#WomenInBusiness | From Interns to Leaders: Malvika Adukia & Antara Telang, LaughGuru

#WomenInBusiness | From Interns to Leaders: Malvika Adukia & Antara Telang, LaughGuru


From being one of many in large teams of interns, Malvika Adukia and Antara Telang rose to the top. They  now lead marketing and content at LaughGuru. Read and learn how they owned their internship and were rewarded with full-time offers.

We were both Arts graduates from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai; as class toppers, we might have expected to enroll for Master’s degrees, or take up jobs with big name corporations. Basically, change the world.

Instead, we joined a startup that creates humour, and rose to leadership positions – leading content and marketing, respectively. We’re still changing the world, but just in a different way.

So, how did this happen?

So how did we go from detailed discussions of complex sociological theories to managing great feats in a startup on a shoestring budget? It might look like a pretty huge leap, but we both started in the same way: as two of a large team of interns.

Antara joined way back in 2012, as a member of LaughGuru’s freelance writing team. Most of the other writers wrote one-off funny pieces for clients, but she worked on one big product (you can see a draft version here), and was able to succeed at something that required much more than just writing jokes. She used her knowledge of graphic design and experience with leadership to pull together the hundred different parts that are required to make a good product. After this project – which resulted in the only successful product shipped by the LaughGuru team that year – she was given a full time offer as a Product Manager, and joined the team.

Malvika was an intern in 2013; and worked on Business Development. From a background where she had no formal training in marketing, she was able to use her natural speed of thought, excellent communication skills, and ability to connect with senior clients to secure key institutional deals. Her full time offer was earned by the fact that she performed better than any other of the 34 marketing interns in that year.

And what lessons can interns anywhere learn from our story?

We might have made a big leap, but there are some things that made our journey easy. Here’s what you should do if you’re an intern looking to join a startup team and make it big there:

  • Start small, and get the little things right: As an intern, you do not have huge responsibilities – make sure that you do everything assigned to you perfectly, and only then ask for more
  • Learn quickly: In a startup, there’s seldom too much time for training – you will be most valuable if you can learn from your guide on the job, by observation
  • Throw your ideas into the mix: You are of value to a startup if you’re a respected thought partner – never be afraid to discuss any idea of yours that improves the status quo. The more you do that, the more responsibility you will be given
  • Develop a sense of ownership: Even if you are initially given the smallest of tasks to handle, you should be more worried about that task than even the CEO; this ownership is something that any startup looks for, more than anything else
  • Have fun: A large part of the reason startups hire interns is that they bring energy with them; if you’re enjoying yourself, your colleagues will want to have you around for longer
  • Do not aim low: At a young startup, if you perform well above expectations, you will be promoted quickly. Work hard and honestly, and the rewards will follow

What do we do at LaughGuru?

When we were hired, we each had one main responsibility: Antara was the Product Manager for the LaughGuru product (primarily looking after the content), and Malvika was the Outreach Manager for LaughGuru (primarily looking after the community around the product).

We both over-delivered in different ways: Antara was able to create an entire content plan for humour in education – a whole new paradigm of learning – and craft a complete design language for the target audience; while Malvika went above and beyond her initial job description to create a community of 150+ dedicated focus group advisors and signed up our first ten institutional partners.

Therefore, we now head two important divisions of LaughGuru: Malvika heads Marketing (and Recruiting), and Antara heads Content (and Digital Marketing). As the head of Marketing, Malvika leads our key alliances, keeps our most important corporate partners happy, and has built the most engaged community of users anywhere. As the head of content, Antara has to constantly find new ways of creating jokes for every possible demographic and making those jokes look as good as possible.

There is no safety net; the success of a large part of the company is largely in our hands, but we have proven that we can handle this responsibility. The best part is that any intern, in any startup, could easily be at the same level in a year or two!

That’s great, but what does LaughGuru do?

LaughGuru uses humour to educate. Our product, which is currently for middle school students, teaches English, Mathematics and Science from the regular curriculum in a way that has brought smiles to the faces of thousands of children. We are a team of writers, designers, marketing people and developers. Visit the LaughGuru website to learn more about what they’re all about!

If you would like to join our team, write in to us at contact@laughguru.com! Our interns help us in changing the world using humour, and what could possibly be more fun?

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