17 Most Influential Women Entrepreneurs in India

In India, women’s participation in labor is stagnated and is very much expected to decline in the forthcoming years. Though we have seen little social improvements for women in recent years, still there are many stigmas that women in 2021 are shrouded in.

According to a report released by Google and Bain & Company, India currently has around 13.5–15.7 million women-owned businesses, representing 20% of all the businesses across the country.

Moreover, Over the next decade, India will have the world’s largest working-age population, but neither the private nor public sectors have created enough jobs for women. Female labor-force participation has stopped growing, and current labor trends, technological disruptions, and restrictive social barriers are likely to exacerbate further declines.

Women’s entrepreneurship is a critical component of the whole solution. It not only benefits the economy by creating jobs but, also has transformative social and personal effects.

There is next to no representation for women in the business spectrum of India. Countries with which Indian typically compares itself like China, the USA, Indonesia, and Bangladesh — have two to three times higher participation rates for women. Entrepreneurship among women may be a vital component of the general solution. It not only boosts the economy through job creation but also helps women with empowerment.

In India, some fearless women overcame all the hurdles that came in their way to success and they very much left a mark in the business space by contributing something to society. The upcoming list is dedicated to those women who inspires the female populace to achieve greatness in the field of business in India.

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” – Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates

1. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Biocon Limited)

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is India’s wealthiest self-made women entrepreneur who is the founder of a biopharmaceutical firm called Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India and she was the former chairperson of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

She met Leslie Auchincloss, the founder of Cork, Ireland-based Biocon Biochemicals Limited. Auchincloss’ company made enzymes for the brewing, food packaging, and textile sectors.

Auchincloss was looking for an Indian partner to assist him to set up an Indian subsidiary to provide him with Papain. Mazumdar agreed to take the job on the proviso that if she didn’t want to stay after six months, she would be given a brewmaster post equivalent to the one she was leaving.

This firm has entered in US biosimilars market and is getting the eye of investors. As per Forbes, it’s the primary company to urge approval from the USFDA. She has put a big fortune to create a deep R&D- Based biotech firm. In 2019 she held the title called Indian’s 54th richest person and the world’s 65th powerful woman.

She was awarded the Othmer Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the progress of science and chemistry.

2. Vani Kola (Kalaari Capital)

Vani Kola

Vani Kola is an Indian Venture capitalist and the founder of Kalaari Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm. As of 2017, Kalaari Capital under the leadership of Vani Kola has grown to have an estimation of $650 million.

Apart from this, Vani is also involved in lots of organizations that are focused on fostering the quality of leadership and entrepreneurship among women. She was listed as one of the most powerful women in Indian business by Fortune India in 2019.

Kola worked in Silicon Valley for 22 years. She was the creator and CEO of the e-procurement company RightWorks, which she sold to ICG after four years of inception for $657 million.

Following a successful career as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, She back to India to launch a venture capital firm in India. In 2006, she and Vinod Dham co-founded Indo-US Venture Partners (IUVP). It was her first venture into venture finance in India, in collaboration with New Enterprise Associates (NEA). In 2012, The firm was renamed Kalaari Capital.

3. Falguni Nayar (Nykaa)

Falguni Nayar

Falguni Nayar is the founder of Nykaa, India’s biggest online lifestyle, beauty, and wellness e-commerce portal. Prior to Nykaa, Falguni had worked as a venture capitalist and merchant for 20 years with Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Her successful venture Nykaa attained the Unicorn startup title in 2020, after raising Rs 100 crore in a funding round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. Notable, Nykaa also witnessed strong growth in its market capitalization, after it launched its IPO. Following the strong launch in the stock market, Falguni’s net worth jumped to $7.5 billion.

In 1985, Nayar worked as a consultant for A F Ferguson & Co., a management consulting firm. Nayar joined the Kotak Mahindra Group’s mergers and acquisitions division in 1993 and worked for the company for 19 years in various capacities.

4. Shraddha Sharma (YourStory)

Shraddha Sharma

Shraddha Sharma is the founder of the renowned platform YourStory, a digital platform that is mainly focused on startups and entrepreneurs. Prior to YourStory, She has worked as an assistant vice president at CNBC TV18 and also a brand adviser for The Times Of India.

She was named one of the “5 women Indian entrepreneurs in India you should know about” in a TechGig piece. The Hindu described her as having smashed the glass ceiling.

5. Upasana Taku (Mobikwik)

Upasana Taku

Upasana Taku is the co-founder of Mobikwik and founder of Zaakpay. Mobikwik is a fintech platform for businesses providing financial services and payment gateway, it is now a household name among Indians for payments and other Fintech products.

Upasana’s goal is to simplify the payment acceptance methodology for Indian retailers, her current mission is to bring more retailers into the Mobikwik network.

6. Vandana Luthra (VLCC Healthcare)

Vandana Luthra

Vandana Luthra is the founder of VLCC Healthcare Ltd, a beauty, and wellness conglomerate represented in Asia, the CGC, and Africa. She is also the chairperson of the beauty and wellness sector skill council (B&WSSC), it is an initiative that provides training under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana scheme.

Vandana Luthra was born in 1959 in New Delhi. Her father worked as a mechanical engineer, and her mother was an ayurvedic doctor who ran a humanitarian organization called Amar Jyoti.

After graduating from the Polytechnic for Women in New Delhi, she traveled to Europe to seek knowledge in beauty, food and nutrition, and skincare.

Luthra founded VLCC in 1989 as a beauty and health service center in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Development Area, focusing on food modification and exercise regimen-based weight loss programs.

The VLCC industry has a significant national and worldwide presence. It provides weight loss and beauty programs (skin, body, and hair care treatments and advanced dermatology and cosmetology solutions).

7. Anushka Shetty (Plopnow)

Anushka Shetty

Anushka Shetty is the Co-founder of a storytelling platform Plopnow, a global interactive fiction entertainment platform that is tailor-made for the GenZ populace made to educate as well as entertain them.

Plopnow was incubated at IIM-Bangalore and is a Goldman Startup Programme participant. Following the incubation time, the couple relocated to Mumbai.

8. Niki Khokale (Fountain9)

Niki Khokale

Niki Khokale is the Co-founder of Fountain9, AI-driven management making inventory management simple and hassle-free. Fountain9 helps food brands and retailers reduce food wastage startup’s AI engine senses the changes in demands and helps businesses to adapt quickly and to delete inventory pileups.

Prior to founding Fountain9, Niki had worked at Google, American Express, Sears Holdings Corporation, among others. She graduated from KJ Somaiya College of Engineering in Vidyavihar with an engineering degree and a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

Fountain9 is a technology that predicts future inventory needs to assist food brands and merchants in reducing food waste and maintaining high availability. They seek to forecast future inventory imbalances that result in out-of-stock issues or waste, as well as to offer measures to mitigate their impact.

9. Ashwini Asokan (Mad Street Den)

Ashwini Ashokan

Ashwini Asokan is the Co-founder of Mad Street Den, a computer vision and AI-based company with a vision of making people all over the globe AI natives. Ashwini has been featured on Fortune’s 40 under 40 lists and has also been featured in over 100 publications including Forbes, TechCrunch, Nikkei, and Vogue.

Mad Street Den is a computer vision and artificial intelligence company that is developing the future AI architecture. The company was founded by a Neuroscientist-Designer duo, and its objective is to construct models of generalizable intelligence on a large scale that can be deployed through meaningful applications across industries to billions of people worldwide.

Ashwini and her colleagues teach machines to see and experience the environment in the same way that humans do. After more than a decade in Silicon Valley, Ashwini returned to India to bootstrap her firm, which she co-founded with her husband, neuroscientist Anand Chandrasekaran.

As a product designer and cultural researcher, she investigates how Artificial Intelligence may be taken out of the world’s science and technology labs, applied meaningfully, and placed in the hands of people all around the world.

10. Radhika Ghai Aggarwal (Shopclues)

Radhika Aggarwal

Radhika Aggarwal is the co-founder of the online marketplace ShopClues established in 2011 in Silicon Valley. ShopClues is an Indian online marketplace owned by Clues Network Pvt. Ltd.

11. Suchi Mukherjee (Limeroad)

Suchi Mukherjee

Suchi Mukherjee is the founder and (currently) the CEO of the online shopping site Limeroad.com, which was founded in 2012.

Suchi was among the 15 women for ‘Rising Talent – Global Leaders Under 40’ at the planet Women’s Forum in Paris in 2010, for her contributions in scaling businesses encompassing consumer technology.

Her goal is to build South East Asia’s largest women-only marketplace. She has received numerous honors for her services to company advancement and consumer technology understanding.

12. Aditi Gupta (Menstrupedia)

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta is an author and the Co-founder of Menstrupedia. Aditi and her husband created a comic book to educate girls about menstruation. In this pursuit, The couple had launched a platform named ‘Mentrupedia’.

In 2014, They partnered with Whisper India and presented “Touch the Pickle”, this movement occurred in four different cities.

In a broader sense, Aditi’s platform aims to educate people all around the world about menstruation. Menstrupedia’s goal is to help people understand the puberty process in both men and women.

The lack of knowledge and education regarding menstruation inspired her to conduct a year-long study on the subject. She gathered information from doctors and girls, which inspired her to create a comic book featuring three young girls and a doctor as the primary protagonists. She posted the comic books on her website (www.talesofchange.in).

Initially, It began as a thesis project while she was a student at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. The website has evolved into a platform that “provides pre-teens and teenagers with knowledge on puberty and sexuality.”

13. Basudha Shrivastav (ExpressEarth Digital Services)

Basudha Shrivastav 

Basudha Shrivastav with Himanshu Narula founded ExpressEarth Digital Services, an online travel business. It’s worthy to mention that both of them had quit their jobs and embarked on a journey of self-employment. For both B2B and B2C clients, Express Earth takes focuses on fulfilling their travel needs, including hotels, cars, flights, insurance, and more.

Basudha has a bachelor’s degree from Delhi University and has worked in the IT industry. Her company has won several awards for being an innovative travel company, including the India Travel Award North’s ‘Most Innovative Travel Management Company.

14. Farah Nathani Menzies (The Mumum Co.)

Farah Nathani Menzies

Farah Nathani Menzies with her partner Shreya Lamba co-founded The Mumum Company. Farah-led company is designed to aid people in obtaining the proper nutrition and living a healthier lifestyle.

Farah holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School and College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

The snacks that the children consumed were unhealthy, and almost none of them were intended for children. While feeding the child was a major concern for mothers, they were limited in their options. Farah and her partner came up with the idea for the healthy snack startup for this reason.

15. Khushboo Jain (ImpactGuru)

Khushboo Jain

Khushboo Jain entered the business world intending to assist India’s crowdfunding startup scene. She is the Co-founder and COO of ImpactGuru where she oversees the marketing, communication, and design departments.

She earned an MBA in Marketing from Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research after studying Business Management at Sydenham College in Mumbai. Khushboo had also graduated from Parsons and the London College of Fashion.

Khushboo was named to Fortune India’s 40 Under 40 list and was one of the Top 15 winning women entrepreneurs at the NITI Aayog and United Nations’ 2019 Women Transforming India Awards.

Impact Guru is a crowd-funding platform that promotes social good through technology. Individuals, NGOs, and social serial enterprises can all benefit from it because it offers a complete crowdfunding solution.

16. Meghna Agarwal (IndiQube)

Meghna Agarwal

Meghna Agarwal is the co-founder of IndiQube and has over 14 years of experience in HR, consulting, commercial real estate, and manufacturing. She holds a degree in MBA Finance from IMT as well as a certificate in company secretaryship.

When she had to tell entrepreneurs that they needed to vacate the space that they were subleasing with them, she came up with the idea. They were dissatisfied because they had access to benefits such as a gym, food, transportation, and information technology over there.

As a result, she and her co-founder decided to create a flexible workspace with such benefits without having to rent the entire space.

IndiQube is a network of coworking spaces that offer entrepreneurs a comfortable place to work without the distractions of a traditional office. The company has carved out a niche for itself by providing a variety of work options and facilities.

17. Richa Kar (Zivame)

Richa Kar

Richa Kar is the Co-founder and CEO of Zivame, an online lingerie retailer. Richa discovered the problem that the womens’ were hesitant to shop for lingerie in physical outlet stores. To solve this, Richa launched Zivame, which aims to make the entire process of buying lingerie easier.

Her good experience in branding, retailing, and operations, aided her in growing Zivame. Richa is one of India’s most successful female entrepreneurs, having revolutionized the lingerie industry.

Bottomline

All these women contributed by providing value and empowerment to society and also has inspired a lot of women to take up their dreams and take a shot at them. Women empowerment is very important for our nation to grow It not only boosts the economy through job creation but also delivers transformational social and personal outcomes for women.

“Nothing will work unless you do”. –

Maya Angelou

Also Read:

Follow IndianStartupNews on FacebookInstagramTwitter for the latest updates from the startup ecosystem.