Starting a business is not easy; there are numerous challenges, risks, self-doubt and the person who overcomes gains success. So, if you want to make it big as an entrepreneur, you need to conquer all these with a lot of grit, perseverance, and self-belief.

We got some inspiring stories of these seven Indian entrepreneurs, who will tell us their start-up journey so far.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we spoke to India's seven women entrepreneurs, who will shared their journey, advice to modern women, Indian society, juggling work and life, hustling, and finding success.

Here are a few questions that we asked these 7 wonder women; take a look:

Deepshikha Kumar, Founder, SpeakIn, Winner Asia Woman Icon Award 


Her Journey: 

The journey so far has been very exciting and rewarding. There is an immense sense of fulfilment in making the lives of our clients easier. I think that the key to be able to reach a position to positively impact the lives of others is perseverance and focus on vision. There have been times when challenges have come from all directions. As long as you’re able to keep your focus and work towards it, you’re good.

Message on account of Women's Day:
My only message to women is never to give up. Sometimes life will throw everything at you and push you down where you will feel that it is not worth trying to get up again. People will come and tell you to leave it and abandon it. Just embrace that feeling and start from there. The joy in proving them wrong is unparalleled. Nothing in the world is worth giving up on your dreams.

Do women still struggle to establish a unique profession for themselves? Do you think career flexibility still lacks?
I believe that the situation is certainly changing for the good. Today, more than ever before, there are a zillion opportunities out there. You should just know how to seize them. Women are now taking up roles that once were “reserved” only for men. The world is becoming more and more merit oriented, though it is still not perfect. The remaining biases and stereotypes can be eliminated by continuing this trend of women not backing down and aggressively going after their choice professions.

What changes do you think our society lacks even in 2021 for women? What reform you believe should come?
The most significant change needed right now is to get rid of the “Woman” label from what we do. Women today are at par with men, hence there is no need to identify us as women entrepreneurs, women scientists, women journalists, women lawyers, women doctors and so on. The mindset of society has not matured enough in this respect. There are no Man Entrepreneurs out there. As long as we continue to differentiate between an Entrepreneur and a Woman Entrepreneur, we are inadvertently creating unfair grounds for women vis-a-vis men.

Mahua Mukherjee, Co-Founder and Director, The Star in Me

Her Journey: 
There is a long way to go till I can cherish my achievements. I always felt unrest though I enjoyed my 18 years of global corporate career across countries in technology and consulting. Since 2015 the calling became strong when I found myself in rooms where I was surrounded by less than 2% women leaders. Situations like these led to innumerable reflections and discussions before I decided to venture into entrepreneurship, leaving my cushy job of being a Director at Cognizant in the US and co-founded The Star in Me’ along with my colleague Uma Kasoji. This wasn’t an easy decision but my spouse Saurabh was my rock solid support in this journey. We built a 3-sided career advancement platform for women talent that creates a reinforcing network effect among women talent-global experts-organizations to power women today and tomorrow. Currently, we have 6000+ women professionals from 65 countries and currently, we partner with 80+ global experts and engage with 20+ Corporate clients.

Message on account of Women's Day:
Identify one unique talent that you are good at and do not shy away to leap beyond and unleash your potential. It’s only you who can create a legacy that you would want to leave behind. In the process build credible allies and support system as no journey is enjoyable alone. Do not miss to have fun through the process.

Do you think women still struggle to establish a unique profession for themselves? Do you think career flexibility still lacks?
We always choose in every situation – either we play the victim card or take charge of our life and career and take a decision for ourselves. Today, we are always a sum total of the choice points that we have made from our childhood till date. Maybe it’s not possible for all job roles but definitely, a significant workforce today can be productive in their job with ease of flexibility given the advancement of technology around us. Hence, wherever possible, women should speak up and express what they need and have a conversation at the workplace and with family. The biggest lesson was taught to us by the recent pandemic, which enforced organizations to operate at 70%+ remote, which otherwise would have always been a hostile conversation at work.

Gargi Vairagare, social entrepreneur, RISE

Her Journey: 
I run an NGO by RISE (Rising Infinitely for social empowerment), which has been primarily working on women’s menstrual health and hygiene. Additionally, my love for animals and a belief that every life is precious, be it a human or an animal, led me to work towards a pet-friendly society and setting up a Veterinary Center for Dogs. I also runs an IT start-up, dealing in GIS, in addition to a brief stint in Business consulting and investment facilitation for startups.

Message on account of Women's Day:
The message I would like to give to everyone out there is don't hold on to the untold story inside you. If it makes you happy, just go and do it. Our society is intolerant to many aspects of women’s empowerment, which not only poses a challenge in terms of establishing a career of choice but also limits the choices available for women to pursue.
 
What changes do you think our society lacks even in 2021 for women? What reform you believe should come?
Gender diversity is increasingly being discussed, but a lot of work needs to be done on the supportive policies and the physical infrastructure. Basis safety and security for women remains a concern. A fundamental shift in thought process across every stratum of society is important.


Yashodhara Yashbans, Owner, Yashbans Kennels

Her Journey: 
My determination for perfection was proved by breeding two ‘DOG OF THE YEARS,’ and a ‘RESERVE PUPPY OF THE YEAR’. I have also won coveted awards of ‘BREEDER OF THE YEAR,’ ‘DOG OF THE YEAR,’ ‘RESERVE DOG OF THE YEAR’, ‘RESERVE PUPPY OF THE YEAR’’ . I have bred over 300 Best of Breeds, Champions, Group winners, Line up winners and Best in Show winners. Over the years, Yashbans Kennels has earned the name of being India’s most reputed and well-known kennel. This has made me realize my dream of becoming one of India’s most successful woman in this unique field, created from a passion. Today I enjoy the roles of being a Breeder, Dog Show Judge, Mother, Educationist, Environmentalist and Conservationist.
 
Message on account of Women's Day:
You are unique. Without you no one can exist. You are a dreamer. You are a believer. You are a doer. You are a giver. You are an achiever.

Do you think women still struggle to establish a unique profession for themselves? Do you think career flexibility still lacks?
Women can deal with unexpected challenges quickly, calmly and efficiently.  Establishing a unique profession is a challenge with plenty of obstacles. However, today’s woman doesn’t let anything stop her.
 
What changes do you think our society lacks even in 2021 for women? What reform you believe should come? 
Protection of women from domestic violence, increasing safety measures not only in public areas but also at the home, improving the public health care system, judiciary reforms for speedy cases resolution, accessibility to securing flexible and unsecured business loans for women entrepreneurs in India should be some of the reforms that need to take priority. Empowering women and girls is the key to social transformation and upliftment of society.

Sharmishtha Hardas, president of Girl Up in Nagpur, United Nations Foundation

Her Journey: 
I started the Nagpur club in 2019. It helps young girls, especially teenagers, access resources and tools to help create much-needed awareness about feminism and related topics. It's a global community of girls and it helps one empower themselves through knowledge and skills through their various avenues.

Message on account of Women's Day:
First thing, every day is your day. Every day is a new opportunity. Secondly, I feel it's high time for us to break gender stereotypes and call out everyday sexism. For a larger level impact, we must speak up now. And change begins at home- At your home, your workspace, your friend's circle - question the sexist and stereotypical behaviours and sensitise those who aren't aware. And to young girls - start working on your financial independence. And it's never too late or too young to start.

Do you think women still struggle to establish a unique profession for themselves? Do you think career flexibility still lacks?
Women struggle when it comes to establishing a career, may it be any field. We see pay gaps from Bollywood to IT companies. There are going to be men and women too who will question your abilities just because you are a woman. That's the conditioned thinking and to change that, we need to prove our way to the top.

What changes do you think our society lacks even in 2021 for women? What reform you believe should come? 
There are many reforms that we need as a society. But we can't do so by expecting it to happen magically. We will have to start small and young. The first reform should come from within. Start believing in yourself - don't listen to what 'society' is telling you to do. Pursue what you want & break the conditioned cycle. It will be difficult but trust me, you'll always find a community of girls and women to support you.

Aashima Anand, Founder, Bella Vita Organic


Her Journey: 
My mother, Mrs Anju Anand and I started Bella Vita Organic and began as a humble salon in Gurgaon in 2012. We quickly gained immense popularity through our client’s love & demand for our natural, handmade ayurvedic beauty products. After product popularity and demand, we decided to share our authentic products globally while focusing on purity, efficiency & clean beauty.

Message on account of Women's Day:
I would say, get out of your comfort zone if you want to do something. If you fear barriers, jump them! Grab the opportunities you wish to work upon! Nothing will stop you from achieving your dream if you take steps towards it. Hurdles will make you stronger but nothing will work unless you do.

Do you think women still struggle to establish a unique profession for themselves? Do you think career flexibility still lacks?
Career Flexibility and Opportunities have been the root cause for the awakening of Feminism in the world. Even though women never felt equal earlier, I believe that now women are stronger and society is open to developing them with equal give and share. Concerning the Unique profession, the 21st Century of 2021 has made each woman believe that everything is possible. Yes, there are areas of profession where certain boundaries are yet to lead in terms of society, but in terms of the opportunity, I believe the gates have never been so far open as of now.

What changes do you think our society lacks even in 2021 for women? What reform you believe should come?
I am a strong believer in Equal Opportunity – The outcome is based on the effort an individual puts in irrespective of gender. Competence and Talent doesn’t have any correlation with gender either. Though in the recent past we have seen an increased awareness and initiatives around bringing women talent ahead – we have a lot more work to do to just acknowledge the vast difference that exists today and provide equal opportunity and platform to all starting from education to workplace and indeed society at large. I would love to live in a world where we will not have to celebrate ‘Women’s Day’ on a special day and inclusion becomes part of daily life.

Shivani Gupta, Co- founder and Managing Director at SPAG and DYE 

Her Journey: 
I have worked with some leading PR firms and corporates across different media relations, training, marketing, community relations, crisis management, and internal communication. My entrepreneurial journey began as a result of my learnings over the years. However, I have transitioned from PR and building PRinIndia to focusing specifically on people and brand management at SPAG. As Managing Director at SPAG, I focus on providing strategic and business direction to the firm, but my communications career has been largely multidimensional. My focus lies on building a healthy and positive work culture that is people-centric and critical to the firm’s performance. My inspiration lies in the belief that teamwork plays a pivotal role in achieving targets and successful results. Instilling and sustaining a friendly and community approach at the workplace is the key to my role in driving the culture and the workforce. 

An artist at heart, I believe creativity is the ability to bring into existence something new when you have the willingness to play with ideas and possibilities. That’s one of the positive forces behind a creatively charged, multidisciplinary, yet integrated communications entity and it is this approach of mine that has over the years led SPAG to new heights with it becoming the preferred communications partner for clients.

Message on account of Women's Day:
Believe in yourself, and don’t ever let anybody tell you what you’re worth. You are who you believe you are, and the buck stops there. Your hard work and/or struggle is all yours. Often societal pressures and conditioning lead women to feel almost obligated to other people – but today, there are opportunities for women to build and be part of an equal future. Recognise it and fight for it. 

Do you think women still struggle to establish a unique profession for themselves? Do you think career flexibility still lacks? 
It depends entirely on your societal being and the pressures that you face. I believe things have changed for women over the years, in a good way. We have some exemplary women leaders out there today and even I wouldn’t be where I am if not for the change in the attitude of people around me. It’s a big determining factor in your overall progress. One of the biggest deterrents to women progressing professionally is the personal obligation they have to in a way adhere to. It’s a tricky situation. But that is certainly changing and change doesn’t happen overnight. I won’t say career flexibility still lacks, but yes we have a long way to go. 

What change do you think our society lacks even in 2021 for women? What reform do you think should come? 
Work-life balance. Women are still considered the family's primary caregivers and people don’t acknowledge how significantly that affects a woman’s professional growth. We need to understand the difference in working dynamics across genders. Equal opportunity also means accepting the differences between genders, communities – D&I is not just for fine print. We have to implement these policies at our workplaces actively. 
 

(Inputs by Richa Barua and Shreya Tinkhede)