Deepika Pillai of Kula Village: How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur

by Charles Purdom
Deepika Pillai of Kula Village: How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur  we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Deepika Pillai.

Deepika Pillai is a Growth Marketing Consultant, Writer and Founder of Kula Village – an online multicultural platform. She is an avid traveler, polyglot and takes keen interest in anthropology & sociology. This mom of 2 is on a mission to bring support small BIPOC businesses be seen and heard in the mainstream



Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Deepika Pillai: Thank you so much for having me.

I grew up in India in a family that loves traveling far & wide. I was fluently speaking in 5 languages by the time I finished High School and have always been passionate about sociology and anthropology. I’ve lived across 3 continents and lost track of the number of cities I’ve visited. While pursuing my MBA in Germany, I realized that in spite of being from vastly different cultures and exposed to varied situations, the core of human beings is still pretty similar and the beauty lies in our individual differences. In my late 20’s, living in Dubai – a truly multicultural environment, really cemented that belief and allowed me to deeply appreciate human differences.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Deepika Pillai: When I moved to the suburban America in 2017, I realized there is so much the world has to offer that Americans are missing out on. My quest to find products that expose my young kids to their heritage in a way that is most suited to their American lifestyle is what nudged me to start Kula Village. My vision is to create a GLOCAL platform where multicultural small businesses can showcase their creations. I aim to make the next generation proud of their culture while appreciating the diversity surrounding them.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

Deepika Pillai: I was always encouraged to question anything I did not understand. Throughout my career, I have been an intrapreneur. I’ve always been one to discover problems and find agile solutions to achieve a more seamless business process. I have been fortunate to work with some strong leaders who have allowed me to question and innovate business practices.

I have also had some kind advisors along the way who have brought in their expertise and guidance when I most needed it. Even a solopreneur needs a strong support system that allows them to shine bright.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

Deepika Pillai: As a mother with 2 young kids, the one person who inspired me and nudged me to follow my passion is my husband. I was skeptical about launching the business during the thick of the pandemic when kids were at home. But one thing he said that really stuck with me was – if you want to do it, do it now. There is never going to be a better time.

I have also had some kind advisors along the way who have brought in their expertise and guidance when I most needed it. Even a solopreneur needs a strong support system that allows them to shine bright.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Deepika Pillai: The ability to have a personal connection with customers, sellers as well as supporters is what makes us stand out. We are also the only platform that truly supports small businesses from under represented communities and catapults them into the mainstream.

Kula village is a one-stop shop with curated all-inclusive multicultural, ethnic and world heritage products. We would like to arouse a sense of connection with your roots and help you embrace world cultures. To achieve this holistic environment, we partner with entrepreneurs who share our vision of creating this seamless and boundless community.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Deepika Pillai: Success can be defined and measured differently by each individual and
in different situations. While we’re here, 3 traits that have been most
instrumental to my personal and professional success are:

Self-motivation – This is the most difficult part of being a solo entrepreneur. When working with a team, there are several opportunities for you and your work to be highlighted and appreciated. But when working for yourself, especially at the early stages, there’s no one cheering you on. You need to be motivated every day to achieve your goals and not deter from your path. Morning manifestations and visual boards are extremely helpful to inch you closer to your dreams.

Not afraid to ask – Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Repeat and remember that. No one can climb the ladder alone. You must be willing to seek help, delegate tasks and allow other brains to work without being fixated on your own ideas. Bill Gates famously confessed to have written all the initial codes. He then read and corrected codes of all his team members for years. Only much later did he realize that this was a toxic way of scaling and he slowly started empowering his team. It is important for us to learn from such situations that even the best business leaders have been in.

Not afraid to help or collaborate – Everything in business need not have a Dollar value attached to it. While it is extremely important to keep cash flows going, strategically helping someone could add a lot more value than immediate monetary compensation.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

Deepika Pillai: Having moved across countries, I got advised to pick up any job that you get. That’s possibly the worst advise anyone should get. Now thinking back, I wish I had mentors could have guided me to be patient and demand exactly what I was worth

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

Deepika Pillai: Work-Life balance is critical. I recently consulted a company where a 6-hour work day is mandated. This is the culture that allows everyone in business to be laser-focused and plan well to achieve their tasks. For anyone in a creative career, this is even more critical. Inspiration doesn’t always strike in front of a computer screen. You must be out and about and be very observant of things around you. That’s where the magic happens. Trust is this process.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Deepika Pillai: Be seen & heard. LinkedIn is a great platform to be seen and heard. Pre-social media times, it would take so much time and effort to get in front of the right people. But now, it is easy to put out valuable content and showcase your expertise in a certain topic. And these are planting seeds for tomorrow. When a prospective client, employer or customer looks at your contributions, it automatically will build the trust that would otherwise take you much longer to obtain.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

Deepika Pillai: With the surfacing of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence in almost all scales of businesses today, it is essential to adapt and be ahead of times. Irrespective of the constantly advancing technology, building one’s personal brand and authority will still remain at the core of success. It is crucial to maintain your simple, organic value addition to the industry that will in turn help build trust and authority in your craft

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Deepika Pillai: Not getting the support system on board right at the beginning can be a game changer. It is extremely hard to succeed as a solopreneur in the long run. It might work in certain professional or service-based models, but it is impractical to be the only person running the show. And when you need to take some time off, the entire business takes time off. This adds a lot of mental pressure and stress to maintain & sustain the business.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

Deepika Pillai: In most corporate jobs, you are given tasks and expected to complete those. You may be rewarded when you go above and beyond, but most likely the expectations are pretty set for you to get your next paycheck. Larger businesses are able to absorb and mitigate the lows while the highs may result in bonuses or other forms of recognition.

But as an entrepreneur, you are the one hi-fiving yourself during the highs and are internalizing your lows. No two days are the same and that’s the thrill of being an entrepreneur. Failure can be crushing and almost every day you will question if a “regular job” would rather have been a better route to give you the consistency that is missing. But one needs to dust it off and keep going.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Deepika Pillai: Our launch and the first quarter were exceptional. As an e-commerce marketplace, such a response from customers, vendors, influencers and the entire community was a complete blessing. As a product marketer, it is rewarding to make a direct impact on consumer behavior. As a consultant, I’m always excited to work with new brands and create a roadmap of success for them.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Deepika Pillai: Amazon-owned sales alone accounted for 30.7% of all U.S. ecommerce in Q1 and were responsible for nearly a third of growth in the online sector from January through March.

As for smaller and early-stage marketplaces like ours, the months following the holiday season were excruciatingly painful. We had a great growing community but no one was making purchases. This is when I started questioning the business model.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

Deepika Pillai: I used this time to focus on getting the back-end robust and supply chain strengthened with a strong new set of vendors and started doing offline events to understand the pulse of the market.

When all the odds are against you, think about your why

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Deepika Pillai:

Always be learning – Read up on success stories but also read up on failure stories – to learn from them. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and tools.

Talk to your customers – Tal to the ones who purchase, the ones who don’t, the ones from your family and beyond. Talk with customers who came back, and those who did not.  

Plan ahead – A bootstrapped startup may not have resources but build your ecosystem of advisors, mentors and experts who you can lean on when needed.

Be flexible – Don’t be stuck on your business model. Test, Feedback, iterate and adapt. Launching your MVP is a great first step but what takes you to the next level is the ability to think on your feet and keep the ball rolling. 

Ecosystem – “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together’’ is incredibly relevant in entrepreneurship. Build a trusted circle of advisors & mentors.

These are few traits of resilient people and will help during challenging times like the one we are currently in.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

Deepika Pillai: At work, I try to be very meticulous and structured.

At home, I’m very free spirited and thrive in the outdoors. 

Allowing myself to be agile in different situations keeps me fulfilled and stay positive. I try to be detailed and planned at work as it gives me the power of staying informed. But I allow myself to be fluid and flexible and think out of the box to bring myself out of difficult situations. What keeps me going is the learnings and lessons gained from each such situation

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

Deepika Pillai: Be BOLD or Italic, never regular.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Deepika Pillai: Thank you so much for having me today. I hope my words can inspire and motivate all your readers. 

Feel free to connect with me on


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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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