With the consistent developments in the Indian startup ecosystem, more and more women are chasing the entrepreneurial dream and flourishing in their ventures. This is empowering other Indian women who are still confined to the traditional homemaker role to think for themselves. However, a recent report states that only two Indian cities have made it to the list of the 50 most favorable global places for women to work. India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru, ranked 40th, while Delhi was at the 49th place. This survey was conducted by the tech giant Dell in partnership with the consultancy firm IHS Markit. The ranking—based on inputs from Indian women entrepreneurs, policymakers, venture capitalists, media, and academicians—measures a city’s ability to attract and support those women who want to grow their businesses.
According to the National Sample Survey, only 14% of the businesses in India are run by women entrepreneurs. Most of the companies are bootstrapped and run on a small scale. The global disparity is evident in a report which says nearly 126 million women have their own business across the globe while Indian women linger around the 8 million mark; a paradoxical statement given that India is the second most populous nation in the world. StartupTalky has compiled a list of successful female entrepreneurs who've made a mark in India's startup ecosystem.
Some Interesting Statistics on Women Entrepreneurs in India
- About 58% of the female entrepreneurs were in the age range of 20-30 when they started out.
- Nearly 73% of them report a revenue of approximately Rs 10 lakhs in a financial year.
- Almost 57% of these women started out solo, i.e., without any other member.
- About 35% of the women had a co-founder.
- Roughly 71% of the Indian female entrepreneurs employ five people or less.
In a country like India where most of the women aren't encouraged to think big (especially in the rural parts of the nation), there are some who have soared higher than one would expect in a constrictive setup. These wonder women are inspiring other ladies to venture on the path of entrepreneurship through their success stories comprising personal struggles and challenges. As a result, India is steadily rising up the ranks when it comes to a favorable startup environment coupled with some solid backing from the Indian government.
Successful Women Entrepreneurs in India
Chitra Gurnani Daga
Aditi Gupta is a social-cause entrepreneur and the co-founder of Menstrupedia that works on spreading awareness about menstruation. She started this venture along with her husband, Tuhin Paul. The venture stemmed from her own experiences with this so-called taboo. Menstruation was often a painful time she had to go through without any help to alleviate the pain. After finding out many women resonating with her on the same problem, she decided to create a website on menstruation, complete with illustrations and graphics, to educate women about periods. Menstrupedia has become extremely popular among girls and women seeking to gain awareness on the topic.
Aditi continues informing women on menstrual hygiene to eliminate certain misconceptions against this natural process. She indeed is among the gems who want to do something for the society. She aspires to create a future where menstruation is not seen as an evil but a welcoming change in a girl's life. She hails from Garhwal in Jharkhand. Aditi is a post-graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
Anisha Singh is no stranger to roller-coaster riders; she went through various ups and downs in life before achieving the success she enjoys today. She is the co-founder and CEO of India’s biggest deals platform, Mydala. Anisha's long journey started when she was working in Capitol Hill and helping entrepreneurs. She then joined a software company in Boston where she designed e-learning ecosystems. Anisha Singh is known for openly supporting woman causes and campaigns. She speaks her mind out and doesn't cave in to fear.
Anisha is from New Delhi, India. She pursued her master’s degree in political communication and then an MBA in Information Systems from American University, Washington DC. Anisha Singh is counted among the most successful businesswomen in India and was the judge for an Indian reality show based on entrepreneurship.
Shradha was at the peak of her career while working with famous news media houses like the Times of India and CNBC in Mumbai. During that period, she interacted with many entrepreneurs and got to know about their success stories. Her idea to feature these entrepreneurs was rejected by several channels. She figured out that there were millions of stories storming around but no platform to cover them.
She decided to create an online portal to provide a platform for featuring such stories. YourStory was launched in 2008 and has 70,000+ stories on its website today. Shradha leads a team of 100+ people who offer content in 11 local languages. The motive is to share the roller coaster of emotions an entrepreneur goes through. She was awarded with the L’Oreal Paris Femina Award and was included in the list of Worlds’ Top 500 LinkedIn Influencers. Shradha is one of the most successful and influential female entrepreneurs in India.
Upasana Taku co-founded Mobikwik with her husband, Bipin Preet Singh. Mobikwik is a fintech startup. It is a virtual wallet tied to a huge network of companies and services. People can recharge and pay at registered places through the Mobikwik wallet. Mobikwik also rewards its customers with cashback through a concept called "SuperCash".
Upasana has a strong fintech background, having worked as a senior product manager at PayPal (an eBay company) in Silicon Valley and with HSBC (San Diego) prior to that. She graduated with a bachelor's in engineering from NIT Jalandhar and has a master's degree in management science from Stanford University. Read the startup story of Mobikwik to know more about Upasana's journey.
Neeru Sharma is the co-founder and director of Infibeam, India’s leading e-commerce portal. Neeru is an expert in conducting market research and providing financial diligence for investments.
Neeru Sharma holds an MBA degree in Finance and Strategy from Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. She has been a part of TCS, Nokia, and Amazon.
Sugandha is a young businesswoman and the founder of Docttocare. Docttocare is an online healthcare service provider that provides information to its users about the best doctors, clinics, hospitals, and diagnostic centers. Docttocare also offers virtual walkthroughs of the hospitals and their facilities.
Sugandha has worked with companies like Infosys, Oracle, and Google Maps before founding Docttocare. Sugandha is an electrical & communication engineer by qualification. She manages a team of 15 people who make Docttocare better everyday. You should go through the startup story of Docttocare to know more about Sugandha and her journey.
Founder: The Moms Co.
A banker-turned-entrepreneur, Malika Sadani is the founder and CEO of The Moms Co., a leading homegrown brand for toxin-free, natural, and effective products for pre and post natal care, babies, and conscious consumers seeking personal care solutions. It was when Sadani had her first child and moved back to India from the UK that she experienced difficulties in finding chemical-free, quality products in the country. There was a huge gap in the baby-care market that was yet to be addressed.
With The Moms Co., she has embarked on a mission to help mothers in India and across the world make safe choices for themselves and their loved ones. The team works with experts from around the globe and even though it's a native brand, all the products under The Moms Co. have Australian certifications.
Ruchi Garg founded Venuelook in 2014. VenueLook is a Noida based O2O platform for venue aggregation, recommendation, and booking. Venuelook makes venue booking seamless and awesome across 16 cities in India. It helps organizations in managing and promoting events.
Ruchi has a bachelor's degree in computer science. She has professional experience of more than 15 years in building products and teams. Ruchi manages a team of 50 people in Venuelook. Even though she is in the event management industry, Ruchi still maintains a connect with technology—leveraging it to solve business problems. You can read the startup story of Venuelook to know more about her.
Founder: Social Samosa
Ankita Gaba is a consultant, lecturer, entrepreneur, and a media strategist known for her multi-tasking prowess. She co-founded Social Samosa in 2013. Social Samosa is a knowledge repository for thoughts, ideas, and dialogues about the social media scene in India. She started her career in the public relations industry . Social Samosa offers a platform to people to become popular by allowing them to freely express their thoughts, ideas, and dialogues.
Born on 4 April 1985, she hails from Mumbai. Ankita Gaba won "The Social Media Entrepreneur of the Year Award" by Wat Awards in the year 2013. Her first venture was Superchooha, one of the first social media agencies in India.
Founder: MAD STREET DEN (MAD)
Ashwini Asokan had Anand Chandrasekaran, her husband, by her side in her entrepreneurial quest. She began by leading a mobile innovation team in Silicon Valley. This stint incited her interest in Artificial Intelligence. After coming back to India, the husband-wife duo tasted success with their first offering—Mad Street Den. Mad Street Den is an AI platform that enables users to capture smiles, detect facial expressions, and emotions through their smartphone cameras. The company is located in the Bay Area, California with offices in Seattle and Chennai (India).
Ashwini and Anand also founded vue.ai, an image recognition platform for the retail industry. Vue.ai works with marquee retailers, brands, and marketplaces across the globe. It transforms operations in the fashion industry through intelligent automation. It won't be wrong to label Ashwini as an innovative female tech entrepreneur!
Akanksha Anshu is the founder of refundme.in. Refundme.in offers a platform to travelers where they can easily claim compensation in the case of unfavorable circumstances such as flight delay, flight cancellation, overbooking, denied boarding, and so on. She is tech-savvy, a visionary, entrepreneur, and the founder of 3 successful ventures. She comes from an enterprise technology background, holds an engineering degree, and has managed various roles from IT services to business development for the international market.
Through refundme.in, she has given suggestions to the government and the efforts have helped the government revise the Air Passenger Charter Act. Akanksha Anshu has been featured by many media platforms like ETWealth, BW Disrupt, Business Insider and more for her contributions to the Aviation Industry.
Akanksha has expertise in technology, marketing, and automation. She has been mentoring various startups for their IT infrastructure and strategic planning. Besides consultancy, she is a traveler, story-teller, and a motivational speaker. So far, she has been a speaker at various events where she has presented her ideas on distinct topics—technology, entrepreneurship, IT automation, motivation, and web security.
Chitra Gurnani Daga
Chitra Gurnani and her husband, Abhishek Daga, started Thrillophilia in 2009. The venture was a manifestation of their passion for traveling. Thrillophilia is a travel company that provides the best local experiences and assures its customers of a trip they will cherish forever. Her aim is to make the people of India aware of the marvelous travel spots and tourist destinations within the country.
Chitra Gurnani hails from Bangalore. She has an MBA degree in Marketing from the Indian School of Business. Chitra previously worked at SAP and Infosys as a software engineer. She is focusing on building an organization that adds value to both its customers and employees instead of solely focusing on revenue.
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Debadutta was born in the city of Odisha, Rourkela. She has an MBA from IIM, Calcutta and worked for Yahoo India.
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Gurleen Kaur Tikku is the CEO of Hareepatti. Hareepatti is a financial advisory firm imparting its customers financial wisdom. It is an extension of Trilok Singh & Associates that was started by Gurleen’s father, late Shri Trilok Singh Jee.
Gurleen Kaur pursued a PGDBM in Finance from Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad. She has been recognized among the Top 30 Women Entrepreneurs from Delhi.
Founder: InstaScribe and Pothi
Jaya Jha is another successful womanpreneur in India. She is the brain behind two startups—InstaScribe and Pothi.com. These platforms enable users to create their own eBooks.
Jaya has enviable credentials with the IIT-IIM tag. She graduated from IIT, Kanpur in Computer Science and has a PGDM in Marketing and Strategy from IIM, Lucknow. She previously worked for Google as an Assistant Product Manager and with IBM as an Assistant Manager.
Neha has done something really unique through Moojic. Moojic is like a radio/jukebox for restaurants and cafes. It allows customers to alter and customize playlists as per their interests. Neha is no stranger to failures, she has had a difficult journey but always emerged victorious.
Neha Behani hails from Mumbai. She pursued her MBA in Marketing from the Asian Institute of Management. She previously worked as an Assistant Product Manager at HP.
Megha Malik started her journey as an entrepreneur a decade back by starting DesignerPeople. Her vision is to transform the way product packaging, designing, and positioning are perceived by young brands. As a creative director at Designer People, Megha's responsibility is to provide proactive practical and contemporary brand advertising solutions, and support a futuristic brand presentation in tune with the global trends.
She has worked with more than 500 brands over the last ten years and helped them build their branding portfolio. Megha holds an MBA degree in Marketing Strategies and a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. Read the success story of DesignerPeople to know more.
Chitra Ravi is the founder of Chrysalis. A management graduate, Chitra has a strong desire to improve education. Chrysalis has innovated an academic program for the formative years (in the age group of 2-12) of a child’s education – “ThinkRoom”. Chitra deftly combines her skills in conceptualization, storyboarding, and instructional design to deliver products and services which are dynamic and on par with any international curriculum standards.
Chitra has traveled to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and South East Asia and has participated in many international training programs and conventions like the Project Zero conducted by the Harvard University exclusively for educators. She also presented a program on the effective use of technology in K-12 curriculum for one of the biggest satellite channels in India.
Founder: SHLC-Sexual Harassment Law Compliance Advisory
Aparajita Amar is the founder of SHLC-Sexual Harassment Law Compliance Advisory. She is a certified sexual harassment and workplace diversity advisor and an Advocate. At SHLC, Aparajita and her colleagues provide documentation, consultation, and advisory services to organizations for assisting their clients in complying with the sexual harassment laws. The team works on drafting anti-sexual harassment policies, sensitization and awareness sessions, and ICC capacity building. She has designed and conducted training, sensitization, and awareness workshops for employees, supervisors and senior management. She has also designed and conducted capacity building and strengthening programmes for the members of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).
Aparajita is a Legal Development Programme (LDP) Member for the "Strengthening Road Safety in India" program organized by the Bloomberg Initiative and the World Health Organization (WHO) on global road safety. Aparajita has attended workshops held in Beijing and Geneva.
Rati Batra is an HR strategist and the founder of YourHR; the startup is known for rendering strategic consulting support to start-ups and SMEs. YourHR provides end-to-end human resource management (HRC) strategic consulting support to businesses. She brings HR and business development expertise to the table.
She attended the GEC Conference 2019 held in Bahrain as part of the Indian delegation, deliberating ways to sustain the entrepreneurial and start-up culture. Rati is also working to build a network that celebrates and encourages strong, independent female entrepreneurs.
Founder: V Resorts
Aditi Balbir is the founder and CEO of V Resorts – an organization that provides holiday experiences that showcase the real India.
She graduated from ISB (Hyderabad) and the Fuqua School, Duke University. Aditi started her career in finance before establishing V Resorts. V Resorts was her first venture outside of finance in 2014. She received $ 9 million in two successive rounds of funding from Bedrock Ventures, Seedfund, and RB Investments. She has contributed in building the business from the ground up to carefully curate, develop and manage unique resort properties in India.
She received the Young Women Business award by CNBC TV 18 in 2017, Exceptional Women of Excellence by the Women Economic Forum in 2017, Fortune 100 Most Powerful Women Asia 2017, and Dell Foundation’s 200 most powerful women entrepreneurs in the world in 2016.
Falguni Nayar is the founder of Nykaa, India's beauty product retailer. After serving 20 years as a venture investor and merchant with Kotak Mahindra, she suddenly announced her departure to pursue her dream. Nykaa has over 850 brands along with robust content through videos, blogs, and dynamic social media engagement. Running an online business successfully, Nykaa has also introduced 35 physical stores.
Nykaa has also been a front runner in bringing international luxury brands to India, giving Indian customers all-encompassing products and services to choose from.
Garima Satija founded PoshVine. Before starting PoshVine, Garima worked with Naukri.com and Ozone Media. PoshVine is an online destination that helps people to discover and book dining and travel experiences. PoshVine began by aggregating premium restaurants and experimental chefs willing to create unique activities. PoshVine enables individuals and companies to create dexperiential packages directly on its site. PoshVine recently adopted a B2B2C approach in its business model. It works with large clients like HDFC Bank, Citibank, Axis Bank, Jaguar, etc. and manages their experiential engagement for affluent customers.
Mrs. Vandana Luthra is the founder of VLCC. VLCC is a globally recognized name in the beauty, health, and fitness industry. Mrs. Luthra had humble beginnings in 1989 with the opening of a beauty and slimming services centre in New Delhi. This centre ran weight management programs along with cutting-edge skin and hair treatments.
In the year 2013, she was awarded one of India’s topmost honors, the Padma Shri, for her immense contribution to Trade & Industry. She won the Asian Business Leaders Forum Trailblazer Award in 2012, the Enterprise Asia Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2010, and the Rajiv Gandhi Award in 2008. She has been featured in the Forbes Asia 2016 list of 50 Power Businesswomen in the APAC region. She has been featured in Fortune magazine’s annual listing of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in India for six years in a row – from 2011 to 2016.
Suchi Mukherjee founded LimeRoad in 2012. LimeRoad is a social-commerce site where products are shared and sold. These offerings are targeted directly towards the woman community. LimeRoad is the fastest growing fashion platform today. Suchi Mukherjee studied economics at the School of Cambridge and completed her master's degree in economics and finance from London. She was part of the early team building out the UK business for eBay, an executive management team member at Skype, and a managing director at Gumtree.
She was among the 15 women voted for ‘Rising Talent – Global Leaders Under 40’ at the World Women’s Forum in Paris in 2010 for her contributions in scaling businesses encompassing consumer technology.
Mansi Gupta is the co-founder of the lifestyle brand ‘Tjori’. Tjori was launched in India in 2013. Tjori is a lifestyle brand with products in the apparel, home, wellness, jewelry, shoes, and bags categories; it recently introduced a mother and child catalog. All of these categories follow the richness of Indian handicrafts and the quality of international standards. She created this brand with the idea of promoting traditional Indian handicrafts imbued with a touch of modernism to fetch them the much-needed global recognition. A plan built on the whiteboard of a room in the Wharton University housing complex has now become a global e-commerce website with ever-expanding future plans.
The daughter of an elite clothing tycoon in Jammu, Mansi completed her MBA from the Business School of Cardiff University and has a specialization in the field of finance from the University of Wharton.
The brand is a spitting image of her style and aura. The art and the details of the handicraft are kept intact and enhanced it with a modern touch. The products are well-thought about and only then sold to customers.
Mansi and her employees are determined to build the brand and are dedicated towards taking Tjori to global imminence. Mansi Gupta says, “If we don’t have any battles to fight then the war is lost. A battle will only be won once we stand true to our aims and goals.”
"The transition from an e-commerce website to a walk-in store is Tjori’s next goal and we aim to win this battle by spreading our stores worldwide. The end goal would be to be the best-selling India lifestyle brand on a global platform," she adds.
Founder: Kalaari Capital
Vani Kola is the founder and Managing Director of Kalaari Capital. Kalaari Capital is one of India’s leading early-stage venture capital firms. Vani has successfully led more than 30 investments at Kalaari in e-commerce, gaming, digital content, healthcare and more. Some of her successes include Dream11, Myntra, Cure.fit, and Snapdeal. Vani is on the board of several companies that are redefining the landscape of Indian business.
Vani Kola has been profiled in numerous books and has been identified as one of Fortune India's 'Most Powerful Women in Business.' She is also supporting various organizations fostering entrepreneurship and woman leadership.
Chairperson: Godrej Consumer Products
Nisaba is the executive chairperson of Godrej Consumer Products. Nisaba has a bachelor's in science degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is the key architect of GCPL’s strategy and transformation in the last decade. Over the last ten years, GCPL’s market capitalization has increased twenty-fold and GCPL has developed a strong, engaged, and ambitious team. It is consistently ranked among the best places to work.
She has transformed Godrej into a more meritocratic and highly performance-driven organization while retaining the group’s values front and center. She spearheads the Godrej group’s "good & green" agenda to drive inclusive and sustainable growth.
Founder: Saha Fund
Ankita Vashistha is the founder and chief executive ffficer of India’s (and Asia’s) first venture capital fund, Sara Fund. Sara Fund promotes and invests in women-led ventures and firms making strides in technology and innovation. Sara Funds has made investments in India, Asia, the UK, and the US.
Ankita also works in tandem with multiple domain experts, industry leaders, and a custom investment team that advises and chairs ventures to help them grow.
Aditi Avasthi is the founder and CEO of Embibe. Embibe is an educational technology company based in Bangalore. Aditi has an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Aditi Avasthi was awarded 'Accenture Vaahini Innovator of the Year' at the inaugural edition of the ETPrime Women Leadership Awards (ETPWLA).
Gazal Kalra co-founded Rivigo, a Gurugram-based logistics startup. Gazal Kalra has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Rivigo is a relay truck model where no driver would drive for more than four-five hours at a stretch and would return home the same day. Rivigo recently raised $65 million from Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners. Rivigo has raised a total of $180 million to date.
Manisha Raisinghani co-founded LogiNext that helps SaaS companies to manage and optimize logistics and field service operations. Manisha did her master's in information systems from the Carnegie Mellon University. She then worked with Warner Brothers as part of the data analytics team for itunes. She also worked with IBM in the US before deciding to start LogiNext.
LogiNext is backed by Alibaba-funded Paytm and the Indian Angel Network; it has raised more than $10 Million as investment to date. LogiNext has achieved exponential success in a very short span of time and is set to exceed 300% in growth by the end of 2020.
Sreelakshmi is the youngest woman entrepreneur in India. Sreelakshmi became the youngest web designer-cum-CEO in the world in 2020 at the age of 21. She designed and developed the official website of her school located in Kozhikode (Kerala) when she was only 8 years old. She has many accolades to her name. Sreelaxmi has received many national and international awards.
At the age of 10, she designed and established eDesign; it is a web designing company that offers SEO, design, and other related services. Sreelakshmi Suresh has developed over 100 websites for renowned institutions and organizations across India.
Indians need to learn from these role models. Their ventures and initiatives are more than just a source of profit. The ladies covered in this post are some of the most successful female entrepreneurs in India and demonstrate the results of creativity and innovation. Gender is not a deterrent for achieving success.
Hope this post has incited the hidden entrepreneur in you!