Serial entrepreneur Mansi Gandhi began her entrepreneurship journey tinkering with iOS appsSindhu Kashyaap
The co-founder and COO of DoctorC, Mansi Gandhi’s first attempt at entrepreneurship began in 2009, when she along with her friends began to tinker with iOS apps. Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs, Mansi was born and raised in Hyderabad. She believes her school Vidyaranya High School played an integral role in shaping her personality. She says that it encouraged her and taught her to question everything, follow her passions, and be a free individual.
Reminiscing about her childhood, Mansi says that she spent most of her time conducting science experiments, playing adventure sports, and creating art. Her mother she adds, would encourage her to learn art and music, and this in turn ingrained a sense of creativity in Mansi. “My father is a chartered accountant and the Founder and managing director of Wings Infonet, and he in turn helped me imbibe different views on business, science, people, and life. I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur,” says Mansi.
Before venturing out as an entrepreneur, Mansi was working at Oracle as a senior applications engineer. However, her love for doing something on her own got her experimenting with several iOS apps and that’s how WebMynx, her first startup, was born. Her company built several apps for iPhone and iPad: “I’m particularly proud of having built Soundbox for Youtube, an iPad app that collects free music from across the internet. With over 100,000 downloads, this was one of our most successful apps.”
After that, along with her husband Neehar, Mansi started her second venture Sleepyhead in San Franciso. Apart from creating several iOS apps, they also produced few short films and made a feature film – The Green Bandits. Speaking about the feature film experience Mansi says: “The Green Bandits was my first experience of working on an end-to-end production with a team of 80 people. The production lasted two years and was an unforgettable experience. It’s amazinghow similar producing a film and running a startup can be!”
While, she already had two ventures in her kitty, Mansi believes that her third startup Shoutt was her real plunge into full-time entrepreneurship. It was while working for Oracle that Mansi had begun her ventures. But it was only after Shoutt that she quit her job and moved back to India.
“It was several happy coincidences later, that DoctorC was created,” continues Mansi.It was her drive to bring about a change in the Indian healthcare system through modern technology-based solutions that gave rise to DoctorC. Mansi believes that her background in technology has enabled her to help design and implement a model that drives value for both – consumers and healthcare providers.
Technology and engineering have always been a passion for Mansi. She believes that engineering equips you with a strong framework for logical and analytical thinking and helps in problem solving:“What’s not to love about technology?It’s given us so much – from computers to the internet to electric cars and even a mission to Mars.”
Like any entrepreneur, Mansi has faced the challenge of building a business to making it grow. However, she believes that one of the toughest challenges has been hiring the right people. Also, being a woman entrepreneur is a different issue:
Sexism and stereotyping are perhaps the most obvious challenges I face. This can sometimes be exacerbated by the fact that I run a business with my husband. Almost regularly, when I’ve attended meetings with a male colleague, my presence and leadership role is not acknowledged or noted until I begin leading the negotiations.
While, this bothered her initially, Mansi has now made peace with the fact that attitudinal change will take time. She believes diplomacy and patience can go a long way in mitigating circumstances such as these. She further adds: “I believe India still has a long way to go in both treating women equally and consequently, actively encouraging women entrepreneurs.” However, Mansi has a great support system both at home and work.
As a result of this bias, Mansi likes to ensure that as a company, the team is committed to equal opportunity and diversity. Currently, three out of the six leadership positions in her company are held by women. Mansi addsthat the industry average is 14 per cent and the board has 50:50 ratios, while the industry average is six percent. “Our aim is to be as racially inclusive, LGBT inclusive, and culturally inclusive as we can,” says Mansi.
As an entrepreneur, Mansi loves that fact that she will be building something new from scratch. She says that it requires lots of passion, hard work, and creativity: “Despite the challenges and stress that come with being a part of a startup it’s a lot of fun.” Speaking about her role and her learning, Mansi says that it can be tricky to get the first few diagnostic centres on board, especially while breaking into a new market. However, she finds that once you demonstrate the value of your model generate, opportunities simply fall in place. “Also, I find working with a large ground team of medical technicians challenging and exciting at the same time,” adds Mansi.
Advising women entrepreneurs, Mansi says:
Don’t think of yourself as a woman entrepreneur, think of yourself as an entrepreneur.
She says that the ‘woman’ part is inconsequential; that once you make that switch, all challenges will find solutions. Mansi believes that having a strong support system goes a long way: “I think many women find it hard to balance running a company and running a home.Fortunately for me, I have Neehar, my co-founder and husband. We’re equals at home and at work.”
Mansi feels that her entrepreneurial journey has reinforced the importance of three things – team, culture, and speed. She says that building a great company begins with building a great team, which in turn starts with fostering a great culture: “And speed is about how fast we move – from idea to execution, from failure to failure, and eventually to success.”