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Fashion, Beauty, Logistics, Parenting, Crowdfunding and Fitness – these women entrepreneurs in Mumbai have made their mark in every domain!
This article was updated in July 2021 with additional information and insights, by Aarthee Suriyakumar
Beating all the odds, a lot of women in India are foraying into entrepreneurship. As per a 2015 report released by BNP Paribas, covering the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia, India ranks as the most active country for women entrepreneurs. Astonishingly, 49% of entrepreneurs in the country are women.
Overseeing their own ventures also gives women, freedom and the necessary work life balance. While that is the traditional reason many women have started businesses, there are also women whose first priority is to crack a large market and build a highly scalable and profitable business.
Mumbai, the city of dreams, is home to some such highly successful women entrepreneurs who will fascinate you with their grit and determination.
Here are seven stellar women entrepreneurs in Mumbai who battled all the odds to make their dreams happen – and happen big time!
Preeta Sukhtankar, founder and CEO, The Label Life, had worked in diverse fields before foraying into entrepreneurship. Earlier, she had worked many different jobs in the fashion and entertainment industry, working for MTV and Elle magazine. Later in November 2012, she came up with an idea to combine all her media and branding experience to a unique e-commerce platform, and founded The Label Life.
This shopping portal blends fashion editorial and curation expertise with trendy shopping options. Starting with Sussanne Khan, a celebrity Interior designer, she launched Home as its first category. Today, Label Corp has three brands to its credit: The Home Label with Sussanne Khan, The Closet Label with Malaika Arora Khan and The Trunk Label with Bipasha Basu.
As Preeta had no e-commerce experience before, she took it up as a challenge and worked twice as hard. Now, she is working to include more celebrity experts to have a fourth brand to her credit. Recently, the Label Life has raised Rs 20 crores from Kalpavriksh (a private equity fund of Centrum group) to expand its base in India and build strategic partnerships for growth.
Currently the brand focuses on urban women aged 23 to 45 years old, living in the top 10 cities by providing trend-focused, elevated clothing, home decor & accessories. Recently in January 2021, hybrid investment platform KLUB invested an undisclosed amount in The Label life which would fuel their expansion into beauty & skin care product offerings. The pandemic has disrupted the retail shopping behaviour & enabled massive growth opportunities to Direct to consumer brands. With the new influx of capital & shift towards e-commerce, The Label life is all set to scale new heights!
Manisha Raisinghani, Co-founder, LogiNext, is changing the logistics industry and forging her own technical empire. Post her Masters in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University, she worked with Warner Brother as a Data Analyst for itunes. Later, she joined IBM’s Business Analytics and Optimization Division. Her work experience helped her gain an insight into the logistics businesses and the challenges the industry faced.
In 2013, she along with her co-founder Dhruvil Sanghvi came up with a solution to optimize delivery networks and logistic services over a cup of coffee. They started working on it together and founded LogiNext in 2014. Using the power of ‘Big Data’, LogiNext helps to predict the delivery delays by aggregating the location data received from multiple clients with similar delivery networks. This saves cost and helps in providing reliable delivery service to customers. Through its real-time analytics, LogiNext says that it saves 7-15 percent of costs for its clients which include industry giants like D-Mart, Decathlon and Maruti Suzuki.
Currently the Fremont, CA headquartered company serves more than 50 enterprises & 100 small companies with an R&D centre in Mumbai. In January 2020, Loginext raised $39 million as a part of its Series B funding, led by marquee investors Tiger Global Management and Steadview Capital. Post this round, the valuation stood at roughly $100Mn. LogiNext says it helps deliver over a billion shipments and counts McDonald’s, Decathlon, and Singapore Post as some of its marquee enterprise customers.
Recently the company witnessed a 300% rise in demand for home office furniture related deliveries during the pandemic. As the buying behaviour drastically changed in 2021, companies are adopting technology to enable online sales of products which are predominantly purchased from the retail environment. Logitech believes this online shopping trend will continue to exist after the pandemic making them critical partners to brands in serving the changing consumer needs.
An IIM Ahmedabad Alumni, Falguni Nayar is the CEO and Founder of Nykaa.com, an e-commerce multi-brand retail store for beauty and wellness products. However, before starting her own venture, Falguni had worked as an investment banker and broker with Kotak Mahindra Group for 19 years. For the next 8 years, she headed the Group’s Institutional Equities division. In 2005, she took over as the Managing director at Kotak Mahindra Capital Company, but gave it all up later to embark on her entrepreneurial journey.
Believing that India’s beauty market has an untapped potential, Falguni started her venture in April 2012. Further, to make it a unique and go-to online store for cosmetics, she came up with the dedicated beauty-book section on the site features product reviews, make up tips and tricks and guides you in choosing the right product.
Nykaa also focussed on bringing international luxury brands like Clinique, Bobbi Brown through authorized channels solving for the quest of authentic, quality products amidst Indian consumers. Over the years they expanded into related segments like fashion, launched in-house brands & entered celebrity partnership with Katrina Kaif to launch Kay Beauty range.
In 2020, Nykaa was recognised as a unicorn start up with a $1.2Bn valuation & is currently getting ready for IPO which is expected to value it at around $3 Bn. Nayar’s business venture is all set to enter the big leagues and she has redefined the way Indian women are shopping for beauty & fashion products in less than a decade.
Naiya Saggi’s business idea was born after seeing her sister’s struggle in the journey of becoming a new mother and unending search for relevant information. She saw the opportunity for technology-led disruption in the babycare space by providing reliable information to new parents. Beyond offering information, their portal was designed to personalize the recommendations for each user’s preferences. The BabyChakra team was launched in 2015, built with insights from 600 influential mothers (mom bloggers, community leaders, mompreneurs) and 500 top service providers in Mumbai.
Lawyer and Harvard Alumni, Naiya’s venture scaled up fast and raised funding of $600000 led by Mumbai Angels, Patni Family Office and Singapore Angel Network in June 2015. Subsequently they raised Series A funding from Seattle based Roundglass in 2016 while providing reviews for over 25000 maternity and childcare services.
By 2018, the platform had 2 million users of which 70% were from Tier 2 and 3 towns using 10 languages to make decisions on the portal. In early 2020, they launched India’s first-ever baby-safe range of hand sanitizers and handwashes, which are alcohol-free. Naiyya’s business venture continues to grow strongly catering to the needs of new parents raising children in nuclear families as the brand stands for trust, transparency and inclusivity.
In 2012, Vineetha Singh co-founded FABBAG, a beauty subscription business where they would send a “surprise box” with a mix of different products from relatively less-known, global brands. Make-up products in the box received positive reviews from millennials who wished to upgrade from the mass brands but didn’t have the pocket for luxury brands. This insight became the foundation for the launch of SUGAR cosmetics which was designed to cater to the millennial women for whom beauty was a daily routine and not reserved for special occasions.
The IIM-A Alumnus embarked into her entrepreneurial venture in 2015 with a shoestring budget launching a kajal and a eyeliner from a reputed manufacturer in Germany. Disrupting the market of glossy eyeliners with matte finish one was first of the many product wins for SUGAR Team. Next critical lever was building a strong digital presence with an influencer network and engaging content instead of the traditional route of celebrity endorsements.Today the brand’s instagram page with 1 million followers is proof of their successful digital strategy!
Currently they are targeting Rs.150 Crore revenue in FY21 and have recently raised $2 Million debt funding from Stride Ventures. Vineetha’s vision of building the perfect ecosystem with the target consumer in the centre has enabled them to take on big global giants in the beauty industry.
Khusboo Jain graduated from Parsons, New York and left a career with Gucci to co-found Impactguru.com in 2015 which is currently a leading crowdfunding platform. She wished to become a social entrepreneur and identified an opportunity in the healthcare category where she could make a difference. In India, healthcare financing for critical illness is a challenging task where families scramble to mobilize funds from their own circles or resources within a limited duration. Khusboo’s platform allows people to raise money quickly in a hassle free manner as donations from families, friends and strangers without any payback liability.
Over the years, ImpactGuru has mobilised an estimated Rs. 1500 crore through its platform involving over 10 lakh donors from 165 countries. Though they started as a bootstrapped company, they raised $0.5 million in a seed round in 2016 from RB investments, Singapore and subsequently raised $2 million in Series A round in 2018. Currently the platform is managed by a 100 member team based in Mumbai and is connected with over 1500 hospitals across the country to help patients in need of funds.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the platform raised over Rs 15 crore from over 800 Covid-19 related fundraisers to support daily wagers, elderly, healthcare workers and animals affected by the crisis. In a country where critical illnesses are financed through loans, insurances or selling assets, Khusboo brought the option of crowdfunding to families struggling to save their loved ones. But redefining healthcare funding in our country, she has become an inspiration for women eyeing social entrepreneurship ventures.
Neha Motwani founded Fitternity in 2014 with the vision to provide fitness offerings based on specific needs in a market cluttered with gyms, memberships and numerous programs which make it difficult to choose. The central idea was born from her personal experience of struggling to find an effective way to manage the workout routine. Neha dived into research and soon launched the Fitternity website which enabled users to discover gyms, fitness centres, studios in their neighbourhood.
Building from the initial learnings, Fitternity evolved into India’s largest fitness discovery and booking platform. By early 2020, they were offering services across 17+ categories over 12000+ fitness facilities spanning across 12 cities. Neha understood the rising demand in the fitness category and the challenges in the supply side to handle the same. She continued to build offerings adapted to customer’s requirements and changing needs which fuelled their growth.
During the pandemic, they launched interactive online sessions, 30- day fitness challenges and added a tech- enabled platform to enable gyms/ studies to continue their services virtually. Neha launched the business with Rs. 1.5 Crore funding from families and relatives, but the growth trend started attracting more investors.
In Feb 2021, Fitness startup Cure.fit acquired Fitternity which will now continue to exist as a separate platform and help the joined entity to cater to 3million users. Neha Motwani built her business for an emerging need which was in a nascent stage in the Indian market, and became a significant player in that space within a short span. She is now on the next step ahead in her exciting journey!
Fashion, Beauty, Logistics, Parenting, Crowdfunding and Fitness- there is no domain left uncharted by Women Entrepreneurs from Mumbai. Mumbai is known as the City of dreams for a reason- for these women entrepreneurs dreamed big from the city of dreams and made a mark in their domains.
These women entrepreneurs in Mumbai show us that for those who dream big and find the right opportunities at just the right time, there are no limits to the success they can achieve!
More in this series:
Inspiring women entrepreneurs in Hyderabad you should know
5 highly creative women entrepreneurs in Gurgaon who’ve made it big
Inspiring women entrepreneurs in Chennai whose stories you’ll love
Amazing women entrepreneurs of Bangalore to give us entrepreneurship goals
Women entrepreneurs in Pune who are not afraid to dream – queen size!
Lesser known women entrepreneurs in Kerala whose stories are so powerful
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