Beacons of inspiration: 10 women who are changing the Indian startup game

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The startup ecosystem has been largely male-dominated; that is the common conception. But these boss-ladies prove that women are fully capable of creating a successful brand and carving a special niche for themselves in the Indian startup hall of fame.

Richa Kar, Zivame

Richa Kar, the co-founder and CEO of online lingerie store, Zivame.com, has revolutionized the lingerie shopping experience for Indian Women.

Zivame is well known for having a collection of over two thousand styles of intimate wear to choose from.


Richa Kar, Zivame

Launched in Bangalore in 2011 this venture experienced a notable growth. Experienced in retail marketing, branding and operations, Richa noticed the discomfort and lack of options women have to go through while shopping for lingerie in stores after a detailed study on the Indian lingerie retail market.

This led to the conceptualization of Zivame, a space where women can know and explore their lingerie requirements, browse its vast collection, get experimental with their choices and get the items delivered at their doorstep without worrying about all the ‘embarrassment’.

Falguni Nayyar, Nykaa

After a successful financial career spanning over 25 years including her 18 year run as a Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra group, IIM Ahmedabad graduate Falguni Nayyar started Nykaa.com, which has now made a name for itself as a leading beauty and wellness ecommerce platform for women, in 2012.


Falguni Nayyar, Nykaa

In no time, Nykaa was already boasting of admirable retail collaborations with world’s premier personal care organizations such as P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, L’Oreal and Beiersdorf.

It also went on to raise 20 crores in funding from private investors with future schemes to the development of a mobile app, new technologies and physical stores in the country.

Who thought purchasing desired make up and skincare products for such an affordable price online could be so easy? Falguni shows us how an inspiring woman can shine bright in every road they take.

Pranshu Bhandari, CultureAlley

Pranshu Bhandari co-founded CultureAlley, an innovative fresh online language learning tool, CultureAlley, along with her husband Nishant Patni.

She has previous work experience with companies like Sun Microsystems, Pitney Bowes and was an intern at Wipro.


Pranshu Bhandari, CultureAlley

CultureAlley helps you learn multiple languages through interactive video- based sessions after which you can practice your newly learnt skills on your Twitter feed or Facebook wall. After Nishant had a hard time trying to learn Mandarin in his trip to china, Pranshu and her husband came up with the idea for a platform like CultureAlley.

Today, it has assisted over 500,000 people to learn languages like Spanish, Portugese and more. She also founded Hello English, a website that blends context and gamification to make teaching adults the language in the real world more interesting.

Rashi Narang, Heads Up For Tails

Passionate dog lover Rashi Narang successfully transfigured her love for the furry four-legged companions into launching an exclusive luxury brand for pet dogs.

A student of HR Management at the London school of Economics, Rashi started off as a Human Resource professional who worked as an intern at the HR at Hindustan Unilever and later as an HRM Associate at Citigroup.


Rashi Narang, Heads Up For Tails

She quit her job to work on something she loved, and then started Heads Up For Tails. After failing to find the best of the best for her pet dog and being disappointed by the scarcity of quality products for canines, she made a decision to take matters into her own hands.

Heads Up For Tails offers a large stock of pet toys, edibles, pet furniture, accessories, spa products and so much more.

Shubhra Chadda, Chumbak

Shubhra Chadda co-founded Chumbak, an online platform selling quirky Indianised customized apparel. Chadda, a travel-lover, took notice of the fact that almost all the other countries have adorable and significant souvenirs to offer; but when it comes to India all its funky and edgy elements are buried under heaps of Taj Mahal key chains.chumba

Shubhra Chadda, Chumbak

Thus the idea to bring out all the eccentricities of India through thoughtful gifts was visualized. Even millennials find Chumbak to be fresh and much-needed.

Also, Shubhra manages to balance her brand and motherhood in the most graceful way. Today the quirky brand has opened over 120 retail stores all across the country.

Suchi Mukherjee,Limeroad

Reputed social ecommerce site Limeroad was founded by Suchi Mukherjee, a recipient of the Commonwealth Cambridge Scholarship  and a student of Economics and Finance at the London School of Economics.suchi-1

Suchi Mukherjee,Limeroad

With its magazine-like layout, the website combines the fun of picking clothes with a convenient online retail shopping experience. Suchi’s hugely impressive resume includes her work in investment banking at Lehman Brothers for five years, two years as Director and business development manager in Virgin Media’s consumer division and one year at eBay.

Before the launch of Limeroad, Suchi was a part of the inceptive development of Gumtree and Skype as well.

Sairee Chahal, Sheroes

Sairee Chahal, co-founder of Fleximoms and founder of Sheroes.in, is a mentor, occasional author and mother.

A TED speaker and a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Award Initiative for 2012, she was voted Most Powerful Woman in Indian Business, 2012 and was featured on shows such as Young Turks, What Women Want and Pioneering Spirit.


Sairee Chahal, Sheroes

Her venture Fleximoms helps provide mothers and women wishing to re start working with necessary information, mentoring, counseling and job opportunities.

Sheroes is another platform aimed at encouraging women of the workplace with resources, opportunities and conversations. Her online career destination is really one of its kind and has gained a loyal following for all the right reasons.

Neetu Bhatia, Kyazoonga

Wall Street Investment banker turned successful entrepreneur, Neetu Bhatia started Kyazoonga, India’s first and largest sports and entertainment ticketing company, in early 2007.


Neetu Bhatia, Kyazoonga

Kyazoonga provides easy access to all kinds of ticketed entertainment and sports with a number of payment options via its online, retail, social, and mobile portals.

It has been a supplier of  the tickets for major international events including the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, all forms of international cricket and some Olympic style sporting events.

Garima Satija, PoshVine

Garima Satija is the founder of PoshVine, which is a unique community marketplace for travelers and adventure junkies to book, offer and discover new experiences.

Garima, a student of Psychology from the University of Lucknow, did her MBA in Human Resources from Amity Business School and has previously worked with Naukri.com, Ozone Media and Quadrangle Consulting Services.



Garima Satija, PoshVine

Her innovative enterprise attracts travelers, adventure seekers and foodies alike. Users can pick a fine dining restaurant, make an instant free reservation and earn credits that can be saved for more wonderful experiences.

Anisha Singh, Mydala

Anisha Singh, who holds a Masters degree in political communication, as well as an MBA in Information Systems from American University in Washington DC, kick-started her career on Capitol Hill working with the Clinton administration to raise funding for women led businesses.


Anisha Singh, Mydala

She has worked at Centra Software, Boston and later started Kinis (Software) Solutions. She founded Mydala in 2009, which is the largest coupon provider service in India. Anisha has successfully managed to keep her founding team still intact and her company at the zenith of its game.

Not only these 10, there are so many other women who are taking on challenging yet powerful roles with much courage. These women are indeed playing a big part in the bright future of the Indian startup environment.