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Women Entrepreneurs Ruling The Indian Startup Game

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India as a country, has been the victim of patriarchy since men decided they just had to have the last word. Ironically, there have been only a smattering of women in power and it has been only now that the times have finally changed. The 21st century brought forth a new wave of growth, change and ideas.  Women started revisiting their inner potential and are moving forward with renewed vigour.

Spanning diverse fields like food, fashion, technology and education, these women have challenged the startup game from being housewives to creating a brand new niche for themselves. Here is a list of women who have set the ball rolling for a brand new path in innovation and creation.

1. Shubbra Chadda – Chumbak 

Shubbra Chaddha took a while to realise her dream and when she finally knew what it was, boy, did she make a splash! Shubbra’s brand, Chumbak, took the country by a storm by becoming one of the first companies that sells funky and creative designs, with a wide array of accessories, bags and nick nacks. A store that resonates with class, style and easy sophistication, Chumbak has set the stage for those who dare to dream.

2. Chiki Sarkar – Juggernaut Books 

After heading major publishing houses like Penguin India and Random House India, Chiki Sarkar decided the time had come to branch out into the world of smartphones. With this in mind, she began Juggernaut Books, the country’s first smartphone publishing house. Through this platform, Chiki Sarkar plans on expanding the number of books available to the world. As one moves into a world governed by technology, this company comes as a refreshing change for growth.

3. Suchi Mukherjee – Limeroad 

When Suchi Mukherjee returned to India from the United States, after a gap of 17 long years, she wanted to create something that was truly wonderful. However, her road to success was not easy. Armed with a goal in mind, the path to achieving the impossible was not a simple task. With a dream in hand and a world of opportunities in front of her, Suchi created Limeroad in 2011, an online shopping platform for those who did not have the patience to go shop in actual stores. A fashion portal that uses social discovery to stand out from competitors with features such as personalised stylist recommendations and scrapbooking to customised looks, Limeroad is every shopper’s dream come true!

4. Suchita Salwan – Little Black Book 

A foodie with a desire to look for new places set the ground for Suchita Salwan’s Little Black Book. Established platforms like Just Dial, Zomato and Swiggy failed to satiate her continuing hunger pangs. With the aim of creating something out of the ordinary, Suchita founded a platform which caters to a very niche and exclusive clientele. The rest, as they say, is history.

5. Richa Singh – YourDost 

Richa Singh saw people continuously facing negativity which more often than not, would lead to depression. When a fellow hosteler ended their life, Richa realised empathy and compassion are what is needed to make the world a better place. With this one thought in mind, Richa Singh started YourDost, a platform that not only gives you a friend for life but also gives you an opportunity to get over all the problems one faces on a regular basis.

6. Kanika Tekriwal – JetSetGo

The saying, “the sky is the limit” perfectly suits Kanika Tekriwal. The founder of JetSetGo, India’s first private planes chartering service, Kanika succeeded with flying colors. This company lets people book private planes for everything from weddings to business purposes. Often described as the Uber of the skies, JetSetGo boasts of having the largest fleet of aeroplanes.

7. Falguni Nayar – Nykaa

After a long stint as an investment banker, Falguni Nayar founded Nykaa.com in the year 2013. An online one stop shop for beauty products from Indian and international brands, Nykaa changed the world of online shopping. Who would have ever thought buying makeup online would be so easy? Falguni Nayar proved all of us wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.

8. Sairee Chahal – Sheroes 

Sheroes is the first website of its kind, giving women the chance to work in the field about which they are really passionate. If you are a woman looking for a career change or a new workplace, then Sheroes is the perfect platform for you. Sairee created this website solely dedicated to women. Besides connecting businesses and interested employees to each other, Sheroes provides mentorship and support to career oriented women.

9. Shahnaz Husain – Shahnaz Herbal Inc 

Despite being married off at the very young age of 16, Shahnaz Husain realised where her true passion lay. With a major interest in everything related to fashion and beauty, Shahnaz turned her dream into reality with Shahnaz Herbal Inc. Best known for creating herbal skin care and cosmetic products without animal testing, Shahnaz has grown like never before. With over 400 clinics in 138 countries across the world, Shahnaz has been bestowed with the Padmashree Award in 2006 for her commendable effort in making the world of cosmetics a better, cleaner and healthier place.

10. Rashmi Sinha – Slideshare

Rashmi Sinha, a PhD holder in neuropsychology from Brown University, co founded SlideShare with her husband in 2006. Within just a couple of years, the website was so popular, it got acquired by LinkedIn for $ 100 million in the year 2012! Ranked number 8 in Fortune’s Most Powerful Entrepreneurs List, Rashmi was also named as the World’s Top 10 Women Influencers in the world of web.

From the accomplishments of these pioneering women, one thing stands out. The times, they are a changing. Women know what they want and what needs to be done to get what they want. They are here. They are now. They are finally coming into their own and soon, the world is going to be a much better place.

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Autobiographies By Entrepreneurs You Should Read For Inspiration

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There are times in life when you get so bogged down by the pressures of the world, you can’t think beyond the fog. At times like these, it’s the entrepreneurs you have idolized all your life who inspire you to do the unexpected. Every great man at the top of the food chain, at some point or other, faced downfall. When you feel like you are completely down and out, reading autobiographies by those who made it big in the world help in finding the much needed silver lining. Here is our list of books you should definitely read when you need the push to do better!

1. Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way (Richard Branson)

Richard Branson, known best for founding the extremely famous Virgin Atlantic, is perhaps one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world right now. Not only did he found one of the most widely used airlines, he also created a host of other businesses (Virgin Cola, Virgin Records and V2.) While his life may seem picture perfect right now, Branson went through his fair share of ups and downs. In his autobiography, Branson gets completely candid and talks about how, despite his advisors telling him not to start so many businesses, he adopted the “Oh screw it, let’s do it” policy. A tell all about the journey of his life to the top, Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun & Made A Fortune Doing Business My Way is a definite must read!

2. Made In America (Sam Walton)

Sam Walton, one of the co founders of Walmart, built the largest retail store in the United States from scratch through sheer hard work and effort. In his book Made In America, Walton talks about how he barely had any seed money, an idea and the dream to create something people all over the world could use. With only one store in Arkansas, Walton and his partner (John Huey,) worked through their mistakes with commendable ease and brought to life a retail store which quite literally changed the way people shopped!

3. Built From Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew the Home Depot from Nothing to $ 30 Billion (Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank)

From being fired, to building a billion dollar worth company, Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus have quite an inspiring story to tell. In their book Built From Scratch, Bernie and Arthur map out their entire journey and talk about how being fired from your job is never a bad thing. The book also gives you the hope that even if something goes miserably wrong, you can always work on what you want to recreate your dream. Built with grit and determination, the story of how Home Depot came to be is one everyone will relate to even now!

4. Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (Howard Schultz)

A lot can happen over a cup of coffee, especially if you pour your heart into it. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks (the largest coffee store in the world,) quite literally put all he had into creating this massive empire. In his inspiring book Pour Your Heart Into It, Schultz talks about he cracked the code to perfection: providing great customer service! This particular autobiography is a must read because not only does it outline Schultz’s recipe for success, it also talks about how the man faced his failures and all the techniques he learnt while making it to the top!

5The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company (David Packard)

Friends from Stanford, Bill Hewlett and David Packard created HP when they realised there was a severe need for personal computers. A car garage doubled up as their office space and armed only with an idea, the duo gave life to one of the most sought after computers in the world today. The HP Way by David Packard talks about their journey from a garage, to how a coin toss decided the name of their company.

6. Direct From Dell: Michael Dell

Michael Dell, the founder of Dell, started his entrepreneurial journey in his dorm room, with seed money of less than $ 1,000. Dell grew from just selling computers, to manufacturing and distributing them. Today, it is one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world. In his book Direct From Dell, Michael Dell talks about what he learned during his journey and about how he overcame some of the toughest difficulties while growing.

The top tens didn’t become the great people they are today because they got lucky. They put in a lot of time, effort and energy into making their dreams come true. If you think we missed out on any other inspiring autobiographies, comment and let us know!

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Big Basket Founding Story And Its Recipe For Success

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Much before Flipkart tapped into the retail industry, a group of people (V.S. Sudhakar, Hari Menon, V.S. Ramesh, Vipul Parekh and Abhinay Choudhary,)  fuelled with passion and experience on failure post the dot com bubble founded Big Basket, the country’s first online shopping platform which revolutionised the way people bought groceries. Just like how this platform is unique in every way, the story of how Big Basket came to be is also quite a tale.

The beginning 

When you hear of startups being created by people below the age of 30 and with no experience, your heart usually goes out to them. However, when you look at people on the other side of 50, with more experience in failing than succeeding, trying to start something new, you wonder what the future looks like for them. When the dot com bubble bust, a lot of people struggled hard to find their footing in an increasingly competitive world.

The founders of Big Basket, on the other hand, decided to use the experience they got post the failure and decided to create a website that hasn’t been done  before. The five founders of this platform had their first experience in the e commerce side when they created Fabmart.com (an online platform to sell books, toys and groceries) in the year 1999. Very quickly, however, they realised not just India, but the rest of the world wasn’t ready for the online world yet.

Very soon, Fabmart merged with a brick and mortar grocery chain and by 2006, the founders sold Fabmart for a lump sum. By 2011, the team thought of revaluating and trying their hand at something new again and despite all the criticism they received for this idea, the founders decided if they had to do anything, the time was now. It was a good thing they made this call because it was exactly at this time that the smartphone boom was happening and literally everything was available with the click of a button (except for groceries, of course!)

The journey to success

Post securing the first round of investment ($ 10 million from Ascent Capital,) the Big Basket team decided the time had come to expand its reach. In a country as diverse as India, perhaps the biggest challenges an online delivery platform like this faces is to ensure they sustain the model despite all adversities. After putting in dedicated research for five years, the Big Basket team realised the best way to make their presence felt was by providing personalised service to people across all cities.

With shopping habits varying from city to city, one of the major reasons for the success rates of Big Basket is the amount of attention to detail the founders paid. From increasing the leafy greens numbers in Mumbai to supplying a special kind of rice (called Sona Masoori) in Bangalore to going so far as to provide eight different kinds of eggplants to picky customers, Big Basket ensured their quality was nothing short of perfection. To improve the customers experience, the team ensures near time perfect deliveries in most of its orders and if by chance the delivery has been delayed, customers get a discount depending on the delay.

The future 

Despite growing as well as they had, Big Basket still had a lot of tough competition in the forms of other startups like LocalBanya, Sequoia backed PepperTap and SoftBank funded Grofers. The time had come for the team to up its game by securing more than double the amount of funding that it got during the initial rounds, Big Basket crushed all its competition.

The next few years saw Big Basket grow from just an idea to being present in 25 cities with a combination of 150 million and looking at the size of the growth, the founders decided the time had come to bring in a partner. By zeroing in on Alibaba (China based e commerce platform,) the team worked on mapping a growth chart for the next two years!

Big Basket is not just a dream but a well thought out plan that attracted and made its presence felt in the larger cities and went on to grow in the smaller cities by on boarding Shah Rukh Khan as a brand ambassador. By investing money into getting warehouses and increasing the delivery output, Big Basket plans on not only retaining its post as the largest grocery delivery platform in India but all over the world as well!

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Airbnb Unknown Facts

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Airbnb, which started off as a way to find a means to pay rent by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, is now one of the most valued startups in the world. An ingenious idea for solving the rent paying gaps, Airbnb now has more than three million listings, with a strong presence in over 65,000 cities and 191 countries. While the growth of this particular startup has been quite clearly mapped, there are still more than just a few things one doesn’t know about Airbnb. Check out the facts here!

1. The cities in which Airbnb is popular

According to a recent survey, with more than 78,000 rentals on Airbnb’s platform, Paris ranks number one on the list of people using Airbnb in the world. The next on the list of the largest users is the U.K. (47,000) and following closely after, is New York, with 46,000 users. Interestingly, the top 6 out of the ten cities which use Airbnb the most are located out of Europe!

2. The founding story

The initial funds for Airbnb were raised by selling breakfast foods based on creating special breakfast cereals called Obama O’s’ and ‘Cap’n McCain’s. At the time Airbnb was launched, the breakfast foods were created based on the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections (when Obama and John McCain contested against each other for the first time.) Selling each box for $ 40, the marketing plan was so successful, they raised close to $ 30,000!

3. The smallest house was listed on Airbnb

Did you know, the smallest house in the world was not a privately owned house, but was listed on Airbnb? Located in Berlin, Germany, the one square meter house was waterproof and built for housing just one person. A rental on wheels, the house included a bed, a desk and a chair and cost one euro a night! This house format became so popular, it was recreated for users in Boston and Massachusetts as well!

4. The history behind the logo

While to the casual observer, the signature Airbnb logo may look like an upside down heart, the truth behind the logo is quite different. Officially named the Bélo, the name of the logo origins from the word ‘belong’ and is designed to resemble the pin used on a map. With a theme of connecting people from all over the world and creating a global community, the logo of Airbnb signifies community building.

5. Celebrities listed on Airbnb

If you ever wondered what  it would feel like to live in the house of a celebrity, then find your favourite celebrity’s home on Airbnb! From Elizabeth Taylor to Kevin Jonas and to Frank Sinatra’s hold house, Airbnb has a large number of really cool people’s homes on its website! Interestingly, despite being the largest provider of online listings, Airbnb has no official office to its name!

With over a decade of being present in the hospitality industry, Airbnb really changed the way people travel and live. If you think we missed out on any other points about Airbnb, comment and let us know!

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