A small town girl from Mysuru, Sandhya UC moved to Bengaluru when she was 22-years-old for her first job as a software engineer in 2003. But, an average IT job was never Sandhya’s forte as trekking was always a hobby and passion since school. This introduced Sandhya to the world of trekking. Thereafter, she never stopped dreaming about the journey ahead, and started her own trekking portal in the year 2010.
Sandhya, co-founder of India Hikes expresses her fascination for trekking and tells us what led her to start an enterprise whose bedrock is climbing mountains.
“I used to trek in the Western Ghats and in the Himalayas. It was always a challenge. Right from choosing the route to arranging logistics. There was not much information on the possibilities of trekking despite our country being blessed with the magnificent Himalayas. I realised that if this problem is solved, it could greatly impact the lives of the locals from the hills who formed the backbone of the trekking eco system, and the lives of trekkers who could experience the mighty mountains,” she says.
Some of her most memorable treks have been to Roopkund, as it was her first high altitude trek and the second was to the Kashmir Great Lakes, which she explored and opened for other Indian trekkers. Doing something as your hobby and making an enterprise out of that hobby can be totally different and challenging. But Sandhya turned her hobby into business even though she faced challenges along the way. “When you start your own company, the biggest challenge is to get your team to identify with your vision and purpose. An organisation is built not by the founders alone. A lot depends on the team. Getting the team to go beyond themselves, has been the biggest challenge of this journey. It’s a challenge that is still on,” she says, adding, “It pays to stick to your values. When in doubt, always go by your core values. That’s what truly helps make the right calls in tough times,” she adds further.
Recently, Sandhya received an honorary award by a prominent business magazine called ‘Women of Worth 2017’ along with many other phenomenal female entrepreneurs in the country. But when asked who she is inspired by the most she says, “Sheryl Sandberg is inspiring as she is not only a top notch technologist and author but also an activist. I can totally identify with the causes she stands up for.”
Being a women entrepreneur can be quite a challenge in India but Sandhya feels that, “In a niche field like this, gender does not matter. Yes, when you work with people on the hills, they may be a bit hesitant to come forth and start dealing with a woman. But once that barrier is broken, it is only your work, your intentions that matters.” We asked Sandhya what message she would like to impart to young women in the country, and she said, “If you want to start something on your own, spend lot of time in preparation and learning. People give lots of emphasis on the idea but not enough importance is given to the preparation and planning. Preparation and planning go a long way in making a venture successful.”