22nd August 2015.

It was unlike any other Saturday. The day was ushered in with rain, BBMP elections were on and the overall mood of the day was sober. However, none of that deterred about 30 unflinching women entrepreneurs, who turned up well on time at TLABS for the WE@Headstart mentoring edition, determined to find their mentors and take their businesses to new heights.

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The agenda of the day had three sections: Inspiration, Information and actual mentoring.

Inspiration

The keynote – Ms. Priya Sunder, Director, PeakAlpha Investments

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The day’s agenda kicked off with a keynote by Ms. Priya Sunder, Director, PeakAlpha Investments. She took the audience through her entrepreneurship journey, her days of boom and gloom and her learnings all through the way. One of the key takeaways from her talk was the importance of personal integrity in running any business. Integrity being one of the core values at Headstart, we couldn’t agree more!

Inspiring speaker of the day – Ms. Lalana Zaveri, Cofounder and Director, Printo and Mentor, Cherie Blaire Foundation for mentoring women

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The keynote was followed by a talk by Lalana Zaveri, Cofounder and Director, Printo and Mentor, Cherie Blaire Foundation for mentoring women. Isn’t she the personification of humility? All through her talk, she shared her learnings and urged the women in the room to share theirs as well. She carried out a simple yet powerful exercise through which she figured what aspirations each woman had for her business. She answered quite a few questions from the audience on execution ability, work life balance etc.

Information

Mentoring 101 – Ms. Bhavna Toor, Founder of Shenomics

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The information section started with Bhavna Toor, Founder of Shenomics, explaining the basics of mentoring and the what, why and how of mentoring. She perfectly set the stage for the face to face mentoring session that was about to follow. The audience lapped up the content and asked a lot of questions to gain clarity on the subject.

‘Did you know?’ Section – Ms. Aarti Shyamsunder, Researcher, Catalyst

This turned out to be very useful, with Aarti Shyamsunder,a seasoned researcher presenting some interesting data on women entrepreneurship across the world.

She highlighted the results from Goldman Sachs 10000 women programme and also brought out the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. She gave some practical tips to attract a network of advocates who can vouch for a person:

  • Be seen
  • Take risks
  • Ask for what you want

This was followed by useful info on resources available for women entrepreneurs given out by our partners –  Sonali of IIM-NSRCEL and Caroline of Vibha.

Organized mentoring:

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Well, the most awaited section of the day turned out to be a fun and intense learning exercise for all the participants. The women were made to pick up chits which corresponded to specific mentors. Thus, there were  quite a few groups formed which consisted of 3-4 women assigned to mentors, who had come in just to listen to their specific queries and answer them. Here is a list of mentors who chose to spend their valuable time at WE that day:

Lalana Zaveri – Mentor, Cherie Blaire Foundation and Cofounder/Director, Printo

Bhavna Toor –  Founder, Shenomics and Mentor, Cherie Blaire Foundation

Seshadri Krishnan, Cofounder, Trip38.com  and Charter Member of TiE Bangalore

Manjula Sridhar, Fellow at iSpirit and ArgByte Technologies

Veena Avadhanam, Director, New Investments – Mumbai Angels

Mydhili, Founder, YoungCurrent

Amit Singh, Founder, Wow Labz and Director Headstart Network

Sangeeta Devni, Deputy Manager NASSCOM, Founder, StartupFreak

Panel discussion:

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The last section of the agenda was Panel discussion, with three women as panelists:

Manjula Sridhar, Fellow at iSpirit and ArgByte Technologies

Veena Avadhanam, Director, New Investments – Mumbai Angels

Sangeeta Devni, Deputy Manager NASSCOM, Founder, StartupFreak

The panel was moderated by Shalini Nautiyal, one of the core volunteers at WE and Founder, Yippeedo. The topic of discussion was “Essence of Mentoring for Startups” and the following points were discussed:

  • Various stages of an entrepreneurial journey and how mentoring can play an important role in same.
  • Insights on channels available for women entrepreneurs for mentoring.
  • Approaching mentors
  • Mentor-Mentee relationship

With that power packed discussion, the event drew to a close.  Our food partners Cupcakes and more and Cake my heart ensured that the attendees were well fed through the session.

A lot of attendees were so impressed with Headstart that they signed up for volunteering! Quite a few left heartwarming video testimonials sharing their joy being a part of the WE initiative.

However, the best feeling was reserved for us, the volunteers at WE. We went back home, happily floating on cloud nine, for having made a small difference to the lives of about 30 women. We knew this was not the end, the change had just begun.

There are millions of more lives to impact and WE@Headstart are determined to get there!

For any queries, do write to us at we@headstart.in

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Photos by: Sindhu Rao of Part Time Clicks