Inspiring stories of Indian women entrepreneur: How they stood against the society and worked against the odds

“If You Are Determined, No Hurdle Is Big Enough To Stop You From Achieving What You Want”

After having been kept away from showing their talent to the patriarchal society for generations, women have now started coming out of their homes and no wonder, they are actually taking things to an altogether different level. Be it politics, sports, sciences or even startups, women have won quite a lot of applause and exhibited notable skills everywhere. Burdened with both responsibilities, that of the home and of their startup as well, women are proving themselves efficient, besides, for long, being the caring family members.

As these women are succeeding in their ventures, they are also making it clear to the society that hard work, determination, ambition and leadership are not the traits limited only to men. Shyness, fear or hesitation is not a part of women’s personality anymore. They are confident, intelligent and ready to take on the challenges of the world.

So, sit back, let the femininity flow and read the inspiring stories of these Women Entrepreneurs.

Anisha Singh

With a master’s degree in political communication and an MBA degree in Information Systems from the American university in Washington DC, Anisha started her first job with the Clinton administration where she helped women entrepreneurs raise funding for their ideas. Later, she worked at Centra software in Boston before returning to India.

After working for years, she got into entrepreneurship when she founded mydala.com in 2009. Her idea and her efforts reaped sweet fruits as her startup is now amongst the leading online portals of the country.

The company’s name is derived from the Sanskrit word “dala” which means group. It’s a marketing portal which connects merchants and consumers and allows users to purchase offers from Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Docomo and Aircel via ecommerce. Headquartered in New Delhi, the company which she co-founded with Ashish Bhatnagar and Arjun Basu has already received two rounds of funding i.e. INR 1.1 Cr. from angel investors and in 2011 it raised a total of $6 Mn.

Swati Bhargava

At the age of 16, while other students of her age were still figuring about their school examination preparations, this girl from Ambala had already obtained a scholarship to study in Singapore. A determined Swati later graduated from London School of Economics and for the next 5 years worked with Goldman Sachs in London.

But, soon she realised clocking in and out for others was not what she wanted to do. And then she founded Pouring Pounds with her husband Rohan Bhargava in July 2010. Pouring Pounds is a B2B startup used by the brands to manage cashbacks and vouchers. Continuing her entrepreneurial streak, Swati ventured into the Indian startup ecosystem by launching a cashback website, Cashkaro.com, in November 2012. With over 500 partners including the likes of Myntra, Yatra, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Jet Airways, Cashkaro.com, today, is one of the leading coupon portals of the country. Headquartered in Gurgaon, the company has reportedly received a funding of $750,000 from angel investors. Associated with various startup and tech initiatives such as the Nasscom 10,000 girls in tech, Sheros and TiE, Swati is also amongst the most active entrepreneurs on social media.



Richa Kar

After acquiring her degree in Engineering from BITS Pilani and Master’s from Narsee Monjee Institute of management studies, Richa worked with several global retailers before starting Zivame.com.

Zivame, a web portal which got its name from the Hebrew word, ziva meaning radiant, offers over two thousand lingerie products.

It was founded in 2011 in Bangalore and from six thousand users in the first year, Zivame now caters to over seventeen lakh users, 85% of whom bought lingerie online for the first time.

Richa does seem to have started an all new genre in the online fashion industry.

Priya Maheshwari

Priya got her masters’ degree from University of Pennsylvania and worked as a policy expert in New York before she moved to Bangalore and co-founded Properji.com along with IIT Alumni Guruprasad Bangle, Umesh Rangasamy and Naveen Galithoti.

With the aim of introducing transparency and professionalism in the market of property, the startup was brought to life in August 2013. The startup claims to provide research based facts to guide the buyer to buy the perfect house of their dreams.

The startup had received over 500 sign ups from the users and the total value of the property they have dealt in, sums up to a massive INR 19 Cr.

Radhika Aggarwal

An MBA from Washington University, Radhika has been a part of an executive program at Stanford University. Before co-founding Shopclues.com in 2011 with Sanjay Sethi, Devesh Rai G, Vishal Sharma, and her Husband Sandeep Aggarwal, she ran a fashion blog out of US known as fashionclues.com.

With 14 years of diverse marketing experience, she started one of the highest growing online marketing portals. Shopclues experienced a growth of over 600 percent in the year 2012 alone. Backed by Helion Venture Partners, Nexus Ventures and Netprice’s CEO Teruhide Sato, the startup has recently raised $100 Mn in series D funding. They have close to 33,000 partners and are expanding at a fast rate. Also, reports continue to roll in about a possible acquisition of shopclues.com by flipkart.



Falguni Nayyar

Falguni has a degree in economics from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics and Post graduate diploma IIM Ahmedabad. A veteran in the field of financial planning with an experience spanning over 25 years, Falguni eventually quit her job to be an entrepreneur. In April 2012, she launched Nykaa, a women centric ecommerce portal providing beauty and wellness products. Focused on providing the best beauty and wellness products, the startup targets the urban women of the modern India. Last year, Nykaa.com raised undisclosed sum through private investors including NRIs and HNIs. They aim to utilize this money for their expansion plans.

Aditi Avasthi

OMG! Its exam time! That’s the reaction of every parent, tutor and teacher when the exams are nearing, and that multiplies manifold if the exam is for entrance to some high level institution with a next to nothing selection ratio. But, in this chaos, everyone joins the rat race and nobody bothers to think about the solution.

After facing similar challenges during her exams back in 1999 and graduating from Thapar University, Aditi got an MBA from the University of Chicago and founded Embibe, in 2012. Embibe focuses on technology and data combination to help students prepare better for the competitive examinations. The startup focuses on creating a personalized preparation routine for the user and it raised $4 Mn from investors Kalaari Capital and venture fund LightBox.

Preeta Sukhtankar

When several years of experience in media and branding was combined along with a desire to start something new, that was when an ecommerce company called The Label Corp was founded. The company focuses on celebrity expertise for suggestions and acts like an “editorial” brand. The genius behind this idea is Preeta Sukhtankar, a graduate from St. Xavier’s College.

Sporting brand tie-ups with celebrities like Suzanne Khan, Malaika Arora Khan and Bipasha Basu, the startup has plans of further expanding its celebrity portfolio and also of creating virtually real-time environment for its users with the expertise of top celebrities in the industry. Label Corp has reportedly raised $1-2 Mn from Kalaari Capital.

Pranshu Bhandari

Available as a website, as well as iOS and Android app, CultureAlley provides audio-visual lessons to help its users learn language from the comfort of their homes. Personalized in real-time to serve to the needs of the user, it can be accessed even while browsing Facebook or Twitter.

Pranshu, a grad from NMIMS, Mumbai, co-founded the startup along with Nishant Patni and a team of six others in December 2012.

CultureAlley has received a total of $345,000 from angel investors in three rounds of funding. The startup has a userbase of over 400 thousand users in 220 countries around the globe.

Rashi Narang

After she checked out local markets for her dog Sara, Rashi found out that they were below par and that was when the idea of found HUFT hit her head.

Launched in 2008, Heads Up For Tails is an initiative which aims to serve to the needs of dog owners who wish to pamper their little source of joy. From dog beds and apparels to healthy food and nutrients, the online pet store provides a wide range of accessories for the pets. Rashi has a masters’ degree in human resource management from the London School of Economics and has also spent several years working in the banking industry.

The company is an all women team and Rashi works along with Shreya and Tanya. Apart from this, they also provide services such as party organizers and planners for your pets.

Sairee Chahal

Due to several reasons like marriage and family extension, many women leave their established careers with a desire to return back later. But, only a handful of them actually return to pursue their career.

Sairee, the founder of Sheroes.in, established the company in January 2014 with a mission to empower women and help them find a suitable job which they might have been deprived of due to several reasons. Sheroes.in by getting the women a job, tries to provide them with an opportunity to get back on their feet again.

Sairee also runs Applied Life, a firm focused at connecting women to their careers. Apart from an entrepreneur, she is also a renowned speaker on workflex, social entrepreneurship, women development, media and branding.

Sakshi Tulsian

Sakshi has an engineering degree from Bharatiya Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, New Delhi and has worked with several software companies including Sapient technologies, Technoapex and Web sanchar before she finally co-founded Posist with her husband, Ashish Tulsian in September 2011.

Posist is an SaaS-based eatery management system for the country’s growing restaurant industry. The main features include customer relationship management, inventory, delivery, take-away and table orders. The web-based service provider had raised approximately INR 3 Cr. via LetsVenture and plans to expand its user base over the country.

Suchi Mukherjee

Limeroad is a well known fashion discovery portal which provides the users with the latest range of products and accessories, 80 percent of which are unique to their own portal. With a product listing of over 200,000 products,

Limeroad was started in 2012 by Suchi along with Manish Saksena, Ankush Mehra and Prashant Malik. Suchi has been named 1 of the 15 ‘Rising Talent, high potential leader under 40’ worldwide. The company has raised a funding of $20 Mn in rounds A and B from Lightspeed venture partners, Matrix partners and Tiger Global.



Upasana Taku

Upasna, after graduating from NIT Jalandhar, pursued her masters’ in management science and engineering from Stanford University before she started a career in payments and financial services which spanned a period over eleven years.

Apart from being Director and CEO at Zaakpay.com, Upasna co-founded MobiKwik with Bipin Singh in 2009 and has reportedly raised $30.3 Mn in 2 rounds of funding.

It is an e-wallet app which allows you to make all the transactions through the wallet itself.

Valerie Wagoner

Valerie, who has earned both her bachelors’ and masters’ degree from Stanford University has been a part of companies like eBay, Ning and SayNow. In 2013, she was also named as the top innovator under 35 for India by MIT.

In 2010, she founded ZipDial which is a leading mobile analytics and marketing platform. It enables global brands to connect to 100 percent of its users and the consumer intelligent platform drives solutions such as offers and couponing.

The company has received an undisclosed amount of funding in three different rounds and before getting acquired by Twitter.

Shubhra Chaddha

Shubhra Chadda co-founded the Bangalore-based startup Chumbak with her husband, Vivek Prabhakar, in the year 2010. The company offers attractive products which include accessories, phone covers and other lifestyle products.

These products are inspired by the everyday things that we see around us. The India-based theme of the company allows a better understanding of the products and also led to innovation.

Initial investment was fulfilled by Shubhra and Vivek after they sold off their house to raise INR 45 Lakh. After receiving funding from seedfund in 2012, the company had also raised money from Matrix partners.

Priyanka Gill

After completing her graduation from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Priyanka worked as a fashion journalist for several years before getting a Masters’ degree from Kings College, London.

In late 2012, Priyanka met Namrata Bostrom and since both of them were looking for digital content space for women, they co-founded Popxo.com in early 2014, a digital lifestyle magazine for women.

The startup has raised approximately INR 3 Cr to expand its base and speed up operations. Currently a team of 10, this startup is based out of Mumbai and Delhi.

According to the projections, Popxo will have 300 Mn women users by the end of 2020.

Malini Agarwal

Malini is India’s first and well-known celebrity blogger. After graduating from Delhi University, she worked with several media giants which include Radio One and Channel V.

In 2008, she started her own blog missmalini.com, which covered all the gossips from the world of fashion, entertainment and Bollywood. The blog was started as a hobby to fulfill her writing needs which Malini was fond of. But soon, she left her job to concentrate on the blog full time.

The blog reportedly has 500,000 monthly visitors and 2 Mn followers across social media platforms. 60 percent of her readers are Indian while others belong to one of the 120 countries; hence, she is renowned globally. The startup raised an initial angel funding in early 2012 and looks forward to another raise this year.

Neha Behani

In 2011, Neha quit her full time job along with Kumaran Mahendran in order to start a mobile advertising network based on the Concept of SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile) but after 2 years of rejection, one day they were at a bar when the idea for Moojic came up and rest is history.

Neha Behani, Co-founder, COO and CMO, Moojic has graduated from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore and has received her MBA from Asian Institute of Management, Phillipines.

After working for several years, the entrepreneurial side of Neha showed up and finally led her to Moojic. The startup had raised an angel round of investment whose investors included Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India. They are also planning a pre-series A round of investment.



Aparna Rao

Aparna Rao, an artist by profession and a TED fellow who has been creating mechanical art with Soren Pors since 2005, started Phantom hands in 2013 along with her husband Deepak Srinath.

Phantom hands is an online store which offers antiques, rare furniture articles and collectibles for sale.

Aparna’s love for art was a major factor in the startup besides her husband’s entrepreneurial skills.

Aditi Gupta

One the most common taboos is Menstruation(oops! I said it), but with time it is getting the attention that is needed for the society to accept the fact and talk openly about it. One such initiative has been taken by Aditi Gupta who is an electronics and instrumentation engineer and also has a post graduate diploma in New Media Design from National Institute of design.

Aditi got her first period when she was 12. But, because of the unpleasant experience and lack of information she had during her puberty, she decided to spread awareness about the same. Along with Tuhin Pal and Rajat Mittal, Aditi launched Menstrupedia and also created a comic which was applauded for its initiative. Aditi has even received offers for the publication of the comic strips and create an interactive environment based app.

Sabina Chopra

With over 16 years of work experience, Sabina Chopra, who headed operations for ebooker (Europe’s largest travel company) in India, launched Yatra.com in 2006 along with Dhruv Shringi and Manish Amin.

Yatra is an online portal to book flight tickets and hotels in India and abroad. The startup by Sabina has raised funds in 4 rounds of funding with a total exceeding $50Mn.

Sabina has a degree in Bachelor of Arts from Delhi University.

Chitra Gurnani Daga

With the vision of bringing in a hub for adventure sports, Chitra Gurnani co-founded Thrillophilia Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd. with Abhishek Daga in May 2009. Thrillophilia an online marketplace for tours and activities. On the platform, one can discover, compare and book tours and activities.

The startup based in Bangalore was started in 1bhk apartment and they moved into a commercial office seven months later which was a result of unprecedented hard work and determination. The website has more than 1 million visitors every month and is growing at 200% annually. Her startup raised angel round of funds in Sep 2013.

Ashwini Asokan

A bachelor’s degree from MOP Vaishnav College, Madras University and Masters’ in Interaction design wasn’t enough for Ashwini Asokan to pursue her passion for Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence.

Before she co-founded Mad Street Den with her husband Anand Chandrasekaran, Ashwini worked as a mobile portfolio manager at Intel and at Imprint Colour Graphics.

The company, founded in 2013, focuses on AI and its flagship product is a visual search engine which can be used by fashion based e-commerce websites. The startup has several visions to deliver life changing experiences to its consumer base. The startup recently raised $1.5 Mn from Reservoir Investments’ Exfinity Fund and GrowX Ventures.

Ankita Gaba

Ankita Gaba is an entrepreneur and a specialist in brand management and marketing for businesses and celebrities.

After pursuing her graduation from Wilson College, Mumbai and getting an MBA in marketing from Welingkar Institute of Management she started her first entrepreneurial project called SuperChooha which was a business and celebrity social media management firm. But after trying her hand at several other things including social media consultation and artist and movie marketing, Ankita co-founded SocialSamosa with Aditya Gupta in November 2011. This portal aims to be the one stop shop for all the news.

Neeru Sharma

Neeru Sharma is the head of corporate and business development and co-founder at Infibeam.com partnering with Vishal Mehta, Vijayakumar Subramanian and Sachin Oswal.

The company was founded in 2007. Being an engineer with an MBA degree from Carnegie Melon University, Neeru has worked with Amazon, US in the department of corporate development and media retail and played an important role in $850 Mn Zappos acquisition.

The self-funded startup was initially funded by Vishal Mehta with a sum of INR 10-15 Crore. The firm has done two acquisitions so far which include picsquare.com, a personalized photo printing website in 2008 and odigma, a digital marketing company for $5 Mn in 2014.

Neetu Bhatia

An investment banker turned entrepreneur, Neetu Bhatia who is also a state level cricket player wanted to represent the country in the sport. But, she ended up getting an engineering degree from Govt. College of Engineering, Pune and then went on to pursue her Masters’ at MIT, USA.

In July 2007, she co-founded KyaZoonga.com with her brother Akash Bhatia which is an online ticketing platform mainly focused on sports and entertainment. It provides easy access to tickets for all sporting events with multiple payment options at the ease of the customer.

The startup has been funded by New York based Hedge fund worth over $22 Bn.

Pankhuri Shrivastava

Two years of fellowship at Teach for India along with an engineering degree in Computer scienceis what turned an engineer Pankhuri into a bright and smart entrepreneur.

She is the co-founder of Mumbai-based startup known as Grabhouse.com which is an online portal used to search for roommates with similar requirements and budget.

Prateek Shukla is Pankhuri’s partner and the co-founder of the firm. The startup had initially raised capital from Chetan Bohra and Navin Ranka of RB Partners. Recently, they have reportedly raised an undisclosed amount from India Quotient and MV Krishnan, VP Deutsche Bank.

Rashi Choudhary

The team of Rashi Choudhary, Karan Mehrotra and Amit Naik launched LocalBanya.com in May 2012 which is Mumbai’s first online supermarket store. They aimed at delivering the best quality products with the widest range.

Rashi, an MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management Studies started off her career with Ernst and Young and switched few companies during her professional career until this startup happened to her.

With further expansion plans the company is looking at raising $20 Mn in series B funding after getting an investment of $5 Mn from Karamvir Avant Group and an undisclosed amount from Bennett and Coleman.



Surabhi Dewra

Apart from being an electrical and electronics engineer from BITS, Pilani, she has also been a fellow of the Startup leadership program which is a world class training program.

After working as an engineer at Freescale semiconductors and as a promoter at Catalog Educational Services, she decided to implement the idea of exploring the education sector and providing a better quality of education. But career counseling was missing and this is what inspired her to start Meracareerguide.com in 2009 and in 2011, Love Chopra joined hands.

An undisclosed amount has been invested by Vishal Gondal and Ronnie Screwvala in the venture.

Suruchi Wagh

Suruchi founded Jombay.com in 2010 along with Mohit Gundecha. Jombay is a talent research and analytics company designed by research analysts and data behavioral scientists from Stanford University and University of Southern California, Los Angeles among others.

The company provides data-driven results to the employers based on competency, leadership, engagement and retention along with a 360 degree feedback. Suruchi completed her engineering from College of Engineering, Pune in India and moved to the states to pursue her masters from University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Her startup Jombay has been listed twice in ‘India’s most promising companies’. Jombay works with companies like Nestle, Kotak Life, Taj Hotels and Tata AIA among others and has analyzed over 1 Mn professionals. Their investors include Nirvana Venture Advisors, a Patni family anchored Venture Capital firm. Apart from the entrepreneurial streak, Suruchi enjoys a passion for Bharatnatyam.

Prukalpa Sankar

The flair of entrepreneurship and a wish to do something for the society pushed Prukalpa to cofound SocialCops, a data technology company that uses technology to turn citizens into key decision makers and to make data driven decisions in public health, education & infrastructure. Currently based out of New Delhi, Prukalpa graduated in Biomolecular Engineering and Entrepreneurship from the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. She has also worked with Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil.

At an early age of 10, Prukalpa coded an HTML website for Harry Potter Fans around the world. During her graduation, she founded the Singapore Entrepreneurship Challenge, an event which sees participation from over 150 startups every year. The flair of entrepreneurship and a wish to do something for the society pushed Prukalpa to cofound Social Cops, which raised $320k in its first round of funding led by 500 Startups, Rajan Anandan (MD, Google India) and Manoj Menon (MD, Frost & Sullivan APAC).

Image Credit: choosewashingtonstate.com



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