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Are you a woman founder looking to build your business? Drop everything and read this now!

CXXO, a Kalaari Capital initiative, and Harappa Education have come together to launch Build-it, a unique leadership programme for early-stage women founders. Read on to know all about the programme and why it’s unique.

Are you a woman founder looking to build your business? Drop everything and read this now!

Wednesday May 24, 2023 , 6 min Read

Only around 2% of all venture capital money goes to women entrepreneurs across the globe. This is just one of the issues faced by women founders among a sea of biases that unfortunately exist even today.

To help women entrepreneurs tackle challenges around funding, team building, leadership, and more, CXXO, a Kalaari Capital initiative, and Harappa Education have come together to launch Build-it, a unique leadership programme for early-stage women founders.

“Kalaari started the CXXO platform for women because we really want to catalyse the startup ecosystem to have more inclusive women leadership. We are also very committed to funding more female founders. And I am really pleased by this truly unique programme that is co-designed by CXXO and Harappa,” says Vani Kola, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital, and Board Member, CXXO.

Build-it is a three-month programme or bootcamp, as Vani calls it, that will offer personalised coaching to a cohort of 15-20 early-stage women founders. The programme blends problem-solving, masterclasses, role-playing, pitch-offs, and more, to prepare early founders for a fulfilling entrepreneurial journey. The participants are expected to gain new skills, knowledge, and all the tools necessary to overcome challenges they face as women entrepreneurs, and thrive in their roles as leaders.

“Build-it is the best bootcamp available for women in early-stage startups to supercharge their leadership journey and accelerate their businesses. It brings comprehensive coaching and conversations that I believe are foundational for rising women founders. If you are a woman with a great idea and are driven to scale your business, this can truly be your launchpad,” Kola says.

The cohort will have an opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the startup ecosystem, including BYJU'S Co-founder Divya Gokulnath, The Good Glamm Group’s Group Co-founder Naiyya Saggi, Swiggy’s Food Market Place CEO Rohit Kapoor, Tracxn Co-founder and CEO Neha Singh, TCS CMO Rajshree R, among several others “who’ve been there, done that”.

The group of women founders who are part of Build-it are meant to be a “small and intimate cohort” so that the programme turns out to be “truly meaningful and impactful” with personalised time given to each of the members.

While the programme will be mostly online with a mix of live and interactive content, along with task-based and recorded content, it will also offer offline engagements and opportunities to network, share, and bond.

According to a Nasscom report published earlier this year, 18% of all startups in India have a woman founder or a co-founder at the helm of affairs.

“The percentage share of women-founded startups across stages of growth is in line with their participation in the ecosystem - indicating equal odds of success compared to their male counterparts. Thus, providing evidence of the women's intent and capability to play a role in the nation's economic growth and the crucial need for accelerating DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives," the report stated.

A structured programme

Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Chairman, Harappa , stresses on the importance of a structured programme at a time when there’s so much content out there on entrepreneurship and leadership, whether it’s via YouTube videos or LinkedIn, as it can be overwhelming.

“There is so much out there. What’s right? What’s needed? What’s not needed? Where are the gaps? What is truly important? What is not? This is what structured learning and structured approaches do for you,” he shares.

Sinha has many accolades to his name and is as experienced a campaigner as they come. He’s the Founding Dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB), one of the founders and a trustee of Ashoka University, and was also a principal at McKinsey for over a decade.

He believes that at Harappa they have mastered the art of imparting digital learning and are ready to offer a truly differentiated offering to select women founders with this programme.

“A lot of people are doing online programmes. They are basically replicating what they do in the classroom and that’s just the wrong way to do it. It’s boring to watch talking heads just drone on in their videos.

“[Online] learning gives you very interesting opportunities to do things that you couldn’t do before; you can have very diverse cohorts of people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, and you can blend a lot of recorded content with live videos with tasks, with live teaching and so on and so forth,” he says.

The real impact of learning comes from people who teach, he says. “Are they truly inspiring? Do they actually spark something in you? Is there an ‘aha’ moment in every interaction, every lecture, every course, that inspires you? And that’s another big part of structured learning.”

Enabling diversity

Sinha and Kola are both big believers in diversity and say women leaders will play a crucial role in India’s economic aspirations. This makes it important to foster and encourage more women leadership in the ecosystem and they hope this programme will play a role in enabling it.

Sinha says change is possible and he’s been witnessing the tides turn slowly but surely. “I have been helping build ISB for the last 20 years. When we started, we had 20% women in the class; we have been inching, inching, inching, this year we’ll do close to 40+% so I also know it’s possible to change…you just have to make an effort.”

For Vani, it’s about paying it forward and she hopes there’ll be others to carry the proverbial torch forward. “We have a deep obligation for the privileges we have received. It’s just that sometimes you don’t worry too much about outcomes and timelines of outcomes…you just have to start and then there will be others to take it on their shoulders and do things to move it forward,” she says.

Kola believes this was about giving things “an impetus”, given that she is in a unique position to do so. “It was not possible to hide under a rock any longer, looking at the statistics and the maturity of the startup ecosystem and the potential for the country,” Kola says.

CXXO and Harappa are clear that they want to do their bit towards building an equitable and inclusive startup ecosystem with this programme.

How to apply

To apply, women founders have to submit an application form (available on the CXXO’s Build-it website), which requires them to fill in details about themselves. They are also expected to submit a short pitch deck on the business idea of their startup. Post this, the admission panel will review applications and get back with a decision. The application deadline is May 29, 2023. So hurry!

The programme is expected to commence mid-June. The Build-it team will start engaging with shortlisted participants once they have accepted the offer and made the payment for the programme fee, which is Rs 2,45,000 plus 18% GST. Scholarships and support are available from the Build-it team if a woman founder needs.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)