According to online studies conducted earlier this year for rankings on the best places for female entrepreneurship, India went up on the list compared to its position in 2013! What’s more, India’s female entrepreneurship environment exposes statistics of improvement with respect to women finding opportunities to start ventures (60%), validation with respect to skills (52%) and do not feel the impending doom of failure for their startup (57%). On this happy note, we’ve compiled a list of top women entrepreneurs in India who have made a significant dent in the startup ecosystem.
Here’s your list of 30+ successful women entrepreneurs in India that have made a mark in the startup ecosystem:
She can’t enter the kitchen, the temple or her house even. She isn’t allowed to bake, come in contact with men and more often than not, she has no clue why she’s being ostracized and more importantly, what the hell is going on with her body. This is how menstruation is dealt with in most rural and certain urban areas in India… till Aditi Gupta could stand it no more. Having empathized with similar situations herself while growing up in Jharkhand, Aditi created a Hindi comic book with her now husband Tuhin Patel, illustrating and educating girls about menstruation. From here, Aditi and Tuhin’s venture has scaled to a whole website called Menstrupedia.com. Along with a comic book section to simplify menstruation for the reader, it has guides on hygiene, health and ways to be active during periods, plus – answers to frequently asked queries.
Founder & CEO, Mydala.com
Anisha Singh kicked off her career on Capitol Hill working with the Clinton administration aiding women entrepreneurs raise funding for innovative women led businesses. Her resume then boasts of her working at Centra Software, Boston before coming back to India and starting Kinis (Software) Solutions, a provider of customized e-learning solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Then in 2009 she founded Mydala.com, India’s largest coupon provider. Having dealt with her share of ups and downs, Anisha has successfully powered through with her founding team still intact and company at the top of its game even today. Anisha holds a Masters degree in political communication, as well as an MBA in Information Systems from American University in Washington DC.
Seemingly an ace at multitasking, Ankita Gaba is a social media strategist, entrepreneur, consultant, lecturer and the co-founder of Socialsamosa.com, an A to Z repository of Indian social media thoughts, ideas, trends, news and dialogue. She was previously one of the founders of Superchooha, an online media strategist for the likes of Colors, Zapak, Mahindra, Ponds and Idea Cellular. Her accolades include being in the list of “Global Top 100 Social Media Agencies and Consultants 2012-13″ and “50 Indian Women to Follow on Twitter”, among others. She has an in depth expertise at all things social media, and helps social media agencies build teams and a network of processes for their ventures. She has previously worked as a PR executive at Spin Communique, Spin Media and Universal Communications, Mumbai.
Founder, Mad Street Den
Ashwini, along with her husband Anand Chandrasekaran, founded a cloud based platform – Mad Street Den that makes use of artificial intelligence to get any smartphone with a camera to identify faces, detect facial expressions and emotions and react to facial gestures. Her career didn’t start right there though; she began with leading the mobile innovation team at Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research Lab (IXR) in Silicon Valley, one of the places that sprouted her keen interest in artificial intelligence. As for Anand, he had just finished his studies in neuromorphic engineering, which is building computer chips that imitate the human brain at Stanford University. Together this pair of geniuses moved back to India and amalgamated their love for artificial intelligence to start what we know today as Mad Street Den.
Co- founder, Thrillophilia
Combining their passion for adventure and adrenaline, Chitra Gurnani Daga, an alumnus of the Indian School of Business and her husband Abhishek Daga, alumnus of the IIT BHU, Varanasi started Thrillophilia. Thrillophilia is an Indian adventure travel company that curates the best local experiences with hand picked guides and vendors to expand your journey into something offbeat and super fun. Hailing from a family of people with high designations in the service industry, and with an MBA and engineering degree themselves, Chitra and Abhishek decided to follow their dreams and go the unconventional way with no previous business experience or any exposure in family business dealings, they took a shot in the dark and scored indeed.
Co-founder, Timesaverz Dotcom Private Limited
Debadutta Upadhyaya is an entrepreneur that had a problem and found a solution for it. A problem that many harrowed homemakers face and solution that turned into a business reality. She along with Lovnish Bhatia started Timesaverz.com, an online portal that helps one find reliable people to assist homemakers and such with personal tasks that range from cleaning, repairs, handyman jobs to running errands and helping in paperwork. This first-of-its-kind, progressive idea stands to not only help homemakers find time for themselves but also aid the working woman trying to balance domesticity with work life. Debadutta is known to find her main inspiration from taking up challenging tasks and consequently getting things done.
Post a grandly successful career of over 25 years in financial services, 18 of which were spent with the Kotak Mahindra group as Managing Director, among other designations, Falguni Nayyar took the entrepreneurial plunge and launched Nykaa.com, a beauty and wellness ecommerce, premier platform for women. This IIM Ahmedabad graduate launched her website in the latter end of 2012 and soon enough Nykaa was already boasting of retail partnerships with the world’s top notch personal care corporations like Unilever, P&G, L’Oreal, Beiersdorf, Johnson & Johnson and going onto raise 20 crores in funding from private investors with plans to expand to new technologies, a mobile app and physical stores in the country. Clearly an inspiring woman of the working sphere that has shined in every venture.
Garima Satija is a young entrepreneur and founder of PoshVine, a community marketplace for travellers and adventure seekers to offer, discover and book unique experiences. Before she started PoshVine, Garima had worked with Naukri.com, Quadrangle Consulting Services and Ozone Media. She studied Psychology from the University of Lucknow and did her MBA in Human Resources from Amity Business School. Coming from a business family, she learned from her father that it is only hard work that gets you where you want to be. Her venture, PoshVine not only appeals to the travellers and adventure seekers, but also the food lovers. What it does is, it enables you to pick a fine dining restaurant, make an instant reservation (for free) and earn credits for every time that you do — credits that can be redeemed for more awesome experiences.
Gurleen Kaur is the CEO of Hareepatti, a firm that deals in financial advisory offering its customers financial wisdom, investment solutions, short term and long term monetary goals and the like. Her impressive work experience and hold over the English language has enabled her to give financial literacy and freedom to upwards of a thousand people over the past few years. She also has a continually updated blog where she posts everything from the lessons she learnt from the movie ‘2 States’ to the 5 R’s of a Financial Advisor. Gurleen holds a BFIA degree in Financial and Investment Analysis from S.S. College of Business Studies; she studied Finance at Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad and further pursued her learning process till as late as last year acquiring the status of a Certified Financial Planner.
Co-founder, Love 4 Apple
Known to be a serial entrepreneur, Harpreet Kaur is the co-founder of Love 4 Apple, an e-commerce website where customers can buy accessories that are exclusively made for Apple products. Harpreet began running Love 4 Apple in 2013 with an aim to pay heed to the lack of genuine Apple products in India. What started out as an experiment with a choice of only a few products from various national and international brands has turned into a fully fledged venture making Love 4 Apple the sole distributor for genuine Apple products in India. Scaling boundaries of growth, the company has setup a manufacturing unit for iPhone and iPad covers made in-house with an entire line of covers designed by up and coming artists, thus also providing these creative designers a chance to showcase their talents.
Co-founder at InstaScribe, Pothi.com
Equipped with over 8 years of experience in the software, internet and startups sphere, Jaya Jha is the co-founder at two book related ventures, InstaScribe and Pothi.com. Along with being a successful entrepreneur, Jaya is also an author, poet and speaker with three poetry collections and one novel under her belt. She holds an MBA in Marketing & Strategy from IIM Lucknow and a B.Tech. in CS&E from IIT Kanpur. Clearly an avid writer herself, both the ventures that she has co-founded help budding writers bring their works to printed reality. Pothi.com is India’s leading print-on-demand platform where authors can go get their books printed and published, whereas InstaScribe is a platform where authors can create ebooks across various formats.
Founder, Dark Horse Network Media
Known to be a digital native for years now, Namrata Singh has worked with companies like Webchutney, Komli, Pinstorm and Colgate. She also has experience in running her own startups like Antfort People Technologies and Everymedia Technologies in the past and currently is the CEO and founder of Dark Horse Network Media. It is a consultancy that doesn’t go down the generic way to provide just solutions but instead creatively re-imagines your company’s entire digital communication spectrum. Their clientele boasts of enterprises like Yash Raj Films, Mukta Arts Ltd., Dharma Productions, Youngistaan and Luminosity Pictures. One of Dark Horse Media USPs is that the company has a ‘One Customer at a Time’ motto which goes to show their dedication to ace at every project.
Neeru Sharma is the co-founder and head of corporate and business development at one of India’s leading ecommerce portals, Infibeam.com. In its past Infibeam is known to have acquired Picsquare.com, a personalized photo printing website and just this year it acquired Odigma, a digital marketing company for USD 5 million. She has previously worked with Amazon USA in corporate development and media retail. Neeru holds an MBA from Carnegie Mellon and an Engineering degree in Computer Science. Before this Neeru was responsible for conducting market research and financial due diligence for acquisition and investment activities, playing a pretty significant role in several strategic deals including the $850 million Zappos acquisition.
Co-founder & CEO, KyaZoonga
Investment banker turned successful woman entrepreneur, Neetu Bhatia is the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of KyaZoonga. Started in early 2007, KyaZoonga is India’s first and largest sports and entertainment ticketing company. It enables you simple access to all kinds of ticketed entertainment and sports with various payment options via its retail, social, online and mobile portals. KyaZoonga is known to have ticketed major international events like the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, all forms of international cricket and a number of Olympic style sporting events. Neetu’s work experience boasts of her being a senior media & telecom investment banker on Wall Street. Her wildly impressive work escapades don’t end here, with over nine years of experience originating and executing several strategic advisory and financing transactions, she has executed deals for Time Warner, Google, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Cingular, AT&T and others.
The co-founder and one of two minds behind innovative digital jukebox service – Moojic, Neha Behani is an entrepreneur who’s inspirational story includes her bravely quitting her job and following her dream. Along with her co-founder, Kumaran Mahendran, Neha came up with the idea of Moojic which is a radio/jukebox like service for restaurants, cafes, bars, salons, gyms and other retail outlets. Where it stands apart is, Moojic allows customers that frequent such joints to alter and customize playlists according to what they want to listen to. Moojic thus works on the “customer knows best” motto which symbiotically (and ever so intelligently!) works for the music providing service as well as the venue it’s being played at.
Co-founder & CMO, GrabHouse
Pankhuri Shrivastava is an avid reader, dancer and the co-founder of India’s first free roommate search engine, Grabhouse.com. She has previously done a two year fellowship at Teach for India after acquiring a degree in Computer Science Engineering at Bhopal University. Seeing as personal experience tends to be the best teacher and guide, Pankhuri came up with the idea for starting a real estate venture when she moved to Mumbai in 2010 and saw that one had to spend exorbitant amounts on brokerage while having to deal with the hassle of shifting flats about five times. Grabhouse.com has now scaled its service to Pune, making house hunting a simpler affair and saving brokerage fees for this city full mainly of students looking for a place to stay!
Another dance lover on our list, Pranshu Bhandari is the co-founder of innovative, online language learning tool, CultureAlley. She has previously worked with companies like Sun Microsystems, Pitney Bowes and interned at Wipro. Along with her husband and batchmate at 500 Startups, Nishant Patni, Pranshu started CultureAlley where you can learn various languages through interactive videos after which you can practice your newly acquired language skills on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. Pranshu and her husband came up with the idea for CultureAlley after Nishant returned from a trip to China having had the toughest time trying to learn Mandarin. Today, CultureAlley has taught over 500,000 people learn languages like Spanish or Portuguese.
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Founder, The Label Corp
Preeta Sukhtankar is the founder of elite retail brand; The Label Corp. She has previously partnered at Celebrity Marketing Agency and worked as a publisher at Seventeen Magazine for four years. Preeta has done her BA in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her enterprise, The Label Corp, is the first of its kind online marketplace in India where niche products, curated by celebrity creative directors are showcased. It is for a section of women with purchasing power and upscale taste in home furnishings. Through connections and work experience in media and brand building, Preeta’s venture is also home to three brands by famous Indian celebrities. These being: 1) The Home Label with Suzanne Khan, 2) The Closet Label with Malaika Arora Khan, and 3) The Trunk Label with Bipasha Basu.
Co-Founder & CMO, ShopClues.com
Equipped with over a decade and a half of marketing experience in various industries like retail, ecommerce, fashion & lifestyle, advertising & public relations, Radhika Ghai Aggarwal co-founded Shopclues.com. It was birthed in Silicon Valley in 2011 and is currently India’s first and largest fully managed marketplace with more than 7 million visitors every month, serving nine thousand cities, towns and villages in India. Before this, she ran a fashion blog based out of the Silicon Valley, USA. Radhika has previously worked with Nordstrom at its corporate headquarters in strategy planning and with Goldman Sachs in its Wealth Management group in New York and Menlo Park, USA. She has an MBA from Washington University and also holds a post graduate degree in Advertising and Public Relations.
Rashi Choudhary is the co-founder and COO at LocalBanya, Mumbai’s first online grocery store that aims to make this shopping experience more convenient and easy on your pocket. She kicked off her career as a management trainee at Ernst & Young after which she worked in retail for Raymond Ltd. and Rashi Peripherals. This successful woman entrepreneur currently handles all processes that go down from the customer placing an order till the point of delivery and after sales service. This includes logistics, customer service, data management, sourcing & pricing of products, quality check, web content etc. Presently, LocalBanya gets an average of six hundred orders a day from Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. What’s more, they are known to have 98% punctuality with respect to order fulfilment.
Founder, Heads Up For Tails
Rashi Narang is a passionate dog lover that converted this manic affection for the furry canines into creating an exclusive luxury brand for pet dogs. She initially started her career as a Human Resource professional having studied HR Management at the London School of Economics and then interning at the HR at Hindustan Unilever and then as an HRM Associate at Citigroup. More inclined towards doing what she loved, Rashi quit her job to start Heads Up For Tails. After scouring the markets to find the best of the best for her pet dog Sara and being disappointed at the dearth of products and more importantly, quality, it is then that she decided to take things into her own hands. Thus Heads Up For Tails was born, offering pet furniture, toys, spa products, accessories, edibles, you name it!
Co-founder & CEO, Zivame
Richa Kar is the co-founder and CEO of online lingerie store, Zivame.com. It has acquired its fame for being the first web platform having over two thousand styles to choose from. The company was incepted in 2011 in Bangalore and has seen a great amount of success since then. Prior to this, Richa had gathered a significant amount of experience in branding, retail marketing and operations. Having studied the Indian lingerie retail market, she noticed that women weren’t exactly comfortable shopping for lingerie in physical outlet stores. Thus she conceptualized Zivame, a place where women can understand and get to explore their lingerie needs, browse through styles, sizes and get the goods delivered at their doorstep without all the embarrassment. Furthermore, for the comfort of the Indian woman, Zivame even takes care to deliver its products discreetly, being packed without any show of branding and product description.
Sabina Chopra is the co-founder of famous travel portal Yatra.com. Online travel commerce was just at its beginning stages during this time and the startup soon grew to become the leading portal in this space. Before starting Yatra, she was the head of the India operations of eBookers, Europe’s leading online travel company. Additionally, she has also worked with airline companies such as Japan Airlines as well as in the business process outsourcing sector. With over a decade and a half of work experience, Sabina is in charge of operations and sales, aside from heading the startup’s domestic hotel business. Sabina has also been honored during the second annual Women Leaders in India Awards, 2010 and was declared the winner in the Travel & Tourism group.
Serial entrepreneur, co-founder of Fleximoms, founder of Sheroes.in, mentor, occasional writer and mother to a seven year old daughter, Sairee Chahal takes multitasking to the next level. Sairee is a TED speaker, a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Award Initiative for 2012 and voted Most Powerful Women in Indian Business, 2012 along with being featured on shows like What Women Want, Young Turks and Pioneering Spirit. Her venture – Fleximoms looks to provide mothers and women with a pathway to re enter the workplace with job opportunities, information and mentoring. Sheroes.in is another venture aiding women of the workplace offering opportunities, resources and conversations. Sairee has work experience as senior editor at NewsLink Services and a consultant at the Confederation of Indian Industry and Heidrick & Struggles.
Sakshi Tulsian co-founded Posist with her husband Ashish. Posist is a Saas based eatery management platform for our country’s growing restaurant industry. It enables restaurants to manage their customer relationship management, table orders, inventory, delivery, take-away, expense, branches etc. Sakshi has previously worked as a software developer at Sapient for a little over two years, a project manager at TechnoApex Software Pvt. Ltd. and a founder and business head at WebSanchaar Solutions before starting Posist. She had initially thought her learning curve at Sapient was steep but later found that being an entrepreneur, the curve is steeper and growth as a person is much faster. Sakshi believes that being in business is all about the highs and lows, guaranteed adrenaline rushes, being on your toes, it’s all part of the deal. Among these things, she gives a great amount of importance to the work and life balance, and heed to the fact that entrepreneurship is not a sprint, but a marathon that deserves significant discipline, something her and her husband practice together when dealing with their company.
Founder & CEO, YourStory Media Pvt.Ltd
Born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, Shradha Sharma is the founder of YourStory.com, India’s top media platform for entrepreneurs for promoting and reporting about startups and everything in around the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She has previously worked with the likes of The Times of India and CNBC TV18. During her time gathering work experience, she noticed that the young entrepreneurs had no platform to voice their side of things. Then one night on the job she started YourStory as a blog applying all the business practices she ever learnt from working with newspapers and TV channels. Thus YourStory was born to be the referential and go-to platform for all entrepreneurs and investors in India to read about themselves or and their colleagues.
Along with Vivek Prabhakar, Shubhra Chadda founded Chumbak, an online store selling Indianised customized, funky apparel. The co-founding pair of Chumbak, husband and wife, love to travel and noticed that almost all other countries have adorable souvenirs to offer but India with all its quirks and funkiness yet has nothing beyond the quintessential Taj Mahal key chains. Thus came the idea to bring India and all its eccentricities to fridge magnets and the like. Chumbak, in fact is the Hindi word for fridge magnet! Shubhra found a way to balance being the mother of her then two year old daughter and the inception year of Chumbak most elegantly and clearly successfully. Today the funky brand has over 120 retail stores all across the country.
Founder, Tappu Ki Dukaan
Sneha Raisoni is the founder of the Tappu Ki Dukaan store, in fact, she’s Tappu herself! Like most successful people, she left her job as a chartered accountant at an investment bank (that she had worked with for half a decade!) to cater to her creative side. She definitely took a gutsy plunge by quitting her job during the recession but it all paid off seeing as her company managed to break even within a year of its inception. She is known to have always dreamed of having her own store full of quirky, albeit not necessarily necessary products. Sneha’s first store was opened in the unoccupied mezzanine floor of her father’s optician store in late 2009. Tappu Ki Dukaan has all the eccentric, quirky products from Haathi Chhap, Pop Goes the Art, Mixed Juice Design, Neil Dantas and Happily Unmarried on its shelves today.
Founder & CEO, Limeroad.com
Suchi Mukherjee is the founder and CEO of Limeroad.com, a social commerce site for the urban woman. This website brings together the fun of picking clothes from a magazine-like layout with the simplicity and convenience of an online retail portal. A decade ago, Suchi received the Commonwealth Cambridge Scholarship to study Economics at Cambridge University after which she studied Economics and Finance at the London School of Economics. Her massively impressive work experience begins with five years of investment banking at Lehman Brothers, two years as Director and business development manager in the consumer division of Virgin Media, a year working at eBay where she learned the ropes of a consumer business and finally and to top it all off, before starting Limeroad, Suchi was a part of the initial development of both Skype and Gumtree.
Surabhi Dewra is the founder of India’s largest online career guide and research platform, MeraCareerGuide.com. Before starting this educational guide platform she worked as a Promoter at Catalog Educational Services Pvt. Ltd. and Design Engineer at Freescale Semiconductor. Started in 2008, this one of a kind educational guiding platform is a place where students can come get answers and clear doubts regarding their career. Additionally, it allows educational institutes to get in touch with their target students. MeraCareerGuide.com already acquired a massive 50,000 users in its initial first couple of months of operation, attracting and helping student visitors of all age groups. Surabhi’s venture has thus helped millions of students find their way and carve out a career path for themselves and connect with institutes of their choice.
Founder and COO, Jombay.com
We have but another dancer on our list of successful women entrepreneurs. It seems that the high flying women of the business circle enjoy shaking their tail feathers! Trained classical singer and Bharatnatyam dancer, Suruchi Wagh is the founder and COO at Jombay.com. After finishing Engineering studies in India, she did her Masters in Engineering Management at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Suruchi’s previous work experience includes her working as research analyst in the Office of the President of the Silicon Valley, headquartered Risk Management Solutions Inc. to develop Micro-insurance products for emerging markets. Known to deal in the field of quantifying human behaviour, Suruchi’s founded venture – Jombay exists with a Talent Measurement and Talent Analytics platform that is powered by People Science (Psychometrics). They enable customers to make data driven decisions for for recruitment, performance management and employee development.
Founder & CEO, HopeMonkey
In an attempt to erode the cynicism from the marrow of her bones, former journalist Tithiya Sharma travelled across countries in search of inspiring tales (which were printed in her 100 Heroes Project journey through columns she wrote for Hindustan Times). Her travels culminated in the birth of HopeMonkey, a non-profit organization giving everyday people like you and I a chance to be philanthropists. You can log on to the HopeMonkey website and pick which cause to contribute to, it could be providing electricity to slums or midday meals to children, you’d basically have the honour of changing somebody’s life for the better. All projects showcased on HopeMonkey are thoroughly assessed before being featured. Tithiya has previously won The Media Citizen Karamveer Puruskar in 2012.
Co-Founder, MobiKwik. Founder, Zaakpay
Upasana Taku is the co-founder of Zaakpay and MobiKwik. While working on Mobikwik, Upasana and her co-founder noticed glitches in the setting up of payment gateways which did not seem to run smoothly, in the least and were expensive. Thus they started Zaakpay, a payments company aimed at solving issues with eCommerce in India. Mobikwik on the other hand is a mobile wallet that easily enables you to pay for your recharge, bill payments and shopping at various ecommerce websites. Upasana holds a B.Tech. degree in Industrial Engineering from National Institute of Technology and an MS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. Her overall work experience includes 12 years in the workforce, 10 years in Financial Service, and 4 years as an entrepreneur in India.
Capitalizing on the missed call phenomena in our country, Valerie Wagoner quit her fancy Silicon Valley job and moved to India to start ZipDial, an interactive mobile based platform for marketing and advertising. It’s a service that lets huge companies give out their numbers allowing people to call and disconnect without getting charged. Post this, the company or brand can communicate with and send messages, coupons and deals to the customer directly to their phone. Today, ZipDial works with over 500 brands including the likes of Gillette, Nivea and Disney and has tie-ups with Facebook and Twitter. They have also raised funding from various sources like 500 Startups and Blume Ventures. Valerie has a postgraduate degree in Economic Sociology from Stanford University with experience in companies like Goldman Sachs, Ning and eBay.
35) ZEENIA PERCY MASTER
CEO, Xenia Hospitality Solutions LLP
Zeenia comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her father started out close to 40 years ago and today has a substantial presence within the logistics industry. She pursued her Bachelors in Arts in Hospitality, Finance and Revenue Management with Merit at the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland and attained a Diploma in Event Management from Fitzwilliam Institute in London. Sphere heading strategic alliances in an event management firm, Zeenia cut her teeth with Hospitality brands like ITC Grand Central in India and the Landmark and Hyatt Regency abroad. She has been a key member of the pre-opening team with Hospitality brands like Sofitel in Mumbai and Hotel Missioni in Kuwait. Not only a leader in event management and hospitality services, Zeenia is also an avid traveler and has a keen eye for photography. She is a part of the Rotary Club of Bombay, which is the most prestigious club in India. She will be Co-Chairing the environment committee next term. She has Hosted a lot of CSR activities like Dance for Humanity, Racing Hooves etc to raise money for the Lions Club as well.
Think we missed out on a few inspiring women in the entrepreneurial circle? Let us know in the comments section.
Note: Women entrepreneurs have been arranged in alphabetical order. The list does not indicate any rank system or hierarchy.