While a majority of men and women in many urban cities of India still consider the menstrual cycle a taboo, this man from Coimbatore changed the perspective of millions of women in rural India. Arunachalam Muruganantham, also know as PadMan, in an effort to impress his wife decided to produce sanitary napkins himself. Little did he know that a few years down the line, his whole world would be turned upside down, from almost getting a divorce to becoming the first man to wear a sanitary pad.
The initial idea seemed simple enough. Buy cotton, cut it in the size of a regular pad and wrap it using a thin layer of cotton. However, the feedback he received from his wife was devastating. His homemade pad was useless and she would rather continue using old rags. He did not stop there. He first enlisted his sisters to test his pads. When they refused, he visited a local medical school and asked the girls studying in those colleges. When they also eventually stopped helping, he created a makeshift uterus using a football bladder and goats blood to test the sanitary napkins himself.
When the neighbours started complaining about a foul smell and stained clothes, his wife left him and went to live with her mother. But, it was no longer about helping his wife anymore. Arunachalam was on a mission to produce low cost sanitary pads for all the girls and women in his country.
A school dropout from Coimbatore, Arunachalam challenged an age old taboo and changed a fiercely competitive industry with his cheap and affordable good quality sanitary napkins. After years of research, lots of sacrifices, a great deal of hard work and the willpower to succeed, he successfully created a low cost machine for the production of sanitary pads. His easy to use machines, priced at $ 950, created a revolution in India challenging the $ 500,000 imported machines. More than a decade later, his single product has helped employ more than 7000 women in rural India, selling 1,300 machines to 27 states in India and 6 countries.
However, the man behind the ‘Second White Revolution’ is still as humble as ever. Startup Stories had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Arunanchalam Muruganantham about his surreal journey. Speaking about his experiences and his journey, he says, “I feel grateful for what has happened so far it is what has made me what I’m today.” Despite changing the lives of over 3.5 million women in rural India, Arunachalam feels there’s still a long way to go. “Awareness is missing. But things do have changed compared to 2 decades before.. still a long way to go.” He further adds, “Menstrual hygiene is totally connected to a women’s health and lifestyle. Sanitary pad does play a role. We have over 80+% women not taking care of themselves. A lot of efforts needed to make them use hygienic practice.”
However, Arunachalam feels the Government can help boost this movement forward. “Tax has increased the price of pads. But still. Cost is one side of the coin. Government can make it tax free – the loss they might incur is not a loss at all as making pads affordable and accessible will make more women healthy – that is a greatest asset of the nation. Women strong – country strong.”
We could not agree with him more! India is a country that has seen some extremely powerful women in the leading roles. Nevertheless, like they say, there is strength in numbers and only when men and women work together, will this revolution be validated. It takes a lot of strength, courage and determination to take such a brave step forward. Startup Stories wishes Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham all the best for his dream of making all the women of India use sanitary napkins.
Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups
In one of our previous articles published recently, we broached the importance of communications both internal and external, for startups. Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool. While communication can be done across various mediums like social media, e-mails, blog posts, newsletters, press releases and advertisements there are certain tools which a majority of startups prefer to use. This is because, some of these tools offer a lot of features, a good user interface and experience combined with value for money.
We have explored and compiled a list of top five free communication tools which will be useful for startups. Some of these tools are easily recognisable as we use them to some degree or the other in our day to day lives.
Slack is a communications platform designed specifically for businesses. Slack is a simple interface which comes in the form of chat rooms. Each of these rooms are organised by topics and can be private or public. Slack also offers private messaging and is a good bet for startups which are just scaling up as they offer a free plan as well. The free plan however allows only the 10,000 most recent messages to be viewed and searched.
Trello is another communications tool which is highly preferred because it has a Kanban style approach towards communication. Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of bottlenecks. A Kanban Board is used to implement Kanban management. Users can create task boards which have columns including task statuses such as ‘To Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ ‘Done.’ For startups Trello offers a free fourteen day trial which includes unlimited boards, automation and strong privacy.
3) Microsoft Teams
This communications tool is an offering from Microsoft and offers workspace chat and video conferencing, file storage, and application integration. Users can chat in groups or privately and even send files across the platform. It also includes video and voice calling over the internet. For the free version, Microsoft Teams offers users to host unlimited rooms for 60 minutes and hosting upto hundred participants. Moreover, users get ten gigabytes of free cloud storage and unlimited chat options.
ALSO READ: Importance Of Communications For A Startup
Zoom, a video conferencing tool which shot into the limelight in 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tool allowed businesses to move their work online and ensured workflow was not disturbed. Zoom stepped up to the challenge effortlessly taking on all the bandwidth and usage it is currently experiencing. Zoom has also removed time limits for the conference calls and made the entire suite free of cost for schools and businesses in the affected regions across the globe, thereby further increasing its popularity. The free trial allows users to host rooms with upto 100 participants and unlimited one on one meetings, as well as group minute meetings for upto 40 minutes.
Skype is another offering from Microsoft and is one of the oldest known online communications platforms. It supports text, audio, and video chat and integrates with Microsoft Office components like powerpoint. Skype is a free to use communications platform and can be used across a variety of platforms like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
This concludes the list of top five free communications platforms available in the market for startups and medium sized businesses. Let us know if you are already using any of these or plan on using them in the future in the comments below.
Importance Of Communications For A Startup
A startup usually prioritises its focus on the front end functions like marketing and sales, as well as the backend functions like finances and product development. While there is no denying these functions are very critical for the success of a startup, there is one more important aspect to it which often tends to be neglected because it may not seem important. Communications and information management is an often overlooked function a lot of companies ignore. The fallout from ignoring the criticality of good communication does not immediately make itself known but rather keeps on piling up until the problem becomes too big to ignore.
During the initial or idea stages of a startup when there are only a few members on the team, communication might not be a problem because all of the team would be together for most of the time. However, as the idea develops into a product and the startup begins rapid scaling up, the need for hiring more hands arises. This is when communication becomes a priority.
Communication for startups includes both internal and external. Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool. Some easy but highly effective ways to improve communication, both internal and external, are discussed as we progress through the article.
Internal communication is a powerful tool for enabling better decision making and for increasing business productivity. Open, clear, crisp communication from the top management level to all branches of the organization will serve to bring everyone together on to a common goal. This will also further keep executives informed, engaged and make them feel valued thereby leading to more productivity. Regular team meetings will ensure each team member is on the same page and will also boost employee morale. Google Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Trello are some of the tools which can be used for internal communications.
Some of the ways to drive a healthy internal communication within startups are
- Promoting openness, honesty and transparency.
- Candid one on one sessions with leaders.
- Valuing every opinion.
- Sharing challenges, suggestions, progress and expectations.
- Welcoming team feedback.
- Create an environment of creative expression and non judgemental spaces.
ALSO READ: The Importance Of A Communications Manager
External communication also plays an important role in the growth of a startup. While internal communication is used to keep the teams on the same page, external communication plays a huge role in the brand awareness and value. External communications play an important role and a startup cannot ignore how it is perceived by job seekers, financial institutions and the public. Therefore a startup needs to put out its ideas, culture, vision and products in the purview of the public and this can be done through blogs, social media, newsletters, press briefings, advertisements and emails. A startup needs to realise the importance of managing external communications and the power of releasing information at the right time.
Some of the ways to drive a healthy external communication and which often tend to be overlooked are given below.
- Leverage the correct medium for communication. For example social media for branding, ads for lead generation, landing pages for call to action.
- Create a unique tonality suitable for the brand image of your startup.
- Ensure to stay in touch with your external public through all contextual means like emails, newsletters, publications and so on.
- Create high-quality content like opinion pieces, sales materials, research reports, annual reports, whitepapers, buyer’s guides, and product datasheets.
- Incase of any issues with the product on the technical side or manufacturing defects, startups need to immediately issue advisories. Good communication is also essential for firefighting and damage control
Startups should keep in mind that internal and external communications are mostly about being spontaneous, relevance and honesty. A healthy communication goes a long way to improve employee performance, team productivity, positive mindset, and above all business revenue.
What Are Series A, B And C Fundings?
Startups usually go through a tumultuous series of journeys during their lifecycle. As a startup is continuing to grow, the need for funds becomes more and more important. Funding offers startups the necessary influx of money at various stages to focus on different aspects like product building, scaling up, expansion, innovation, research and development. While only a handful of startups usually make it big without the need of much funding, the rest of the other startups engage in multiple efforts to raise enough capital through rounds of external funding.
In the previous article, we have explored seed funding and the various sources of seed funding. Once a startup completes a seed funding round, the next following rounds are called as series funding and are classified into Series A, B and C respectively.
These Series fundings usually have a timeline and Series A is the first of the three rounds of funding. Many startups often spend years in search of a Series A funding while some other startups easily get their foot in the door. The Series fundings are a stepping stone for a startup to eventually become a Unicorn or for filing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO.)
As is the case with seed funding, the Series A,B and C rounds of funding also see investors putting their money into a startup in exchange for equity. The success of a startup directly correlates to the amount of returns an investor gains.
Before any round of funding, a startup needs to be valued and a valuation is done based on multiple factors like management, track record, market size, risk and liabilities. Let us have a look at what Series A,B and C funding means below.
Series A funding
Once a startup gains a proven customer base and consistent revenue figure, the startup may opt for a Series A round of funding. This funding can be used by a startup in question to improve their customer base as well as taking opportunities to scale their product across different markets. A startup also usually prepares a long term business plan after receiving a Series A funding. Series A fundings range between $ 2 million and $ 15 million. Investors are not looking for a great idea but rather a plan to take the great idea and make it into a money making business.
Series B funding
Series B funding rounds are all about startups expanding and taking their business to the next level. Investors help startups get there by expanding market reach. Companies that have gone through seed and Series A funding rounds have already developed substantial user bases and have proven to investors that they are prepared for success on a larger scale. Series B fundings are usually used to scale a startup to meet the increasing demand levels. Series B fundings range between $ 30 million and $ 60 million with the average funding at $ 33 million.
ALSO READ: 8 Best Free CRM Solutions For Startups
Series C funding
By the time startups arrive at Series C round of funding, they are usually quite successful. The idea behind the Series C round of funding is for startups to raise capital to develop new products and expand into newer markets or probably even acquire other businesses. Normally investors expect a 200% return on their investment during the Series C round of funding. Companies vying for a Series C funding are usually looking to go for an IPO or to expand on a global scale. Startups are usually valued at around $ 118 million when applying for a Series C funding.
This concludes the list of Series funding. Series fundings are an important milestone in any startup’s roadmap to success and this article hopes to break down the Series funds into simple terms.
- Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups
- Elon Musk’s Tesla Makes Inroads Into India By Registering Company In Bengaluru
- Importance Of Communications For A Startup
- Google Employees Form A Labour Union Amid Growing Disgruntlement
- What Are Series A, B And C Fundings?
- What Is Seed Funding And What Are The Sources For Seed Funding For Startups
- Top Ten Most Used Apps During The COVID-19 Lockdown
- 5 Best HR Softwares for Startups And Small Businesses
- Five Free design Tools For Startups And Students
- 8 Best Free CRM Solutions For Startups
- CView – Bridging The Gap Between Students And Employers Using Artificial Intelligence
- What Is Shudder And How Is It Cornering A Niche Market
- 9Gag – From A Meme Sharing Platform To A Money Making Machine
- The Success Story Of Tupperware And How It Became A Household Name
- Sonu Sood’s Startup Pravasi Rojgar Secures 250 Crores Funding
- The Story Of Milkbasket And How It Navigated The COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown
- Indian Actresses Who Have Made Recent Investments In Startups
- Six Things Tesla Sells Other Than Cars
- How to Promote Internationalization Through Remote Team Management