I dragged myself on a Saturday morning to the Google office in Bangalore to attend the Google #DevFestWOW primarily for two reasons: it was Google and ‘Women On the Web’. WOW which stands for Women on the Web is an initiative by Google for Entrepreneurs and Google Developers Group is an organization which organizes such community meetups to discuss how technology can be more deeply and meaningfully integrated with daily life. This event was hosted to get more women involved into entrepreneurship and primarily to remove the phobia associated with ‘tech’.
Shradha Sharma, the founder of YourStory.in was the key note speaker at the gathering that had a healthy mix of women from various spheres who had started up or looking to startup. We had cake makers to software testers to writers in the audience who were all trying to make a mark in the space of entrepreneurship. Shradha began the talk with her journey as an entrepreneur; coming from Bihar, a girl who had hardly seen how the world works uptill she went to St. Stephens to running a thriving a business for almost 5 years in YourStory.
She shared some very personal struggles that a woman has to face while building a business and stressed the importance of looking at the greener side. An extremely energetic talk, the motivation quotient among the women in the room sky rocketed in no time! Despite being lucrative, she mentioned some key points that a woman or anyone for that matter has to consider before committing oneself to a startup:
- Entrepreneurship looks glamorous but it's one tough nut that’ll require 24*7 dedication. There are no half measures.
- Business IS personal. You can’t keep the two separate, if you’re running a business, there is no way it cannot be personal!
- Setting up a business is a lengthy process, it takes time to build anything and there is no substitute for perseverance.
But if one looks at the greener grass and has the will to fight it out, there is lots up for grabs. Shradha addressed the key issue about how women shouldn’t be bogged down by all the ‘technical stuff’. “It is no rocket science and whatever background you may come from, you can always grasp enough to figure things out and get things done,” she said. Shradha also stressed upon the importance of being ‘good’ as a person while running a business. “It’ll always come back to you, a thousand times more,” she announced. And that’s true, if you do enough good, it is bound to come back to you!
Motivating the audience further, she added, “Gender, socio-economic status, family background etc are mental barriers if you let them be. You can choose to be whatever you want!” The fundamental question to ask is "why" I am doing what I am doing; let the cause define your journey and everything will be surmountable. The keynote was winded up with another powerful point about networking- every person should network with people in every domain, these lateral connections helps one think differently and gives a fresh perspective.
Following the Key Note, there was a panel discussion that was moderated by Archana Doshi, founder of Archana's kitchen and Githanjali Santhanam who takes care of the Women On the Web program. The panel consisted of Lakshmi Rebecca of ChaiWithLakshmi, Anjali Gupta (an entrepreneur and investor) and Shradha Sharma.The Panel touched upon points that would help women setup and nurture a business. Anjali poured from her experience of starting up from college and going on to sell a venture in the Valley, Lakshmi talked about her journey as an entrepreneur and building a video content website while Shradha built upon her initial talk to share more nitty gritties about a business.
The Panel was followed by many more sessions from the Google Developers Group that helped the women with getting the technical basics in place. From the foundation of setting up a website to SEO to some of the best practices to follow while bringing a business online, the sessions went a long way in distancing the tech phobia within women.
All in all a great effort, the women were so pleased with the motivating talk to start the day with and technical sessions to follow, that I’m betting on atleast 10 new women startups coming up very soon!