The CEO Rally is an online community that unites aspiring entrepreneurs and freelancers. It is a collective that helps take individuals’ careers to new heights by building a strong online presence. Through activities like the “5 day challenge to building a magnetic brand” and Instagram reels on how to land your dream client, The CEO Rally is a platform for frank conversations about all things business, collaboration and mentorship.
The CEO Rally was founded by Harshita Gupta and Sanjana, two Indian women entrepreneurs working as freelance Brand Strategists & Designers. They have been best friends since the 8th grade and began their independent entrepreneurial journeys in 2020.
In the midst of common struggles, they both reconnected in the hopes of helping each other navigate their new career paths. While comparing notes, they realised that sharing their stories and giving each other tips from what they had learnt helped them take their individual businesses to the next level.
They applied their newfound knowledge and found themselves completely booked out in 2021. The firsthand experience of how collaboration did not lead to competition led them to wish that they discussed the inner workings of their businesses sooner with each other sooner. Instead of thinking about the past, Harshita and Sanj decided that they wanted to be there for the new wave of entrepreneurs and thus, The CEO Rally was born.
Sharing their stories
“I wasn’t feeling content with my student life and I wanted to do something bigger and better than freelancing as a student. I wanted to solve bigger problems of big companies, so I stepped into that role. As a business owner, the stakes were higher and the conversations changed.”
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Sanjana, who goes by Sanj, began her entrepreneurial journey in 2020 while entering the final year of her architectural degree. However, her coursework at the RV College of architecture did not stimulate her creatively.
“With so many people dictating my path and choices, constantly reminding me that I wasn’t enough, I decided to break loose from it,” says Sanj.
Sanj took to social media to display her designs. Her Instagram page, Tangerine Lab, began to grow because of the meaningful captions she added to her posts.
“I started my Instagram page with the intent of showcasing my work in one place. I started stringing words to curate meaningful captions. It was all raw and authentic, just a girl speaking unfiltered to the world,” explains Sanj.
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In the art world, numbers have begun being associated with talent. But the number of followers and likes does not necessarily equate to success. From the very beginning, Tangerine Lab began building a global community. Sanj received her first request for a custom illustration when she had just 91 followers.
“By being online, I attracted the public eye. It felt as if my page was dictating my future and not the other way around,” says Sanj.
Sanj extended her architecture skills from building offline to building online and taught herself how to create and design websites. It’s been one year since and not only has she graduated, but she’s had clients featured in Vogue and Forbes as well. Her website is completely booked for the rest of this year!
“I realized that I could help women give birth to successful brands by building a unique brand identity. Having that clear purpose helped my business grow exponentially!”
“A common perception people seem to have is that one needs around 10 years of experience, working under someone before branching out on their own to build their own success. There was nothing that appealed to me more than taking the reigns over the trajectory of my career and building something I could call my own.”
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The other half of The CEO Rally, Harshita Gupta began her creative journey on the other side of the globe. Harshita completed her Bachelor’s at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India. She was selected for a dual degree program in New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2019.
“I’ve always been a creatively stimulated person, who’s always sure of where she wants to get,” explains Harshita. “People often think that a career in design is not sustainable or profitable, however, my parents’ support and living amidst ambitious people made it feel safe for me to dream.”
As someone who had a strong creative vision of how a brand should feel and look like, she began her career by interning and freelancing with several agencies in New York, working on projects for internationally renowned brands and Fortune 500 companies. However, she missed taking creative control over projects. She started sensing a certain kind of void in her work due to a lack of authenticity.
“Everything looked great on paper, and I thought I’d landed my dream job, but the realities of the job felt radically different. The 9-5 lifestyle left me uninspired and more importantly, the work didn’t feel like my own as it went through various hands,” says Harshita.
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The pandemic forced her to take action. Harshita moved back to India and continued freelancing with agencies. It was during this time that she crossed paths with Sanj. She made a grand pivot and consciously chose to forge a career path that would inspire her, every day.
“Sanj told me about her Instagram page. Up until then, I was unaware that Instagram could be leveraged for more, and as a platform for business!” says Harshita. “I decided to take a leap of faith and started showing up online, as an experiment to see what would come of it.”
Within her first week, she had inquiries coming in! She started small working hard to deliver a stellar experience with every client. She soon scaled the studio to become her full-time career.
Studio BY HG is now a year old, and just by scaling her online presence she’s helped not only start-ups but has worked on campaigns with internationally renowned brands including Cartier and Estee Lauder!
“Even a year of intentional action and unwavering faith has the power to change your entire life,” emphasises Harshita.
Rallying support with The CEO Rally
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By choosing to put their portfolios on social media, Harshita and Sanj were able to create a community. They could reach more potential clients.
Harshita says, “I want to show people how there’s no one path to success. In today’s world, there is an abundance of opportunities online!”
Neither of them buys into the idea of competition. They feel that every designer has their own creativity and uniqueness. They call themselves Digital CEOs and through The CEO Rally, they want to help others reach there too.
Harshita: We build one on one relationships with our followers as much as we can, understand their pain points and intentions so as to serve them better! In India, several creative professionals find themselves overworked and underpaid. This is a problem that we feel so strongly about and want to help solve! Through The CEO Rally, we want to help them showcase their talents to the world and become financially independent!
Sanj: By solving the problems of smaller companies, we can help them climb the ladder of success. The fact that we are aiding budding designers in India drives us to wake up every single day.
The main mission behind The CEO Rally is this:
“We give people the confidence and tools to build their own dream, as an out to building someone else’s. For all those people who feel a little stuck, or have no one who sees their potential yet, remember, we are here to believe in you.”
To be a part of this uplifting empowering community you can follow The CEO Rally’s Instagram page.
This piece was co-authored by Aishwarya Viswamitra and Purvi Kalra.