A bright Saturday morning dedicated to WE – super enthusiastic ladies.
WE Mentoring Session, organized on 3rd Sep, 2016 by WE at Headstart was a unique opportunity for 14 women led startups to be mentored by the most creative and seasoned experts.
The format was simple. 14 startups got shortlisted to talk to the industry experts. In these closed door meetings, participants share their business issues and mentors advice and share insights that can help the entrepreneurs in taking their ventures further and faster.
It was divided into two sessions. Each one was of 1 hour. Mentor and mentee ratio was 1::2 or 1::3. Each participant got a chance to meet two mentors from different sectors. So that at the end all the queries and challenges get discussed by the mentors with different viewpoint.
Meet our Speaker & Mentors
- Revathi Kasturi, Keynote Speaker – Founder and CEO of LAQSH
- Santosh Panda – Founder of Explara
- Rohit Chatter- VP, Engineering, InMobi
- Abey Zachariah – Founder and CEO, Good Box
- Minu Jain – Business Head – InnerChef
- Arpita Ganesh– Founder – Butter Cups
- Seshadri Krishnan– Founder – Trip38.com
At the Registration desk
Registrations for mentoring session started at 08:30 AM. They were in full swing way ahead of it. Within half an hour the whole room was filled with energy, confidence and grace by our super enthusiastic girls.
It has been claimed that women speak about 20,000 words a day – 13,000 more than the average man. Study must be pretty accurate as this was one of the most interactive networking sessions. A perfect warm up networking only happens when we have such enthusiastic participants.
One minute pitch from participants
Meet the participants:
- Tulshi Khemka – Founder of Spicesafari Commercial Ventures, An online store for spices
- Shruthi Arun – Founder of Purple Hippie, Purple Hippie makes preservative free and refined sugar free, healthy & balanced breakfast cereals.
- Mitalee M – Co Founder of UnitApps, Real time unit economics dashboard for growth stage startups and SMEs
- Sudha Mathew – Founder of Seek & Hide, Cater domestic travelers.
- Madhulika Mukherjee – Founder of Survaider, Survaider is a SaaS Customer Experience Management solution.
- Snehal Madne – Sportscart, currently at idea stage.
- Swati Raman – Founder of The Food Saga, The Food Saga aims to be a source for recipes by the experienced
- Pavithra Reddy – Founder of Beautifulyears, BeautifulYears is for seniors and those who take care of them
- Neelima Vobugari – Founder of Tarah Technologies, Big Data Solution.
- Janaki Ramani K – Founder of Happy Weddings, HappyWeddings is a marketplace offering predefined packages in all the wedding services
- Shailaja Rangarajan – Co-Founder of RIMAGINED, RIMAGINED is a business promoting upcycling.
- Jyothi Noronha– Co Founder of FulcrumEdu, FulcrumEdu is a uber-techno-savy finishing academy with the sole intent to bridge Industry -academia gap.
- Janaki Shantharam – Co Founder of Djobs – Dexter Talent Labs, Technology based recruitment firm
- Smitha Murthy – Co Founder of Trippin Traveller Online, Trippin Traveller is a curated marketplace for offbeat and responsible tourism
Keynote by Ms. Revathi Kasturi – Founder and CEO of Laqsh
Ms. Revathi started by appreciating the young and enthusiastic crowd sitting there. She has 34 years of experience in IT industry and has led businesses engaged in Enterprise Software Development, System Integration, Customer Support as well as IT hardware. She graduated in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay and has been a speaker on various subjects related to technology, leadership, education, skills and entrepreneurship at both international and local forum.
A former board member of NASSCOM executive council, she is also charter member of TIE Bangalore and is passionate about fostering entrepreneurship amongst Women. She is a director on the board of VATECH WABAG LIMITED (A listed company in the water space) and terrier (a company in security space)
Ms. Kasturi was earlier the Managing Director of Novell West Asia responsible for building the Novell business in the region. Prior to this she was Founder & President of Tarang Software Technologies, a SEI CMM Level 5 Global IT services company focused on e-learning and payment systems. Before her entrepreneurial stint Ms.Kasturi worked with Wipro Technologies where she was the Chief Executive – Finance Solutions Division.
She started TARANG Software Technologies and her entrepreneur journey in year 2000, now SEI CMM Level 5 Global IT Services Company focused on e-learning and payment systems.
She touched upon various topics like startup challenges, shared strategies and tips from her years of experience with the young entrepreneurs.
Like every early stage startup even TARANG had to face a lot of challenges. No one was ready to fund the service companies. But they were lucky and rose $8M as an initial fund. In early 2000s the idea of mobile payment used to seem very unrealistic, and they were targeting Europe. Then what happened? “DOT COM BURST” Entire mobile market got crashed. Nothing was going as per the plan. VC’s interpretations are very different from entrepreneurs. They push to burn cash, so they opened 7 offices in Europe and scaled up fast. Then later on they bought cyber cash, built platform and product. Tarang has got their first customer NTT Docomo. Later on she moved out of Tarang.
She moved back to a corporate joined Novell as MD but felt suffocated in a corporate job after tasting the joy of being an entrepreneur. So she turned into a social entrepreneur and started LAQSH. Vision was to change the lives of the needy through education.
Being a social entrepreneur she has faced a lot of difficulty in raising funds for an NGO, especially from corporates. ‘Is there any sustainable model where you can’t depend on corporates?’ she questioned the audience. She added that education and healthcare sectors should have enough money. In most of the developed countries basic education and healthcare is free. Lots of advocacy needs to change the ecosystem.
She was doubtful on her own business model, whether it was a successful model or not. They did extensive market study and changed their strategy. She started to work with government. Now, Laqsh is working with 350 government schools. They have CBSE approved courses. They have taken lots of initiative in online learning and Laqsh currently has more than 10,000 students.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the session:
- Study the market.
- Open your eyes and ears
- Keep your pitch ready
- Listen to the feedback
- Adapt and move on
- Be ready to keep changing
- Networking and connections at maximum
- Talk to many entrepreneurs; talk your heart to other founders.
- Share problems and tips
- If “YOU” cannot sell your product/service nobody else can sell. YOU are the BRAND AMBASSADOR of your company.
A good mentoring session requires the mentor and the participants to be a good match, based on their expertise, sector or requirement. We made sure each participant had at least one perfect match and the remaining were randomly divided for two 1hr mentoring sessions.
Mentoring sessions went on smoothly with a 5-10 min break in between. Everyone moved on to the cafeteria to end this inspiring and motivating day with networking over snacks and tea.
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