6 Women Led Startups of India- Breaking barriers

Women are considered to be the fairer sex, and often inferior to men, specially in a country like ours where women’s voices are seldom heard. 

But despite all odds, women progress in the world, breaking all the glass ceilings of this diabolical society and this is what International Women’s Day recognizes. Even in the world of Indian startups where women have risen to shine. 

Women Challenging Stereotypical Notions

Every year, 8th March is celebrated as International Women’s Day to recognize the social , economic and political difficulties that women face and how they have risen above it. So what started off as a political proposition by the socialist party of America in 1909 turned out to be a pacifist movement of struggle for women’s rights during the first world war.

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From 1911 to 2021, we have come a long way but the story has remained the same. Women are still fighting for their right to work, live, play and love – albeit in a different way.

Today’s struggle is for equality – equal pay, equal opportunities, equal representation, equal perception – equality in all spheres of life.

The 2021 Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge and indeed women are challenging all stereotypes to have a career and a life of their own. 

Women Led Startups of India

The Indian startup space too has such misconceptions that women can’t be good entrepreneurs and take the risks of building startups. India is the 3rd largest startup market of the world, having 29k startups in 2014 which touched 55k in 2020.

Of this huge industry, only 14% are startups run by women, says the 6th economic census report published in 2014. That means out of the 29000 startups of 2014 only a meagre 4060 were actually run by women. 

The situation is so prejudiced that women led Startups don’t get beyond the stage of microenterprise as most people are afraid to back them .

90% of the women led Startups are microenterprises not large scale ventures and most of them survive by paying from their own pocket. Investors barely recognize and trust women led Startups so most of them about 79% are self financed. 

But despite all these, some women led Indian startups have made it to the top with hardwork and dedication, earning the goodwill of the market with their vision. They have chosen to challenge the notion. 

Women Startups Making It Count 

Women entrepreneurs like Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar Shaw etc have gained global location and this has inspired many more women to enter the startup space with their own unique business ideas. 

Let’s take a look at some of them.

Women Startups Making It Count

1. Zivame 

The popular women’s lingerie brand, Zivame which you see in every city today was the hard work of a young Indian MBA student Richa Kar who thought of conquering the tabooed world of women inner wear back in 2011. Even her parents’ opposition couldn’t stop Richa.

She was destined to change the lingerie experience of women, going beyond the taboos of the society. So, today the online shopping site is all over India and women swear by it. The company has raised 9 million dollars from IDG Ventures India and other investors. 

2. Nykaa

Popular cosmetics e-commerce platform, Nykaa is a go to name for Indian women today. Nykaa came to existence when an experienced banker in the Kotak Mahindra Group ditched her seasoned full time job of 25 years took up the challenge to start this cosmetics venture back in 2012.

Falguni Nayyar, Nykaa’s founder, chased success like no other. Slowly and gradually iconic brands like Johnson & Johnson, Lakme, L’Oréal, Unilever started partnering with them and now Nykaa is a conglomerate of 850+ brands and businesses. 

3. Sheroes

When it comes to women led Startups, Sairee Chahal’s Sheroes, a women’s platform to showcase the power of women and help them get back on their feet with a range of online jobs, deserves special mention. Sairee is a startup genius who has multiple ventures in her kitty like Fleximoms. 

A multidisciplinary person who has vast knowledge and experience in advertising and marketing Sairee understood the demand of the market in the coming decade and launched Sheroes. Sairee launched her first startup Fleximoms at the age of 19. Her experience there helped to build what Sheroes is today, a go to app for 1000+ plus Indian recruiters. 

4. Embibe

India’s foremost educational app that uses an AI enabled learning platform, Embibe, is the brainchild of Aditi Avasthi who swears by edtech innovations. Her AI enabled platform makes customized educational solutions to kids based on their needs. The startup is so promising that Reliance Industries has invested 90 crores in Embibe. 

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Promising New Women Led Startups

Several new women led Startups have emerged who are inspiring people for a better world. These new ventures are gradually showing promise to the world. 

5.Clan Earth

Clan Earth

A new eco friendly backpack accessories startup that believes in power of reforestation was started by Kolkata based duo Priyanka Mandal and Broteen Mandal. As Priyanka says, the goal of launching Clan Earth back in 2019 wasn’t business alone but to give back to the planet.

 Priyanka had a career as a business analyst in HSBC and similar other companies and runs a non profit organisation that seeks to build skills in underprivileged people

The company makes eco-friendly backpacks, cutleries and other things, and for every order they plan 5 new trees. So, their main aim is to counter climate change  by putting more trees on this planet. 

They aim to plant 1 million trees by 2030 and so far they planted 1500 trees with the sale of more than 300 bags. They are part of the Eden Reforestation Project which supports the sustainable solution by local people and businesses in 67 countries.. The company put forwards unique backpack designs named after animals like foxes, pandas etc, thus spreading awareness about animals. The products mimic the colour of the animal it is named after. 

6. EOLO Market

EOLO Market

A brand new women led startup has burst into the Indian startup space this year, with the launch of Chandigarh based sustainable E-commerce startup EOLO Market. EOLO an abbreviation for Earth Only Lives Once is a newly launched startup is an all inclusive sustainable e-commerce platform that sells eco-friendly organic made in India products made by Indian companies and individuals.

 It’s the brainchild of Anandita Abuja, a young International Business Studies graduate who has worked as a SAP Functional Analyst. Her stronghold in business studies master’s degree was in planning sustainable development goals on the basis of this she founded the company. 

Her ecommerce venture EOLO Market sells all kinds of eco friendly products – from masks to immunity booster tablets to soaps to cosmetics to disposable plates to toys. All this is to make people switch to a sustainable life and empower Indian sellers with a global outreach. 

Thus, the women are leading by example and changing the world one at a time.Their ideas are as varied as it gets and each one of them are showing how women can do it if they #ChooseToChallenge.

Also Read – Opportunities for Startups in Rural India

Written by Pratiti Nath

A heritage and travel enthusiast with a penchant for sustainable living and travel, Pratiti writes on key issues governing health, environment, travel and culture. A microbiologist by vocation and a writer/editor by profession Pratiti brings science and innovation in her pursuits of life. When not traveling she can be found addressing key issues on her blog at

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