Reflecting on the communities that have been integral to our growth on Women’s Day
On all the puja packets we send out to the world we have a simple message: “Powered By Women.” The idea is simple enough — we’re a company founded by women, a large portion of our early adopters were women and our model runs on the skill and hard work of our puja ladies.
We celebrate this everyday because the reality is, this is a huge strength for us. There’s a world of literature on the challenges women face in entrepreneurship and in the workplace, but for us our majority-women team has always been a cause for celebration.
We are so lucky as daughters to have grown up believing it was absolutely natural that we’d one day be entrepreneurs — just like our father and mother. We are privileged as students to have so many teachers and mentors who expected nothing but the best from us. We were fortunate to sidestep that famous complaint — the soft bigotry of low expectations that dampens women’s ambition.
We are lucky also to be surrounded by a wealth of great examples — we’ve never had to look very far to see a woman who was killing it in whichever field she chose. And we see this community as a bedrock — we stand firm believing in the strength of women unencumbered and draw strength from them when we run low. So this women’s day I wanted to talk about some of the organisations we’ve been lucky to be a part of that continue to inspire us and teach us!
FICCI Flo is a division of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) founded in 1983 and spanning 17 chapters in India. We have been a part of the Bangalore chapter since 2019.
This was our first exposure to women entrepreneurship networks in India when we started Hoovu. Over the past two years under the Chairperson’s — Yashodhara Shroff, Shruti Mittal and this year Jyotika Kalra, we have learnt so much from this network. It was one of the primary ways we got our name out in the very beginning, and through interacting with the FLO members learnt not only about running a business as a woman but also about our target audience — which intersected largely with FLO membership.
We were a part of the mentorship program at FLO, where we were paired up with Divya Purnaiya, our early champion who gave us so many insights into how to make the most of our marketing efforts. We also held multiple skilling workshops to train ladies in garlanding, with the support of Parvathi Viswanathan and her team who work tirelessly to add value to women from all walks of life. And of course Jyotika Kalra whose beautiful use of our rose petals and jasmine gajras has been our best marketing campaign yet!
IGNITE was suggested to us by Parth Patel who we met through the Techstars program when we heard him talk about AWS and his passion for the startup ecosystem. That a program run by Lathika Pai (who is the country head for Microsoft for Startups) came recommended by someone from the AWS team for startups (which seems to be in every sense a competitor) was the first clue we got about the unique nature of the program.
We also got to hear first hand from Nupur Gupta, the co-founder of NIRA Finance (from the Techstars class right before us) who previously attended the IGNITE program about the value it gave her, and we were convinced. We soon realised that this program was put together with an abundance of passion for the potential of startups and particularly women-led startups. It also shared a firm belief in the simple truth we saw printed on Lathika’s T-shirt: The future is female.
IGNITE was a jam packed 3 day program with a lot of different topics covered in quick succession. It put us in true bootcamp mode — it shook off the cobwebs and re-energized us just in time for all the big changes we had coming up. It was great to be back in that head space where you’re hearing about a myriad of experiences and then disengaging from day to day stuff to get a bird eye’s view of your business.
Although the program is over, the community is very much alive. Everyday we get to see women from our cohort achieve cool things, ask interesting questions and motivate each other which has been invaluable.
We first heard about Lead Tribe from Radhika Agarwal, the woman who made it all happen. Instantly we knew we wanted to be a part of it — the agenda and the ethos both seemed to be exactly what we needed right now. Like SonderConnect, it came to us at a time where we had a lot of balls up in the air and a lot of questions in terms of fundraising versus bootstrapping, how to scale our distribution and how to revamp our marketing efforts. Over the past month we’ve gotten insights on all of this and more from a group of amazing speakers in sessions designed for maximum interactivity and introspection. But what has made this particularly amazing is the cohort of women we are with who bring a world of experience and share it with so much warmth.
We recently joined Fempower, a platform for millennial women entrepreneurs. When we spoke to Tanisha Sheth, the cofounder, we loved the idea of connecting with younger female founders who were closer to our stage in life and all that we could learn from that. Although we just started this journey we’re so excited to watch this community grow!
Other women-led communities we’ve worked with:
We worked with AspireForHer when they had their hackathon and spoke about our experience pitching and tips for an effective presentation. The girls were so engaged and it was really cool to see what they accomplished during the weekend hackathon. It was spearheaded by Soumya Prasada who has a long history of bringing together women in tech and empowering them, so working with her was a huge plus as well!
We spoke to the girls at Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management about our decision to become entrepreneurs and answered their questions on how they can take a similar path — we were hosted by Ananya Bangera who is an ambassador at DTW: Women Transcending Dreams.
We’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by many strong, exceptional women. Whether it’s working with them, learning from them or simply enjoying their friendship, our journey would’ve been impoverished without their support. So here’s wishing all the girls and women we know a very happy Women’s Day and many more days, months and years of celebrating being powered by women!