At a time when entrepreneurship is rising in India and women are daring to start up across sectors, it is essential to hear from the startup queens of India about what brought them success. At the first-ever MAKERS India annual conference, to be held at Hotel Conrad in Bengaluru on March 13-14, there will be a host of women who embraced entrepreneurship, and made a mark for themselves. Read on to find more on them:
Divya Gokulnath, BYJU’s
Although she is the Co-founder and Director of India’s first educational-tech startup unicorn BYJU’s (now valued at $8 billion), Divya believes she is a teacher first. Partnering with her husband Byju Raveendran to launch the online education platform (BYJU’s app) in 2011, she was pivotal in making BYJU’s into the world’s highest valued ed-tech company.
The legend is that when she went on maternity leave in 2013, Divya utilised the time for getting the platform in shape by recording educational videos whenever her new-born son was sleeping. Suffice to say her sacrifices have paid off: the app now has more than 42 million users and three million paid subscriptions.
A Biotechnology graduate from RV College of Engineering in Bengaluru, she was named among LinkedIn’s Top Voices in 2019.
Pranoti Nagarkar, Zimplistic
Pranoti is the Founder and CTO of Zimplistic, the Singapore-based startup behind the Rotimatic, a high-tech roti, poori, and pizza maker that has captured global market. Praised as the world’s most popular food robot, Rotimatic is built with IoT-smarts, and hence it learns with every new roti, upgrading itself constantly. The startup has various awards, including at Startup@Singapore and Intel Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge.
A mechanical engineering graduate from the National University of Singapore, she invented Rotimatic in 2008 - when she herself faced issues with managing time and cooking healthy meals in a hectic schedule. Her product got great feedback, and it generated a whopping $20 million in revenue in the first year of sales itself; later her husband Rishi Israni joined as Co-founder.
Kanika Tekriwal, JetSetGo
This Delhi-girl started working in the aviation industry when she was still a student, at the age of 17. Although Kanika had since wanted to start up in this space, she had to put a pause to her dreams, when she was diagnosed with Cancer at the age of 22. But not one to give up, she actively pursued recovery, and after she was cured, Kanika gave life to her dreams too.
In 2014, she founded JetSetGo, the online aggregator that manages, operates, and flies private jets and helicopters, in 2014. Today, the platform provides discounted flights that are up to 75% cheaper than what ordinary private jets would cost, making flying private more affordable than ever.
Although a member of Bollywood’s star family, Anshula Kapoor chose the path of entrepreneurship by putting her network to good use. Last year, Anshula launched Fankind, an online fundraising platform which unites celebrities, fans, and charities. Partnering with GiveIndia, an online donation platform, Fankind aims to provide fans with an opportunity to meet their favourite celebrity, while also supporting a cause.
Once you pledge an entry for Rs 200, after 30 days, one winner is randomly selected and he/she gets an opportunity of doing a fun activity with the celebrity. About 70 percent of the platform’s earnings it donated to charity. Fankind has concluded its campaigns with Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, and Karan Johar, among others.
Aditi Gupta, Menstrupedia
Menstruation has been a big taboo in our country since time immemorial. Aditi Gupta, the co-founder of Menstrupedia, a platform that strives to spread awareness about menstrual health and hygiene, has made a significant contribution towards destigmatising menstruation. Originally from Jharkhand, she is an alumnus of National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.
Menstrupedia explains menstruation through comics with storylines. Since its inception in 2014, the uniqueness of the medium of comic strips has lent itself tremendously in breaking down the taboo. As of October 2019, 6,000 schools use Menstrupedia comics. The comics have been translated into 16 languages, of which 12 are regional and the books are being locally printed and distributed in China, Hungary, Bangladesh, Nepal, Uruguay.
Nidhi Yadav, AKS
In 2014, as a new mother to her then-six-month-old baby, Nidhi Yadav founded AKS, aiming to bring comfortable, contemporary ethnic wear to Indian women. Since then, AKS has become one of India’s most popular women’s fashion brand, and in the process, empowered scores of women, who make up more than half of AKS’s total employee and supplier bases.
A software engineer by qualification, Nidhi has also done a one-year course in Fashion Buying and Merchandising at the Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy. Having worked at Italian fashion brand Emilio Pucci, this Indore-girl started up when she was just 25, with just Rs.3.5 lakh investment. Now a mother of two, she has got a co-founder in her husband, Satpal Yadav.
Japleen Pasricha, Feminism In India
Japleen’s brainchild - Feminism in India, founded in 2014 - has played a pivotal role in furthering the dialogue on feminism and gender politics in India. The director and editor-in-chief of the feminist digital community platform is currently a fellow at The Swedish Institute in Sweden, which picks 60 individuals from across the globe who advocate for gender equality. This 30-year-old from New Delhi also holds MA and M.Phil in German Studies from JNU.
In the era of #MeToo, FII was pivotal in making the issue of gender-based violence reverberate in the public consciousness. FII also released a media toolkit which contains a set of guidelines for media personnel on sensitive coverage of sexual assault on women.