A writer, journalist, environmentalist, and a dreamer, Prerna Prasad is on a mission to raise awareness about climate change. She is the founder of Ecoplore- an aggregator platform for eco-stays, which promotes only those hotels that maintain at least 33% green area and are made of non-concrete building material such as mud, stone, wood or any locally available material. Through Ecoplore, Prerna aims to encourage people to choose environment-friendly stays over the fancy, concrete hotels that have been a detriment to the environment around them. Her startup Ecoplore recently won a Gold award by Outlook Responsible Tourism.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview where Prerna unfolded her entrepreneurial journey with HelloPost Team:
Tell us something about yourself.
My parents have sacrificed their comforts to provide me and my siblings the best education possible. They are the greatest gift I have received from God. I was brought up in Bhopal, and I started my career as a journalist, did activism and was also active in politics for some time. The lesson I learnt while doing all this was that the environment is the biggest issue and very few people are working on it. Thus, I started Ecoplore which is a social enterprise conserving the environment using the mode of tourism.
What motivated you to start your own venture?
I was planning a holiday in Malaysia. While booking the hotels, I could not find any website on which a list of eco-friendly stays was available. During my travel within India, it wasn’t difficult for me to find an ecostay as I belong to this country but it took me almost one month to find five good eco-friendly stays in Malaysia. However, finally, when we stayed in those places, the experience was mind-blowing. Each stay was unique. And, it was in Malaysia that I came up with the idea of Ecoplore.
What were the challenges that you’ve faced while starting your own venture?
The biggest challenge I faced while starting Ecoplore was that I did not have any background in the travel industry and neither any formal education of the same. The travel industry is primarily network based and my first task was to meet industry leaders and build my network.
Which was the moment in your journey when you felt that it's not working but still you didn’t lose your hope and kept it going?
I have a strong belief in the saying that persistence pays. So there has not been a major moment when I thought that it is not working out. However, there have been several occasions when number crunching became a bit tiring and I thought why am I doing all this and not just exploring and saving nature.
What was the biggest achievement during your entrepreneurship journey?
We have received more than what we expected. We were selected for IIT, and IIM fellowship. Silicon Valley-based investor Alicia Castillo Holley selected us for her 'Women get funded' program. For a start-up that was in its initial stage, it's a great victory to win the biggest award in its domain. We won the Outlook Responsible Tourism award 2019 in the category of Best earth friendly stay. But personally speaking, the biggest achievement for me has been customer satisfaction. None of our guests have complained over any of our services. In fact, we have received repeat customers as they were happy with Ecoplore.
How do you maintain a good work-life balance and mental health?
I believe that if you're passionate about your work and you are a startup founder then your work becomes life and your life becomes your work. At least this is true for me. The flexibility that you get in being your own boss and the satisfaction of doing what you want to
Who is your role model?
There are several people who inspire me by their work sets and skills but I do not have any single role model. For example, in the field of technology Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg; in the field of politics APJ Abdul Kalam, Arvind Kejriwal inspire me. And, I aspire to be a role model in the field of
What is your secret to success?
Persistence and perseverance is the key to success. I always chose to do what interested me. If we all work on our passions, we will surely succeed.
What’s one leadership lesson that you’ve learned in your career?
A leader is the one who finds the solution and sets an example by executing it instead of just guiding others.
What are your future plans?
I aim to aggregate all the eco-friendly accommodations existing in India, and then expand to Asia and then globally. We also want to empower people by connecting them to people who are experts in setting up new eco-friendly accommodation or renovating an existing one. And finally, we wish to come up with our own ecostays in collaboration with local hosts.
Any advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs?
This is the best time for aspiring women entrepreneurs to choose entrepreneurship as there are several organisations, fellowships, incubators, investors to support and guide them.