Coming Back to the roots; Rita Kale's Journey with MoneyChat to Help Women Succeed in Business

“I came back to India in 2009 after spending 15 years outside the country.  I worked for Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company and was on assignment in Mumbai as the Chief Financial Officer for Roche Diagnostics.  My husband, a Wall St. suit, quit his job and came with me. After working in the corporate world for 18 years and traveling the world, the only real regret I had was not having started something of my own. I come from a family of businessmen and every so often I used to feel the itch to start something of my own, but complacency, a good pay packet and great opportunities at work stopped me from taking the plunge.”

When Rita Kale, Founder, MoneyChat, told her story, we understood a wonderful journey was about to be unveiled before us. The “startup virus” had infected them in India. In 2011, when her husband and his partner launched a startup out of Pune, Rita also decided to quit and pursue the entrepreneurial dream. In February 2012, she launched MoneyChat.

Having previously worked at senior management positions in Australia, South Africa and the U.S, Rita had enough experience to set on her own. Added to this were a Masters degree and an MBA from Sydney, Australia. The team at MoneyChat India includes the employees who help the clients with business development, consulting, technology and research; freelancers who help with the content; and organizations that partner with MoneyChat to provide advice and guidance to MoneyChat India’s customers.

Any woman in India who is starting a new business or growing an existing one faces a barrage of questions. Questions about pricing, business plans, tax, legal structure, funding, required licenses, marketing, technology, competition analysis, etc. are likely to be answered by family members or friends. The advice may be well-meaning but not necessary accurate. Professional advice in these areas is expensive and resources available to abusinesswoman are scarce. I ran several focus groups and it became apparent that businesswomen would appreciate access to a pool of resources that they could subscribe to. This way they would pay only a fraction of the cost of hiring all the professionals themselves but could use professional assistance whenever they required it.

This is what MoneyChat India does. It provides women in business with professional advice and services in Marketing, Technology and Market Research on a subscription basis so that they can get the professional advice they need, when they need it. MoneyChat India routinely conducts events for its members. Discussions are on substantive areas which are relevant to business owners and essential for business success. “Our events are followed by networking opportunities to help connect women entrepreneurs with each other. This robust support system ensures that women do not feel isolated as they navigate through entrepreneurial challenges and can learn from each other’s experiences. The success of these events has created a lot of interest in other services offered by MoneyChat India,” adds Rita.

MoneyChat follows a subscription model. There are 3 month, 6 month and annual plans for women entrepreneurs. The longer duration plans come with more services included in them. A limited trial for a month is available so one can ‘try before you buy’. Rita adds that they have had a conversion rate of more than 80% from free to paying customers.

The Pune MoneyChat Club now has over 250 members and it also has several customers from other cities. Since its inception, MoneyChat India has already held four events this year exclusively for women entrepreneurs and plans are on for the fifth event in December 2012. The events include discussions on Angel Funding, Business Plans, and Legal Contracts for SMEs. “Our last event was titled Women, Business and Technology and was sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurs on the Web (WeOW) team from Google. The WEOW team addressed 100 women entrepreneurs from Pune about how to use technology to fast-track business success. The event was sold out within 2 weeks and was very well-received by the audience,” adds Rita.

Rita finds recruiting talented and dedicated staff a major challenge. “So far I have been very lucky to have found dedicated employees who also believe in the cause. However, recruitment is getting harder with time. It is difficult to find good, qualified people who are willing to work with startups,” she adds. She also wants to effectively replicate the MoneyChat India club in other cities. She found the Pune event a great learning experience and wishes to mirror the success of MoneyChat Pune on a pan India level.

Women entrepreneurs must check out MoneyChat!


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