognition, then I don’t know what does. Such initiatives are such a support to our ‘make in India’ vision, travel sector and others too. The apps are available on android playstore and iOS with good reviews!
Here is a small chat with Aneesha that is sure to inspire you about her dream and pet project Langauage Curry and give you some meaningful insight on the world of entrepreneurship and helpful advice related to it!
Tell us about language curry? How, when and why did you start it?
Language Curry is an app to learn Indian languages and connect to India’s rich culture.
I moved to Canada when I was 17 and lived there for almost 10 years, my parents were very strict about not forgetting our roots, speaking in Hindi at home and not faking an accent. Also during my time in Canada I experienced the need amongst NRI’s to connect with India and the culture. And the starting point to a culture is usually Language. So I believe my personal experiences coupled with the parenting and the innate patriot in me, left me wanting to solve this problem.
Is there an appetite for Indian languages in the west? Why?
Yes for sure, although my inspiration came from NRI’s . We soon realized there are so many reasons why other segments also want to learn Indian languages. Few top ones are: being married to or dating Indians, because 1 in 6 people in the world is an Indian ! Expats who work in India or work with Indians and tourists who want to experience India in a richer way.
Sanskrit unfortunately is no longer a language of conversations. What is driving people to learn Sanskrit and/or teach it?
Launching Sanskrit was purely an instinctive feeling after seeing how Yoga has taken over the world. I always said to my co-founders that Sanskrit would be the next yoga! We have seen an immense take rate amongst Indians to reconnect with Sanskrit to better understand the scriptures. Sanskrit opens doors to so much in our culture – Ayurveda, Vedas, Upanishads, Gita even various scientific and historic scriptures. Internationally as well, Sanskrit is being considered the most scientific and grammatically correct language. We want to bust the myth that Sanskrit is only the Language of Gods, its much more than that and unless we accept it as a conversational language it wouldn’t be learnt and retained in an effective manner.
What is the future of Sanskrit and Indian languages?
India is global point of interest now. The world is looking to us not only as an economic opportunity but also as a soft power. Indians themselves are rising above the colonial complexes and taking pride in their culture. Although English would be the one language that would connect the globe, Hindi, Sanskrit and regional Indian languages would only strengthen the connect within India and for all those who want to connect with Indians.
As a woman entrepreneur what unique advantages and challenges have you faced?
Although qualities for an entrepreneur are pretty gender neutral. But as women especially mothers the abilities of multi tasking and patience really help! Women are great at taking calculated risks, managing teams, dreaming big and being realistic at the same time.
One of the big challenge or bias I faced was of building a company while raising my child. If a father works from home on his start up no one questions his commitment level but for some reason if women work from home there is a bias that she is not giving enough hours to work. When in actuality when you are committed to your dream, trust me , man or woman both will give in more than expected with respect to time and money.
Is there an appetite for Indian languages in India?
Yes for sure. Even we were taken for surprise when we saw the kind of response we got from south Indians wanting to learning Hindi, in fact more than 80% of our Hindi users are south Indians learning for better networking, relationships or even Bollywood!
Similarly Urban Migration and inter region marriages is big factor for someone to learn the local language. Many argue that English works but its so much more fun if you can speak the local language, truly appreciate the culture and gain respect from locals for the effort.
What advice do you have for women wanting to venture in entrepreneurship?
Go for it if you are passionate about an idea and there is something beyond financial gratification that drives you. My advice would be to first build a team who believes in the idea as much if not more. I truly believe for a stable start you need a rock solid team. Secondly, never shy away from asking for help from family, friends, customers, colleagues etc. Many wont help, but the few who will would really be your pillars in good and bad times.
You can find Aneesha Jyoti and the Language Curry page on linkedin http://linkedin.com/in/aneesha-jyoti-99011610 You can also follow language curry on Instagram