The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are known to hold the promise of landing its graduates high-paying corporate jobs. But over the last few years, the institutes have earned a new reputation of churning out successful startup founders, many of whom have gone on to become investors as well.
From convincing family members, chasing venture capitalists and investors, raising funds, and sustaining businesses, some have stayed true to their ideas and turned away coveted corporate jobs.
HerStory presents five women entrepreneurs who have weathered the odds to start up and address problems relating to farming and agriculture, mental and emotional well-being, among other things.
Anu Meena, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, foundedin 2017 to help farmers of India - who contribute 13 percent of the country’s GDP - operate on a seamless supply chain through analytics, research, and technology.
The startup optimises the existing supply chain by doing away with middlemen and helping farmers earn more on their produce.
Growing up in Manoli, Rajasthan, Anu always saw her grandfather struggle with logistics and pricing and was driven to strengthen agriculture, a largely unorganised sector.
Based in Gurugram, Agrowave procures fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers in Panipat, Sonipat, Harpur, and Rajasthan, among others, and distributes them directly to businesses. The agritech startup secured an undisclosed amount of funding from mobile app and cloud solutions firm Daffodil Software within seven months of starting up.
Bengaluru-based emotional wellness platformpromotes mental well being by making psychologists and psychiatrists available on its website and mobile application, for free.
Richa, Co-founder of the platform and an alumnus of IIT-Guwahati, became aware of the problem for the first time when her hostel mate died by suicide under the pressure of placement prospects. She discovered that mental health largely remained a taboo subject, especially among the youth of the country.
Promising anonymity, yourDOST helps in creating healthy personal relationships, work-life balance, building self-confidence, and creating the ability to deal with different kinds of pressures.
Forbes magazine recognised Richa and featured her in its Asia edition of 30 under 30 achievers in the area of healthcare and science.
Parul Gupta entered the promising world of edtech by co-founding(earlier known as SlideRule) in 2013. The platform curates learning content on the internet to create a flexible alternate education system.
According to Parul, Springboard focuses on a four-step roadmap that includes content discovery, curriculum sequencing, mentoring and assessment, and eventually connecting with employers.
An alumnus of renowned technology and business schools like IIT-Bombay, Wharton, and UCLA, the idea of starting up struck her while she was working at IBM Research in Bengaluru. She had taken a few courses on Udacity and Coursera and was amazed by their growth.
Based in Bengaluru and San Francisco, is a workforce upskilling company that offers online courses and extensive mentor-based learning for early- and mid-level professionals in data science, User Experience (UX) design and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) as well. In December 2019, the learning platform raised Rs 78 crore in a post-Series A round led by Reach Capital.
Aarti turned her fascination for a healthy lifestyle into a business venture twice. She founded Fit Circle, a mobile application that provided nutrition suggestions and diet consultation in 2014, and, a plant-based organic nutritional product in 2016.
While her first startup did not pan out well, OZiva is now a Rs 50 crore brand that has grown seven times in just a year. It offers a range of products made from botanical extracts, plants, and whole food-based nutrition, and offers the benefits of Ayurveda and modern food science.
The startup claims to be the first connected omni-channel nutrition brand where people can pick up a product from anywhere and consult a human expert digitally. An engineering graduate from IIT-Roorkee, Aarti worked with tech startups and corporate entities before pursuing a MBA at INSEAD, France and Singapore campuses.
Neha Singh, along with her Co-founder and husband Abhishek Goyal started data analytics startupin 2013. What started as a database of startups now hosts information of over half -a million companies across the world. Before this, Neha was an investment analyst with Sequoia.
Tracxn is widely regarded as a Bloomberg for startup research today, but the founders’ family took time in understanding why they would leave high-paying corporate jobs to start up from scratch.
However, their idea and plans quickly gotFounders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal and Co-founder Sahil Barua on board. In 2016, Ratan Tata invested an undisclosed amount. Neha completed her bachelor’s and master’s in computer science engineering from IIT-Bombay, and pursued an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)