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Women Entrepreneurs

Meet the father-daughter duos who are rocking the startup world

Prateeksha Nayak
20th Jun 2016
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It’s Father’s day today and social media is teeming with emotional tribute to dads! Have you ever wondered why every girl’s relationship with her father is limited to being daddy’s little girl until she is taken away by a prince charming one fine day? Unlike the father-son relationship, the general perception around a father-daughter relationship is more about responsibility and less about an equal partnership.

Thankfully, times seem to be finally changing as the father-daughter bond is now maturing into successful business alliances. Hence, this Father’s day we got talking to three father-daughter duos, who are running successful businesses together, about the bond they share and how they feel about being the agents of change. Take a look!

1) The duo that learnt together

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Bhairavi Madhusudan, Idea Cultivator, and S. Madhusudan, Chief Farmer, Back2Basics

An alumnus of Huntsman Programme in International Studies and Business at The University of Pennsylvania, a dual degree programme with The Wharton school of business, Bhairavi Madhusudan worked as a management and strategic consultant at various multinational companies. She went on to work with a private equity firm in Frankfurt and was on a break in India when entrepreneurship beckoned. Her father was just about getting started with his organic produce business, which also happened to be his first venture and was as new to business of agriculture as Bhairavi. In the initial stages, Back2Basics was concentrating mainly on the B2B side of things and the profits the company was making was dismal. Bhairavi saw her father in distress and decided to join him for a small project, looking to revive the financial stability of the business. He was more than willing to take her on board. Bhairavi developed a special algorithm to change the price structure and, to her surprise, the company’s profits increased by 54 percent in just 16 days. Having worked as a beginner in her previous jobs where senior analysts presented reports that were painstakingly made by her before clients and ended up taking all the credit, seeing her work have such an immediate effect on something thrilled her.

How did her dad react when she took the plunge?

“He only warned me that he will not be able to afford me.” Bhairavi laughs.

However, working with her father has been one of the best experiences of Bhairavi’s life.

“My dad and me think alike. Although I am close to my mother, my father and me approach problems in the same way. He has always been there for me in every decision I have made, from choosing to play a sport despite our family being academics oriented to traveling and living in various countries all over the world. Working with my father is equivalent to taking lesson from a thousand professors” says 23-year-old Bhairavi.

This father-daughter duo is running a successful business all thanks to the great camaraderie they share. But, working with a family member isn’t easy and Bhairavi faces her share of challenges on a day-to-day basis.

“People in India are just about getting used to daughters being a part of their father’s businesses. Initially, it was a culture shock for me and I’m still struggling to be taken seriously” she exclaims.

Challenges are aplenty for this woman entrepreneur, as in any other entrepreneur’s case. But, Bhairavi overcomes her struggles with her business prowess and father’s support, of course.

 back2basics farm, a unique Bengaluru-based farm-to-fork company that supplies locally grown organic food with same-day-as-harvest doorstep delivery. Spread over 200 acres, the company practices chemical-free agriculture, selling 90 varieties of seasonal produce in four categories – fruits, vegetables, greens, exotics – to clients that include large corporates, retail chains, independent organic suppliers. 

2) The duo that grew together

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Sakshi Vij, Founder, Myles, and Rajiv Vij, Chairman and MD, Carzonrent Pvt Ltd

Sakshi Vij, 31, studied Economics at Delhi University and went on to do her MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management in Singapore and Dubai. She worked with a financial advisory firm before she could take the entrepreneurial plunge and join her father’s car rental business – Carzonrent. Being the only child, Sakshi was, to a certain extent, naturally drawn towards her father’s business, but what really prompted her to leave a cushy job was her father’s passion. The first assignment she got from him was to turn his company into a brand. As she went about building the brand, Sakshi grew curious about the transportation space and founded Myles – a subsidiary of Carzonrent – to address the traditional hassle associated with car ownership. Myles was also India’s first self-drive business.

It was one father-daughter talk that got Sakshi to take the decision of joining her father.

“Observing my father do business definitely gave me a heads-up and I went on to learn things faster. I learnt everything there was to do under his guidance. Our personal bond is very argumentative and conversational and we can discuss anything under the sun. My father has always given me opportunities to learn new things and continues to do so. He is the epitome of an ideal friend and a great mentor who can transition between playing these roles effortlessly.”

Carzonrent (India) Pvt. Ltd. (CIPL) offers a complete bouquet of end-to-end long and short-term car rental solutions through its fleet of 6,500 cars across the country.

How does it feel to be riding the wave of change?

General perception of a son ideally taking over a father’s business does not bother Sakshi anymore. Things are definitely changing, but she feels it is up to all of us to put these archaic thoughts behind us and not use the gender card. “When your work does the talking, you don’t need anything else and gender lines are automatically blurred,” she says.

3) The duo that played to each other’s strengths

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Drish Paul, Founder, and Pallavi P, Co-Founder, ModSpace.in

Serial entrepreneur Drish Paul was always a businessman, but it is the one venture that he runs with his daughter that he is most fond of. Paul founded ModSpace.in, an online furniture company, in 2015. His daughter Pallavi, 33, embarked on her entrepreneurial journey after completing her degree in Economics and Communication at Tufts University, Boston.“It is her analytical thinking and ability to leverage the internet so well that I admire the most,” says Drish. 

“I always encouraged my daughter to fail. You never learn unless you fail. I also consciously made sure that she did not feel any pressure. My son also works with me, but it is my daughter who I call my jaan. When we’re not working, we end up spending a lot of time traveling and watching sport as we are both outdoor persons. It is indeed heartening to see more and more daughters working with their fathers and am sure the trend is here to stay,” says Drish.

ModSpace.in is an on-line furniture company that marries today’s modern technology with manufacturing expertise to provide the consumer a smarter way to design, select and buy factory finish quality kitchens, wardrobes and home goods at price points that fit any budge.

From giving away their daughters hand in marriage to shaking it to mark the beginning of a new business partnership, the father-daughter relationship in India has indeed come a long way. Can we expect enterprises in the near future to be suffixed with ‘and daughters’ soon? We need to wait and watch!

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