Life And Work Lessons From Bangalore’s Fiercest Women Startupreneurs

Navya posted on 08 March

In these depressing times, where equal opportunity for women is still a distant dream, the startup capital of the country, Bangalore, has seen the rise of confident women ready to take charge. From media to food and lifestyle – there is no space too daunting for these achievers. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we spoke to leading women entrepreneurs in the city, who have dared to dream, and have transformed the way business is done.

Shubhra Chadda, Co-Founder, Chumbak

The travel bug bit Shubhra early on as she lived in umpteen locations in the country thanks to her Dad’s stint with the Air Force. She followed it up with a degree in Travel & Tourism but found that out there in the world, the opportunities were less than thrilling and she wandered over to other avenues. But a few years and a baby later, Shubhra, along with her husband Vivek Prabhakar, decided to launch Chumbak. The lack of merchandise that truly reflected a young and vibrant India was what urged Chadda on. Chumbak is now renowned for its endearing and quirky lifestyle products that strike a chord with Indians and nudges them down memory lane.

Tip: “Ask yourself why you are doing this and then do it only if you are truly passionate about it.”

Find Chumbak on Facebook here

Check out the Chumbak website here.

Shradha Sharma, Founder and Chief Editor, YourStory

While working with mainstream media, Shradha noticed that reporting always revolved around success stories and billion-dollar industries. Brave entrepreneurs who were still figuring it out were starved for a voice. So in 2008, while still working for a news channel, Sharadha launched YourStory. Today, over 60,000 stories later and after transforming it into a self-sustaining business, something she was very keen on, Sharadha very proudly declares YourStory a survivor. Another aspect that evokes immense pride is her team, who she says, is cut from the same cloth as her and share in her madness. Her entrepreneurial spirit, which she says has willed her to triumph over hardships, has lead YourStory to reach out in 12 regional languages and to aim for 5 million stories in the coming years.

Tip: “Being an entrepreneur is very lonely and tough, so, you need to embrace and love yourself. When you do this, what others say will not matter.”

Find YourStory on Facebook here.

Check out the YourStory website here.

Other

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Rashmi Daga, Founder, FreshMenu

After her time at IIM Ahmedabad {Indian Institute of Management}, Rashmi made her mark in the sales arena, helping sell everything from software to blood sugar monitors and jewellery. Somewhere in between, she even started off Afday.com, an online space for curated art. But the going was tough and she soon shut shop. Daga then saw an immense opportunity in the food business. Very few people had attempted a scalable format that delivered chef-crafted, delicious looking meals right to your dining table or your work cubicle. In a business like hers, Daga feels that it is important that she constantly has her ear to the ground and is aware of ground realities to ensure that she’s giving each of her customers a great meal experience, and to turn FreshMenu into India’s biggest food company.

Tip: “Follow your heart. If it looks right to you put in your everything, persist and go ahead.”

Find FreshMenu on Facebook here.

Check out the FreshMenu website here.

Delivery Services

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Nimmi Cherian, Co-Founder, Daily Rounds

The tech force behind Daily Rounds, an app that helps doctors share and learn from clinical cases, Nimmi Cherian admits she was surprised by the positivity and love it garnered from the medical community when it was first launched. Along with Dr Deepu Sebin, who started off Daily Rounds as a personal project, Nimmi has managed to provide over 1,00,000 medical practitioners with accurate and quality content that doctors have come to trust. The impeccable technology that backs the enterprise has also contributed to Daily Rounds’ success, Nimmi feels. In the near future, Nimmi is determined to shine a light on society’s unsung heroes, doctors, who she rightly deems are superheroes who rarely get the credit they deserve.

Tip: “Plan and get a support system in place so that you can manage your time well.  Also, find sources of motivation – be it a person, books, talks or a cause – to help you through hard times that are an inevitable part of entrepreneurship.”

Check out the Daily Rounds website here.

Medical Facilities

393, 2nd Cross Road, JP Nagar 4th Phase, Dollars Colony, J P Nagar Phase 5, J P Nagar, Bengaluru

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Nisha Susan, Co-Founder, The Ladies Finger

All Nisha wanted to do was journalism and “after two dreadful years in journalism school” she went on to work with a bunch of NGOs, Greenpeace and Tehelka. Her subsequent move to Bangalore encouraged her to start off Ladies Finger, a website that focuses on women’s issues with tongue firmly in cheek. For Nisha, this was a life comes a full circle moment. College days saw her work on Enthupataki, a newspaper that reflected women’s interests. There was an effort to take it to the next level but print products are an expensive proposition and the dream remained. After all this time, Nisha couldn’t believe that a website like The Ladies Finger wasn’t already in existence. There was nothing that told a women’s perspective on health, elections, money, activism or work without going down that all too familiar “can you have it all” path. Ladies Finger’s phenomenal growth also included a collaboration with Khabar Lahariya, an award-winning local language newspaper that reaches women in over 600 villages across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. And if expansion goals are achieved as planned, then there’s a lot more to look forward to from Nisha and The Ladies Finger.

Tip: “Be nice to your peers. Promote their work sincerely. Sure you will have you cranky, jealous days but swallow it and get over it. It will pay off.

Find The Ladies Finger on Facebook here.

Check out the The Ladies Finger website here.

Alicia Souza, Co-Founder, Alicia Souza

Graphic design and illustrations were always Alicia Souza’s love and she pursued her passion right through college in Melbourne. After she moved base to Bangalore, Souza branched into freelancing and tasted success as a budding entrepreneur when she sold out products that she had designed at a hip, flea market. That’s the moment she realised that there was a huge market for her quirky, out-of-the-box designs. In the following years, Souza honed her creativity and business skills and two years ago, along with her business partner – Saurabh Sharma – took her brand online. Today, Alicia Souza retails everything from stationery to home decor, accessories, and apparel. And if her fan mail is anything to go by, you know it’s a big hit with the crowds. In the recent past, the brand has also gone international. Souza attributes her success to the fact that she loves her job and takes it very seriously. Her work day begins at 6.30am and she can only be dragged away from her desk for walks with her handsome doggo – Charlie.

Tip: “Be open to change. Everything will not go your way or as planned. So, be ready to adapt and ready to change directions.”

Find Alicia Souza on Facebook here.

Check out the Alicia Souza website here.

Vaishnavi Reddy, Co-Founder, Brand Story

At 24, Vaishnavi Reddy already had had enough of her cushy MNC job and was ready to break out of her comfort zone. She had an innate sense of design and was fascinated by the digital space. She noticed that while a lot of brands out there had nailed functionality, they really hadn’t mastered user experience and design to create world-class products. This led her to start Brand Story – a digital marketing agency. Today, Brandstory’s clientele list includes brands from across the globe. And as a “design thinker’, Reddy helps these brands voice their personality and even provides business solutions through design. As a woman entrepreneur, she acknowledges that the industry hasn’t always been welcoming of her. But she says that the emotional intelligence and the empathy that she developed on the road to success has helped her win many a battle.

Tip: Be professional from the word ‘go’, build your connections, and showcase your work so that you create value for your brand.

Check out Brand Story’s website here.

Sahyujyah Shrinivas, Co-Founder, Liberent

Shrinivas was all of 22 when she decided to embrace entrepreneurship. She quit her job as a metallurgical engineer and inspired by her brother’s passion for business, she embarked on her own journey. Shrinivas was quick to catch on to the growing trend of fashion rentals across the globe. Japan was into it and so was the USA and South Korea. She looked around and saw that apart from a few mom ‘n’ shops no one had ventured into the space in India. This is when she launched Liberent – an affordable, fashion rental brand. In its early days, Shrinivas recalls that she struggled to find acceptance as a businesswoman. She was deemed too young and investors doubted her seriousness because “women choose marriage over work”. But, in 2016, two years after Liberent launched the brand acquired funding and is now looking forward to expanding its subscription model.

Tip: Don’t think twice about fighting for yourself and your choices.

Find Liberent on Facebook here.

Check out the Liberent website here.

Sahar Mansoor, Founder, Bare Necessities

Mansoor’s love for Nature and passion for the environment began quite young. As a child, she loved her weekend trips to Cubbon Park with her Dad. And she nurtured this love through her growing up years. During college in Los Angeles, she developed a keen in interest in waste and its environmental impacts. And was fascinated by a documentary on Bea Johnson and the zero-waste lifestyle. When she returned, she also began to see the social injustice caused by garbage and waste. This is when she adopted the zero-waste lifestyle herself and launched Bare Necessities. The personal and home care brand retails products that are infused with natural goodness and are free of toxic chemicals and packaging. Alongside, the brand conducts workshops that encourage mindful consumption. Bare Necessities is also an all-woman run enterprise that seeks to empower, economically-disadvantaged women.

Tip: “Go for it! The journey is exciting, crazy, and challenging but so worth it.”

Find Bare Necessities on Facebook here.

Check out the Bare Necessities website here.

Namu Kini, Founder, HappyHealthyMe

Namu Kini laughingly says she chose entrepreneurship because she was a “terrible employee”. Despite the dollar salary and the cushy life in New York, she couldn’t get over the fact that her work did not create any real impact. She decided to quit and start over in Bangalore. Her first entrepreneurial stint was the Kynkyny Art Gallery that, she says, has helped provide financial security to 300 artists. And with her latest venture – HappyHealthyMe Organics she looks to improve the earnings of local farmers while also encouraging consumers to adopt a healthier lifestyle. In the next five years, Kini wants to take HappyHealthyMe international. After which she dearly hopes for a well-earned sabbatical.

Tip: “Know that no job is beneath you and that you have to be aware of every what’s happening in every nook and cranny of your business.”

Find HappyHealthyMe on Facebook here.

Check out the HappyHealthyMe website here.