Mabel Chacko and Deena Jacob: The women behind India’s latest family-run unicorn

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In an exclusive interview with HerStory, Mabel Chacko and Deena Jacob, Co-founders of Open Financial Technologies, India’s 100th unicorn talk about valuations, cracking the SMB market, the joint venture with IIFL, and more.

Hello Readers, 

On May 3, Open Financial Technologies became India’s 100th unicorn after it raised $50 million from Mumbai-based IIFL Finance in its Series D funding round.    

The neobanking startup’s journey to the unicorn club has inspiration for women entrepreneurs as well as family-owned businesses. 

At the helm of Open, among its four founders —  Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko, Deena Jacob, and Ajeesh Achuthan — are two women entrepreneurs Mabel and Deena. Three of the co-founders in Open are family; Anish and Ajeesh are brothers, and Mabel is married to Anish. 

HerStory reached out to Mabel and Deena to learn more about Open’s growth as Asia’s largest neobank, advice for women entrepreneurs as well as tips on running a family-owned business.

Interestingly, Deena was pregnant during Open’s Series A and B rounds of funding.  “While it was not a cakewalk, I would like it to say it was doable. All thanks to the incredible support I received from my other co-founders and the team,” she adds. 

Mabel believes the journey of building a startup is a tough and arduous one, and having “someone take on the pain along with you is fun.”

“Each of us is in this because of the skillsets we bring to the company. Anish brings in product and business strategy expertise, Ajeesh handles tech, and Deena, with her financial background, came in as the perfect fit to the team,” Mabel adds. Read more

The Interview

Nikhil Sharma, popularly known as Mumbiker Nikhil, has been winning hearts with his candid and engaging content. 

On this episode of Influencers Inc by YourStory, Nikhil talks about his thrilling bike expeditions and his content creation journey as a lifestyle vlogger.

Editor’s Pick: App Friday

This week for App Friday, we reviewed Flow Club, a social investing app that helps friends track each other’s portfolios, keep track of trades, and share trading tips with one another. The app currently has 10,000+ downloads on the Google Play Store. Read more

Startup Spotlight

Rolling up restaurants

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a big blow to India’s foodtech industry, with 25 percent of all restaurants shutting shop. The crisis also highlighted the stagnant growth of many restaurants.

Big Bang Foodtech had been advising restaurants on fixing their issues and launching them in new geographies. The rollup startup now scouts and acquires restaurant and foodtech players who already have a product-market fit. Read more.

Credit: YourStory Design

Top Stories of the Week

  • Road to 100: In the Indian startup ecosystem, a unicorn is now born every two weeks. With the entry of Open as India's 100th unicorn, 2022 has been a bumper year for growth-stage startups crossing the $1 billion valuation mark.
  • Looking back: Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India opened its much-anticipated $2.7 billion initial public offering (IPO) for subscription earlier this week — making it India's biggest IPO to date. Founded 66 years ago, LIC has around 25 crore policyholders, and roughly 13.5 lakh agents.
  • Modernising chappals: Kolhapuri chappals have been a constant in the Indian footwear industry for centuries. However, entrepreneur Harshwardhan Patwardhan thought it needed to be in step with the changing times, so he started Chappers.
  • Voice of reason: Varsha Raikwar is the only female RJ at Radio Bundelkhand and she uses her reach to spark a social movement at the ground level with reports on the effects of climate change and sustainable living.

Before you go, stay inspired with… 

Somdutta Singh

“One of the key attributes of entrepreneurship is the ability to take a risk, not let the fear of the unknown bother you.”

– Somdutta Singh, Founder, Assiduus Global Inc

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