Tanaya Saha

Turning Rage into Serenity

Tanaya is an example to those women who are not gifted or talented in the traditional sense but have the determination to shatter perceptions and fulfil their dreams.

Living the life of an ordinary girl is not that easy being in the Indian culture, and the things might turn out to be tough, if you are not born with god-gifted luck or extraordinary merit. Life of such a girl is always tough in a conventional society, which is always ready to put you down, even at your bad times. The things were not much different for her also. She faced numerous such adversities in life, she fell down, she was broken and torn apart, and then she rose to be stronger than ever. The girl, who used to weep in the darkness, hiding herself from everyone else, cursing herself every time for being born as a girl, is bringing a silent revolution in the field of educational research services in India. Yes, she is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Pen Friend, an emerging name in the field of editing and research assistance services in India. Today, this story will reveal the inspirational journey of this educational start up, and the woman behind it, Ms. Tanaya Saha.

This story takes us back to her childhood days, when she used to be compared with her twin sister. Unlike the other kids, she was interested in getting the feel of the subject, rather than mugging up everything. That’s when she started feeling her inclination towards literature, and not science. The criticisms began to be showered upon her, “the one, who cannot do anything, studies Arts.” More than any kind of encouragement, she started receiving mockeries from everyone, as her sister was studying medicine and she wasn’t. It was a typical scenario of Indian middle-class mediocrity. But she had to move on. She completed her B.A. in English from Scottish Church College Kolkata, M.A. in English from the English and Foreign Language University Lucknow, and M. Phil in Comparative Literature from the Jadavpur University, Kolkata. However, life wasn’t a smooth ride for her so far, as getting a job is not that easy in the Arts domain, where the supply is more and demand is less. When her influential batch mates were getting jobs in reputed publication houses with big remunerations, she was struggling to get an opening. After getting rejections from a number of publication houses and colleges, she managed to get a part-time lecturer’s job in Berhampore Girls’ College. “Jinhe kuch nahi aata, woh English padhane chale jaate hain” (those who don’t know anything, go to teach English), were the comments from her relatives that didn’t stop.

At that point of time, she got an offer from a premier Indian management institute for the post of Academic Associate. Like everyone else, she was happy enough to get a job in such a prestigious place. But life was still unfair to her. Her experience there was not as pleasant as she expected. In fact, she was even condemned for her English. That was the day, when ‘Pen Friend’ was conceptualized. It was May 2013.

The idea of starting an editorial house suddenly came across her mind, and she wasn’t at all fully prepared for pursuing this decision also. She didn’t have any personal contacts. She didn’t have any certifications or work experience in editing, and she didn’t have any idea of how to start it. So, she started to go through different articles and blogs on editing business in India, and started understanding the market mechanism. In June 2013, she initially started her venture as Pen Friend Publication, and started contacting people over mails. Of course, why anyone will trust a new organization, which doesn’t have any brand name, or any big affiliations? It took nearly four months to get her first assignment. In the meantime, for getting some exposure in the field of editing, she appeared in the examination of SAGE publications for the post of freelance copy editor, and she cracked it. Truly, that was the first big breakthrough in her career in editing. For tenure of four months, she put her heart and soul in learning everything from the team of SAGE, and started applying those skills in her own venture. It was not at all an easy task for her to maintain the balance between the two things: freelance job in SAGE, and her own venture. So, one day, she took the decision to exert full effort behind her own venture.

As time passed, the client base of Pen Friend Publication started growing. As she didn’t approach anyone for seed funding, therefore, budget was a constraint and she literally didn’t invest anything for marketing purpose. She did whatever is possible over mails and social media platform. However, by the mid 2015, she realized that researchers had started preferring Pen Friend Publication over other editing houses, because of the high-quality work at a competitive rate. Till then, she had her clients across IITs, IIMs, central and state universities, and various reputed academic institutions and organizations in India, and all of this only by word-of-mouth promotion.

By February 2016, she realized that only editing services will not be enough to ensure a sustainable growth of the organization. If she wanted to sustain in this industry, she needed to expand the scope of the services, and cater to a wide range of requirements of the researchers. That was the time, when she rebranded ‘Pen Friend Publication’ as ‘Pen Friend,’ which will symbolize the organization as a friend for every pen. Today, Pen Friend is the only Indian research assistance house, which can offer an end-to-end research assistance service at both retail and institutional level.

While attaining this growth path, she needed a workforce. For that, she could have easily hired any professional, but she chose not to. During this journey, she saw and realized the pain of the women, who wanted to achieve something, but never got a chance to explore their potentials owing to the societal pressure. She started to contact housewives, who are knowledgeable and willing to work. She received an overwhelming response, and this step helped her in building own team of professionals quite easily. Today, she has brought smiles to a number of faces, who wanted to achieve something on their own. In her words, "If I can do something on my own, I will take others, like me, in this journey. I will not let another capable woman cry in darkness."

This year, Pen Friend is celebrating its fourth anniversary, with a 473 per cent year-on-year growth rate, which can be an example for any organization across the globe. Tanaya has set an example to those women, who are not gifted or talented, but have the determination to break the ceiling and chase the dream. Today, she is not dreaming of becoming the number one in India, but to give an equal opportunity to those who want to live their lives in their own terms - the empowered housewives of India, the building blocks of a better India.

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