How female co-founders can be a tremendous asset to any startup

Entrepreneurship does not come easy and more so when it comes to startups. While trust and synergy between founding members is a fundamentally important thing, gender diversity within core teams are also crucial in building successful businesses.

There is no universal plan for creating a perfect startup team. However, the general sentiment is that female co-founders could serve as a tremendous asset for any startup because it brings a diversity of views, experiences and thought processes into the boardroom.

“A woman brings a fresh approach to problem solving and distinctive leadership styles that can bring in different viewpoints to a particular task or activity,” says Zappfresh, co-founder, Deepanshu Manchanda.

“Encouraging diversity in perspectives is key to making better decisions and attracting top talent,” he adds. Manchanda co-founded Zappfresh, an online meat delivery startup along with Shruti Gochhwal in July 2015.

“Shruti comes with an analytical bend of mind to our operations. Women are known to be adept at multi-tasking, which is a big plus in a small team,” says Manchanda. “Our team is also well balanced, with me being more aggressive in daily operations and she infusing calmness in the most chaotic parts of our supply chain,” he adds.

Since women make up 70% of the startup’s target group, understanding them is key to good business for Zappfresh, feels Manchanda. “Right from food tasting to understanding the right quality of meat, Shruti understands the pulse of the normal homemaker,” he adds.

Calling Shruti ‘the engine’ of the company, Manchanda says, “We see her coming up with great negotiation deals with vendors. Managing the cash outflow is also one of the most crucial parts of running a successful startup.”

Greater role

Female co-founders could also be great assets in other businesses like healthcare and education, feels, CEO, Vikram Nair, a digital health platform that gives people greater control, choice and flexibility in connecting with doctors and healthcare providers. Nair co-founded the startup in 2014 along with Prakash Sathyapalan and Mini Balaraman.

“In healthcare, it is vital to have a female viewpoint because women health issues are very different than that of men and more often than not, they are the main health decision makers for the family,” says Nair. “Having a woman as a partner can be helpful in understanding these issues in detail, so that better products can be designed. This kind of diversity improves our ideas as a company and only makes us stronger and better,” he says.

Nair goes on to add that any startup would benefit from having female co-founders. “In Mini’s case, she manages our entire operations very well. As a co-founder, she is intrinsic to our success and brings stability, dedication and a wealth of experience at both technical and operational levels. In fact, I would go as far as to advice all startups to look for women co-founders, if they already do not have them,” he explains.

Poyni Bhatt, COO at the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) feels that given the skewed gender proportion, women as entrepreneurs or in leadership roles bring immediate visibility to an organization. “It is said that women are more intuitive and better in soft-skills. This helps them in networking, negotiation and in relating to people much faster.

Having played different roles, women entrepreneurs are emotionally stronger, good at multi-tasking as well as bringing order and discipline in any organization. Thus, they are better equipped to deal with the startup chaos,” she says. SINE manages a technology business incubator at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.

The calmness

Bhatt says that conflicting situations in a startup are better dealt with when there is a female cofounder, considering their less fragile ego. “By virtue of gender, women come across as more sensitive than men. Organization culture is much more humane and people-friendly under women leaders. My personal observation is that women look at a work problem much deeper than men, and try to work on it end-to-end,” she adds.

Cofounders at Mydala, a mobile coupon and discount marketing platform site, CFO Arjun Basu, and CTO Ashish Bhatnagar feel that having CEO Anisha Singh as a co-founder makes for a complete startup team.

“Anisha is a quick decision-maker. She is an energetic and spontaneous person. She is also a good leader who leads by example. Her thought process is particularly useful in our area of specialization – which is related to the health and beauty vertical. She is also very good at thinking about what the user is looking for – the customer perspective,” says Bhatnagar.

“She brings balance and perspective. She will point out key points that none of us may have thought about or tend to miss. We joke that her attention limit in any meeting is 20 minutes, but what we do not tell her is that those 20 minutes tend to be the most productive because of her intuitive nature,” he adds.

Basu finds Anisha very bold and creative, which, he says, is a rare combination. “She is very comfortable with change and keeps a tab on what is going on in the market. That makes Mydala a place that is always trying out new things and ‘innovation’ is the norm here. She brings a lot of energy to the conversation, is self-deprecatingly funny and always has an eye on the future,” he adds.

This article was originally published in ET Tech

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