Even as the number of unicorns has exploded in India in the last year, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in female founders. This is disappointing but not surprising for those who live in the ecosystem.
For a multitude of reasons, women have lagged behind men in technological entrepreneurship, from biases to societal standards to the stereotypical mentality that pervades Silicon Valley society.
These are ten of the women founders of Indian unicorns.
According to media accounts, Gokulnath is Byju Raveendran’s wife and co-founder of India’s most valuable online company. She controls Byju’s content operations and helps create lectures and teaching approaches. Raveendran was also a student of Gokulnath when he was taking lessons before starting a business.
Kalra is a co-founder of Rivigo, a trucking logistics network supported by investors such as Elevation Capital and Warburg Pincus. Kalra, a graduate of IIT Delhi, Harvard, and Stanford, worked for McKinsey and the World Bank Group before founding Rivigo. According to her LinkedIn, she has been running another stealth mode firm for the past five months.
For the past few years, Nayar has been the face of female entrepreneurship in India. Nayar, a former senior banker at Kotak and an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, founded the beauty eCommerce portal Nykaa in 2012, which has been dubbed “India’s Sephora.”
She brought Nykaa public last year, with a valuation of over $10 billion, after raising less stock capital than most other ecommerce startups. Despite the fact that Nykaa’s stock has plummeted since then, Nayar and her family still own 50% of the company and run it financially, two characteristics that set it apart from other Indian entrepreneurs.
In 2010, Katikaneni, Sudheer and Dheeraj Koneru, and Anand Arvind co-founded Zenoti, a software platform for spas and salons, primarily in the United States but later expanding to other nations. She served as Vice President of Marketing for 9 years at the company, according to her LinkedIn, and is currently on a personal sabbatical.
Taku established Mobikwik, a mobile wallet that is now a buy-now-pay-later platform, with her husband Bipin Preet Singh, a Stanford alum. Despite Paytm grabbing the lead and burning money in most fintech industries, it has managed to survive all these years.
It became a unicorn in the run-up to an IPO last year, but due to Paytm’s dramatic IPO failure, it had to cancel its listing ambitions after filing documentation. Taku worked in the United States for PayPal and HSBC before returning to India.
Kalra, a graduate of IIT-Delhi and the Indian School of Business, is the head of financing at OfBusiness, a B2B commerce and lending platform with a market capitalization of $5 billion and plans to go public this year. Before co-founding OfBusiness with spouse Asish Mohapatra and others, she was a partner at the management consultancy firm McKinsey.
Co-founder: Pristyn Care
Dr. Garima Sawhney is the co-founder of Pristyn Care, a digital platform that creates multispecialty clinics and surgery centres by utilising extra capacity in hospitals.
Sawhney graduated from Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and worked as a consultant at Max Super Speciality Hospital and CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram before founding Pristyn, which is now backed by Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global.
Ghazal is one half of the husband-and-wife team of Mamaearth, new-age skincare, and body care line. Ghazal was also a shark/investor on the much-discussed entrepreneurship shows Shark Tank India recently. Ghazal is known for putting each new Mamaearth product to the test on her before it is released to the general public, in order to check for side effects and other issues.
Co-founder and co-CEO: LEAD School
Deorah, a chartered accountant, is the founder and CEO of LEAD, a technological platform that allows schools to improve learning through smart classrooms, qualified teachers, and an international curriculum. Deorah formerly worked for Procter & Gamble for nearly 8 years before founding Sparsh, a non-profit organisation that runs schools in rural places to help children from low-income communities. Deorah and her husband, Sumeet Mehta, run LEAD.
Hasura is the newest unicorn to join the club at the present, and it speeds up web app development. It decreases the amount of effort and skill needed to create GraphQL APIs for data access. Ghosh is a National University of Singapore alumnus who co-founded 34 Cross, a product development firm whose idea fertilised the seeds for Hasura.