Last year, US-based technology startups led only by women founders garnered just 2.2% of the $130 billion in venture capital invested through the year, according to data compiled by PitchBook. The 2.2% or $2.8 billion, in fact, represents a peak in terms of funding raised by such startups, underlining the massive gender gap that dominates the world’s largest market for technology startups.
While similar data for the Indian market isn’t available yet, it may be fair to assume that women founders here face an equally uphill task when it comes to getting investors to buy into their startups. Much like in the US, gender diversity in India’s venture capital and technology startup ecosystem remains an issue that largely keeps women out of the playing field.
Still, the past few years have seen a fair number of women founders power on despite the odds, building everything from e-commerce platforms to enterprise technology products and services. Some ventures, like Vrushali Prasade’s Bengaluru-based virtual reality startup Absentia VR and Ashwini Asokan’s AI startup Mad Street Den, have managed to catch the eye of investors. TechCircle takes a look at a few other women building startups in the especially challenging enterprise technology segment:
Nidhi Chamria, Sofocle Technologies
Nidhi Chamria co-founded Sofocle Technologies in early-2017 to create customised blockchain solutions for different industries such as finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and insurance.
“I believe that blockchain technology will act as a prime catalyst in future business equations along with cloud, IoT and AI/ML,” Chamria told TechCircle.
Among Sofocle’s products is Zeeve, a blockchain-as-a-service platform to design, develop and launch blockchain ideas on the marketplace for decentralised apps. The company was acknowledged as the ‘Most Innovative Blockchain Solution’ at NASSCOM's hackathon last year and was awarded the ‘Best Accelerated Startup’ by the Bosch accelerator programme.
Barkha Sharma, Bash.ai
Barkha Sharma had around seven years of experience in human resources before founding Bash.ai in 2017.
“The hindsight of the passing years and growing experience slowly revealed the real value of tech in HR,” she says.
Bash uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve HR processes and, in turn, employee experiences. Its chatbot is available on Facebook and Slack, among other platforms. Bash’s services include post-hire orientation, HR helpdesk and employee engagement.
Aruna Schwarz, Stelae Technologies
Aruna Schwarz was working with a content management services firm in Paris when a customer spoke about the need for automated software to replace manual processes. This triggered the idea of creating a software that would significantly enhance quality, turnaround times and reduce costs in information management. In 2002, Schwarz built Bengaluru-based Stelae Technologies around this concept.
Its core offering is Khemeia, a solution used for content management, databases, publishing, business intelligence and analytics. Now in its fifth iteration, it is also used for advanced data discovery, content mining and categorisation that converts unstructured content into intelligent data via an artificial intelligence technique.
Srividya Kannan, Avaali Solutions
Srividya Kannan, founder and director of Avaali Solutions, is another techie who likes to challenge herself and believes that the best learnings come from the toughest experiences.
Kannan worked with IT giants such as Wipro and Oracle before launching Avaali, a consulting and technology services company specialising in information management. Avaali works with large enterprises across Asia, the Middle East and Africa to help them increase process agility and drive compliance with information management solutions.
Its recently launched Velocious platform brings together technologies like robotic process automation and artificial intelligence to speed up process transformation projects at large enterprises.
Kannan feels her corporate jobs wouldn’t have given her the kind of learning opportunities she has received as an entrepreneur.
“The highs of my journey are clearly in seeing enterprises realise significant cost reductions and process efficiencies with the technologies on which we enable them,” said Kannan.
Rajlakshmi Borthakur, TerraBlue XT
Rajlakshmi Borthakur worked with the likes of Infosys and EY before founding TerraBlue XT in 2015. The company is currently building a complete health ecosystem to connect patients, caregivers, doctors and hospitals.
It offers a solution to predict and manage epilepsy and has also developed a therapeutic wearable device. The company has received funding from Idea2PoC and Intel India Maker Lab.
Shinam Arora, Primechain Technologies
Arora co-founded Primechain Technologies in 2016 along with Rohas Nagpal. The Pune-based startup is developing a blockchain-powered technology platform to enable Indian banks to authenticate, verify and store electronic records. It is also working on some customised projects for some Canada and Singapore-based companies.