Corporate to Entrepreneurship : A Candid Conversation with Ashoo Sethi

April 5, 2024 - By wom


Welcome to an exclusive interview with Ashoo Sethi, a dynamic entrepreneur whose journey from corporate corridors to entrepreneurial heights is nothing short of captivating.

In this candid conversation, we delve into Ashoo’s motivations, challenges, and triumphs, providing readers with invaluable insights into the world of entrepreneurship. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur seeking guidance or simply intrigued by tales of resilience and innovation, Ashoo’s story is bound to inspire. Join us as we uncover the secrets behind his journey and explore the lessons he has learned along the way.


Question: Where were you born, and where did you do your primary schooling?
Answer: Delhi, St. Xavier’s School, Delhi.

Question: Back in those days, every parent wanted their kids to either be a doctor or engineer. Was it the same in your case?
Answer: Parents wanted me to become a doctor. I tried but couldn’t qualify. However, I had other plans, and my parents supported me.

Question: Which is your favorite ad or jingle from your childhood?
Answer: “Jab Ghar Ki Raunak badhani ho, deewaaron ko sajana ho, Nerolac Nerolac” (it still resounds in my mind).

Question: You are an entrepreneur, business consultant, mentor, and movie critic. How do you divide your time among so many roles?
Answer: You have to prioritize and manage time. It sounds easy, but when you have too much to do, you have to be a multitasker and do things accordingly.

Question: What is marketing to you? In simple words, how does an Ex-COO and sales head of a Telecoms firm see marketing? Mr. Seth Godin says Marketing is all about bringing change, what do you think about it?
Answer: Marketing is identifying the market/customer, their needs, and being able to match their demands with supply.

Question: What made you take the road to entrepreneurship?
Answer: I had worked nearly for 21 years nonstop and wanted to take a break to understand and experience this challenge as it felt it was the right time to do it, else I’ll never be able to give it a chance. Also, I wanted to build something on my own.

Question: Should we bypass the process to give better customer experience or should we never go beyond the process and rules, what is more important to you?
Answer: Depending on the situation, you may have to go beyond to deliver to customers sometimes, but in some cases, if the customer is too demanding, you may have to put your foot down as well. I believe every customer has a life cycle, and you have to evaluate that before taking any call.

Question: Startups are the new game today. How beneficial are they to the economy of a country?
Answer: With the new setups and ideas, they are surely beneficial. However, if they haven’t planned how to run the same for at least 3-5 years with adequate planning and resources, it’s a complete waste since you are heading to get stuck and lose your time and money both.

Question: What leadership qualities do you have that encourage people around you?
Answer: Give space to your team, have clear objectives and goals, allow them to take risks, and create an ecosystem around you that inspires and uplifts.


Question: If you could start your last role again, what would you do differently?
Answer: I am now much more mature in understanding the role of shareholders and the value of expenditure. So as an entrepreneur, I have understood that you have to create value for your business in the long term.

Question: What do you think is the most exciting marketing trend right now?
Answer: The digital domain platform is growing at a rapid pace. Provided you have money to advertise, it’s the best. However, the traditional business of FMCG/durables also plays a vital role.

Question: How often do you check your WhatsApp? Which social media platform do you like the most, and why?
Answer: I’m quite active on WhatsApp. However, I’m also on Facebook due to my post of movie reviews and also on LinkedIn as I’m finding quite interesting learning from various people across all domains. It keeps you updated about the world as well as your domain.

Question: Do you think farmers need marketing? What is your suggestion if you were an agriculture minister of India, from a marketing perspective?
Answer: If your product is good and the surplus is healthy, then yes, farmers can go for marketing. However, it’s a matter of time when you will have strong word of mouth. Farmers would require support of some nature to help them evolve into the next level of business requirement. This can also help them to fetch better rates as well and also help you increase your yield. One has to understand the complete chain of business for them to be able to help them make good money.

Question: Is CSR marketing or it’s part of marketing? Your views?
Answer: I feel it’s part of marketing; however, there is so much you can do to help the society who doesn’t know how the whole funding is utilized. You can directly or indirectly support your own and other businesses to prosper this way.

Unveiling the Entrepreneurial Journey: A Candid Conversation with Mr. Ashoo Sethi

Question: You are an avid movie critic; your followers wait for your review to decide whether to go for the movie or not. How did you start this passion? I would love to know the story of a business leader who became a movie critic.
Answer: So I have been a movie buff since my school days. I used to initially watch a movie and tell its story to my friends who used to enjoy it. I started to read critic reviews and felt that their views to mine were different. I started evaluating my reviews myself and got satisfied that I had an opinion as per the audience. So when I got into the corporate line and moved to Mumbai, I started writing. It’s been around 8-9 years now but confined only to FB, now starting a blog of my own. Not to boast, but I’m generally 90-95% accurate in my assessment of a movie.

Question: What do you prefer to do on the weekend – movie at the theater or Netflix at home?
Answer: Movie at the theater for sure, and maybe a thriller on any of the OTT platforms.

Question: Have you ever gone for a movie break during your office hours?
Answer: Yes, twice (with and without informing each).

Question: When you have two options, how do you select one? Do you go through instinct or data?
Answer: Will obviously depend on the kind of option, if it’s professional then data is a must.

Question: How would you see the future shape of Marketing in India? Will it become a completely digital economy in the coming years, or will brick and mortar retail retain its relevance?
Answer: Well, honestly the size and geography like India, both will prevail. Digital marketing will grow at a faster pace; however, all businesses may not be supportive to it and therefore as per industry and product marketing will have to be tweaked and aligned. Increase in data usage will be a big thing however let’s be clear the government policies have to be friendly for ensuring good healthy business.

Question: At WoM, we are also running a campaign – NEW LIFE BUILDERS in which we request the corporation to make some employment arrangements for Age groups of 60+ professionals such as mentors? How do you see this?
Answer: Why not, it’s a good move, let’s be clear, there is no age of retirement for anyone (ESPECIALLY SOMEONE WHO ENJOY WORKING), till he/she is physically fit and can add value. They make so much of a contribution with their experience and also it keeps them active and healthy.

Question: Any word of wisdom for our readers, especially for entry-level and middle-level sales and marketing professionals?

Answer: Nothing is easy or difficult. Everything is based on the opportunity. Encash or grab opportunities when they knock. As a marketing professional please work on you and your team’s strength and you will deliver positive results. Take risks, and ensure teams work to create value for your brand. Put in your best, own the position as if it were your own and you will find guaranteed results.