These 7 women-led startups are leveraging technology for a better tomorrow

From a cloud kitchen for samosas to determining customer preference to avoid inventory pileups, these tech startups by women entrepreneurs are innovating for a new future.
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Just when it seems like technology cannot make our lives any more convenient than it already is, entrepreneurs show us otherwise, fuelling the Indian startup ecosystem

Marrying technology to every aspect of life has spawned unique solutions ranging from bringing your flower for your daily prayers to your doorstep to helping your little ones assimilate the power of story-telling while learning.

Before stepping into 2021, HerStory presents seven tech startups founded by women entrepreneurs that are ringing the bell of change. Be inspired!

Bikayi 

Sonakshi Nathani noticed a unique practice at the grocery store her family runs in Raipur. They would receive messages from customers on WhatsApp and then check the inventory. 

Noting that the latter was time-consuming, she teamed up with Ashutosh Singla, built an app for order and catalogue management, shared it with various wholesaler groups on social media, and launched it officially in April 2019.

Targeting all businesses being conducted on WhatsApp, Biyaki offers both free and premium subscription priced between Rs 1,999 and Rs 7,999 per year.

In August this year, the startup raised a seed round of $2 million from a clutch of international investors, including Mantis ventures, marking the VC fund’s first investment in an Indian entity. Hyderabad-based Bikayi is also a YourStory Tech30 startup for 2020.

Fountain9 

Businesses tend to have a hard time managing their inventory pileups as customer preferences keep changing. Witnessing the challenge first-hand while working with US retailer, Sears, Niki Khokale founded Fountain9 that leverages AI technology for efficient management of inventory by staying ahead of customers’ changing preferences. 

Started in November 2019 with co-founder Rajas Lonkar, the duo developed Kronoscope, an AI engine that senses changes in-demand patterns so that businesses can adapt quickly and avoid inventory pile-ups.

Based in Mumbai, the bootstrapped startup claims to offer better visibility into future demand by tracing patterns like substitution effects, stockouts, and bulk order detection.

A YourStory Tech30 startup for 2020, it is targeting the US and South East Asian markets.

Plopnow

An avid reader consumed by life as a chartered accountant at PricewaterhouseCooopers, Anushka Shetty realised she had not read a book for a while. The same was the case with her friend Vineet and most people today stuck in the rabbit hole of texting and scrolling down social media feeds.

That is when she pursued entrepreneurship to make Gen Z and millennials read in an interactive manner online, the very medium they are hooked onto.

Their startup, Plopnow is a global interactive fiction entertainment platform that can be experienced in text, video, audio, simulations and role-playing.

Incubated at IIM-Bangalore and part of the Goldman Sachs Startup Programme, the entrepreneur claims Plopnow is the OTT for reading, and is gaining interest from publishing houses.

Hoovu 

While sisters Yeshoda and Rhea Karuturi have lived in Bengaluru, Ethiopia, and the US flowers remained a constant in their lives.

In all the three countries, their father owned a rose farm business and the duo started their entrepreneurial journey with Hoovu, which began as Rose Bazaar in 2019. 

Based in Bengaluru, the flower startup operates on both B2B and B2C models. The latter is a subscription-based method where it offers various monthly subscription plans priced between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000. Customers can also avail their retail flower service through platforms like Big Basket, Amazon, Milk Basket, and Big Bazaar.

The sisters also raised a pre-seed funding of $120,000 as part of the Techstars accelerator programme.  

Forward Parcel

One major challenge that Chetana Somavarapu faced in over a decade of living in the UK was getting authentic Indian products at her convenience. She always had to ask her friends and family members to send over things to a point it got embarrassing. 

Knowing this to be a common challenge for all NRIs, Chetana and her husband Rajesh Gavini started an international package forwarding service, Forward Parcel in 2018. 

Their startup facilitates customers from across the world to shop across ecommerce platforms with an Indian address and get all products delivered at once through Forward Parcel. It also helps them save at least 70 percent of the cost they would have to bear if shipped individually. 

With over 6,000 registered customers from outside India, they have also been able to attract non-Indian customers as well.

Samosa Party

Entrepreneur Diksha Pande is giving traditional Indian snack samosa a modern twist with her foodtech startup Samosa Party.

Founded in 2017 with co-founder Amit Nanwani, it offers 20 varieties of preservative-free samosas along with tea and desserts like Gulab Jamun. With 11 outlets in Bengaluru and cloud kitchens, they are available on Swiggy and Zomato, besides on its own website.

Dishka who looks after operations, people, and customer experience believes that those in traditional and authentic business of snacks like samosas lack the structure for scale and speed. 

In the next few months, she plans to enter other cities like Chennai and Hyderabad and is eyeing Dubai, Asia, and select Western markets by 2021. 

Kutuki Learning app

Sneha Sundaram saw how children enjoyed the freedom of expression through creative arts while working at Teach for India, a stint that shaped her current mission in transforming how India’s youngest 200 million learns.

Founded with her husband Bharath Bevinahally in January 2019, the duo’s Kutuki Kids Learning App facilitates learning based on three well-loved characters Kutu, Ki, and Minku infused with music and song. The name Kutuki is derived from the Sanskrit kautuka that means ‘the curious one’.

At the core of this edtech startup is a unique team of educators, artists, musicians, and storytellers.

Kutuki raised a pre-seed funding round from Jerry Rao, Better Capital, and First Cheque.

It also gained recognition from PM Narendra Modi as the winner in the e-learning category in the government's Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge. 

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan

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