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Women entrepreneurs who stood out in 2015

MUMBAI: A number of businesses have begun and boomed, or begun and bombed, in the year gone by. However, it has been an interesting year in the world of start-ups, and so many women have been just as enterprising as their male counterparts and made a name for themselves.

At the start of the new year, let us look at some of the best women entrepreneurs who made us sit up and take notice in 2015.

Name: Padmaja Ruparel

Company: Indian Angel Network

Age: 45

Education: BA Hons, Loreto House

Prior Work Experience: Xansa India

Indian Angel Network is India’s first angel investor network. They are going global by partnering Inventus Capital Partners to invest in two US-based start-ups. IAN, which has over 350 members globally, counts prominent angel investors such as Hero Cycles managing director Sunil Munjal, HCL cofounder Ajai Chowdhry, and Info Edge cofounder and chief executive Sanjeev Bikhchandani in its network.

Name: Falguni Nayar

Company: Nykaa.com

Age: 45

Education: IIM Ahmedabad

Prior Work Experience: Temasek, Kotak,

Nykaa.com is the entrepreneurial dream of Falguni Nayar, the former MD of Kotak Mahindra Capital Company. Recently, TVS Capital invested about Rs 25 crore. They have also got Rs 60-crore Series C fundraising from a clutch of investors, including high net-worth individuals, non-resident Indians (NRIs) and family offices.

Name: Ankita Vashistha

Company: Saha Fund

Age: 34

Education: Masters in Finance, Cranfield School of Management, UK

Prior Work Experience: Aureos Capital

Ankita Vashistha launched Saha Fund, a venture capital fund for women-centric businesses run by women. The Saha Fund, India’s first Securities and Exchange Board of India-approved venture capital fund focused on women entrepreneurs, would have a corpus of Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion). It would invest in companies run by women entrepreneurs as founders or senior management. The fund has investments from Mohandas Pai and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

Name: Pankhuri Shrivastava

Company: Grabhouse

Age: 25

Education: BE Computer Science, Rajiv Gandhi Technology University

Prior Work Experience: Teach For India

Grabhouse is a broker-free website that helps people finding apartments, sharing rooms and PG’s on rent. Grabhouse raised $2.5 million from Kalaari Capital and Sequoia Capital. The start-up now has more than 1.5 lakh visitors a day.

Name: Ankita Sheth

Company: Vista Rooms

Age: 32

Education: MET

Prior Work Experience: OYO Rooms, Stanton Chase, Boston Analytics

Ankita Sheth is a co-founder of Vista Rooms, one of India’s fastest-growing online aggregators for budget hotels. She is also the only woman entrepreneur in this highly male-dominated segment. Vista Rooms have scaled 700 plus properties in 70 plus locations across India in less than six months of their inception. They also command the largest inventory for Tier II and III locations in India. An avid traveller and an active social activist, Ankita has also been part of Anna Hazare’s campaigns.

Name: Shivani Siroya

Company: Inventure

Age: 30

Education: Columbia University

Prior Work Experience: Healthnet

Inventure is a mobile technology and data science company that is flipping the traditional credit scoring model by putting power into the hands of newly empowered consumers in emerging markets. They have raised $10 million Series A round to launch in additional markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Name: Vani Kola

Company: Kalaari Capital

Age: 38

Prior Work Experience: Arizona State University

Work: Certus Software, Rightworks

Kalaari Capital, a venture capital firm, has invested in more than 25 start-ups including Snapdeal, Zivame and Urbanladder. Kalaari Capital has recently launched its third $290M India fund.

Name: Swati Bhargava

Company: Cashkaro.com

Age: 30

Education: London School of Economics

Prior Work Experience: Goldman Sachs

Cashkaro.com is touted as India’s largest and fastest-growing cashback and coupons site. Cashkaro.com is planning its foray into new countries after raising a $3.8 million Series A from Kalaari Capital.

Name: Pranshu Bhandari

Company: Culture Alley

Age: 26

Education: Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies

Work: Wipro

The start-up launched its English-language learning application in October 2014. In eight months, the language app has seen three million installs on Android from India. They have recently raised $6 million from Tiger Global and Kae Capital.

Name: Richa Kar

Company: Zivame

Age: 30

Education: Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies

Prior Work Experience: SAP, Spencer’s Retail Ltd

Zivame is probably the first in the online lingerie space in India and has played a key role in educating women across the country about intimate wear and shaping consumer behaviour. It has recently raised a Series C round of Rs 250 crore (Rs 2.5 billion) from Zodius Technology Fund and Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

Name: Shradha Sharma

Company: YourStory

Age: 30

Prior Work Experience: MICA

Work: CNBC TV18, The Times of India

YourStory is a portal publishing original stories of entrepreneurs. They have received their first round of funding from marquee investors such as Kalaari Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, TV Mohandas Pai and Ratan Tata.

Name: Upasana Taku

Company: Mobikwik

Age: N/A

Education: Stanford University

Prior Work Experience: PayPal, Zaakpay, 2020 Social

MobiKwik is India’s fastest-growing mobile wallet trusted by 25 million users and 50,000 merchants. With 17 M-wallet users, MobiKwik plans to raise $100 M.

Name: Meena Ganesh

Company: Growth Story

Age: 40

Education: IIM Calcutta

Prior Work Experience: Microsoft India, Tesco

Meena and Ganesh, the founder couple of venture building platform GrowthStory, built and sold four companies over two decades. Growth Story has a corpus of approximately Rs 200 crore. And it already has a portfolio of five e-commerce ventures—BigBasket, BlueStone, Delyver, MustSeeIndia, and BookAdda.

Name: Rashmi Daga

Company: Freshmenu

Age: 30

Education: IIM Ahmedabad

Prior Work Experience: Afday.com

Fresh Menu is a company that offers ready-to-eat/heat and serve meal plans. The Bangalore-based internet-first restaurant, a part of serial entrepreneur K Ganesh’s start-up factory GrowthStory, is all set to raise Rs 31 crore (Rs 310 million) in a first round of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Name: Shuchi Mukherjee

Company: LimeRoad

Age: 42

Education: London School of Economics

Previous Work Experience: Gumtree, an eBay Inc Company, Skype, eBay Inc

Ask any woman today who binges on online shopping and this LimeRoad will definitely pop up. Founder Shuchi Mukherjee hails from a family with no business background, but she has managed to give biggies like Flipkart and Snapdeal tough competition. A postgrad from London School of Economics, Shuchi has worked with companies like eBay, Skype and Gumtree.

Name: Nidhi Agarwal

Company: Kaaryah

Age: 30

Education: MBA from Kellogg School of Management

Prior Work Experience: Export houses in Delhi

Kaaryah is a brand of western formal wear for Indian women focused on providing the best possible fit with its 18 sizes. The brand focuses on bridging the gap between western formals and the Indian silhouette. Recently Ratan Tata has picked up a minor stake in Kaaryah.

Name: Manisha Raisinghani

Company: LogiNext

Age: 27

Education: Masters, MIS, Carnegie Mellon University

Prior Work Experience: IBM

Funded by Indian Angel Network, LogiNext is a technology-based start-up providing real-time visibility and optimisation solutions to logistics companies. LogiNext Solutions had raised its seed round of funding of about $600k from Indian Angel Network in March 2015. This was followed by another funding round in September 2015, wherein it raised a whopping $10 million Series A funding from Paytm.

Name: Debadtta Upadhaya

Company: Timesaverz

Age: 35

Prior Work Experience: IIM Calcutta

Work: The Times of India, Yahoo! India and Vdopia Inc

Timesaverz is a one-stop solution for home service requirement. It connects customers to home service providers who are certified, verified and curated. The service majorly includes home maintenance and one-time services. Recently, Unilazer Ventures invested Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) in Timesaverz.

Name: Kanika Tekriwal

Company: JetSetGo

Age: 27

Prior Work Experience: Coventry University

Work: Aviation industry

JetSetGo is India’s first and only marketplace for private jet and helicopter charters. JetSetGo raised nearly Rs 12.73 crore (Rs 127.3 million) from Puneet Dalmia and others in 2015 in pre-series A funding.

Name: Neha Motwani

Company: Fitternity

Age: 30

Education: MMS, Welingkar Institute of Management

Prior Work Experience: HSBC, Axis Risk Consulting

Fitternity is catering to holistic preventive healthcare space covering exercise (working out), eat (eating right) and explore (mental wellbeing). Fitternity Health E-solutions has raised pre-Series A investment of $1 million led by Bengaluru-based Exfinity Venture Partners.

Name: Namrata Bostrom

Company: POPxo

Age: 28

Education: MBA, London Business School

Prior Work Experience: EBITD, BCG

POPxo is a dynamic digital media platform attracting over three million loyal and engaged readers every month for go-to fashion, beauty and lifestyle destination for young women across the country. POPxo has raised $2 million in Series A funding from IDGVI, Kalaari Capital.

This list, brimming with women who have shown unparalleled enthusiasm and dedication to their work, makes me the happiest to say that it is not a man’s world after all!

(Column by Vista Rooms co-founder Amit Damani)