There is nothing called ‘Woman Entrepreneur’

February 23, 2017

A very Happy Women’s day to all my fellow ladies and to all men who’re rooting for equality!

If there was one thing I had to advice my fellow ladies, we should stop calling ourselves “Women Entrepreneurs” in the first place. There is no such thing. Because our chromosomes have nothing to do with our ability to run a business, face failures or be successful. A constant reminder about gender segmentation only leads to self doubt. We’re all “Entrepreneurs” –  irrespective of our age, gender or  the size of fight and daring!

When I was conceptualising Olready, I was faced with many questions about why am I leaving my established job and risking my career path, how I will run my startup in situations like marriage or how will I deal with male clients/investors and the skepticism women entrepreneurs traditionally face. I believe and said it would be no different than it is for any of my fellow male entrepreneurs or my clients or the investors I talk to. And it has been no different.

At the end of the day, it is about the hustle and the grind, not if I wore high heels or laced shoes while I was at it.- Kanika Khanna, Founder & CEO Olready. 

International Women’s Day has a rich history. In 1908, the first Women’s Day marches demanded attention towards unfair property laws, the longer hours expected of them for lower pay, and lack of voting rights. My problem with Women’s Day as we know today, glosses over this and has instead has become a ritualized celebration of my supposed femininity.

This is the day we are inundated with stereotypes of what an ideal woman should be. Our facebook walls and WhatsApp groups ask us to celebrate women for their selflessness, “purity”, nurturing, the biological ability to give birth, the ability to multitask between work and “family responsibilities” etc. What if I happen to place my own success over being a selfless teacher/sister/daughter/wife? What if I choose to not have children? Am I less of a woman? Of course not. Don’t reduce a human being into stereotypes, don’t put me on a pedestal while reminding me what I Should be to earn your respect. If you want to give women respect – discuss the fact that India presently has the wage gap of 64%. Higher than the world average of a dismal 40%.

And please let’s stop making this day about celebrating some ethereal magical “womanhood”.  But sure, let’s celebrate that we now have voting rights.- Ishita Malhotra, Business Development Manager Amazon India.  

I was born and brought up in a male dominated family, I was pulled down by various judgements about woman and their pre-set responsibilities. As per general understanding a woman’s core responsibility is to take care of her house and family. These prevailing points of views will remain but it should not be the reason to let go ones dreams and ambitions. Judgements/ points of views are not real or validated as they are different for different people. What we need to understand is that they will eventually pass if our focus is laser like and strong. An individual should have a positive vision for the society, an intent to bring a dent in the world and all other subsequent  responsibilities will fall into place.

As a mother one of my prime responsibility is the well being of my children, however, I do feel a deep sense of responsibility also towards achieving my dreams and ambitions. We see multiple cases of top performing girls in colleges and schools settling down to mediocre lifestyles after they graduate. I ask these bright young millennials to go forth boldly in the direction of their dreams. I recommend and encourage more women to join the workforce and their husbands to take equal responsibility in household matters. Imagine an environment where kids watch their mothers take equal responsibility of financial stability and fathers take equal care of households, this develops an attitude of authentic gender equality right from childhood- Shruthi Reddy Sethi, Founder

 Writing this now almost seems unreal, because I don’t know what it means to be an entrepreneur. The job role is almost ambiguous and so consuming, that you kind of forget that you are doing something radical.

I don’t recall having a particular “plan” to start The Inner Goddess Academy. I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and I realised that this pseudo issue of women leadership was not just in my head, it was actually real. I sat with my father to discuss it and he sparked off a thought. It was almost like a challenge. He asked me, “Do you think you can create something that could help women overcome this problem?” And just because I had a passion of keeping myself productive, I said yes. After that, I can visualise months flying by where I was talking to as many women as I could about this particular issue.

While speaking to different mentors, coaches and friends, I came up with the basic model of what I wanted to do. My 3 year tenure in a youth run organisation called AIESEC, helped me put two and two together when it came to starting a business. I found a partner, a team of 40 young people,  borrowed money from my parents and we just started with taster inspirational sessions for our own social circle. My only advice to anybody who wants to start something: let everyone call you crazy, just keep going.

We started in March 2016 with a customer base of 20 and now we are at a customer base of 100. I was called as a speaker to numerous colleges around Chennai to deliver sessions and to the Women Economic Conference in Delhi. I am also representing India in Germany at G(irls)20 Summit in June 2017. (

I say this to my team all the time — The Inner Goddess Academy (TIGA) is my happy place. I am the best version of myself when I’m devoting time to that. I’m young, and have a long way to go, but TIGA is going to be biggest contributor to my learnings as a human being.- Ananya Parekh, Founder & CEO The Inner Goddess Academy.  

Hi this is me, Manjir Chatterjee. I became an entrepreneur out of my instinct, out of my own free will. Folk is the company which I had formed 12 years ago. Shakespeare had rhetorically asked, ‘What’s in a name?’ Well if you ask me, ‘Folk’ was my calling in life, a thought which set me in motion. I conceived ‘Folk’ simply to make products I always had been looking for but couldn’t find in the marketplace.

My upbringing didn’t make me overtly gender conscious. Failure was never considered to be the end of the world. I was encouraged to face, analyse and overcome any adversity. It instilled an innate ability in me to reflect and take corrective actions in my entrepreneurial journey.

As a creative sector entrepreneur, my focus is on design and manufacturing aesthetically appealing but more importantly functional products. Products which would make life simpler, clutter-free and organised. The following are key milestones in my entrepreneurial journey:

  • graduating from merchant exporter to getting our own factory space and setting it up in 2003.
  • setting up an office and warehouse in Liverpool, UK in 2010.
  • expansion with more manufacturing space and augmenting capacity in 2015.
  • starting of our retail operation in December 2016.

I must say it’s been quite a fabulous journey till date. I don’t come from a business background and literally started from scratch. But the best thing when you start from zero is, the graph can’t go downwards and it only got to go up. When I started, entrepreneurship wasn’t looked upon as a very lucrative career choice for young people. There were obstacles in almost every step.

I have wished to look beyond traditional systems of education, productivity and profit. I also consciously sought to break down, through my work, the pigeonholing of different forms of knowledge and skill, preferring a seamless travel & convergence across  conventional boundaries.

My advice to you is that please don’t get bogged down with someone else’s opinion about your life. Dream big, get on the job, be restless until your objectives are met. Success and a fulfilling life beckons!- Manjir Chatterjee, CEO Folks.