Actor Vishakha Singh, who gained popularity with the Fukrey series, has not only moved from acting to producing independent films, but has also pushed boundaries in entrepreneurship in the last few years.
Vishaka has produced award-winning film content like Peddlers, Haraamkhor, Onaatah, Atkan Chatkan and was also awarded the Winner of ‘Woman Entrepreneur Quest’ Challenge 2017 hosted by Dept. of Science & Tech, Govt of India.
Also as the Co-founder and VP of WazirX NFT Marketplace, Vishakha is breaking barriers by being one of the very few women in the blockchain space.
A serial entrepreneur, Vishakha is the Co-Founder of fan engagement tool IconicBot and 4Five app.
“As an actor, I felt that there were not enough opportunities for the work that I believed in. Hence, I graduated to producing independent films. All these films are projects and the underlying principles of project and business management remain the same across sectors. Because I am a multi-tasker and I have a great appetite for risk; moving away from acting gave me a macro view of not just the Indian film industry but the startup ecosystem as well,” Vishakha tells HerStory.
Vishakha has been in the startup space since 2017, when she along with her co-founder Sandesh Suvarna started building fan engagement tools and SaaS products.
She believes that community has been the core of everything she has worked at, both as an actor and producer.
“Community happens to be the core of any startup as well. NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens) was a natural progression for us when we pivoted to provide this offering. NFTs are a great way to engage for any brand/entity with their community and build asset classes for them on blockchain,” she adds.
Blockchain and NFTs
Launched in June 2021, WazirX NFT Marketplace claims to be a pioneer NFT marketplace that provides a platform for creators and collectors to acquire and trade unique, exclusive artwork in the form of NFTs.
Vishakha believes that the underlying traits of being an actor, film producer or a startup founder remain the same — one needs to have grit, an appetite for risk, and be a problem solver.
She serves as the VP at WazirX NFT Marketplace. Her role includes building and promoting the brand through marketing, social media, communication, content and advertising, operations and public relations.
As crypto is a fairly dynamic and new space that has opened up in the startup ecosystem in the recent past, women’s representation in leadership positions is quite dismal. Vishakha shares that participation of women in crypto is only at 15 percent but in the NFT segment, it is at 20 percent.
She adds that on WazirX NFT marketplace, women creator participation was at 20 percent and women collectors were only at two percent initially. They have gradually brought it up to six percent.
“In my opinion, women are not hesitant to participate and learn about Blockchain. They simply have other multiple priorities and societal expectations. Thus, making any kind of new learning a priority much lower on the ladder. Lack of role models is another aspect that contributes to lower levels of women participation,” says Vishakha.
She adds, “I believe learning to invest in crypto and NFT will become a much smoother process with the government working towards formulating cryptocurrency guidelines and coming up with its own CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency). This would mean new apps, projects and solutions that will be built around the ecosystem to make it more seamless.”
WazirX NFT Marketplace has also run campaigns such as #BeLike designed around women collectors to boost women’s participation in the space. They are also in the midst of building a community for women in NFTs on Discord.
Being a woman entrepreneur and actor
While Vishakha has been one of the pioneering entrepreneurs in the blockchain space in India, she faces a lot of bias.
“I have noticed that a lot of collectors and associates avoid having money conversations directly with me. ‘Dhande ki baat’ happens between men. I don’t know if that is because they are intimidated by me or if they are simply uncomfortable.” she shares adding but this is not a reflection of the challenges faced by women in blockchain businesses, it is a general mindset.
Vishakha has also done quite a few films in the Tamil film industry and she recalls that as an actor, especially in South India, she would always be asked which hero she was paired opposite.
“I could never understand this question. I understood later, that my worth as an actor was not judged by my acting capabilities but on the commercial viability of the heroes I was working with. I knew I couldn’t disrupt the industry alone but I knew I could change the way I was playing the game and hence, I decided to produce the content that I believed in. As a film producer, I once had a prospective investor advice me against marriage and motherhood,” she adds.
The rise of blockchain
Vishakha believes that Web 3.0 is going to be built on blockchain.
“It is imperative that we learn about the basics of it now. We are still new to this and anybody who gets into the space will have the early mover advantage. Today kids are being taught how to code at a very young age. At the NFT marketplace, our youngest creators are 10 years old and we have collectors as young as 14 years old. Blockchain is going to be a way of life,” she says.
Her advice to people aspiring to get on to blockchain is to be an innovator. “Take small risks and invest in projects being built on blockchains. Do your due diligence and invest only the amount you are willing to risk,” she adds.
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