SOQO Soar to Dubai Expo
Get ready for the classic small-town startup flying high—to Dubai—tale!
SOQO had been fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity to be a part of the Dubai Expo 2021, a global amalgamation of progressive thoughts of the world in one place. Ideas and business ventures from 191 countries of the world pooled together in this event to inspire the world for sustainability, opportunity, and mobility. This Expo was the finest mix of innovation, technology, art, and culture.
However, even this experience was not one without challenges.
For our Chief Menstruating Officer, Janvi, Dubai Expo was a dream she had seen in the infant stages of SOQO, while she was still treading the labyrinth of building a startup. She knew she wanted SOQO to get this international acknowledgment, however, she also knew it was too soon for her to jump at an opportunity like this.
She wanted SOQO to grow and to be ready for the Expo when the time was right. This was followed by a year and a half of relentless hard work, sleep-deprived workdays, no breaks, and an immeasurable amount of dedication and love towards building a startup that offers an educated, empowered, environment–friendly and evolved menstrual experience.
After 1.5 years of hustle, Janvi was presented with an opportunity. As fate would have it, this opportunity was none other than the Dubai Expo. Janvi’s university offered to sponsor SOQO’s journey to the Dubai Expo. Janvi was asked to present her idea on the ‘Startup Innovation Bus’ at the Expo. Later Janvi found out that this opportunity was presented to only a selection of startups in India. To be one among them was a big deal for our budding startup!
As she started preparing for the Expo, the endless string of challenges began. The first challenge was: having to sponsor the trip herself. Things with the sponsorship did not go as expected and it ended with her having to bear all the costs. This was perhaps one of the riskiest and most daunting challenges. It was coupled with the rising risk of a lockdown since Omicron cases were on a rise during the time.
However, Janvi’s determination was stronger than that. In an attempt to improvise and modify her plans to overcome these challenges, she reached out to a person at the MSME Department.
Here, Janvi was advised to attend the ‘Elevation Pitch’. She preponed her tickets and was at the Expo for the Elevation Pitch.
Once at the Expo, the challenges did not end. From technical issues causing Janvi to lose her entire pitch deck to bursts of Impostor Syndrome which made her second-guess herself, Janvi withstood every challenge.
On 13th December 2021, alongside other 8 startups, Janvi attended the prep session at HSBC Global Office. On the following day, she had to present her pitch to a group of investors at The Oberoi. This was followed by a presentation at the Expo on 17th December 2021.
Through all these challenges, Impostor Syndrome stuck with Janvi as obstinately as possible. From the prep session where Janvi was advised to replace the word “vagina” with “orifice” to the intimidating audience of investors predominantly comprised of elder men, from losing her pitch the night before her pitch session to feeling inferior against the grandiose of The Oberoi, everything seemed to hit her with a bout of impostor syndrome. It was only natural after all.
SOQO is an infant company, but what we have realized after this Expo is that it is an innovative one too.
This epiphany, while always being present in a deep corner of Janvi’s heart, was validated when Janvi was approached by a group of investors after her pitch. While she wrongly believed that she had probably messed up, being approached by around 12-14 investors was a delightful surprise. She took in the enormity of it all, of the validation SOQO had just received, of SOQO’s accomplishment.
It was, by no means, an easy task to pitch about period underwear in front of a group of investors who were mostly men, to persuade them of this innovation and the importance it held, but SOQO managed to do just that. This was the biggest win for SOQO at the Expo.
We are confident that this is only the start of the many wins to come in the future but we are delighted to have set the right precedent.
With the love and support of our customers, our readers, we will endeavor to quadruple these accomplishments, disseminate knowledge on an even larger scale, fight taboos about menstruation and hygiene, and to provide all menstruators with an educated, empowered, environment-friendly, and evolved menstrual experience.