Teen social entrepreneur Harsha pens tips on being successful for youths

BORN in Johor and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Harsha Ravindran began her entrepreneurship journey at age 11 when she realised that she wanted to be a social entrepreneur after attending talks by a social business incubator. 

When she was 17, she founded her own start-up, StartMyName.com, which designs, builds and maintains websites, and it has since secured more than 400 clients from four continents.

At 18, the teenage social entrepreneur with big dreams, aims to impart her entrepreneurial knowledge and experience to one million teenagers across Malaysia.

Harsha shares her raw experiences navigating the entrepreneurial world at such a young age in her newly-published book, “The Makings of a Teenage Entrepreneur”.

“This book documents both the fun, exciting experiences and the serious, hard-hitting stories of my journey as an entrepreneurship — from positive experiences such as speaking at TEDx events, getting accepted into the University of Pennsylvania, “she told Bernama recently.

The book also documents how Harsha grew her business to over 400 clients in one and a half years, to more challenging circumstances such as learning how to manage clients, building a team and working hard to make the business grow.

“I hope that all of these experiences will inspire others to become entrepreneurs as well,” she added.

Harsha began writing the book on her 18th birthday (July 11, 2020) after getting non-stop text messages and calls from clients which resulted in her working 24/7, day and night, to stay on top of things. 

“Having spent my birthday flooded with zoom meetings, calls and emails, I broke down and cried after a minor disagreement under the stress of the day.

“For a moment, all my experiences of managing my business seemed to have been overshadowed by my teenage emotions.

“Realising that many other teenage entrepreneurs around the world may have been facing the same things that I did, I decided to pen down my experiences as a teenage entrepreneur over the last seven years as truthfully as possible and share the ups and downs and lessons learnt from them so that other teenagers can have a guide towards their own journey as an entrepreneur,” she said.

Moreover, Harsha encourages teenagers not to be shy to explore and reach out because opportunities come through small steps.

“My first steps towards becoming an entrepreneur were to just attend talk shows held by a social business incubator called ET Ideas and talking to the entrepreneurs there.

“If you have an idea of what you are passionate about, go for it and find the right environment of people that can foster the idea into reality,” she advised. 

Harsha, who is the chief executive officer of StartMyName.com and chief marketing officer at Ascendance Sdn Bhd, has received the Diana Award for Young Changemakers 2019 in recognition of social and humanitarian work.

She has also spoken at three TEDx conferences so far — TEDxYouth@SKIS, TEDxMonash University Malaysia and TEDxIMU at the International Medical University — and has been given the opportunity to speak at dozens of conferences both locally and internationally on topics ranging from “Gen Z’s in the Workforce” to “Solving World Problem”.

She is currently a distance-learning undergraduate student (a degree in Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences) at the University of Pennsylvania.

Harsha said she decided to form her own start-up, StartMyName.com, to earn the funds needed to pay for her university fees while providing valuable service in exchange. 

“Not wanting to burden my single mother, I was already dabbling in web development during my free time, and had the resources from having met many kind entrepreneurs from ET Ideas over the last few years of running Ascendance,” she explained.

According to Harsha, a large portion of the proceeds from the book will be channelled to Ascendance to develop other teenage entrepreneurs.

“This way, sales from this book will contribute towards ensuring that other teenage entrepreneurs can grow their own businesses and bring their ideas into reality just like I did,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Ascendance has announced its new vision of impacting #OneMillionTeens around the world, using the book and TheTeenageEntrepreneur.com online guidance platform that accompanies it as a guide to inspire and engage these teenagers.

“Our first target in launching this vision is to work with 50,000 students in 2021. Ascendance has already received overwhelming responses from students around Malaysia who wish to be part of this vision and platform,” she envisioned. 

Ascendance started selling the book early last month, with 2,000 copies printed in the first batch. To-date, roughly 300 copies have been sold. 

Those who are interested to purchase the book, which is priced at RM39.90 per copy, can do so at store.startmyname.com. – Feb 14, 2021

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