Hometown: North Wales, Pa.
Happy feet: Another of Raman’s interests includes her involvement with Temple Agni, the university’s all-female South Asian Fusion dance team. “(It was) a good step back from anything academic and anything business-wise,” she said. “It was just kind of a good place for me to be the way I am and hang out with my friends, but also dancing is just such a great release.”
Neha Raman, BBA ’18, was “really into nail polish,” but found that her options were limited.
“I wanted a more custom approach,” she said, “and was tired of seeing the same colors over and over again.”
Her solution was to launch a make-your-owl nail polish business – called “Rungh,” the Hindi word for “color” (and pronounced “Rung”) – in November 2015. The Temple junior did so while still a student at North Penn High School in North Wales, Pa. It was not without help – her parents, listed as the business’s co-founders, put up $40,000 in seed money – and not without setbacks.
In time she produced a product that sells for $39.95 and includes six nail-polish bottles with nail-polish base, 18 pigment capsules, a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. She has sold “about 100” to date, but there has been measurable success in many other ways.
Rungh, which has been featured on Zulily.com, was the official nail polish of Philadelphia Fashion Week in February 2016, and that same month Raman was the runner-up in College Pitch Philadelphia, winning $5,000 in the process. In April she was again a second-place finisher, this time in Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, and picked up a $10,000 prize. And in June she made a one-minute pitch to casting associates of the popular television program “Shark Tank,” when they visited Temple’s campus.
She is not permitted to say how that went, but to her father, Niranjan (he goes by N.J.), this entire exercise has been a no-lose situation.
“We thought it would be a phenomenal experience that you can’t get in the classroom,” he said, referring to himself and his wife, Usha. “This is a real thing. … Given the fact that Neha is so young, it’s not like there’s a nest egg she might lose. She’s at the point where she can leverage her youth to her advantage. She can learn from her mistakes. If things don’t go the way she wants, there will be other opportunities open to her.”
N.J. emigrated from his native India a quarter-century ago, to pursue his master’s degree in marketing communications at the University of Connecticut. Usha, who he did not know at the time, came to UConn from the same nation a year later; she was seeking her master’s in nutrition.
They met and hit it off, and N.J. is now a marketing research consultant, while Usha is a senior data analyst at Cigna. They have always told Neha and her younger sister Nina to follow their passions. Neha, not surprisingly, describes entrepreneurship as “taking what you like and enjoy, and turning it into a business.”
“There’s nothing like this,” N.J. said. “We thought she kind of hit the nail on the head (with the idea).”
Neha, who in her spare time performs for Temple Agni, the university’s all-female South Asian Fusion dance team, believes even greater things are ahead for her business. Other products, she said, are on the horizon – products she can’t yet disclose. And she speaks hopefully about her post-college days.
“By the time graduation comes, I’m hoping that Rungh is at a point where I can really manage it full-time and take it even farther,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how far things go in the coming years. That’s my goal: Hopefully by the time I graduate I already have something that is ready to take off.”