Successful Start-ups with Women Entrepreneurs as Leaders

The entrepreneurial landscape is transforming with each passing day. It is becoming more inclusive and holistic as more and more women entrepreneurs are leading start-ups.

The business world was traditionally designed to accommodate only men as back in the day, women were not allowed to work. In such a patriarchal setup, most women found it difficult to venture into businesses, make a mark or reach the top. However, with time, things started to change as more and more women entrepreneurs started joining businesses and even started their ventures. In gender representation statistics on corporate boards of directors, womxn held 20.8% of the board seats on Russell 1000 companies but this number is only increasing with every passing year. Several women entrepreneurs have broken all stereotypes and reached the top with successful businesses. The business space is transforming and becoming more inclusive and holistic as women lead the path from scratch to profits. 

Women Entrepreneurs in E-commerce

  • Falguni Nayar, Founder of Nykaa

One of India’s biggest online fashion and lifestyle portals, Nykaa disrupted the online lifestyle product industry. After serving 20 years as a venture investor and merchant with Kotak Mahindra, Falguni decided to pursue her dream of starting her own business. She optimized the beauty and skincare online market and created Nykaa from scratch. Today, it is one of the top online beauty brands across India and has 35 physical stores.

  • Sabina Chopra, Co-founder of Yatra

Before Yatra, Sabina headed India based Operations of Ebookers, Europe’s largest online travel company. She also worked with Japan Airlines, headed Operations for RAC (Aviva Plc) and Hewitt Associates. 

EVP Operations, Sabina Chopra manages sales and after-sales support for all Yatra businesses. Using her Travel BPO knowledge and hospitality business expertise, she also heads Yatra’s domestic hotel business. 

  • Richa Kar, Co-founder of Zivame

Bangalore based startup for women apparels, Zivame was co-founded by Richa in 2011 along with Kapil Karekar. Zivame is an online lingerie store that offers a wide range of products for women in three different categories including lingerie, activewear, and Women Apparels through its online and offline platforms. Born and raised in Jamshedpur from a conventional family background, Richa completed her education at BITS Pilani and Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in 2007. While researching the lingerie market in India, Richa realised lingerie shopping was more a bottleneck than an experience for women in India and she came up with Zivame. Today Richa is one of the most influential female entrepreneurs.

  • Suchi Mukherjee, Founder and CEO

Online shopping portal was founded in 2012 by Suchi Mukherjee who was among the 15 women nominated for ‘Rising Talent – Global Leaders Under 40’ at the World Women’s Forum in Paris in 2010, for scaling businesses encompassing consumer technology. Suchi came up with a social-commerce site where products specific to women communities are shared and shopped. Through her platform, she provides unique and unconventional lifestyle products from apparels to accessories, home and non-perishable food from Indian manufacturers and retailers. 

Women Entrepreneurs Uplifting Women

  • Sairee Chahal, Founder and CEO of SHEROES

A community platform for women, SHEROES offers resources, opportunities and interactions to support women at work and encourage them to join the workforce. They also focus on technological knowledge to tackle gender disparity in India. Sairee kickstarted her professional career while still in college before co-founding her first startup. The tech entrepreneur has proved herself time and again through her ventures including Newslink, Fleximoms and SHEROES. SHEROES has become a global success changing the game for over a million women and aiming to impact over 100 million women in the next five years. In 2018, she was ranked 53 on Onalytica’s “Future of Work Top 100 Influencers” list.

Women in the FinTech Landscape

  • Swati Bhargava, Co-founder of

Co-founder of India’s largest Cashback & Coupons site, Swati was honoured amongst the top 10 women entrepreneurs in India. An alumnus of the London School of Economics, she worked with Goldman Sachs in London for 5 years before starting UK Cashback business Pouring Pounds along with her husband & Co-Founder, Rohan. She represented India at the coveted Blackbox Connect – Female Founders Edition – powered by Google in Silicon Valley, California and is one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in India. 

  • Lizzie Chapman, Co-founder and CEO of ZestMoney

The FinTech startup of 2017, ZestMoney is India’s largest digital lending platform that introduced the concept of cardless EMI making life affordable in India. A CFA Charterholder and BSc from Edinburgh University, Lizzie started her career at Goldman Sachs in equity research and asset management. She is an Investment Committee Member of India Quotient and board member of IndiaMart. Lizzie has played a key role in the transformation of the digital lending landscape of India since 2011 when she moved to India to spearhead the India Operations for digital lender With ZestMoney, she disrupted the delivery of financial services and was selected as FinTech Woman of 2017.

  • Upasana Taku, Co-Founder at MobiKwik. 

A graduate from NIT Jalandhar and with a Masters in Management Science from Stanford University, Upasana strived to simplify payment acceptance for retailers in India. Through MobiKwik, she aims to bring a million retailers into the payments network. She is also incharge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik. From a handful of employees to a team of 200, Upasana has built MobiKwik on her making payments ubiquitous in India. Her contributions to the tech startup ecosystem of India led her to be featured by Forbes under “Asia’s Women to Watch in 2016”.

What can you learn from these Women Entrepreneurs?

Each of the above-mentioned women started from scratch and made their way to the top. In a time where the business world was crowded with men, these women rose and stood out from the crowd. No matter how difficult times were with the societal stigmas and restrictions, managing families and ventures, they emerged successful both professionally and individually. Today, all these women are recognised as successful entrepreneurs across the world who single-handedly disrupted markets and impacted the entrepreneurial landscape. Nothing is impossible, all you need is passion and determination. They strived for years working and gaining knowledge and expertise and finally, they started their start-ups. The question isn’t who is going to let you; it’s who is going to stop you?. Never stop dreaming and believing in yourself. If these women could leave imprints on the sands of time, so can you. All you have to do is have faith in yourself and build an empire of your own. The path may be difficult, there will be struggles and obstacles, but as the saying goes, no pain no gain. Here’s to the entrepreneurial spirit within you, it is time for the women to shine. 

Smruthi Krishnan
Smruthi Krishnan
Smruthi interviews and writes on inspiring entrepreneurs and the success stories of start-ups. She is currently pursuing Economics major from Delhi University.

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