This business network and marketplace offers women a place to connect and collaborate
Senthamarai Gokulakrishnan is the co-founder of Yuukke, a mobile app that provides a platform for women to share their experiences, learn new skills, connect with like-minded women, and get inspired.
After spending more than 15 years in the corporate sector with financial institutes and fintech companies, Senthamarai Gokulakrishnan built Betamonks in 2012, with her husband, Gokulakrishan. The enterprise that builds automation and analytic platforms in mobility, IoT, and application development management.
She worked with many startups, but only one was founded by a woman.
“When I would explain to my friends what I was doing, they would counter with, ‘how many women founders are there in tech?’, expecting me to know the answer,” she says.
When Senthamarai attended the 10,000 Women Ambassadors and subsequently the 10,000 Women Entrepreneurs Programme hosted by the International School of Business (ISB) in Mohali, she had many women admit to her that they felt intimidated by societal challenges, and were hesitant to approach a mentor or even a bank for a loan out of fear.
“I wanted women to stand up for themselves and build their businesses, and also become catalysts for others,” she says of the pain point behind Yuukke, a global ecosystem created by women for women.
In 2019, just a few months before the pandemic hit the world, Senthamarai was in Tunisia as a speaker at an international business forum. The minister for women and child welfare, after listening to her, asked if Betamonks could assist the government in building a networking portal. They signed an MoU with the Tunisian government, and conceptualised Yuukke initially as a networking platform between Tunisia and India, connecting women entrepreneurs of both countries to the world.
Yuukke in Tamil means ‘catalyst’ and with the onset of COVID-19, as businesses moved digital, it was able to capitalise on the need of women entrepreneurs to connect and network, on a global scale.
“Yuukke was started with a purpose to empower women to shape the world, to move the needle faster and increase inclusivity. We need to strongly support women in business. Every Yuukke woman will be a catalyst in each other’s growth, both in their personal and professional lives,” Senthamarai says.
The mobile app provides a platform for women to share their experiences, learn new skills, connect with other like-minded women, and get inspired.
- Access to go-to-market support
- Digital space for buyers and sellers of products and services to meet and transact
- Collaboration with fellow entrepreneurs
- Access to coaching and mentorship
- Funding support
- Learning opportunities
Senthamarai's co-founder is her husband, Gokulakrishnan, who has 20 years of experience in fintech, retail, healthcare, security, and e-governance.
“There are over 252 million female entrepreneurs and half a billion aspiring women students. Women often run businesses in the most precarious and least lucrative industries without right mentorship support. Women and their businesses are regularly discriminated against when trying to access to business networks and markets,” Senthamarai says.
Its target audience is women leaders (founders, CEOs, professionals, supervisors, mentors, coaches) aged 25-50 in India and abroad. Yuukke’s beneficiaries include students, institutes, and women’s groups. Users are charged a transaction fee of 5% for the marketplace and an extra fee for verified business premium services.
At present, 13,500 women are using its web application and mobile app.
“Despite recent technology advancements, women are finding it difficult to access mentors, network, and funding opportunities. Most importantly, they lack a strong supportive ecosystem to help them scale their businesses. Without these, women entrepreneurs run the risk of mobility restrictions, social stigma, neglect, and abuse,” she cautions.
Yuukke competes with the likes of VCGC, Entre, leap.club, Hustlr, and other women network groups. She points out that the differentiator lies in Yuukke’s dual foci: networking opportunities and marketplace enablement.
The bootstrapped startup is working on acquiring social venture funds to enable more impact.
Senthamarai offers advice to all women: “Forget you are a woman, believe in yourself, listen to your inner voice, challenge your own assumptions on what you can or cannot do. Be the entrepreneur of your life.”
Edited by Teja Lele