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Meet Monika Kochhar Founder of SmartGift and Toffy

March 6, 2022
4 mins read
Monika Kochhar Founder of SmartGift and Toffy
Monika Kochhar Founder of SmartGift and Toffy

Monika Kochhar co-founded a corproate gifting startup SmartGift and Web3’s token integration platform Toffy.

She has led and launched startups that have transformed music, commerce, payments, and customer experience.

Monika worked previously in finance, derivatives trading, and selling and emerging markets at JP Morgan, BNP Paribas, and Goldman Sachs.

She is also a prolific writer and speaker about payments, commerce, tech philosophy, and women in entrepreneurship.

Monika was a Mount Holyoke College student and the London School of Economics.

She was born in India and now lives in NYC.

How did you co-found SmartGift?

A few years ago, a close friend was finishing her Ph.D.

After many sleepless nights and years spent researching and preparing for this moment, I was in the United States to witness it.

I was thrilled to share in her happiness and celebrate that moment with her when she texted me that she had become a doctor.

We looked at the market, and we saw it was very outdated.

Digitalization and reach customer experience transformations were needed in the on-demand gifting industry.

It had to become more intelligent, way smarter.

Gifting is one of the most treasured human exit games.

It’s a person-to-person bond that can be broken or made more robust.

SmartGift was founded on a vast array of data knowledge and insights.

These insights were waiting to be tapped and used to make SmartGift more meaningful, happy, and better for everyone.

Our mission has been to give the proper recognition at the right time to the right person.

How do you stay productive?

My day begins at 6:15 a.m. I meditate before I do anything.

I have done this every day for the past year and a quarter.

Meditation was my refuge when the world was turned upside down by the pandemic.

This sets the tone for my day. Before I start my day, I make lists of priorities based on importance and the impact of what I need to do.

Then I get to work. To re-energize my focus and regain energy, I take 30 minutes to do power yoga or go outside in the afternoon.

​How do you bring ideas to life?​

If I sit down and think about an idea from all angles, I find it is possible to bring it to life if I am patient enough.

The best ideas are already within us.

If we allow ourselves to imagine and contemplate what might be, they will naturally come out.

Meditation has allowed me to create new ideas through my daily meditation practice.

What’s your favorite trend?

I am currently very interested in the democratization and diffusion of innovation.

In the past, technology innovation was characterized by silos (fintech and crypto.).

It’s easier than ever to get involved in creating and be at the forefront of new technologies and experiences.

There are fewer barriers to entry and equal access to many of the tools required for tech innovation.

All you need is the will to think differently about a subject.

​What habits make you productive?

I can take micro-naps anywhere, anytime.

I can go to sleep for 10 minutes, wake up refreshed, and then fall asleep and that’s not common.

What’s your advice for the Noob?

That’s a great question! As a child, I was anxious and always wanted perfection.

I was determined to succeed in whatever it meant.

My younger self would have me tell her not to be nervous.

Believe in yourself, and you will achieve great things.

Do not compare yourself to others; instead, follow your passion and journey. The rest will follow.

What is one thing we can all agree on?

When we go to bed at night, it is a collective vibrational state of highest awareness.

From there, we build new worlds and consciousness.

​What do you recommend as an entrepreneur?

I read all types of books, business, and poetry.

I enjoy reading books of all genres, including historical fiction, science-fiction, nonfiction, and scientific journals.

I’m a huge sci-fi fan and would love to have been a science fiction author if I had not become an entrepreneur.

Although not many women write in this genre, I love Ursula K. Le Guin.

Multidisciplinary thinking is crucial for solving problems in multiple domains. You cannot operate in isolation.

What’s your rich strategy?

We are listening to customers. SmartGift, “Hero” product, was built by listening to our customers.

We solve their problems and make the solutions better.

But the best approach is to listen, build, test and iterate.

Then, continue to invent. Our products always revolve. We don’t want to stop, and we need it to be the best.

How do you overcome Failure?

After working at SmartGift for success over many years, I have concluded that failure is not possible.

You either win, or you learn.

​Can you share a business idea?​

It would be cool to offer an annual subscription box to 2nd generation immigrants on their native holidays—for example, Diwali.

My daughter cannot understand Diwali in its entirety the way I did growing up in India.

She was born in America and is now being raised here.

Imagine a box filled with stories, mythologies, and small arts and crafts for Diwali, Kwanzaa, or Chinese New Year.

It would be amazing. It would be called The Globe, but it is a box.

What’s your recent best buy? ​

This is a true story. A man in his 50s approached me and asked for money.

He was so full of energy that he smiled and was pleasant.

I don’t usually carry cash, and I had just changed my bag that afternoon.

He didn’t get mad when I said that I didn’t have any change and was late for a meeting.

He asked, “Can I help you find some? I will walk with you in the same way to the nearest cafe.

I don’t know what motivated me to open my bag to check if I had changed.

I discovered a $100 bill in my side pocket.

I told him that this was mine and gave it to him.

He was stunned and looked at me in disbelief.

Then he said, “You don’t know what I’ve done today.”

It was simply stunning to see his gratitude.

What are your favorite Softwares or Apps?

Slack is an excellent productivity tool. It allows us to communicate with clients and our team in real-time.

Every channel has its features to enable the team to work more efficiently in this multi-dimensional world. It’s great.

Which book would you recommend?

Growth by Vaclav SMil. Smil guides readers through bacterial invasions, animal metabolisms, megacities, and global economies.

He puts it all in a beautiful perspective.

Our collective and individual striving for growth has implicit and explicit goals.

​What’s your favorite quote?​

Somewhere there is something amazing waiting to be discovered

Carl Sagan

TL;DR by Monika Kochhar

Take the time to slow down each day. When you allow great ideas to emerge, they will.

For professional success, the connection is vital.

There are many types of people that make a great “entrepreneur.”

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Enterprenuer is a social interview and story publishing platform for entrepreneurs, founders, businessmen, businesswomen, startups, and anyone who inspires people globally.

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