Written by: Kamryn Fitzgerald
Neetu Godara, the co-founder of SociaLITE Vodka, one of Canada's fastest-growing ready-to-drink beverage brands, tells all about her path to success; and it started right here, at Laurier.
In 2014, SociaLITE Vodka was launched out of a small kitchen in Whitby, Ontario. Neetu Godara and her two friends, Dan Beach and Kevin Folk, had freshly quit their day jobs and looked for something more challenging. This challenge was found in the form of SociaLITE Vodka, an independently owned Canadian brand that promotes a healthier lifestyle through their zero sugar, zero carbs, and 80-calorie recipe. It's the perfectly crafted, fun and fresh cocktail for when you want to have fun with friends on a Saturday night but still make it to your early shift on time the next morning. However, entrepreneurship was not the first step in Godara's path to success, and neither was marketing for a major global company. Her success story started when Godara decided to attend Laurier.
Years before the concept of SociaLITE Vodka was conjured into existence, Neetu Godara completed her Bachelor's of Business Administration at Wilfrid Laurier University. She graduated in 2004 and is now an alumni of the school, a fact that she is loud and proud about. Post-graduation, Godara worked in marketing at PepsiCo. Beverages, where she truly learned what it meant to apply your degree. For ten years, she worked alongside some of the biggest global brands, strategizing and growing the PepsiCo company, before deciding that she needed a change of scenery. She needed to challenge herself, which was something she wasn't getting out of her current role. This prompted the creation of SocialLITE Vodka, the first pre-mixed drink to be brewed in Canada. As an established entrepreneur, Godara has learned what it takes to make it in a cutthroat industry. Although meeting new people and embarking on new ventures after a time of lockdown can seem quite daunting, Godara has shared some key themes that helped to shape her experience at Laurier for the better.
*(Pro-Tip): If you're looking for a new drink to try, Neetu recommends SociaLITE's Triple Berry flavour!
Here are Godara's key themes:
1. Take chances
It can be easy to forget that you are not the only one feeling nervous, lost, and every other scary emotion that comes with moving out to live on your own for the first time, but remember: everyone is in the same boat. In the wise words of High School Musical, "we're all in this together." So when you are sitting alone in your dorm room, deliberating over whether joining that club or meeting that person is the best decision for you, remind yourself that you will not gain anything if you fear taking chances. On the contrary, the worst that can happen from making that leap of faith is a crucial learning experience that will make you wiser for the future. Every memory you make and people you meet during your time at Laurier will help shape the course of your life and your own character in some way, for better or for worse.
2. Keep your mind open to new possibilities
Being in a new environment with different people and a diverse range of classes, you don't know what will peak your interest. Nothing is ever set in stone, and the solid plans you have stuck to for so long may rapidly change before you know it. In first year, Neetu Godara had no clue what she wanted out of her university experience. She had applied to journalism, science, and business programs at well-renowned universities before ultimately choosing Laurier. It wasn't until her third year, during which she took an integrated marketing communications course that she had her "Aha!" moment. Marketing was a concept that was enjoyable and intuitive for her. In her words, "it was honestly the first class in three years where I loved reading the textbook." Through Godara's insights, we can learn that it is okay not to know what we want out of our futures. Although the pressure may be soul-crushing, there is never a need to conform. Whether you've had your life planned out since you were 12, or you are simply going through the motions, it is important to allow yourself the opportunity to be open towards any awesome opportunities that come your way. What will be, will be, and you may not even realize what path is right for you until you are already travelling along with it.
3. Embrace the Laurier community
If there's one thing that can rival the importance of academics, it's the community that you will find yourself surrounded by when you become a student at Laurier. As a business student, the community will become your best network (yes, even more so than LinkedIn). There is a sense of camaraderie in shared experiences, and that one acquaintance in the first-year who bonded with you over the trauma of BU111 may just be your next best connection when it comes to finding a job post-graduation. By getting involved in the resources and social opportunities all around you, it will be easy to find like-minded people from all walks of life that you can learn and grow from. At the end of the day, in a community that is equipped to help you, helping each other will only help you get ahead. Wouldn't it be cool to say you played a role in the success of the founder of the next Amazon? Or that the founder was you?