A month into 2021, these women entrepreneurs have sealed important funding deals

From managing public transport to popularising traditional Indian handicrafts, these women led-startups have raised funding this month.
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One of the biggest difficulties that entrepreneurs face is raising funds from the right investors. The process is even more challenging for women entrepreneurs. 

Despite a 11-time increase in women entrepreneurs in the tech space between 2018 and 2020, they secured only 1.43 percent of the funding deals between this period, according to the State of Women in Tech Entrepreneurship, a report released by MAKERS India and YourStory Media.

However, several women have managed to close successful funding deals even as the economy slowed down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the first month of 2021 is any indication, the Indian startup ecosystem might just witness more women-led businesses attracting investors.

Meet six women entrepreneurs who raised funds this month.

Aditi Shrivastava, Pocket Aces

Mumbai-based digital entertainment and media startup Pocket Aces is winning over the Gen Z and millennial population through a host of channels like Filtercopy, Dice Media, Gobble, and Nutshell. 

Founded by Anirudh Pandita, Aditi Shrivastava, and Ashwin Suresh, the startup raised debt funding of Rs 17 crore from Stride Ventures and the VC firm will join as a strategic partner as well. In 2019, it raised Rs 100 crore from Sequoia India, DSP Group, 3one4 Capital, and other investors.

Moving ahead, Pocket Aces aims to increase content output and experiment with more distribution channels. 

Sonam Srivastava, Wright Research

In 2019, IIT-Kanpur graduate Sonam Srivastava founded an AI-powered investment advisor Wright Research.

The Mumbai-based startup is now registered with SEBI and uses data algorithms to identify a diverse set of factors in the public equity market and tactically invests in them to generate consistent alpha.

It recently raised undisclosed pre-seed funds from BSE Institute Limited Ryerson Technology Startup Incubation Foundation (BRTSIF), under the Government of India NIDHI Seed Support System.  The round saw participation from other investors like Innovation Partners Capital of Singapore and Ajat Hukkoo, Director of

Engineering at Broadcom, US.

(From L to R clockwise) Ankita Sheth, Co-founder of Chalo; Sonam Srivastava, Founder of Wright Research; Jaideep Malhotra, Co-founder of iMumz; Disha Singh, Co-founder of Zouk; Aditi Shrivastava, Co-founder of Pocket Aces

Priya Singh Dubey, Chalo

Public transport management startup Chalo is tapping Indian’s reliance on the bus as the most used mode of transportation. 

In 2014, Priya Singh Dubey, Vinayak Bhavnani, Mohit Dubey, and Dhruv Chopra teamed up to make the service more accessible by providing real-time information to track availability of buses and facilities to book monthly passes, and make payments using the startup’s card.

The startup secured a fund of $7 million from Raine Ventures, Neeraj Arora, the former Chief Business Officer of WhatsApp, and Amit Singhal, the former Senior Vice President and Head of Google Search. Chalo has raised $30 million so far.

Jaideep Malhotra, iMumz

Bengaluru-based iMumz is a pregnancy health app started by Jaideep Malhotra, Rajesh Jagasia, Ravi Teja Akondi, Mayur Dhurpate in 2019.

The platform has helped deliver over 100,000 healthy babies with guidance from more than 1,000 obstetricians. During the nationwide lockdown in early 2020, the startup built a chat engine that hosted over 160 senior doctors and addressed 50,000 pregnancy-related questions.

iMumz also won the AtmaNirbhar Bharat app innovation challenge in the healthcare space last year. Earlier this month, the startup raised Rs 2.2 crore from Enzia Ventures, Titan Capital, and AngelList. The startup hopes to enter the US market by March this year.

Disha Singh, Zouk

Entrepreneur Disha Singh’s success with vegan handbag and accessories brand, Zouk has caught the eye of Titan Capital, founders of Beardo and Mamaearth who made an undisclosed seed investment in the company this month. 

Disha was inspired to start up when she travelled to Kutch while pursuing her MBA at IIM-Ahmedabad. Many of her friends adored the traditional designs of the region, but they weren’t functional. Disha decided to fill the gap and took the entrepreneurial plunge in 2016 with an initial investment of Rs 20 lakh. The direct-to-consumer brand quickly turned profitable and has raked in revenues of Rs 5 crore as of July 2020.

Approved by PETA, the vegan brand offers a range of products like laptop bags, office bags, backpacks, handbags, sling bags, tote bags, chain wallets, mini wallets, eyewear cases, travel pouches, and scarves.

Ankita Sheth, Vista RoomsTravel enthusiasts Ankita Sheth, Pranav Maheshwari, and Amit Damani have made great strides in the travel and hospitality industry by pivoting from budget hotel aggregation to operating luxury holiday homes. 

More recently, the startup has tapped into the trends of staycation where adults are working remotely and children are attending online classes from homestay facilities. The Mumbai-based startup also raised Rs 10 crore in a funding round led by DSG Consumer Partners with participation from CA Holdings, Artha India Ventures, and Anand Ladsariya.

Founded in 2015, Vista Rooms has a chain of 400 deluxe properties spread across more than 30 cities in India and Sri Lanka, catering to family getaways, friends’ reunions, and corporate off-sites.

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan

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