While wondering what to write for this Women’s Day, I remembered the reason why I became an entrepreneur in the first place.
After being fired from my first job three years ago, I was compelled to start my own company. This was due to the fact that content writers in small towns were terribly underpaid.
This led me to start iScribblers, my content marketing agency, which over the period of three years evolved into a PR, content marketing and infographic partner for brands.
Curious to know what led other women to become entrepreneurs, I reached out to these 15 amazing women on what inspired them to embark on their startup journey.
Here are their stories:
Aditi Chaurasia, EngineerBabu
Since childhood, I have been very ambitious. I belonged to a small town, where the two genders were given distinct but bias upbringings. While the gender biases all around disturbed me, my family’s equal treatment made me believe I am no less than any man. All this gave birth to the ambitions of a 10-year-old small town girl.
Since then, I have convinced myself to believe “Aditi, you can do anything”, “Everything is possible in this world” and above all, God has given me a lot of capabilities and I can change the world for good.
I promised myself that I won’t let my capabilities and ambitions die from the want of a routine and secured life. I have tried working for different establishments, but none satisfied me as in those places either the work culture wasn’t good or employees were treated like machines. This gave me a spark to start up, to build a workplace with the best of the work culture and with the freedom to innovate.
My Belief – “In this world, everything is possible irrespective of gender, if one is ready to take charge.”
Rashi Mittal, WOOP
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was in the fifth grade. While most girls played ‘house-house’, I played ‘business-business’. My parents were entrepreneurs and I couldn’t imagine not trying to be one someday.
But when I reached the seventh grade, I had a terrible accident, which left me bedridden and nearly paralysed me for more than 6 months. What this did was to inspire me to lead a life which had a more meaningful impact on others. While I went on to build a career in influencer-marketing at Procter & Gamble, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur someday.
And that’s what inspired the birth of WOOP – A unique triple-win platform where women get knowledge, rewards and good karma; brands get authentic word of mouth at scale via reviews, referrals and recommendations; and the society gets more funds for the girl-child education. I’m finally living my childhood dream – where my business of marketing, is a force for good.
Megha Aggarwal, LEAP Skills
I had the opportunity to study in some of the best institutions in the world, live in cities across the globe and work with some of the brightest minds.
I strongly believe that opportunity needs to be a function of the audacity to dream big, work hard and to be sheer gritty. Not of where you are born.
I resigned from my investment banking job in New York City in 2009 and started working in education and skill development in the capacity of a researcher. I had a chance to work with the government, policy makers, leading academic institutions and thought leaders.
I spent time with high school students in the small towns of Rajasthan and Haryana to try and understand their aspirations. It was evident that in each small school and college in each district of India, there were so many amazing young minds; they were courageous, motivated and had dreams that were inspiring. All they needed were opportunities, skills to fulfil their ambition and an ecosystem which made them believe that their dream was, in fact, within reach!
These incredible young students and their audacities were the inspiration behind me in starting my entrepreneurial journey with Leap Skills in 2013.
Vaishali Neotia, Merxius
My core driving force has always been challenging the status quo. I was the first in my family to take up science in high school, to pursue engineering and to start a tech company. My parents inspired me to stand up for what I believed in even if it makes me stand out.
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I’ve had the courage of conviction to believe I can make a difference and create a sustainable impact in multiple ways.
I am glad I started and am leading a tech company, and that I’m learning from and sharing my learnings with students, startups and corporates. I’m happy that I’m able to offer my inputs as an advisor focussed on initiatives which are based on equality and diversity and on entrepreneurial endeavours. I’m ecstatic at being an enabler of ‘Extended Reality’ technologies by democratising its access and consumption for non-tech users.
I believe all of the above are an integral part of the definition of entrepreneurship and starting a company has been a small albeit significant part of the longer journey.
Manisha Raisinghani, LogiNext
Right from the point when I wrote the first code for our product to the point when we acquired clients across ten countries, it all rose from a keen focus to create an automated and optimised world of logistics.
Transportation can take-up anything from 10% to 30% of the total cost for a company. With proper schedule planning and route optimisation, this cost can be brought down significantly. The benefit of the same would be then transferred to the consumer. Imagine receiving a parcel within a day or a few hours of placing an order.
There are multiple restrictions which could delay this considerably, such as traffic, weather, mismanaged routes and planning hassles. My drive and inspiration was to solve this routing and planning puzzle using machine learning algorithms to ensure that they are no delays.
Siddhi Trivedi, Healthy Care
I believe women make great entrepreneurs because we take calculated risks. We are strong with a great attitude towards bouncing back from hard knocks!
Entrepreneurs love learning and thinking, they usually start their journey by trying to solve a particular problem. I was forced to look for solutions to encourage my son to read as he absolutely hated it. I was lucky to work with another woman with the same problem and we built a great team to develop an educational gamification app to help boys read.
I realised that I actually enjoyed exploring ideas that spark innovation to solve real life problems and create a social impact in the community.
I am constantly looking for ideas to make our community healthier, better, more resilient and I am enjoying working collaboratively (especially with women).
Ubika Dev, InstaTaskers
Freelancers were indispensable for startups. But at the same time, the freelancing industry was riddled with various issues.
One, it was very difficult to find genuine service providers from the fakes.
Two, there was no method to the pricing war.
Low pricing raised suspicion about quality and high price was not an assured proxy for good quality. Even if one finds the perfect freelancer, the freelancer would expect advance payment lest the client takes a flight after the task is over.
At the same time, the clients would be concerned if the output would be delivered if they paid the money in advance. This mutual distrust spoiled the working relationship. InstaTaskers was started with the intention of resolving these issues.
We curate all the freelancer profiles, match each lead with a couple of best-suited profiles and hold payments to eliminate the flight risk on either side.
Pooja Rai, Anthill Creations
During my junior year at IIT-Kharagpur, I met and interviewed inspiring women entrepreneurs while writing my first book ‘The Road Not Taken’. At IIT, I met like-minded individuals, aligned towards bringing positive change. With them, I set towards solving the problem of ‘Early Childhood Education’.
A journey across India, as part of Jagriti Yatra helped me connect with the grassroots. When we visited the kids at a residential school for the underprivileged children in the campus, we saw them playing with broken slippers and stones. We realised the need of a proper playground for these children.
What started three years back as just a conversation amongst a bunch of friends has now impacted more than 11,000 children in 10 different regions across the country.
Anthill Creations brings in the much-needed play into children’s lives that eventually affects their overall growth and life. Being architects and deeply connected with the needs of children, we built our first recycled playground for these underprivileged kids.
Bringing happiness to the kids is something that I strongly relate to, something for which I decided to quit my corporate job. I’m now pursuing Anthill Creations full-time along with my co-founders and we are transforming the lives of children in India, one teeny-tiny step at a time!
Swati Vyas, Cubical Laboratories
In my childhood, being a small-town girl, I was often fed the scary narrative that ‘good boys’ grow into powerful and responsible men but ‘good girls’ grow up to become meek and pretty wives and daughters-in-law.
Over the years, I realised that in order to become an independent and powerful woman, one cannot stick to the conventional definition of a good girl.
I chose mathematics as my primary subject, went for engineering bachelors at IIT Guwahati and finally took a huge risk to startup in the male-dominated consumer electronics industry.
The journey from making a complete smart-home solution, to creating a luxury brand and to sustaining without funding during tough times was exceptionally hard.
The inspiring stories of bold ladies of the 21st century – the likes of Indira Nooyi and Sheryl Sandberg – have been oases in a desert. They have encouraged young women like me to gather the inner strength to fight against all societal odds.
Yosha Gupta, Meraki
Creating a lasting value – that magical ability to create ‘something’ from ‘nothing’, with integrity, passion and resilience and with the ability to mobilise many to come on this journey with you is my reason to be an entrepreneur.
My biggest inspiration to be an entrepreneur has been my late father who despite several setbacks in his entrepreneurial life, started a new business at 60 and was successful and loved his work.
Art has a huge role to play in shaping our collective cultural understanding. I hope to revive all our lost stories by taking traditional Indian folk arts to the world through my folk arts focused start up Meraki. To explore ways to get artists from India and other countries to collaborate with artists across the world – to generate meaningful employment opportunities, empowering artists and creating the rightful place for arts and artists while also adding beauty and joy to the world is what keeps me going.
Esha Shekhar, Ungender
What inspired me to start my entrepreneurial journey was to solve a problem.
As a lawyer, before my startup, I had spent four years going through the rigours of the courts seeing people struggling to get access to good lawyers and justice.
The question that always kept going on in my mind was that if laws were created for the betterment of the people, then why it is that it is not reaching them in a manner that they can understand it.
In the quest to solve this issue, I developed ‘Cliklawyer’, the web app for creating a simplified path for people to reach legal solutions and have expanded my work to create ‘Ungender’ – for working on making workplaces safe and inclusive (for women).
In the context of my professional training, it matters most to me that if I can simplify
legal jargons and present law in its simplest form to the people for whom it was created in the first place.
Gitanjali Banerjee, InfertilityDost
I am a middle-class girl and did my basic studies from Lucknow. In 2004, I got married to the man in Olive Green.
Post 5 miscarriages, 3 molar pregnancies, 1 failed IVF, a brush with ovarian cancer; I finally succeeded on second IVF attempt. I had a long and rollercoaster journey towards motherhood. The pain and the social disdain that a woman undergoes during infertility journey is unimaginable and humiliating.
Society, on the other hand has no idea about the pain of infertility. Almost 1 in every 4 couple in India is fighting some or the other form of infertility. There was a need to come out of the infertility closet.
Thus, I overcame my personal fears and started InfertilityDost to reach out to women who suffer in silence, bring out real stories, make the society aware and acknowledge the pain, and most importantly, to help patients find the right doctor.
These go-getters prove that irrespective of cultural, gender and geographic barriers, nothing stopped them from pursuing their dreams.
Dear ladies, we’re unstoppable!