Success is one thing in life that no one will ever serve you on a silver platter. If you need it, you will have to take charge, work hard and take it. This is exactly what the 21st century women is doing. They are not sitting in some corner and waiting for someone to provide them their dream job or help them achieve their dreams. They know what they want and aren’t afraid to work for it.
The recent years have seen more and more women entrepreneurs entering the Indian startup scene with strong ideas, plans and an even stronger desire and passion to not take ‘NO’ for an answer come whatever may. In order to give an ode to their talent and passion, and in continuation to our ‘promising women entrepreneur in India‘ category, we at IndianWeb2 have finalized a list of top ten women entrepreneurs who according to us turned heads in 2015 because of their work and have huge potential to achieve much more in the near future.
1. Nidhi Agarwal
Kaaryah – Online Women’s Apparel Store
The proud owner of an online business which is backed by India affluent businessman Ratan Tata, Nidhi did her graduation from Gargi College, Delhi and an MBA from Kellogg (Chicago) and it was in there at Chicago when she felt the pain as a woman who finds it difficult get the perfect fitting clothes for women in ready made shops and this is when Nidhi got determined, after getting back in India, to launch her own women-wear brand – Kaaryah which is now a full-fledged online western, non-casual wear brand for Indian women focussed on providing the best possible fit with its 18 sizes.
Before starting Kaaryah in 2013, Nidhi has worked as strategy consultant at Bain&Co for two years and as a director of strategy at Honeywell. After quitting her well-paid job and starting-up with her online startup, Nidhi made almost 113 pitches to investors in-person, through emails and on phone to get rejections however after exactly one year she managed to get lucky and got her venture funded by none other than Ratan Tata, chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons.
Nidhi is the sole Founder of the company and managed to broke the myth that a woman alone can not run a business. She currently runs the business with a seven member team.
Zivame – Online Lingerie Store
Richa grew up in Jamshedpur and she’s an engineer by education. Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, as part of her job with SAP and Spencers, when she realised that lingerie is an under-served category in India. She figured out that buying lingerie is an ordeal for most women in India due to the discomfort involved in the entire process. “For a woman, it is quite embarrassing to step into a lingerie store, and have the salesman or girl scan you and say ‘madam 34 B will fit you,” quotes Richa.
That is when Richa conceptualized Zivame, an online lingerie store where women can understand their lingerie needs, browse through styles, order for their right size and get their order delivered at their doorstep without any embarrassment. Richa is determined to make Zivame a billion-dollar enterprise in the next five to seven years and she outrightly says that she don’t do any housework, don’t socialize, don’t have time to interact with her parents. “I only work” boast Richa who is married to an internet professional.
Zivame is currently one of the best places for online lingerie shopping in India and raised close to USD50 million
of funding so far.
3. Sairee Chahal
Founder – Sheroes
Sairee is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, workflex evangelist, occasional writer and mother to a six-year-old. She has started her career as a journalist and then went to set up Newslink Services in 1999 as core team member, it was world’s first newspaper for mariners.
After becoming a mother, Sairee had to cope up with struggling career life and this is when she came up with this unique idea of SHEROES.in, which currently is the career destination for women in India, and reaches over 65 cities in India. Apart from Sheroes, she’s also founder and CEO of Fleximoms, a career shop that works towards creating and enhancing work flex options for women.
Sairee is the winner of Sunday Standard Devi Award 2014. Nominated for the Editor’s choice for L’oreal Femina Women’s Award, she is also a Cartier Women’s Award Initiative for 2012 alumni, a TED speaker, Business Today, Most Powerful Women in Indian Business 2012.
Gone are those days when mothers had to sacrifice their promising careers after giving birth to a child and as a Mompreneur Sairee has proved it wrong that a woman can’t have successful career life after becoming a mother.
4. Kanika Tekriwal
Co-Founder – JetSetGo
Kanika, at just 26-year-old, is co-founder and CEO of JetSetGo, India’s first online marketplace for private jet and helicopter charter. She been working in the aviation industry since she was 16 and after working for 8 years she launched JetSetGo in 2014 along with her co-founder Sudheer Perla. Her Venture has found favour with many well-known personalities like cricketer Yuvraj Singh, whose YouWeCan ventures had invested some amount in her company last year in August.
Kanika’s entrepreneirial journey has not been that easy always as she was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 when she was just 21. With a clean bill of health a year on from hearing relatives mourn her lack of marriageability as a result of chemotherapy and several surgeries she packed her bags and left her native Bhopal for New Delhi and then finally Bengaluru to launch Jetsetgo and now she wishes to make the Forbes list of being one of the 100 most powerful business women in the world.
5. Rashi Choudhary
Co-Founder – LocalBanya
Rashi, at just 30 years of age, is the co-founder and COO at LocalBanya along with her partners Karan Mehrotra (CEO) and Amit Naik (CTO). By her online venture, Rashi is targeting urban woman in the age bracket of 30-40 – specifically, home-makers, young mothers and working professionals, who value the convenience and the amount of time that’s saved by shopping online for groceries. She co-founded Localbanya in 2012, at time when there were no other (almost) online grocery shop players in India.
After graduating from SP Jain Institute of Management, Mumbai, Rashi started her career at Ernst & Young and her most recent stint was with Raymonds Retail. The main challenge that Rashi has faced as a woman entrepreneur, has been in her interactions and working relationships with some of the staff.
Her advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs is simple- “Do what you feel is right for you. Society and trends have shifted. There are definitely still challenges out there, but you won’t know till you don’t try.”
6. Masoom Minawala
Founder – Style Fiesta
At 20 years of young age, Masoom Minawala managed to become an entrepreneur, popular fashion blogger, fashionista, fashion job consultant and e-boutique owner. Masoom’s this passion for fashion landed her to become an entrepreneur when she decided to exptend her fashion blog to full-fledged e-commerce portal now called Style Fiesta where she’s currently holding a position of CEO. Previously she also been a writer at FTV India and blogger at French Connection.
In contrast what Masoom is now, she used to be a tomboy in her school – Bombay Scottish School. Things changed around grade 12th, and all of a sudden Masoom became aware of fashion and developed an interest. Later she went to University of the Arts London for her diploma in fashion styling & entrepreneurship.
7. Priyanka Gupta
Founder and CEO – IndiaBookStore.net & Vivilio
Through initial 7 years of her careers, Priyanka worked in medium and large enterprise companies. She always felt disconnected with the bigger picture of the company. She had itch to work on a product that I feel more closely associated with. I tried a few small ideas a couple of times in these 7 years, but nothing took up. She finally joined entrepreneurship gang in 2012.
She has been running IndiaBookStore.net for last 3 years, with a small team. I realized that it’s time for me to do something bigger and work on a more scalable idea. She started Vivilio.com in April’15, with a team of six. Vivilio helps readers discover what books to read based on recommendations from their peers and influencers.
As a message for future women entrepreneurs she said, “Don’t be afraid of failing! If you want to do something, just give it a shot. Nothing teaches better than experiences.”
8. Co-Founder, BitGiving
A proud Lady Shri Ram, Delhi University graduate, Ishita started harboring the entrepreneurship dream while working as the head of the design department for a local Delhi University news portal, DU Beat. After graduating, she went ahead and worked with an advertising agency for a short while, before taking freelance independent film projects. After which she took a job at Technology 9 Labs as their Product Head. It was while working there that she met Fahad Moti Khan with whom she instantly hit it off and later founded BitGiving.
Launched in the year 2013, BitGiving is a crowdfunding platform that helps people, organizations in raising funds. It even lets the influencers and supporters to show their support in the causes and campaigns they believe in. They just charge 10-15 percent of the funds raised as their fee.
In March 2015, they helped National Ice Hockey team raise a sum of Rs 6.5 lakh in just 20 days when the team was contemplating not participating in the Asian Championship owing to shortage of funds. Not only this, the startup has also raised funds for transition shelters in Nepal and Chennai in the wake of Nepal 2015 earthquakes and Chennai floods respectively.
9. Nandini Rathi
Nandini is a serial entrepreneur who has a lot of ventures to her credit. A mother, a wife and an entrepreneur, she handles all her duties with élan and without any complain. Internet as a medium had always fascinated Nandini and that’s how she got interested in content marketing and blogging. She began her journey in the year 2005 by co-founding Instablogs Network and followed it by launching Bornrich, a luxury website that featured lifestyle content for affluent customers, a year later in 2006. After Bornrich was acquired by Canadian-based Valnet Inc in the year 2013, Nandini decided to exit and co-founded Betaout with her husband, Ankit Maheshwari.
Betaout was recently in the news for raising $500,000 in a funding round from some of the top entrepreneurs and investors in India and US.
10. Upma Arora and Arti Bareja
Co-Founders, Dhaba Lane
Upma Arora and Arti Bareja are both Delhi University graduates, who once went to a foreign land to pursue their respective dreams but started missing their tasty, spicy Indian food in the process. After gaining some experience in their professional roles, Arti as a Merger & Acquisitions / Portfolio Management Banker, and Upma as a Business Development Expert for Middlesex University, they decided to quit their jobs and pursue their passion for food.
The dynamic duo founded Dhaba Lane, a startup providing healthy, tasty, clean and simple home-cooked flavors to Londoners with an Indian twist and that too at a reasonable price. They believe that food can healthy and tasty, both at the same time. Their secret is food made of fresh spices, Class A vegetables and without any preservatives and cream.