These women-led startups closed funding deals amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy, and individuals, organisations, and businesses around the world are relying on survival strategies to keep businesses afloat and people employed. While entrepreneurs are no strangers to challenges, the lasting impact of the pandemic may be the toughest one to bear.
However, many have found their way around and have adapted to the new normal with creativity and innovation. It is also worth noting that many women entrepreneurs are successfully riding this storm, raising funds, and keeping their growth curve healthier than ever.
Meet five women-led startups that have won the trust and faith of investors and venture capitalists amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Divya Gokulnath, BYJU’S
Bengaluru-basedthat has become a household name in the edtech space has successfully raised several rounds of funding, the latest being from global technology investment firm, BOND in June 2020. It is now estimated to be valued around $10.5 billion.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in India, followed by the lockdown and continued period of social distancing, BYJU’S made the learning content on its platform accessible for free to all the students. The startup saw over 6 million new students and over 7.5 million new students registering on the platform in March and April, respectively.
Notably, co-founder Divya Gokulnath maintains that she is a teacher first and then an entrepreneur during an exclusive interaction with HerStory. Divya also emphasised that the edtech sector is in the spotlight as students are cut off from other sources of physical learning.
Founded in 2011, Divya, a biotechnology graduate from RV College in Bengaluru, started her journey with BYJU’S as a student to being one of the eight core people conducting physical classes, to now assuming responsibilities as the director and co-founder.
Shivani Poddar and Tanvi Malik, High Street Essentials
As global consumer brands rode the success of fast fashion trends in India, childhood friends-turned-co-founders Shivani Poddar and Tanvi Malik saw the opportunity to cater to the fashion needs of the working women. The duo founded two brands FabAlley and Indya in 2012 and 2016, respectively.
In June 2020, its parent company, High Street Essentials (HSE) successfully closed a funding deal of Rs 20.75 crore as part of its Pre-Series C round led by existing investors SAIF Partners and India Quotient.
Having reported a net revenue of Rs 90.2 crore and net profit of Rs 1.3 crore in the financial year 2019, it introduced new fashionable products that are relevant in the post-COVID-19 scenario such as masks, lounge-wear, and formal keyboard-up dressing options.
Started in 2012 with a five-member team to now having over 900 employees, the Delhi-based startup is known for marking successful online presence and physical stores across Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, among others.
Ashni Sheth, NOTO
Entrepreneurs Ashni and Varun Sheth believe that while most Indian are born with a sweet tooth, indulging in desserts should not necessarily come at the cost of one’s health.
To ensure this, the husband and wife duo launched, an ice cream brand that specialises in making healthy, low-calorie, low sugar, and high-protein ice cream in May 2019. The Mumbai-based startup raised an undisclosed amount of funding as part of a Pre-Seed round led by WEH Ventures, with participation from Lead Angels, in July 2020.
Catering to the market gap between increasing health-conscious population avoiding calorie-loaded consumption and lack of healthy alternative, NOTO plans on introducing more flavours of ice cream and expand to more cities in India.
Nupur Gupta, NIRA
Small ticket loan startup’s journey began with two corporate banking professionals that wished to cater to financial and credit needs of low-income group.
Partnering with Federal Bank for loan disbursal, the startup offers loans up to Rs 1 lakh for up to one year, via its app-based credit line.
Incorporated in March 2017 and after launching the products in mid-2018, NIRA lends to borrowers with a good credit score at lower interest rates and also to first-time borrowers who do not have a credit score.
More than a month after India entered into a nationwide lockdown that majorly impacted blue and grey-collared workers, the fintech startup successfully closed a funding deal worth $2.1 million in Pre-Series A round from existing and new angel investors in the UK, Europe, and India.
Aditi Avasthi, Embibe
Entrepreneur Aditi Avasthi founded edtech startupto help students ace competitive entrance exams in India through personalised learning experience by leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Aditi saw the market opportunity as most Indian students often take a gap year and dedicate time to prepare for such competitive exams. Despite numerous offline coaching centres, she believed a digital platform where students can learn at their own pace at a cheaper price is a promising niche area.
The startup has received strong backing from Reliance Industries, a shareholder and an investor with the most recent funding boost of Rs 500 crore in April 2020. In February, the conglomerate infused a fund of Rs 89.91 crore into the startup.
Founded in 2012, Aditi is an MBA graduate from Chicago Booth and has worked with Bain & Company and Barclays before taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan