Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Priya Ahluwalia, Co-Founder of MoAloo Ventures, located in Punta Gorda, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My husband and I founded MoAloo Ventures in 2017 to bring startup companies to life. We look for products and concepts that are relevant in today's market. We invest in startups and devote our time and expertise to ensure their success in exchange for equity in each venture.
Currently, we are working with 5 startups;
- PlateRate (a food-tech startup) where you get to rate every single menu item you try at a restaurant and earn free food,
- Linguiyo (an ed-tech platform) is a language learning app with three components: pre-recorded lessons that can be accessed anytime by anyone around the globe, virtual experiences lending a cultural perspective to language learning, and word games in multiple languages to make learning fun.
- Shandoka (in electric motorcycle space) – Rather than creating new motorcycles, the goal of Shandoka is to convert existing motorcycles into electric simply by replacing their batteries.
- Babcock Ranch Concierge – a concierge service geared towards making Babcock Ranch resident's life easy.
- PriyaBakesKeto – a small keto cooking backing startup.
Tell us about yourself
My story begins in New Delhi, India, in the year 1990. My dad had done whatever he could to provide a better life for his family and started to find his way as a budding entrepreneur shortly after graduating college. My mom was raised in a farming village in a rural part of India but also had aspirations for a better life. Growing up, I knew I was different. I just loved getting people together and often creating mischief, often with a purpose to make things better – as I look back now, I realize that I was sowing my seeds as an activist as well as an entrepreneur. Life was (and is) all about having fun. On the outside, I was disruptive, but inside I just never believed in seeking permission from others to do things – I always did what I believed was right for me but didn't realize that this wasn't permissible in that environment.
When it came time for college, I wasn't really sure what to do or where to go, so I just signed up for Undergrad in Business at a local university. I wasn't very academically inclined, but I figured this would be a useful course and easy enough for me to spend lots of time with friends. It was during this time I decided to learn new languages – I figured it would come in handy as I would continue to explore. My first foray was into French, but I didn't really learn much. Eventually, I found my way into Chinese (Mandarin) – I started to find myself getting more and more drawn into the culture through the language, and it was only a matter of time before I realized this was starting to become more than an interest.
To further my education in the Chinese language, I decided to visit China for a few months and immerse myself in a short course. Within hours of landing in Beijing, I just knew it was for me – I had literally transported myself to another planet, and it seemed so cool. I came back to New Delhi just waiting to go back and continue my time in Beijing. I continued to stay in touch with the local academy where I first learned Chinese, and one day my teacher called in sick and asked if I could lead the class. At the tender age of 19, I stepped up to the plate, and that was my first day teaching – little did I know how profound of an impact that day would have on my professional life. I absolutely loved teaching. I knew I had to do more with this, so I decided it was time to return to Beijing. I earned a Diploma in the Chinese Language; during this time, I also pursued my first Master's in English Literature remotely.
I realized it was time for a new perspective, specifically on what the other side of the world had to offer, so it was time for the United States. I looked at Chinese language graduate programs and found myself applying for another Masters in San Francisco. What happened next was a scene straight out of a movie. With the wind of life backing me in less than 3 months, I found myself in California. I fell in love with San Francisco, the bay breeze was fantastic, and I made many great friends. Here I was pursuing a master's in a language in a whole new country where most of my previous training didn't even matter/not knowing I'd make it through. Just my luck, right? I decided to buckle down and learn the new script all while pursuing my master's coursework. Lots of hours in the library (yes, I started to become a nerd by this point) + many coffees later, I was starting to make it through. I even managed to feed my explorer side by taking a short trip to Russia. I also took an internship at the City & County Office translating complaints – while it was a cool experience, I realized desk jobs just weren't for me.
Life became so much brighter with love, especially with my best friend, plus I was 26 years old – what could ever go wrong? I was invincible and on top of the world. From a 36-hour trip to Vegas and convertibles on Highway 1 – life was sweet. But then, when I least expected it, life changed suddenly. My boyfriend lost his job, and we ended up in South Dakota after a grueling search! The next thing I knew, we bought a Jeep and headed on a road trip through Vegas, Denver, and Nebraska to eventually arrive in South Dakota. I found myself working with startups and found my second passion after language – entrepreneurship. As I reflect back, I realize my first unofficial business was an 8-year-old selling dance classes to kids in my neighborhood – fun experiences that brought people together. Here in South Dakota, I found myself working with a real estate startup and teaching online – if only I could see the future.
Within just a few months, I found myself moving yet again, this time to New York City – life just had a way of foreshadowing what was ahead. But soon enough, I found a job with an international real estate firm and continued teaching on the side. I also started a chat over wine meetup groups and met people from all walks of life. Life was really looking great – working and living in a city full of energy was really something special. Then Covid changed everything. We had been dabbling in various startups, but a few startups that we had launched in coffee and fashion just didn't make it. On the flip side, I was lucky enough to get new opportunities as well as my green card finally and started to understand this "American dream better" more personally.
Within a few years, my husband and I hope to become financially free and embark on a journey to explore the world and experience the diversity of its cultures – on that note; I hope to visit space as well someday. Eventually, my husband and I hope to give back. Our dream is to have social/non-profit projects in each, and every country focused on making people's lives better in real and tangible ways. To enable this goal, we hope to have a group of companies that will give all their profits to these projects while also empowering consumers with a choice to have a social impact. The whole point is to leave the world in a better place than we found it.
Nothing is ever too easy; we all must work hard and be consistent. There will be challenges along our journey, but I have a life principle that – nothing is impossible, not all doors are closed, and we need to keep trying until we get to the door that opens to a world of opportunities.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To start a venture capital firm from scratch.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Make others believe in your vision the same way you do.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Nothing is impossible, not all doors are closed, and we need to keep trying until we get to the door that opens to a world of opportunities.
- Do what you love and are passionate about.
- Learn to listen.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My biggest goal is to be financially independent and start a non-profit where 100% of the profit goes towards social missions. We want to have a social project in every country.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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