This Women’s day, MediaNews4U.Com is acknowledging women leaders of the Media, Marketing, Broadcast and Advertising fraternity who have given more than expected.
In this segment, Dharmishtha Goenka, Eesha Bagga, Disha Singh, Naiyya Saggi, Priyanka Gill and Dr. Sejal Saheta share their experiences as Entrepreneurs and breaking the gender stereotypes and how she continues to inspire many other women who are true leaders in the making.
Dharmishtha Goenka, Founder & CEO, Praakritik.
We wanted to bring back that special and almost sacred connection that the human body has with food. Hence Praakritik was born. Praakritik is a D2C (Direct to Consumer) brand that brings you organic food to your doorstep directly from the farmer. On the other end, we also help farmers go organic and meet the growing demand. Our tagline– Go Organic, Grow Organic reiterates this message.
Inspiration & Inspiring the Team
It started with supporting one gaushala and one woman – by my aunt Richa Bagrodia. She championed the benefits of Desi Gir Cow’s A2 milk products. I strongly believe that every kitchen should have at least ONE natural product that our bodies can benefit from. She started by supplying hand churned vedic processed ghee and increased her circle of knowledge by educating everyone on the importance of cow milk, its dung and urine and its importance in farming. Her passion inspired me. After her demise in 2014 at the age of 34, I took up the mission and decided to create a brand that could reach out to more people and benefit them. Aunt Richa continues to be my inspiration.
We truly believe all women have the innate quality to be a leader, may it be in the kitchen at home, at the farms, in quality control or as running successful businesses. We at Praakritik believe in supporting women at every stage of their life and the business cycle, while empowering them with larger responsibilities.
Eesha Bagga, Director – Mindler
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya Angelou
I come from a family wherein I never faced any gender biases at home but needless to say a lot outside of it. Since childhood, I have been reassured that a woman is no less than a man by my family. The confidence instilled in me has given me an opportunity to passionately pursue my journey as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is not about having a routine or a secure life- but all about challenging one’s inner capabilities. The journey has been fun with a continuous learning curve & foremostly it has helped in creating a massive impact by shaping the careers of our future generation.
The journey has comprised of three keys factors as listed below:
Constant innovation to stay relevant
Create a culture of collaboration.
To attract and galvanize the right set of resources which makes it possible to achieve the organization’s vision in a sustainable manner.
Inspiration & Inspiring the team
I would like to mention two of my knights in shining armours here:
My beautiful mother, who is an educator by profession, has been an inspiration not only for me but thousands of students. Since my childhood days she taught me the way I learn without following the stereotypical education norms. My compassionate equal half, he inspires effortlessly & that motivates me to do better in life.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
The above quote encapsulates my core belief in the power of teamwork. I believe keeping the team motivated & inspired is a key ingredient in becoming a successful entrepreneur.
It is okay to MAKE MISTAKES, it is not okay to give up & not try again. I personally keep sharing my failures with my team to normalize it. The fear of failure fades the lines to keep trying & improving. Empowering decision making in each team member – right from a manager to an associate. Everybody’s thoughts & suggestions are heard & respected. We continuously organize brainstorming sessions. Trusting the team & supporting them. Putting the team first & acknowledging their hard work continuously to motivate them. Setting direction for team members & then letting go of controlling what happens next. Making sure they keep having fun to uplift their creativity & instill teamwork. We organize games’ sessions wherein they play games in cross functional teams.
First & foremost, waiting on the day when we will not be needed to share thoughts on Women Empowerment. Gender equality is a Human right & a woman must live with freedom & nobility. Education is definitely one of the most important ways of empowering women with confidence & the right attitude towards life. Empowerment of women today will lead to a more progressive & sustainable future.
Disha Singh – Founder – ZOUK
Nothing short of a roller coaster. When I started Zouk, I saw a gap in the lifestyle market and felt I could bring a differentiated product. But as I started building, I realized the complexities involved beyond Product Design. Production, Marketing, Sales, Operations – it’s a vast gamut of things that a brand like ourselves had to get right, to get even one customer to trust us. From there to now having over 100,000 happy customers – that has been the true source of happiness for me in building Zouk.
In fact, to commemorate the same, for Women’s Day this year, we have roped in some of our happy customers as the influencers. As a brand, we have grown tremendously thanks to our customers’ word of mouth. So, this was our humble way to celebrate that.
Inspiration & Inspiring the team
Multiple folks have inspired me in my journey. From school days to my MBA at IIM Ahmedabad, to my professional career prior to starting Zouk, there have been members across levels who have taught me how to handle situations and also how not to. However, during my time at IIM Ahmedabad, I got a chance to interact with Prof Sunil Handa, who taught us a course in Entrepreneurship and met several alumni entrepreneurs, who nudged me to start Zouk. Since then, I have taken their help to grow as a founder and build the brand, brick by brick. That’s the same message I give to my team too – ask and take help from others.
I still am a big believer in celebrating Women’s Day. The main reason being it creates a company-wide awareness about the role women can play to grow the company and the impact they can have. For me, it’s a small way in which I am able to give back to the women community and ensure everyone continues to strive towards empowering women. I feel things have definitely improved in this direction but we still have several things to fix. For example, in the startup world, the amount of funding for women-led businesses is now moving in the right direction, though it’s not 50% yet. But it’s all a step in the right direction, given there is a strong voice in the community for the same.
Naiyya Saggi – Co – Founder – Good Glamm Group
My journey as an entrepreneur has been one I feel very blessed to have embarked on. We started the journey with BabyChakra with the vision #ghargharBabyChakra and today we reach 25 million Moms and 10,000 doctors at scale. With the merger with The Good Glamm Group and now as the Co-founder of the Good Glamm Group, I am extremely fortunate to have incredible co-founders in Darpan and Priyanka and an amazing team to build with. I love the process of problem solving, building & scaling products and in my role as co-founder of the Group I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to work with multiple founders across content/communities, creators and brands.
Inspiration & Inspiring the team
I have been inspired by the women in my family. My mother is a retired IAS officer and I have grown up seeing her share her life at work with us at home and being part of conversations where she discussed her ambitions for herself, her team and for the multiple projects she was involved in. I have also first-hand seen her in extremely tense riot struck scenarios and her bravery and courage has inspired my sister and I always to ensure we don’t flinch during the toughest of times.
My team and I have a symbiotic relationship. As most entrepreneurs will share, teams inspire entrepreneurs more than entrepreneurs perhaps inspire them. What we share & celebrate often as teams are examples of where a member went above and beyond their call of duty and lived the values of the customer first in exceptional ways. Hence, my key role as an entrepreneur is to share and celebrate these stories and these values by celebrating team members who embody them. The other thing that inspires us is stories of how we impacted for the better the lives of our users. Sharing of our user testimonials is key to inspiration for my team and me.
I think we are in an incredibly exciting time to be a woman. There are women shattering glass ceilings in every walk of life: tech, finance, and fashion, healthcare and at home women control 85% + of all household consumption decisions. However, the workforce participation of women is at an all-time low in India. We need 2 things in place for women to come into their own: we need more stories shared of women in leadership roles since that inspires other women to know they can have it all through context from other women’s journeys. We need structural support from workplaces in ensuring women bounce back post maternity. Workplaces and the government need to invest in a shared & structured care ecosystem for women team members and their partners to ensure they can play the dual role of parents and working professionals/ entrepreneurs.
Priyanka Gill – Co-Founder – Good Glamm Group.
My journey has been one of excitement and learning. I graduated in 2001, shortly after which I got married and moved to London where I began my career as a freelance writer. My 20s were a whirlwind – hosting charity and art events, contributing to and editing publications, investing in early-stage companies and Modern Indian Art – with a busy family and social life as the hectic backdrop.
My love for writing coalesced with entrepreneurship as I began writing my blog – eStylista which went on to become POPxo. In 2014, I moved back to India to launch POPxo, envisaged as a safe and engaging community helping Indian women lead their best lives. As we worked with hundreds of brands on their marketing campaigns, the breakthrough of Influencer Marketing in India seemed imminent. So, we began building a tech-enabled platform to leverage this massive opportunity. In 2017, Plixxo, POPxo’s influencer marketing platform was launched. It nurtured India’s first generation of influencers – cheering them on as they truly came into their own.
Simultaneously, we realised the obstacles of monetization for online media. That’s when POPxo ventured into e-commerce with its private label merchandise such as mugs, laptop bags, canvas pouches and tote bags, among others. However, just when it started to resolve the monetization puzzle in online media, the pandemic happened, and things went downhill. I had to do the most painful town hall of my life. I had to put people on furlough. We needed to figure out how we could organise the finances of the company. Investors had to give us a loan and so on.
That’s when I got a call from Darpan Sanghvi, founder & CEO, MyGlamm,now the group founder and CEO of Good Glamm Group sharing his vision of content-to-commerce from the lens of a commerce company and with me owning a content company with a similar vision, offered that we do this together. That was the turning point for MyGlamm and POPxo. The POPxo vision has always been to build a content-community-commerce destination for women in India, with MyGlamm we have found a powerful partner with proven strengths in producing and selling beauty products at scale. Together we leverage the power of content to meaningfully engage with and truly listen to our users to co-create products they really want.
2020 was a landmark year. POPxo-Plixxo merged with MyGlamm – India’s leading beauty conglomerate and I joined MyGlamm as Co-founder & President, while continuing as Founder & CEO of POPxo-Plixxo. In September 2021, Darpan, Naiyya and I consolidated our companies MyGlamm, POPxo-Plixxo and BabyChakra and announced the formation of Good Glamm Group with the vision to become the global ‘Digital first FMCG Conglomerate of the Future’. In November 2021, we entered the unicorn club with a valuation of $1.2 billion.
Inspiration & Inspiring the Team
I inspire my team through leading by example. As an entrepreneur, one of my key tasks is to keep them motivated at all times by communicating the collective vision and dream for the company consistently.
I feel women are already empowered. We just need to work towards normalising and equalising avenues of our life be it personal or professional regardless of gender. Women’s capabilities are usually questioned based on personal life decisions of getting married or starting a family, however men aren’t asked such questions, but the basic fact is that the journey of a woman should be treated the same as a man. For example, treating female entrepreneurs equally as male entrepreneurs is the first step towards making way for females in the workforce. The outlook towards the growing importance of female entrepreneurship and normalising and equating it to entrepreneurship is definitely changing and making great strides. Now it’s a topic of conversation and taken very seriously as opposed to 8-9 years ago.
Dr Sejal Saheta, Dermatologist and Veneorologit, InUrSkn
When it comes to my career, I have been very lucky on the family front. My father is an accountant by profession and he took substantial loans to help me complete my medical education. In fact I continued my studies for my masters after marriage and my in-laws and husband were also extremely supportive of my desire to excel in my chosen profession. In fact being a part of a business family inculcated a desire in me to start my own practice during my early days of career itself.
During my education, I was blessed that I got trained under probably the best dermatologist at the time in the country. He has been a fatherly figure to me who helped me cultivate my curiosity and also helped me build resilience even through failure.Through my professional career, I worked with senior male doctors who did push me to take on more than what I thought I was capable of and which today has helped me immensely in my own practice.
The only part of my career that I was not very fond of, was working in a corporate environment where there were measurements of metrics that I do not personally ascribe to. I personally believe that the medical profession needs more humane metrics rather than run of the mill corporate metrics. Having said this, all of this has shaped my life and career, and today I run a practice that prides itself on being an honest clinic, where we are able to put our patients first and financial metrics are seen more as a by-product of the good work we do.
Inspiriation & Inspiring the team
Today, in a leadership position where I am responsible for my team, I strongly believe in the principle of ‘leaders eat last’. Even through the pandemic we had to close down our cosmetology services for quite some time in addition to the natural drop in number of people seeking dermatology intervention. We ensured that we were able to support our team members through the pandemic without affecting their pay-outs in any manner.
I truly believe that it is actions like these which allow my team to feel protected and know that I will always stand by them through thick and thin. And it is only when they feel safe and composed that they will be able to own up all they can and care for the patients that they attend to.
I sincerely believe that whether it is women or any group of people which is marginalized, the roots of the issue lie in the social constructs that we are all a part of. Merely addressing one aspect of the construct does not solve the problem. I believe that we can make meaningful progress only if we as a people (men and women) start addressing biases that are built into our society at all levels.
I sincerely think that we need to start with tweaking things at a grass root level like our education system. So that we can actually address the questions of conscious and unconscious bias at a much early stage of our lives.
I also believe that we cannot make an effective change without involving all the stakeholders in a discussion. Unfortunately a lot of women empowerment discussions sound more like ‘us versus them’ rather than how all of us can come together to solve issues.
Having said all of this it does not mean that we all give up on all that we can do today.
As an example I sincerely think that our organizations need to offer a lot more flexibility to their employees so that they can actually fulfill their personal and career goals both. Also it is the responsibility of each and every one of us who is aware and sensitized to these issues to address it in every walk of our life. Be it in the capacity of a boss, a parent, a spouse and so on, if we are empowered in any way in any relationship we should definitely point out and try to correct biases that we can identify.