Jhumkee Iyengar

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Jhumkee Iyengar is an Indian entrepreneur. Jhumkee started Ohrna in 2017 and is based in Pune.[1]

Jhumkee Iyengar, founder of OhrnaJhumkee Iyengar, founder of Ohrna




@jhumkee (258 followers)


Early Career

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Jhumkee started Ohrna in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: [1]

Q: How did you get started on Ohrna?

I have built a career in human-centered product design over more than three decades, and run my own consulting practice helping companies and organizations incorporate design thinking, after several years in corporate America and India. I also teach human-centered design for the Pittsburgh based LUMA Institute at corporations worldwide, am an adjunct faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology where I teach postgraduate design students and MBA students, and run an online course for the Indian government’s National Program for Technology Enhanced Learning. I have presented at global conferences and have several publications and articles to my credit.

In my growing up years, we did not have a lot but we had enough and we always had enough to give others. This is what my parents — a scientist father and a professor mother — taught us.

I have always counted my blessings and felt a very strong urge to give back. Several defining moments came to me during my interactions with women who lack formal education but possess an indomitable spirit and deep wisdom. I realized how easily our respective destinies could have been reversed --- the only difference between us was the opportunities that I received.

And nowhere was this more evident than in the villages of India, where I began conducting design thinking workshops for rural teens in 2010. These workshops helped prove my hypothesis that anyone can design for their surroundings and context if they are given the right opportunities and tools.

My brush with rural India made me realize quickly that a woman without financial independence has no voice. And while many rural families migrate to crowded cities to get some or the other work, the women in rural settings, bound by lack of opportunities and education as well as social norms often have no means to earn a living. Once I knew that I wanted to ‘do something’, I realized that in order to work in this space and with this group, I would need to do so in a domain close to their comfort zone.

Since I had been fortunate as a youngster to learn sewing from a professional tailor and sewed many of our clothes myself, I chose the sewing route.

I was greatly inspired by my aunt, who ran a home-based organization for 25 years, making jute products for a local customer base in Kalyani, a suburb of the bustling eastern Indian city of Calcutta. Training local tribal women for free, providing materials to work from home, etc. are aspects of her model that I imbibed in Ohrna.

Validation of products marketable by Ohrna has happened the hard and expensive way, launching small batches of products and then streamlining the batch based on their response in the market.

Working globally and servicing a market on the other side of the world was extremely challenging both operationally, logistically as well as financially. I have used my earnings from my consulting and teaching to fund this venture but it also meant that I was doing 3 jobs to make it all happen, which I continue to do, but I give the bulk of my time to Ohrna.

My family has been a tremendous source of understanding, support and strength through it all.

> I would say my biggest hurdle came from taking on too many new things simultaneously.

Source [1]