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Their start-up stories

Ankita Puri  

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Here are four women based in Bengaluru who have made a mark with their start-up ventures in diverse fields.

Ankita Puri

Founder and chief learner - HealthEminds

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied computer engineering and business, Ankita has worked in the health technology sector for six years. She worked in teleradiology solutions in business development and strategy. She then co-founded a clinical research organisation with Dr. Arjun Kalyanpur. After which she started HealthEminds. “I started it two-and-a-half years ago. I thought I could use technology to tackle mental and emotional health in India.” Why did she start an online intervention in the mental health sector? “ I realized very few people reach out for help. There are primarily three obstacles, one is lack of awareness. There’s very little information on mental health. Then there’s stigma which holds back people from seeking help. The third is the issue of general access. Who does one speak to? A singular online platform is easy to access. One can do so anonymously and from the comfort of their homes.” Ankita says they have 70 professionals, from psychiatrists to clinical psychologists, from counselling psychologists to life coaches. “We have a rigorous screening process. We have our own referral checks. Once they are brought on board, we have our own training process. She adds that they have developed ethics and guidelines specifically on online counselling. “We address a range of issues, relationships, stress, marriage, depression and anxiety. But when it comes to severe psychiatric disorders, we refrain from doing it online and ask them to see a clinical psychologist. We focus mostly on talk therapy.” Ask her whether the term ‘women entrepreneur’ is correct, and she adds: “I’ve never felt that I am a ‘woman entrepreneur’, it sounds like a judgment. I think drive and passion is important whether you are a man or woman.

For more information visit: ww.healtheminds.com

Aparna Vedapuri Singh

Founder/editor - Women’s Web

Tracing the close to six year journey of Women’s Web, an e-magazine for women, Aparna says: “The fundamental reason behind starting Women’s Web was that we had enough beauty, fashion and celebrity magazines for women, but there weren’t enough high quality websites for women to read about other aspects of women’s lives. It’s not that we don’t have content on fashion and beauty. It’s just that we wanted serious coverage of different topics.”

Women’s Web enables women to tell their stories, from spousal abuse to dowry to social traditions. “We represent a diversity of voices and topics. The content is neither editorially driven nor completely user sourced, we are somewhere in the middle.” Real life accounts have resonated with readers, says Aparna. Their event Breaking Barriers, begun last year in Bengaluru and Mumbai, which this year was held in Bengaluru recently as well, brings together women entrepreneurs to tell their stories. “The event is not just for entrepreneurs, but for women who have entrepreneurial roles in organizations or who are interested in business. It is a day of inspiration within a supportive environment.”

Aparna says the discomfort with the term women entrepreneur is the condescension that might be associated with it. “There are fewer women-led companies and most of them are micro businesses. The challenge is to do with the fact that women are expected to fulfill responsibilities at home, the woman is always the go-to person in the family.”

Deepthi Anand

Founder and CEO - Valencia Nutrition

“I started Valencia in 2013,” says Deepthi, a clinical research professional. “Prior to that, I began another start up in 2002, after I had just returned from the US. It is called Asiatic Clinical Research, which is still functioning. I then moved from technological application to pharmaceutical application and worked with other start-ups. “

The whole idea of starting Valencia, says Deepthi, was to look at innovative drink and food choices. “I find a huge lacking in that in India. FMCG companies focus on taste and flavour, not nutrition. But now people are switching to nutrition rich foods. Considering our lifestyle and the diseases we have as a result, we want to focus on disease prevention. We wanted to create healthy products that are easy to access and fun to consume, we neither compromise on health nor on taste. “ It took one-and-half years to develop the pilot product that were sent to the market in 2014 for consumer feedback on volume, taste, sugar content etc. Their product VitaMe, India’s first multi-flavoured, multi-nutrient, low calorie beverage, has six variants, available in Mysuru, Bengaluru, Davanegere, Chennai, Pondicherry and Delhi.

When asked about how difficult it is to begin a start-up, especially by women, Deepthi says: “When a man begins a company, he has a lot of support, but when a woman does, she has to multitask and take care of a family, she needs a support system. Women also tend to put themselves down a lot.” Fear of failure is another reason people don’t venture into start ups. “People come up with 99 reasons on why their start-ups will fail, but even if one idea works out, go ahead! You never know how it will succeed.”

Namrata Soni

Co-founder and CEO- Twikster

Twikster, which Namrata co-founded with Vinay Saini, went live in January 2015. “It is an e-commerce enabling platform solutions for retailers. It’s easy to access for those who want to start an online store,” says Namrata. “I was living in the US up to May 2013, and my friends discussed how big e-commerce is in India.” Namrata says they are different from other such platforms, as “we remove the barriers to start a store. The website is easy to access. We have a basic plan in which anyone can create forever-free, with limited features, and then add features as per their budget.” Namrata agrees that women should have a support system.

For more information log onto www.twikster.com

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Printable version | Aug 21, 2017 5:52:30 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/their-startup-stories/article8351982.ece