A few years ago, Shaan S Khanna had started offering recommendations to people — first over phone and, then, through just 100 members in her Facebook community. Today, she has one of the leading networking platforms across one of the largest economies in the world. With 51,000 members, Networking Now India has become one of the most credible forums to raise questions, or issues with a definite response system, owing to the varied members Shaan has collected. Along with that, Shaan has come up with Spicy Sangria, a thoughtfully curated offline platform for designers. Team Optimist spoke to Shaan S Khanna, who has been running both brands with equal composure.
Team Optimist: How did you begin Networking Now India? Did you utilise social media platforms, such as Facebook?
Shaan S Khanna: It was just a whim! My friends would call me every day, asking me what to do, where to go, or where to get stuff from and I just thought it was easier to create something where we could crowd-source information. Yes, we do utilise social media platforms, but hold many offline events, too!
Team Optimist: As far as exchanges among entrepreneurs are concerned, how has Networking Now India evolved over the years?
Shaan S Khanna: Initially, people were sceptical of hiring services online without meeting the people they were interacting with, or even of asking questions or trusting answers and responses. Now, clients hire people from the platform after just one phone conversation. They use the services provided by companies across India without meeting them. Times are changing and it’s helping many entrepreneurs reach out to a larger client base.
Team Optimist: In the early years, what sort of challenges did you face with Networking Now India? What adjustments did you need to make to turn it into a sustainable option?
Shaan S Khanna: It was very time-consuming and needed constant checks, corrections and filtering, but was well worth it because it grew into a safe community, which people trusted for getting their requirements fulfilled and meeting new people. Initially, it was difficult to plan events, but, now, we have over 200 people per event! It’s growing and we love it.
Team Optimist: As a case study in active community reach and development, how are you going ahead with Networking Now India? Are you opting for a holistic approach in this regard?
Shaan S Khanna: We’re creating a community bigger than online interaction. We encourage community meets and plan expert sessions, too, in different cities, so that people can meet, share knowledge and help each other out.
For every entrepreneur, it’s important to learn from the successes and failures of others, grow their businesses through referrals and help others. Our community is purely based on learning and referrals.
Team Optimist: How’s your brainchild, Spicy Sangria, helping designers? Did you intentionally make it an offline project?
Shaan S Khanna: Absolutely yes. We’re an offline event space, where designers showcase their latest collections for the season. It often comprises designers who sell from their homes, or boutiques, or online, but we truly believe an offline experience is a must as it serves as a great fun-day for people to come out and shop. Spicy Sangria helps designers because it’s a platform for them to present their work to a large audience of anywhere above 5,000 attendees per day.
Team Optimist: What’s your take on the future of India’s fashion industry?
Shaan S Khanna: I think we’re moving in a direction where there’s much more affordable and wearable fashion that’s fabulous. It’s about comfort, as well as making a statement — something to look forward to.
Team Optimist: In 3 years’ time, what are your expectations from Spicy Sangria? What are you plans for it?
Shaan S Khanna: Currently, we operate in eight cities. We hope to have two shows per year in every city in India. We’d like to cater to the different fashion sense and vibes that each city has. We’d also love to have a show in every city during the festive season. Our aim is to support every designer — big or small — to create a mark for themselves and sell to a wider audience!
Team Optimist: Whether it’s Networking Now India, or Spicy Sangria — you’re a seasoned entrepreneur who’s achieved considerable success. What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs in India?
Shaan S Khanna: The only thing I can say without sounding too clichéd is, ‘Never give up!’ There’re days when you may feel as if it’s not working, but, remember, every day is a new day and every day requires hard work. So, just put yourself out there. With perseverance, there’s no way you won’t make it! The other thing that’s helped me immensely is learning from others and from their failures and successes!