Meet Bianca Kramer and Sharmila Singh: The power duo of Project5 San Francisco.
Bianca Kramer and Sharmila Singh founded and run the ever-growing Entrepreneurial Agency, Project5 San Francisco. Bianca – entrepreneur, business owner with a degree in psychology. Sharmila – Entrepreneur, degree in business and an MBA in sustainable management. These ladies speak on topics, that includes their own personal experience in building a business from idea to concept, empowerment of woman and what it takes to become a fantastic female force in the startup world.
What is your role in project5sf?
Sharmila: I am a co-founder and partner of P5 and I work closely with Bianca Kramer, my business partner, to help build and develop the business. Specifically, I work to secure strategic partnerships, new client relations and develop our marketing efforts.
Bianca: My role in Project5 as the Managing Partner is to manage the day-to-day operations of P5 and work closely with Sharmila to build the initial infrastructure for our business.
How did you get involved?
Sharmila: Bianca and I worked together on a fashion show and we became fast friends. At the time I was getting my MBA and after graduation Bianca approached me to join an innovation team. We worked together hashing out ideas and working on projects. It was through this course of our work together that we developed what is the model for Project5.
Bianca: I have worked on other business ventures and have first hand knowledge on how difficult it is to build an idea from concept to reality, both theoretical and hands on. This experience inspired the idea for Project5 – Where our mission is to provide the guidance and expertise needed to navigate the complexity of starting a business.
What were you doing before p5?
Sharmila: I was getting my MBA and working to integrate sustainability and environmental sciences with my background in marketing and business development.
Bianca: I co-founded a B2B start-up for retailers. Prior to that, I founded a cell phone accessories business and worked in the fashion space where my role was to identify and manage high performance teams to execute marketing events.
Challenges and rewards of p5?
Sharmila: Juggling everything and keeping all the balls going can be tough but working with our clients and seeing the results is the biggest reward.
Bianca: Biggest challenge- Not enough time in the day to get everything done – Rewards- Hearing feedback from people/clients that Project5 meets a need in today’s market.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Sharmila: I am one of those people who loves to make lists and check things off as I go. It’s always very rewarding to get through my list. I try to balance my day with work and some exercise so I often wake up and go for a walk in my neighborhood to clear my head and get my day started with rigor and fresh air. Then its straight to my computer and/or meetings for the day.
Bianca: Since I’m currently involved with two business ventures, my day is quite full. I’m at my computer starting at 7:30AM to answer emails and calls. Sometimes I have a meeting or two during the day that requires preparation. Depends on the day of the week, but I take time off to run on my treadmill which gives me time to day dream a bit. Then I’m back at my desk until 5:30pm when I force myself to stop working so I can spend quality time with my family. After dinner, if necessary, I am back at my desk around 11:00pm or so. It’s what it takes if you want to own your own business…
Do you do anything else outside of p5?
Sharmila: I am a mentor for an organization called Youth Seed and have been assisting a course at the Presidio MBA program. The class I work with was my favorite course in the program focusing on the development of sustainable products and services. It has been great to go back and work with students in a course geared towards product design and innovation. I find inspiration working with both of these organizations. For fun I love going on hikes and making dinner with friends.
Bianca: I run, read, enjoy time with friends, and travel when I can. I also volunteer as a mentor and participate on two advisory boards.
Feminist. Yep, I went there. What does this word mean to you?
Sharmila: To me, a feminist is one who looks beyond gender roles to see the world as a place for equal opportunity. This is something that is important to us at P5 as we see a need to provide the resources, opportunities and support to woman who have amazing innovative ideas and skills creating equal opportunity in this largely male dominated space.
Bianca: For me, it means there are no limitations and no need to compromise when striving to attain your goals or dreams, regardless of gender.
Any female entrepenuer role models?
Sharmila: Yes, I have a few who I have been admiring in my community. I see the work of Revolution Foods which was founded by two mothers, Kristin Groos Richmond and Kristen Saenz Tobey, who wanted to bring healthy food to the school system. I have been watching this company since 2012 and it has been great to see the program scale and have positive effects nation wide. What was initially a solution to solve a need in their own community is now a thriving social enterprise with an annual growth rate of around 125%.
Bianca: I don’t tend to admire people in the media – instead I admire and consider a female role model someone who has accomplished building a businesses that is meaningful while navigating the obstacles of everyday life, and sometimes more, with little recognition or help from others.
Startup. What does this word mean to you?
Sharmila: WORK. If you are building a startup you are basically focused on that day to day. You have to put in the time and effort to grow anything and it takes time to really know the market you are working in. Often the term startup is loosely used or when we hear about overnight success stories we don’t hear about the 6 to 10 years of effort it took to gear up for that overnight success to come to fruition.
Bianca: For me, start-up means a tech related business that requires many, MANY hours of work, with little or no pay. Once you prove validation – the real work BEGINS!
Advice to any other entrepreneurial women out there in the sea of startups?
Sharmila: Stay focused and stay positive. If you believe in your idea and have the market validation to prove it then don’t let anyone stand in your way. There are always good and bad days and it is important to roll with the punches.
Bianca: Make sure you understand “EXACTLY” what you are committing yourself to, both financially and emotionally, but if you believe in your idea, stick to it and find a way to see it through because the learning experience and rewards will be worth it!
Interested in Project5sf? Check us out on our website. www.project5sf.com