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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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5 Reasons Why Telegram Founder Pavel Durov Thinks Whatsapp Is Dangerous

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Whatsapp found itself in the midst of a public relations nightmare over its latest privacy policy update.  Data privacy is currently a widely debated topic worldwide and Whatsapp has found itself in the midst of this debate time and again.  However the latest update seems to have irked a lot of people enough for them to make the shift to Telegram and the much recent app, Signal.  Telegram Messenger was launched in 2013 and although it is not as well known as Whatsapp, it enjoys quite an amount of popularity owing to its data security and encryption.

Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram Messenger, is no fan of Whatsapp and he believes Whatsapp is dangerous and not safe.  Elucidating more on the topic, Durov made his reasons known in a blogpost he published in late 2020.  Here are the five reasons why Pavel Durov thinks Whatsapp is dangerous.

1) If Jeff Bezos’ phone can be hacked via Whatsapp then nobody is safe.

One of the richest men in the world and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ phone was allegedly hacked by Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.  Some of Bezos’s private communications and images were taken during the hack following which Whatsapp’s security was questioned.

2) The United Nations recommends its officials to remove Whatsapp from their devices

The United Nations recommends its officials to not use Whatsapp because it thinks Whatsapp is not a secure mode of communication.  In June 2019, a U.N., spokesman Farhan Haq said, “The senior officials at the U.N. have been instructed not to use WhatsApp, it’s not supported as a secure mechanism (sic.)”  This directive came when independent U.N. experts found a possible involvement of Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the alleged cyber attack of Jeff Bexos’ phone in 2018.

3) End to end encryption does not guarantee security.

Durov says “in their marketing, WhatsApp uses the words “end-to-end encryption” as some magic incantation that alone is supposed to automatically make all communications secure. However, this technology is not a silver bullet that can guarantee you absolute privacy by itself (sic.)”

ALSO READ: Users Flock To Signal Messaging App After Whatsapp’s Latest Privacy Policy Update

4) Chat backups on Android and Apple cloud are not encrypted.

Pavel Durov does not believe chat backups in the cloud are safe and says “Users don’t want to lose their chats when they change devices, so they back up the chats in services like iCloud – often without realizing their backups are not encrypted.  The fact that Apple was forced by the FBI to abandon encryption plans for iCloud is telling (sic.)”

5) Backdoors continue to exist in Whatsapp

“There are backdoors.  Enforcement agencies are not too happy with encryption, forcing app developers to secretly plant vulnerabilities in their apps.  I know that because we’ve been approached by some of them – and refused to cooperate.  As a result, Telegram is banned in some countries where WhatsApp has no issues with authorities, most suspiciously in Russia and Iran (sic,)” claims Durov in his blogpost.

As data privacy is becoming more and more important in the current day and age of the internet, we wonder what messaging application is totally safe.  

 

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5 Warning Signs For A Startup To Avoid Failure

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A startup can go on for months without paying attention to some warning signs which indicate imminent failure.  The startup journey would be smooth until suddenly problems keep popping up one after the other.  Founders will scramble to plug the holes in their startup which would often lead to a diversion of their energies to the problem rather than steering the startup towards their vision.  Sometimes, the problems would not even come to light until and after a startup goes bust.  While the warning signs are there, they often tend to be ignored till it is too late.  However, looking for these signs and making a conscious effort to address them would definitely course correct a startup for good.

Here are the five warning signs for a startup to avoid failure

1) Unable to define customer needs

A startup always needs to be aware of the needs of their customers as well as understand these needs keep changing from time to time.  Clients are the key to a successful startup even more important than investors.  Addressing customer complaints and listening to feedback is highly important and needs to be followed through even though some of the feedback could be highly negative.  

2) Failure to pivot

A startup could be doing great things and scaling up rapidly but can still go under if it does not adapt to the changing demands and technology.  A business model or a product which is working now does not mean it would work forever.  This has been the hubris for many well known startups and startups which successfully pivoted have thrived.  For instance Blockbuster, the video rental chain was one of the biggest companies in the United States of America before they closed shop due to the arrival of Netflix.  The online streaming platform offered Blockbuster an opportunity to acquire them and adapt their model but Blockbuster declined and the rest is history.

3) Not accounting for market forces

The market is a special place which could teach a lot of things to a startup about pricing, demand and supply, sales, management and so on.  While things might be sailing smoothly for the time being, startups need to have contingency plans for scenarios which might happen in the future.  Forecasting needs to be done for at least a year to ensure smooth flow of operations.  The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example as a lot of startups were completely blindsided.  While the situation could be termed as an act of god, some startups have put away some funds for use exactly for times like these.  Another example would be UberEats in India, which did not account for a saturated market in food delivery which is ruled by Zomato and Swiggy.  This led to them having to sell the business to Zomato.

ALSO READ: What Is Organisational Development And Why Is It Important

4) Mistimed products

While a startup can come up with a game changing idea, releasing it into the market should be a calculated affair.  There is a risk of the product not being accepted widely in the market even though the technology and the idea behind it is ages ahead of its time.  This has led to many products to fail miserably only to have another player taste success with the same idea.  Famous examples of failures and success respectively include Orkut and Facebook, Meru and Ola, Foodpanda and Zomato, Blackberry messenger and Whatsapp.

5) Running out of cash

Working capital management is the biggest focus point for any startup as it directly impacts the survivability of a startup.  Running out of capital is one of the biggest reasons startups often fail apart from poor product fit and failed pivots.  Take the case of Hola Chef for example, a startup which connects users with chefs who cook exotic meals.  Venture capitalists loved the idea of this startup but the arrival of Zomato and Swiggy saw investors backing out of Hola Chef which ultimately led the startup to shut down and eventually be acquired by Ola backed Foodpanda.

If you can locate any of these warning signs, you could better adjust the course of your startup to navigate choppy markets and to mitigate those risks on the road to survival and growth.

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What Is Organisational Development And Why Is It Important

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The market is a highly competitive and a volatile place as  customer needs and preferences keep changing without any warning.  A startup or an organisation needs to be flexible with the ever changing demands and needs in order to adapt to sudden changes.  Many high performing startups had to close shop because they simply could not account and plan for the future.  Nokia had to shut shop because it could not adapt to the iOS and Android operating systems, Blockbuster closed down because Netflix disrupted their entire business model and there are many more such examples.  However, some companies survived due to multiple changes in technology like Philips for instance, which realised the importance of LED and incandescent bulbs.  Philips quickly adapted these new bulbs into their roster because they understood Tungsten filament bulbs would be phased out.  

This is where Organisational Development (OD) comes into play and almost every startup which continuously adapted to change applied principles of organisational development.

What is organisational development

In simple terms organisational development means doing something which ensures the longevity of an organisation.  OD ensures people and processes can adapt to change, innovate and be in a state of constant transformation.  OD can only be successful if it is part of a company’s core goal.  

Why is OD important

OD does not mean just developing skilled staff and efficient systems and the following are the reasons why OD is important.

1) Boosting emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively and empathize with others.  Emotionally intelligent companies develop strategies in place to help their employees hone their skills and become more productive.  A simple example would be to assign a new employee to shadow an experienced member of the team so they could learn the in and outs of the team processes.  Similarly external mentors could be brought in to offer sessions on topics relevant to a team.

2) Attracting and retaining talent

Gone are the days when jobs used to be monotonous and devoid of much learning.  The current workforce is highly focussed and needs to learn new skills and data quickly.  The workforce has come to expect a certain kind of professional development from their employers.  Having an environment of continuous learning would encourage current talent to stick to an organization and at the same time provides a huge incentive to attract new and great talent.  Some of the top organizations like Salesforce, Indeed, Google and Microsoft to name a few are always in demand among job seekers and their workforce constantly keep talking about the developmental opportunities provided.

ALSO READ: What Is Seed Funding And What Are The Sources For Seed Funding For Startups

3) Product and service enhancement

One of the key importance of OD is it drastically improves the chances of innovation which leads to product enhancements.  Innovation is achieved through employee development, which focuses on rewarding successes and boosting motivation and morale.  Processes like Technology development, patents, manufacturing capabilities, consumer preferences, target market analysis are some of OD topics which assist in innovation.  An example would be OnePlus which is deemed as a flagship killer in the mobile segment because they understand the market need for having a premium phone with flagship features for an unbeatable price.  Year after year, they have exceeded expectations in terms of pricing and features because OnePlus understands the needs of their target market.

OD programs in an organization can greatly contribute to amplify a company’s ability to manage and maximise the power of change.  Gone were the days when a job was an exchange of time and energy for financial gain.  Today employees want a place of learning and a place where ideas are discussed freely and having an OD plan will greatly contribute to the success of an organization.

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