“The day will come when men will recognise women as their peer, not only at the fireside but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.”
Susan B. Anthony, an American social reformer and women’s rights activist said these words somewhere in the 18th century. Three centuries forward, the women in India are still fighting their battle.
Under the sleeves of words like ‘women empowerment’, are tucked the challenges of proving themselves equivalent to men, finding the courage to disrupt social norms and being brave enough to shatter the traditional roles. But those who do, have got their names written in the Indian history in golden ink and are still leading the path for the daughters of India to follow.
Indira Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, Mary Kom, Sucheta Kriplani, Anna Chandy, Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kochhar, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw – the list goes on. Although it might be small in comparison to the leaders in male dominant society but is growing continuously.
The Indian startup ecosystem is also not untouched with this rise in women power. Either as an entrepreneur or an investor, the Indian women leaders have been playing their roles efficiently and are bringing in the much-needed changes in the ecosystem for the future women leaders.
According to Padmaja Ruparel, founding partner at IAN, in less than a decade, the Indian startup ecosystem has evolved to become one of the safest and most forward-minded domains across any field the world over. Thanks to this development, many women of immense talent and focused vision have differentiated themselves in this dynamic industry while also becoming a key factor in enabling it to achieve further growth and value.
An enthusiastic angel investor and the founder of Stanford Angels, Paula Mariwala wraps up the entire sentiment in one sentence. “I remember every woman entrepreneur who has pitched to me in the last 15 years, simply because there have been so few.” But over the years, things have improved. Many of them have actually evolved to become Mariwala’s role models because of the resilience, focus and tenacity with which they have built their businesses.
“What has set them apart is their empathy and equanimity, facing challenges and overcoming failures with strength and determination. These women are as much driven by purpose and value system as they are by profits and scale and are examples of mission-driven entrepreneurs who have truly been trailblazers in creating impactful companies,” she added.
Thus, this daughter’s day, Inc42 thought to reach out to a few of the leading women investors and entrepreneurs to seek their advice for the daughters of tomorrow on becoming role models for the upcoming generation of women leaders as well as the common working women.
The cofounder and CEO of education startup Safeducate, Divya Jain believes that it is extremely crucial for women to change their outlook towards life. She also said that everything happens for a reason and that reason is actually leading entrepreneurs towards their goal. She always encourages women to identify their strengths and work on them to achieve sustainable gains as she is convinced that not only will it be essential for their own personal growth, but it will also help in strengthening their families and the overall society.
Her advice for the daughters of tomorrow is, “Problems that you face today, are just lessons you needed to learn.”
Dr Aarti Gupta
Married into the promoter family of the Jagran Group, Dr Aarti Gupta has been managing the family office of Devendra Mohan Gupta for almost 10 years now. She is also the chief investment officer at DBR Ventures and is the mother of a 9-year-old daughter. “I often think about what life lessons I can give her to ensure that she grows up to be a successful, strong and confident individual,” Gupta said.
She believes Indians are risk-averse and as daughters, girls are always told to think linearly. But she thinks now the need is to teach kids to think exponentially. “If you take 30 steps linearly you may maximum reach 30m away. But if you take 30 steps exponentially you can go 26 times around Earth,” she added.
Gupta’s advice for the daughters of tomorrow is, “Think big. Whether it is a school project or a job or your own startup, success is a function of how big can you think. Work on aiming your moon shot, and once you realise that dream, do not let anybody tell you that you cannot achieve any further.”
Dr Geetha Manjunath
Geetha is the cofounder and CEO of Niramai Health Analytix, which is developing a novel solution for detecting early-stage breast cancer using machine learning. Geetha has over 25 years of research expertise in the IT industry.
She believes, “Don’t be afraid to take up what seems like a tough job or a difficult task. Be confident and believe in your abilities. Identify what you like, what you are good at and strengthen those skills. If someone else can do it, you can too. Follow your passion, you will find a way to make it happen.”
Cofounder and director (CorpDev) at Infibeam, Neeru Sharma considers former CEO of Pepsico Indra Nooyi as her inspiration and a visionary. In one of her earlier interviews, she mentioned that Nooyi took Pepsi to the next level and represented India in the international arena strongly and consistently. Channelling this inspiration, Sharma is trying to bring the same spark into her ecommerce venture.
Her advice for the daughters and women entrepreneurs of tomorrow is, “Focus on yourself, your goals and your happiness, and you will bring happiness to everyone. You were not meant to match anyone or compete with anyone, you were meant to make a difference in the world in your own unique style. A career can make you a boss or manager, but only you can make yourself a leader. Inspire and be inspired.”
Founding Partner at IAN Fund, Padmaja believes that women leaders and entrepreneurs are at a stage where they can collectively thank the concerted efforts of the industry stakeholders that came before them and brought in the right conditions for women to succeed and surpass expectations.
She believes, “Women leaders have emerged as a great source of inspiration and empowerment for an entire generation of future visionaries. They have taught us – and keep reinforcing our faith in the fact – that if you want the universe aligning with your vision, you just need to believe in yourself and ensure to bring value through your participation. “
Paula believes that in our male-dominated and patriarchal startup ecosystem, there are not enough women entrepreneurs or investors, resulting in fewer opportunities for women to find mentors and enter this space. It is about time we change this. As a country, we must harness the unrealised potential of women and the timing is couldn’t be better.
Here’s her advice for the daughters of tomorrow: “I would love to see many more girls step out of their comfort zones, seek out mentors, both men and women, who can provide the right guidance and motivation and go out and achieve their dreams.”
CEO & founder of Luxeva, Priyanka Gill is a renowned name in the world of fashion. She is currently running three platforms: POPxo, a women-centric online community with 43 Mn MAUs; Plixxo, an influencer management platform, with over 40,000 influencers; and Luxeva, a digital guide to all things luxury, with over 1.5 Mn users across platforms.
This Daughters’ Day, instead of advice, Gill has words of encouragement for daughters of tomorrow. “Our generation is passionate about entrepreneurship and I know the next generation of female entrepreneurs will be leagues ahead. If I had to tell them something – it would be: you’ve got this! I know for a fact that you can achieve whatever you set your mind on, I believe in you. Dream big. Let nothing stop you.”
Rashi Mittal Nair
CEO and cofounder at WOOP (Women Of Opinion), Rashi Mittal is a word-of-mouth marketing addict. She has spent the last 13 years obsessing over what really gets people talking and how brands have gone digital. Having been a specialist at influencer marketing for close to five years at Procter & Gamble, she led or was part of international and national award-winning work, (including 3 Cannes and 2 Stevies) which usually meant being part of fantastic teams
This daughters day, the most important piece of advice from her is “don’t be afraid of failure”. “Getting over this fear of making mistakes is the most liberating process. It allows you to think of failures as learning opportunities and actually be happy that they happened!”
Sairee Chahal is the founder of Delhi-based women-only social platform Sheroes. For her, success is when after a day of work, you can go home, go to bed and fall asleep in five minutes.
Simple, energetic and bold, the only advice she has for daughters of tomorrow is, “Advice is overrated. Be your own person.”
The CEO and founder of online jewellery store Melorra, Saroja believe that entrepreneurship is not a job but a mindset. Learning from the simplest to the most complex aspects of your business is vital for growth.
Her advice for the daughters of tomorrow is, “Future entrepreneurs must be strong at ‘networking.’ Networking has always been a strong tool for business development and is critical for you to build connections that might be of use in the years ahead.”
As a young female entrepreneur in a family of entrepreneurs, Thapar learned about the functioning of the startup ecosystem and expanded the scope of her investment company. Her work experience also includes a stint with the Ministry of External Affairs.
Her advice for the daughters of tomorrow is, “Confidence is the key to growth and success. Embrace the mission and empower it with your uniqueness. Believe in yourself, stick to your principles and trust the power of Now. Skills are not defined by gender — have courage to be the influence.”
A senior investment manager at Qualcomm Ventures, Gupta spends a significant amount of time in building a high-quality deal pipeline, executing them and in portfolio management.
Her advice for tomorrow’s women entrepreneurs in India is, “Sky is the limit and remember you can be anything you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you that any dream is too big or small. Always draw inspiration in women who have outdone in their respective fields and the trials they have gone through be it Indira Nooyi, Kalpana Chawla or P.V.Sindhu“
Cofounder at CashKaro, Bhargava believes that one should not try to fit into any societal moulds on a professional or personal level. “Each one of us has a unique journey and while it is good to be focused on the end goal, it is equally important to live the experience and discover along the way who you really are,” she said.
She added that women of today should remember to lead the way, treat colleagues the way they would like to be treated and approach every opportunity with confidence and positivity.
Her advice to the daughters of tomorrow is: “Go on, break all those glass ceilings and be unstoppable in whatever you choose to do.”
The whole team of Inc42 wishes all daughters in India Happy Daughter’s Day. Keep growing and motivating us!