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.
5 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women
The workplace has undergone massive changes in the last century. At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, any workplace was dominated by men while the women were delegated to run the homes. However, with the advent of the internet and new and exciting technologies, workplaces have undergone a tectonic shift. Women are no longer comfortable staying at home and are instead opting to lead teams and organisations. As every year passes, we get closer to true gender equality, women have proven time and again that they are equally capable to get the job done if not better in some instances. Names like Wolfe Herd (Bumble founder,) Kylie Jenner (Kylie Cosmetics founder,) Masaba Gupta (Masaba clothing label founder) are just some of the names who are known for leading world famous brands with their unique style of leadership.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we bring to you five women founders who run world famous and successful startups.
1) Upasana Taku-MobiKwik
If you are an Indian and are used to doing online shopping, more often than not at the time of payment, you would be directed to a payment gateway. One of these gateways would normally be MobiKwik. The startup is a well known name in the digital payments and digital wallet space. MobiKwik was founded by Upasana Taku in 2009, who prior to founding MobiKwik used to work with PayPal. Today Upasana Taku is also in charge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik.
2) Richa Kar-Zivame
An enthusiastic MBA student, Richa Kar, developed an online lingerie shopping platform in the year 2011. Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a valuation of more than $ 100 million. The brilliant idea for her own lingerie business came to light when Richa tracked Victoria’s Secret’s sales, who was one of her clients when she was working at SAP. She observed the lingerie sales figures reached peaks overseas but, Indian women were not provided with the similar innerwear. While Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, she realized the social embarrassment in India surrounding lingerie shopping. Today Richa Kar could be credited with destigmatising the uneasiness surrounding lingerie shopping in India.
3) Falguna 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 many critics wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.
ALSO READ: Zivame: Founding Story
4) Sabina Chopra-Yatra.com
Yatra.com is a popular Indian website for making flight and hotel bookings. Sabina Chopra was instrumental in identifying the potential for travel commerce in India and people moving towards cheaper or easier travel. By the time, people started looking to make bookings, Sabina made sure Yatra.com was already in place. Sabina was the former Head of India Operations of eBookers, which is also an online travel company based in Europe. Along with this, she was also working with Japan Airlines which further adds to her experience in the travel industry.
5) Rashmi Sinha-SlideShare
SlideShare allows people to upload and access their presentations online. While this feature is presently available everywhere, SlideShare was one of the first players in making this happen. Rashmi Sinha was one of the founders of the presentation sharing platform SlideShare. The company became so successful that in 2012, LinkedIn acquired the company for an amount of $100 million.
Let us know in the comments if you know any other wonderful women who have become leaders of their right or have started up and are doing extraordinary things. We at Startup Stories wish a wonderful Women’s Day to all the women in the world who are changemakers.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
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