Forget cultural bias or the lack of public safety. No problem even if it’s a tech start-up. There’s no giving in or giving up to additional pressure in terms of balancing work, home and family either. Today’s women entrepreneurs are a determined lot and don’t want to take no for an answer as they forge ahead to build valuable companies.
Over the years, several enterprising women have managed to come up trumps by successfully raising a family as well as a business venture, especially in the start-up ecosystem. Being a working woman may be challenging to maintain the balance between home and work, but for these die-hard entrepreneurs, it’s business as usual.
“There are no fixed work timings and on an average I end up working between 13 and 15 hours. But I have not seen this as an excuse to overlook my responsibilities as the lady of the house, especially, towards my two-year-old daughter,” says Shilpi Jain, who co-founded Intellipaat, a market leader in e-learning and online training courses, along with her husband, with a paltry amount of R50,000 in 2011. The company was able to break even in the first month of its launch and has been growing at a rate of 1,000% every year since then.
Suruchi Wagh, co-founder and chief products officer at Jombay, a talent measurement and analytics platform, believes entrepreneurship for women is not harder, “it is just different”. “One of the key challenges women have to face is the fight within themselves. If we don’t believe in our own abilities, we cannot expect others to do so,” Wagh says.
“The other challenge is the reality that the world does not expect a lot from women when it comes to work. However, the start-up ecosystem is seeing a growing number of women entrepreneurs and that’s making the sector way more balanced,” Wagh adds.
Wagh and her co-founder had to invest almost all their life’s savings to start Jombay in 2010 before they got their first round of financing from Nirvana Venture Advisors. The portal now works with companies such as Citibank, Nestle, Kotak Mahindra and Taj, among others.
“Being a woman, you have two full-time start-ups—your home and your company. There are always some aspects that get compromised, but I guess that happens in the life of any working woman,” says Shanti Mohan, founder of LetsVenture, a platform for angel investors and start-ups. “I have been very lucky on the family front. My husband and children were very happy, supportive and excited when I decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge,” adds Mohan, who started her business in May 2013.
Today’s women entrepreneurs may not initially have adequate experience in the product or service being offered, but what they lack in expertise, they easily make up for it with passion, a strong vision, zeal to learn and talented employees. “When we started, we were stepping into the big, bad world of e-commerce without an anchor. There really was no getting around the fact that neither of us had any technical knowledge,” say Tanvi Malik and Shivani Poddar, co-founders of the fashion portal FabAlley.com, adding: “We overcame this massive bottleneck by bringing on board a competent third-party agency that thankfully understood our varied requirements and more than delivered with the website.”
Many online studies have proved that women in India have found the right environment for realising their entrepreneurial dreams. Factors that contribute to this growing trend include correct opportunities, potential market segments that need female expertise, validation of skills and innate talents. “Women in India are venturing into entrepreneurship in a diverse variety of fields and are making their mark in the traditional to the quirkiest of spheres. This is a very positive trend, as it will motivate more women to embark on the entrepreneurial route, work on their own terms and not necessarily sacrifice a career entirely for the sake of home and family,” adds Radhika Ghai Aggarwal, co-founder of online retail portal Shopclues.com.