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Era Of The Woman Enterpriser

Talk barriers, and you will find women surmounting them at ease. The 21st century may belong to India, but it most certainly does belong to women entrepreneurs from India

Era Of The Woman Enterpriser
Era Of The Woman Enterpriser
Era Of The Woman Enterpriser
Era Of The Woman Enterpriser

Gone are the days when entrepreneurship was automatically about hard- charging ambitious men chasing new frontiers. Today, women have acquired a habit of chasing frontiers that looked impossible just a few decades ago. Talk startup, and there is just no way you can ignore women of substance, drive, passion and success. Talk barriers, and you will find women surmounting them at ease. The 21st century may belong to India, but it most certainly does belong to women entrepreneurs from India. BW Businessworld profiles four women who have proven just that 

Naiyya Saggi 
Co-founder & CEO, BabyChakra


Mumbai-based BabyChakra is a social discovery platform for everything about pregnancy and child care in India. It is like a modern parent’s child care buddy. The company was launched in 2014. BabyChakra .com is one of the largest communities of parents and experts in India, which allow parents to make better and informed choices about child care products and services. 

When asked about problems, BabyChakra was addressing, Naiyya Saggi said, “We are building BabyChakra for a couple of reasons – firstly, because young couples are essentially raising children in nuclear families, with no support system to fall back on. Secondly, they are also active consumers of the internet for choices of houses, travel, restaurants for example. But for something as critical as child care, no platform exists to help you make the right decision. Thirdly, the volume of non-validated information is on a rise and more and more parents are finding themselves at horns in dilemma, while making decisions. With a mission to solve this problem, we have built BabyChakra, first of its kind, a truly global platform.”

In the next five years, BabyChakra wants to be able to cover many Indian cities and touch lives of many young, Indian mothers. It also hopes to set a global precedence for its newly launched social commerce, in a way that it becomes a mother’s natural first choice. Commenting on the market size and opportunities, Naiyya added, “The market size is $24 billion, with products and services. The market is highly fragmented and 90 per cent of it is today offline. BabyChakra has very quickly grown to be the largest platform for mothers to connect with brands and services in this space.”

Anisha Singh
Founder & CEO, mydala.com 

Delhi-based coupon and discount marketing platform, mydala.com, was established in 2009 by Anisha Singh, Arjun Basu and Ashish Bhatnagar. It provides deals and offers on restaurants, grocery, entertainment, travel, body-art, spas and salons, gyms and other categories. 

Talking of how she came up with ‘mydala’ as the name for their company, Anisha Singh said, “It’s an odd name and my marketing team doesn’t fail to remind me how easy it would have been had we just gone with something that explained what we did. mydala in Sanskrit means ‘my group’ and in Bengali it means, ‘my basket’. I like it, plus we wanted something that could go international and mean everything and nothing.”

mydala has raised around $18 million in funding from institutional investors and HNIs. The company sells approximately 2,00,000 vouchers a day across 200 cities in India. Singh disclosed to BW Businessworld that mydala’s next big plan was to go global. It is launching in the Middle East soon and looking at alliances or acquisitions to grow in other regions as well.

Speaking of competition, Singh said, “I think our competitors found it hard to scale up or maybe didn’t understand that an Indian model worked better than a Groupon model. There are only a handful of competitors left here and they operate in very few cities.”

She tried explaining her point of view by giving an example, “Just as Groupon recently exited and sold their business to Sequoia, who renamed it ‘Nearbuy’, there are different online cashback sites, but nobody is really trying to understand the user in their entirety. For us, it is about understanding and personalising everything for the user.”

Singh readily shared advice for emerging players. She said, “If you want to start a business with the idea where the basis of everything is to raise funding, it’s sure to fail. Start something you love, ensure that it is solving a need or is disrupting something, like time or convenience. Focus on building a sound business and the rest will happen. Make a dent in the universe, however big or small!” 

Saroja Yeramilli
Founder & CEO, Melorra.com

Bengaluru-based online jewellery brand, Melorra.com, was launched in January 2016 by former Titan Industries and Dell senior executive, Saroja Yeramilli and R. Krishnakumar, who worked for nearly two decades across Titan Industries, Arvind Lifestyle and Mahindra Retail.
The brand caters for modern Indian women, developing, designing and retailing contemporary jewellery through a mobile platform for them. Melorra is an online jewellery brand for urban Indian women looking for modern choices in jewellery to go with their everyday attire. All its jewellery is made using state-of-the-art 3D printing.

Explaining her brand positioning, Yeramilli said, “We provide style guidance on how to pair jewellery with clothes through our Stylefeed. Multi-platforms access is available on website and Android/IOS apps. Many urban Indian women are ‘under jewelled’ today due to the fact that jewellery options in the market are traditional and heavy and not suitable for daily usage with western attire. Melorra bridges this big wardrobe mismatch.”

Yeramilli wants to build Melorra into the brand for the young urban Indian woman, who has moved away from jewellery. Online jewellery sales is one per cent of the jewellery industry in India compared to 13 per cent in the US. Among millennial consumers, it is three per cent of their jewellery buying, showing a clear shift towards online. 

Ashwini Asokan
Co-founder & CEO, Mad Street Den

Founded in 2013, Chennai-based Mad Street Den is a collective mix of neuroscientists, data scientists, fashion stylists, computer vision experts, marketers and designers that have a mission to design AI for humans. The team’s focus is to bring its deep technology to billions across the globe. Mad Street Den is a computer vision based AI startup that teaches humans “how to see”. The company’s first vertical on this platform is about fashion and retail, called Vue.ai. Retail is a first step in the journey, which the company has begun. In its offline form, Vue.ai works with brands and retailers to play the store experience for a consumer. Imagine cameras, displays and much more that give you the experience of walking into a physical space to shop and try on clothing for a personalized bespoke experience. 

Imagine clothes picked out just for you, the ability to try on so many outfits without having to actually change each time. The AI designed style is intended to enhance who you are today, while opening up new horizons for you to explore.

When asked about funding, Ashwini Asokan said, “Yes, we were funded by Sequoia Capital India and are growing. We have customers across the globe and not enough hands on deck for that rising demand. Much of the funding is to grow the team to cater for our growing customers. We have employees in San Francisco, London, Bangalore and Chennai.” 

sujata@businessworld.in; 
@sangwan_sujata



This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Oct. 31, 2016' with cover story titled 'THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS 2016'



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