“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
– Thomas A. Edison.
Stuti Jalan has been a part of the Fortune and US State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Program 2011 where she met renowned personalities like Chelsea Clinton, Barbara Walters and Nicole Kidman among many others. She was also selected to be a part of the Dell Women Entrepreneur Network and participated in Asia 21 Young Leadership Summit. At the age of 23, when most of the students are out of college and looking for jobs, she was en route to entrepreneurship and now in her 30s, she proudly runs a successful PR company named Crosshairs Communications.
She belongs to a small town of Rajgangpur, situated 400 km away from the capital Bhubaneswar. Born in a conservative Marwari family, she had to struggle a lot to do something on her own. Since there were no satisfactory education facilities in Rajgangpur, she was sent to boarding school in Jaipur where her sister was already a student. According to Stuti, her school was a blend of traditional and western culture and believes her school has contributed a great deal to whatever she is today. Boarding school had a positive impact on her since it made her street smart, bold and independent.
After finishing school, she opted for her graduation in New Delhi at Lady Sri Ram College. Her sister had already got married and so her parents were now on a groom hunt for their younger daughter. Topics of Stuti’s marriage kept on popping up whenever she returned home for vacations. Jalan, did not want to end up getting married and settle in a small town. So after college she started exploring different courses and researched for a course in media and communications. After clearing her written exams, she was called for an interview at Symbiosis Institute in Pune. One of the interviewers told her that she was unworthy of a college seat because like other Marwari girls, she would get married in midterm. She tried her best to convince them and even promised that one she would prove him wrong by starting her own company.
Stuti majored in Public Relations and joined Ogilvy. But she wasn’t content with the way things were working out as a lot of her ingenious ideas couldn’t be executed which filled her with frustration. Prahlad Kakkar, her mentor and a family friend advised her to quit Ogilvy and start something of her own. So after a year, she came up with her own company Crosshairs.
Initially she used to work in Prahlad Kakkar’s office. She used to pay him a rent for using a table, phone and computer. For almost 10 months, worked this way and three people shared a desktop. As time passed by, she rented an office space in the same building. Their initial employees were all interns since they couldn’t spend much on salaries. Fortunately, the company showed a profit in its first financial year itself.
She was introduced to Anuradha Prakash Yusuf in the year 2002 who wished to do something for the unprivileged children. Stuti and her team came up with the idea of Hope Run and invited celebrities like Rahul Bose, Lucky Ali, Milind Soman to support them.
Although she didn’t really get paid for this assignment, the event got a wide media coverage and people started talking about Crosshairs. She later acquired clients like Fosters and Axe Pulse. Being an official partner of Formal 1, Fosters wanted a concept that could be repeated in two or three clubs. Crosshairs invited media houses and organised Sunday brunches with beer and barbeque in the houses of celebrities. For Axe Pulse, they distributed to Pub DJs a famous track that Axe Pulse had access to free of cost. The music was also played in a mall where three dancers were appointed to pretend as shoppers and break into a dance as the music played.
Things turned a bit topsy-turvy when she had to move to Delhi after marriage. She started her operations in Delhi as well but lost touch with her clients in Mumbai. Also, she found the work environment in Delhi quite distinct and challenging from Mumbai as they had to chase their clients for payments. Ultimately Stuti had to invest her personal funds to keep the operations of the company on track.
Today Crosshairs Communication has a list of well known clients like Hermes, Delhi Fashion Week, British Council, Satya Paul, TSG- Luxury Group, Sony Pictures, Provogue, Neeta Lulla, Harry Winston, Bacardi etc. Stuti advises entrepreneurs to dream high and take risks. She believes it is extremely important to be professional and determined to achieve your goal. It doesn’t matter whether you come from a deserted village or a metropolitan city if you have an unwavering will to prove your capabilities to the world and to your own self.