women startup founders: Advice from women startup founders: Fail fast, win big


Six women founders on their journeys and learnings, and advice to female entrepreneurs.

Upasana Taku- cofounder and COO Mobikwik

Upasana TakuETtech

My startup journey: I come from an academics-focused background, so it has been quite a journey from deciding to be the first entrepreneur in my family, quitting a cushy job in the US, and coming back to India. Back in 2009, everyone thought my co-founder Bipin (Preet Singh) and I were crazy to start a digital wallet company in what was then a predominantly cash-driven economy. We fought against all the odds, bootstrapped the company for four years; today we have reached 120 million Indians.

Learnings: In the initial days, it was a struggle as a woman co-founder, at a time when there were very few of us. Any negotiation or major event would have investors or partners looking to Bipin for answers. I learnt that it’s important to never shy away from holding my ground or taking tough calls, even for company financials—I wanted to earn my place at the big boys’ table.

Advice for female founders: Figure out good role models and play to your strengths. Physical and mental selfcare is also important, because only then can you achieve your dreams.

Naiyya Saggi- cofounder, The Good Glamm Group

Discover the stories of your interest

Naiyya SaggiETtech

My startup journey: When starting BabyChakra, I didn’t have a co-founder or the stamp of a premier engineering background, but we had the good fortune of being backed by Arihant Patni, Anand Chandrasekaran, Rajesh Sehgal and Maninder Gulati, all of whom gave me stellar advice as I focused on building up the company. Today, as a co-founder of The Good Glamm Group, I see that things have certainly changed in all these years. Two out of our three co-founders are women, and there’s a large number of women founders who have partnered with us in our journey.

Learnings: It’s crucial to find great backers and believers. Last year was a seminal year for women founders, with Nykaa’s IPO story. The times are changing for us—there are more of us at the helm of companies, more funding being given to women-led startups, and more new-age companies addressing healthcare, nutrition and wellness, financial literacy, apparel, and D2C needs specific to women.

Advice for female founders: Build connections with other women founders, understand their journeys, and get to know as many people as you can for inspiration, ideas, and advice.

Rashie Jain- cofounder, Onco

Rashie JainETtech

My startup journey: Healthcare was a field that had always interested me, even from my IIT Kanpur days, and after graduating I pursued a corporate career in the field. Some years down the line, while pursuing my MBA in healthcare management at Wharton, I realised that the time was right to take the plunge and start up on my own. The initial days were challenging—I had a high education loan to pay off, while figuring out our product market fit and navigating my way amid a largely male-dominated healthcare sector.

Learnings: I have realised over time that all of us have inherent biases and sometimes women may face more prejudices compared to their male counterparts, but it is important to call them out. I often advise women on the importance of being assertive in any professional situation. One’s perception of one’s strength can make a huge difference on how others perceive you.

Advice for female founders: It’s only when we think of ourselves as confident and assertive that other people will treat us the same way.

Anju Chaudhri Srivastava-Founder and MD, Wingreens Farms


My startup journey: After 25 years in the advertising industry, I decided to apply my skills to creating a social enterprise. I started with renting half an acre of land and experimented with growing a variety of herbs and exotic vegetables. Finally, we decided to pot fresh herbs to sell. We created a farming model and then launched the fresh dip category in India. The WIN of Wingreens stands for the Women’s Initiative Network. Even today the products are hand made by the same women who were not allowed to step out of their “ghungats”.

Learnings: I started Wingreens to challenge deadlocks in society and to create abusiness model by contributing to society. This continues to drive me even today. As an entrepreneur, it is important to always have a larger purpose. The vastness of the purpose is directly proportional to the size of business you create.

Advice for female founders: Women are proving again and again that they are well equipped to be successful entrepreneurs. I would urge as many women as possible to step forward and become entrepreneurs. My advice to them is do not hesitate to start small but don’t be afraid to think big.

Ankiti Bose-cofounder and CEO, Zilingo

ankiti boseETtech

My startup journey: What was supposed to be a holiday in Thailand turned out to be my inspiration to start Zilingo. At a local market there, we realised the immense potential of sellers in the SEA market and several bottlenecks. Factories, brands and SMEs do not have direct access to one another and are usually forced to work with middlemen.

When we started, about 90% of the industry’s retail profits were monopolised by top 20 fashion companies. We wanted to bring equity and transparency to the process, so that all merchants had a level-playing field. Zilingo was born out of this market need.

Learnings: It has been a roller coaster ride with a lot of learnings, opportunities and challenges. We saw the opportunity in South-East Asia because it was super under-penetrated. Zilingo was created to make fashion more fair, transparent and sustainable. Some other learnings—no task is too small or too big, always lead by example, be sincere with feedback as well as appreciation, and have the courage to evolve and pivot.

Advice for female founders: Get out there and ask for help, coaching and capital. Help other women!

Divya Gokulnath-codounder, Byju’s

divya gokulnath1ETtech

My startup journey: When we started there was no playbook for success. While our initial offline offerings were gaining widespread recognition, expanding from classrooms to auditoriums to stadiums full of students, the potential of our impact grew multi-fold when we moved to digital learning on smartphones.

Learnings: Keeping the student at the centre of everything we do has been our biggest strength.

Advice for female founders: Entrepreneurship is a mindset, not a skill. If you choose something you are truly passionate about, then think big on the transformation you can create. Be bullish about the goals you set but flexible in how you execute them. And fail fast, win big and don’t take no for an answer.


Source link