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“The ability to network gives women entrepreneurs a huge edge,” Padmaja Ruparel, President, IAN

Jubin Mehta
30th Aug 2012
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The president of Indian Angel Network, Padmaja Ruparel has built the organization from inception back in 2009. The angel network has over 130 investors and has invested in various companies, the latest being Consure and before that, Hashcube. Padmaja has been a key figure in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem from the time she setup TiE Delhi Chapter which was the first TiE chapter in India (and has also won the best chapter award globally for last 4 consecutive years). Padmaja also revived the Indian Venture Capital Association post which she formed IAN. “The TiE and IVCA experience was very helpful when I started IAN but the key problem I was facing was that at that time, the concept of entrepreneurship wasn’t looked upon as a career. It was very hard to get the idea embedded into the psyche of the populace but the scenario is now different,” explains Padmaja.

“VCs started investing in startups in India over a decade ago but they always invested money raised overseas. The trend is changing but still VCs raise money predominantly overseas. This amount was huge and as an early stage startup, it wouldn’t know what to do with those huge sums of money and VCs wouldn’t even invest. Hence I thought investments in early stage to be a gap and hence started IAN,” says Padmaja. Mentoring plays a huge role with IAN investments and Padmaja considers this to be their biggest strength. Being an investor in the Indian ecosystem ever since the ‘startup revolution’ took place, Padmaja definitely knows a thing or two about it. And being a woman in a space which has been dominated by males, the perspective is valuable. “Investing, like any other business proposition, has been dominated by males in India; unless you look at the IT sector. This is more of a cultural thing and when you look at entrepreneurship, it becomes even harder because entrepreneurship is a 24*7 job and women, culturally, especially in India multi task. There are various areas she has to take care of and hence, naturally, there are lesser number of women entrepreneurs,” informs Padmaja.

Talking about the quality of women entrepreneurs, Padmaja says, “Quantity is less but when you talk about the quality of women entrepreneurs, I’d say it is way higher. They’re much more focused and sharp and their ability to network is absolutely brilliant which is a must-have for an entrepreneur. And we at IAN are buoyant about women entrepreneurship and have 3 companies founded by women in our portfolio.” Adding here, she says, “Infact last week, we had a meetup wherein only women entrepreneurs pitched to the investors.”

And whenever we talk about gender difference, we talk about difference in perspective. When looking at investing, an investor definitely has to look at numbers, figures, trends, “but a women investor brings in the softer aspects better. We understand the body language, we spot the depth in team dynamics, etc and that is very important because when investing as an angel, you’re betting on the team above anything else” says Padmaja. On a concluding note, encouraging women entrepeneurs, she says, “Just go for it!”

Padmaja’s book recommendation: Start-up Nation.

Website: Indian Angel Network

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