n entrepreneur’s journey generally has two outcomes – either you succeed or you learn a whole lot and grow as an individual because you couldn’t succeed.
But for women entrepreneurs there is a third possible outcome where you become a trendsetter and chart a path that other women seek to emulate. Today, the idea of a woman entrepreneur is no longer surprising for people in India. Thanks to women like Piyul Mukherjee and Pia Mollback-Verbic, who broke stereotypes to follow their passion, they make people believe that female entrepreneurs are not just experimenting with a start-up just as a hobby or a pastime, rather they are people who are worthy of admiration and are to be seen as icons.
Working together on a research project is what led to the successful start of partnership between Piyul and Pia. Originally from Denmark, Pia has 20 years of Qualitative experience from US, Europe and India. A RIVA certified moderator, she also holds a Master’s in Danish & Communication from RU, Denmark. Piyul, with over 27 years experience in the field of Qualitative Research, is also a member of the global Unilever panel aiding their accreditation program to locate excellent moderators and research leaders worldwide. She holds a PhD in Sociology from IIT, Bombay and an MBA from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute.
Inception of ‘Quipper’ – As an All Woman Startup
Working together as senior marketing research professionals, in the year 2009 the duo, Pia and Piyul, decided to launch their own venture ‘Quipper’. Headquartered in Mumbai, Quipper is a startup dedicated specifically to the field of qualitative marketing research. A boutique market research firm, and a pioneer in its field, Quipper offers a unique range of research services that include ethnographic studies, online and mobile research, hybrid studies that are a mix of an on and off-line qualitative methodology and semiotic studies.“Qualitative consumer research is a fascinating profession because you work across all product categories and segments of the population. If you are curious about life, love to venture into new domains and are interested in understanding people at large – then there is no better profession,” utters Pia Mollback-Verbic, Co-founder & MD, Quipper Research Pvt Ltd.
Acknowledged globally for its services, Quipper works with companies across various industrial segments, from fast moving consumer goods to finance and retail. Such industry validation had helped Piyul and Verbic to break new grounds by setting up the country's first online platform for qualitative research.
Extensive experience from different markets taught the two about the impact of a collective versus individualistic culture, different levels of tolerance, of conflicts and confrontations, and different modes of operating in hierarchical versus egalitarian environments, all having significant impact on how the team should execute research.
The duo presented their paper 'Water Wows' at a conference in Vienna, where they spoke for the need for a paradigm shift when Western companies conduct market research in the East, without simply replicating a standard cookie cutter style across the world.
Specialized in exploring ‘East/West’ brand equity, brand positioning, strategy and communication issues, in 2012, Pia Mollback-Verbic and Piyul Mukherjee were awarded with the very prestigious “ESOMAR Excellence Award” – for their thoughtful paper on research practices and the impact of cultural differences across eastern and western markets. It was chosen as the ‘best of all the best papers of the year presented at ESOMAR’ by an international jury. “The inspiration to writing that particular paper was us arguing a need for tweaked research methodologies in India. Our presentation was aimed to seek an evolution of old methodologies – making them more appropriate and applicable in global studies – across multiple markets,” said Piyul Mukherjee, the CEO of Quipper Research.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Women in India have come a long way from being just home makers. Whether it is women like PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik who won medals in Rio Olympics 2016 or women like Pia Mollback-Verbic and Piyul Mukherjee who are changing the face of qualitative research in India, women aresteadily paving their way to make their presence felt in almost every field.
Pia and Piyul’s actions speak volumes for their work, proving their capability to handle all aspects of a business. “Much is said about accepting failures. I would like to state that, a true entrepreneur never sets out to fail. At the same time, if something does not go the way it should, a successful entrepreneur learns from the experience, has no ego, shrugs and carries on,” feels Piyul.
Giving a piece of advice to the budding women entrepreneurs Pia articulates, “Great career prospects will always trail people who are excellent at what they do. We must there fore focus on improving skills and competencies. There are no shortcuts – but hard work does pay off. Instead of chasing a ‘better career’ – focus on becoming excellent at whatever you do and your career will be bright.”