Here Are The Women Behind India’s 11 Top Startup Stars

“Life of an entrepreneur’s wife…sigh”, says the caption on a photo on Raj Aggarwal’s Facebook. She is the wife of Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal. She and her husband are sitting in a pretty field, presumably on vacation, but Bhavish is busy on the phone, running his $5 billion dollar company.

The life of an entrepreneur is certainly not easy. It requires an enormous amount of hard work, dedication and sacrifice – and the same applies for their partners. 

While the stories of many such successful entrepreneurs float around, stories about their better halves that are untold and hidden from the public eye. These women are the forces behind some of the most celebrated and successful entrepreneurs of Indian startups, and have supported their partners through all the initial struggles and challenges.  They have gracefully remained in the background while their famous husbands make the big headlines. On International Women’s Day, we recognize and raise a toast to these special women in the Indian startup world.

 

1.  Priya Bansal, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal’s wife

Sachin Bansal Wife
Image: ET

While some people may hilariously confuse Binny Bansal to be Sachin Bansal’s wife, Sachin Bansal actually has a real wife called Priya. Priya is a dentist and runs Priya Dental Clinic in Koramangla in Bangalore. In an interview Sachin Bansal revealed that he barely gets any time to spend with the family, and when he does, Priya and Sachin like to catch up on movies and go on “Matinee Dates”.

2. Trisha Vasudeva, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal’s wife

Trisha Vasudeva Binny Bansal Wife
image: Facebook

Flipkart co-founder and now CEO Binny Bansal’s wife is Trisha Vasudeva, an MBA from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, whom he married in Feb 2010. Trisha is quite a fashionista herself, and at a Myntra event, she even made a rare public appearance.

Binny Bansal Wife

 

3. Kanchan Joshi, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal’s Wife

Deepinder Goyal's wife

Zomato co-founder Deepinder Goyal, then 18, met his wife Kanchan Joshi at IIT Delhi and fell heads over heels in love with her. “I chased her for six months,” says Goyal in an interview with Forbes. The couple got married in 2007 and had a daughter, Siara in 2013. In a Mint article, Deepinder Goyal says it took some time to convince his parents that quitting a “cushy” job in consulting firm Bain and Co. was the right thing to do, but his wife supported him, even though she’s not the biggest fan of the start-up lifestyle. A PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Kanchan is now a mathematics professor at Delhi University, and stays away from the limelight her famous husband cannot escape.

 

4. Mridula, Paytm founder’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s wife

Vijay Shekhar Sharma Wife
image: telegraphindia

The very friendly and flamboyant founder and CEO of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma is married to Mridula since 2005 and the couple have a three year old son, Vivaan.  The couple had an arranged marriage when Sharma was 26. “We enjoy rafting, trekking, camping,” he says.

5. Aditi Tewari, Inmobi co-founder Naveen Tewari’s wife

Aditi Tewari, Naveen Tewari's wife
Image: Twitter

Aditi Tewari who describes herself as a “mom, daughter and wife” on Twitter is the better half to Naveen Tewari, the celebrated IITK and Harvard alumnus InMobi co-founder. Aditi, who had taken up a job as a scientist at Accenture Tech Labs, supported Naveen when he turned down job offers to explore start possibilities in Silicon Valley. Aditi is an avid blogger, and supports her husband’s startup vehemently on Twitter. In an interview once Naveen Tewari had jokingly said that his priorities in life were Inmobi, his wife and cricket – in that order. Aditi seems only supportive of that commitment.

6.  Asin, Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma’s wife

Asin Micromax's rahul Sharma's wife
Image: Indian Express

Asin must be the only wife who’s more famous than her entrepreneur husband. Joining the league of Bollywood actors who are happily married with stars of the business world, the south Indian movie star recently tied the knot with Rahul Sharma. Actor Akshay Kumar reportedly played a pivotal role in matching the pair up, and Asin has hinted at exiting the film industry post marriage.

7. Karishma Kokhar, Rahul Yadav’s fiance

rahul Yadav girlfriend karishma Kokhar
image: Facebook

 

Another Rahul on this list is Rahul Yadav, co-founder and Ex-CEO of Housing.com and founder at Intelligent Interfaces. Yadav’s love life, as well as entrepreneurial journey, has been the subject of much speculation in the Indian startup world. His search for a girlfriend was much publicised, and it wasn’t long before he announced the presence of one. In a latest update, Rahul Yadav has revealed that his wedding is set for March 10th. Karishma is a Delhi College of Engineering graduate and and investment banker, and the duo has been quite open about sharing glimpses from their blissful love life.

 

8. Yashna Diesh Bahl, Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl’s wife

Kunal Bahl Wife Yashna Diesh Bahl

Kunal Bahl’s wife Yashna Diesh has degrees from Amity University and Infinity Business School. Like her husband, she’s an entrepreneur who had started a candy floss business. The couple married in 2012 and were blessed with a baby girl in December last year.  “Like a good co-founder my wife is taking care of my baby girl”, says Bahl. 

 

9. Ambiga Dhiraj MuSigma co-founder Dhiraj Rajaram’s wife

ambiga dhiraj dhiraj rajaram's wife musigma

Ambiga Dhiraj may be better known as MuSigma founder Dhiraj Rajaram’s wife, but in a recent management reshuffle, she was made the CEO of MuSigma, becoming the first woman CEO of an Indian unicorn. Before taking over the reins from her husband, she was the head of fulfillment and operations at the company. Ambiga and Rajaram met when they were classmates at Guindy engineering college, Anna University. The couple currently lives in Bangalore with their son.

 

10. Rajalakshmi Aggarwal, Ola co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal’s wife

Bhavish Aggarwal’s wife Rajalakshi Aggarwal has worked as an Analyst at Ernst and Young and as Marketing Manager. The couple has been together for 10 years now. Raj recalls anecdotes from their dating days where Bhavish admitted to being broke and unable to even pay for their dates. “I’m a Baniya so I was okay with her paying for our coffee. It was an investment!”, laughs Bhavish. Rajalakshmi has been supporting not only her husband but also his company since its very early days – Bhavish says that he’d borrow her car to fulfil  requests when Ola was still a young startup.

 

Bhavish Aggarwal Wife
Image: Bloomberg

Bike Taxis In Bangalore Declared Illegal By Transport Government; Vehicles Seized

Uber and Ola are in for a rude shock as starting today, the State Transport Department has started a crackdown on the bike services that these companies had launched in the city. On Thursday, Uber had launched its bike taxi service in Bangalore, and Ola had followed with an announcement hours later. These bike services had seen a good response on the very first day of their launch, with consumers taking to them with much gusto.

bike taxi
Bike taxis in Gurgaon (Source: Hindustan Times)

But Bangalore’s Transport Department has thrown a spanner in the works. “The public are requested not to use these bike taxis as they do not have the licence and are illegal,” said Narendra Holkar, joint commissioner (enforcement) of the Transport Department.  Uber and Ola had not obtained a permit or a license to operate app-booked bike taxi services, and action will be taken against the two companies, he added. 

According to the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, enforced in Karnataka, a two-wheeler is considered to be private transport. To run a service like Ola Bike Taxi or Uber Moto, the vehicle needs to be licensed for commercial use. Passengers too are ineligible for insurance cover if an accident occurs while they’re riding these taxis. 

On Friday, several of bikes were seized in Bangalore by the traffic police for operating without a permit. “The bike taxis are illegal also because they don’t have the right licence. We will not allow them to operate.”, an official said. 

Bike taxis, however, run in Gurgaon and Mumbai with through Baxi and HeyTaxi respectively.

Given Bangalore’s huge traffic jams, startups have been coming up with innovative solutions to help commuters get around, but have fallen afoul of the Transport Department. Earlier this month, ZipGo, a popular shuttle service, was shut down by the government body as it was operating on the same routes as state-run BMTC buses.

Here Are The Winners Of One Internet’s Asia Hardware Battlefield 2016

 

Over 17th to 28th Feb 2016, India’s best hardware startups competed in cities across India for a chance to visit China and present their ideas in front of investors such as Sequoia China, IDG and Matrix Partners China. India Startup Hunt, a part of the the Asia Hardware Battle, aimed to recognize the best hardware startups in India and shine a global spotlight on them.

A brainchild of Technode (techcrunch.com) and patronized by One Internet, the India chapter of the event today brought together hardware startups from 5 Indian cities. After a breathless month of planning, scanning, pitching and voting three of the strongest ideas were honored with winner’s distinction in a glitzy ceremony in New Delhi.

Asia Hardware Battlefield One Internet

Here were the winners:

Velmenni.com is building a new wireless technology for high speed (upto 1GBps) data transmission using visible light. It is commonly known as Li-Fi. It creates high speed, high bandwidth backbone of wireless communication system. This technology works where RF doesn’t work or prohibited such as industrial environment, aviation, in crowed areas and concerts. 

Chakr has invented a device that captures the hazardous emissions from chimneys and engine exhausts and converts them into inks, paints and other useful products. Each T-Shirt printed from our ink purifies over 75 lakh litres of air and every litre of our paint purifies over 3 crore litres of air.

Embro S (Livebraille.com) aims to help people with challenges, and is currently focussed on sight loss. LiveBraille is the core patent-pending technology which being has won awards in 6 countries and is delivered through 2 products: Mini IN and  Mini S. 

“There’s no dearth of talent and ideas in India. What is missing, however, is the right arena, where ideators can talk about their vision to the right people at the right time. This event is an extension of One Internet’s driving philosophy of filling this exact need gap – in the best possible way., said  Himanshu Bindal from One Internet.

Flipkart Finally Enters Payments Race; Launches Flipkart Money

India’s crowded wallet space has a big new entrant. After many months of speculation, Flipkart has finally come up with its own digital wallet. Dubbed Flipkart Money, the wallet is being powered by FX Mart, a Punjab-based company that Flipkart had acquired last year. FX Mart has a license from RBI for operating a prepaid payment instrument till August 2019.  

flipkart-windows-phone

Flipkart is late to the wallet game which has already seen great traction from companies who’ve been luring users with cashbacks and other incentives. Flipkart chief competitors in the e-commerce space already have successful wallets – Paytm has India’s most popular wallet with over 120 million subscribers, and Snapdeal’s Freecharge wallet, which was launched late last year, has been growing fast.

Flipkart Money has been launched on the company’s Android app, where users can hold a balance of Rs 10,000 at a time. Consumers can top up the wallet with a maximum of Rs 25,000 a month using their credit cards, debit cards or via net banking.
Cash can be withdrawn from the wallet to the cards or the bank account. The wallet can currently only be used for transactions on Flipkart.

Flipkart Money will come in handy while handling refunds, especially in the case of cash on delivery payments that account for a majority of Flipkart’s transactions. Around 15% of ecommerce shipments end up in returns, estimate industry experts and this translates into huge numbers for a company of Flipkart’s scale. The wallet is also expected to be helpful in retaining customers on its platform through the use of cashbacks.

Paytm Taps Into Small Town India; Adds Hindi Interface To Seller App

It’s the flavour of the season. Companies are rushing a grab a foothold in small town India, and are adapting their English interfaces to suit the average Indian consumer. After Snapdeal and Quikr had gone desi and made their apps available in local languages, Paytm has now added a Hindi interface to its seller app to increase its appeal in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

The move is particularly important for Paytm as it attempts to make its app widely used across India. “We want to make sure that our app isn’t just used for large transactions, but lots of small transactions”, says founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma. Paytm has been introducing its online payment option at everything ranging from paanwalas to petrol pumps to get more users to transfer money digitally.

paytm

“The top-10 cities of seller-app usage include metros as well as cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Jaipur and others. These sellers usually deal in unstructured categories such as fashion, home and lifestyle products, and the demand to develop a local-language interface has come from the seller meetings,” said Sudhanshu Gupta, vice-president of business at Paytm. The Hindi interface launched two weeks ago has seen an increase in engagement time and number of active users on the app. The company plans to add more languages to its app going forward.

Flipkart, Snapdeal and Paytm currently run variants of the marketplace model and are vying to get as many merchants as possible on their platforms. 

At 33, Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal Is India’s Youngest Billionaire

India’s billionaires list is fast growing, but it’s still very much an old boys’ club. Mukesh Ambani, who tops the list, is 58, and the average age is well north of 60. These industrialists have made their wealth in traditional businesses, and industries like petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and cements dominate. But there are some exceptions.

There are 2 men on the list who are decades younger than everyone else. They didn’t inherit their wealth, or have famous surnames. They got there because they started a company and it happened to do really well, really quickly. Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are the youngest people on India’s billionaire list, and Binny, at 33,  pips Sachin by a few months to be India’s youngest billionaire.

INDIA-ECONOMHY-ONLINE

 

For some context, the next youngest person on the list is Indiabulls Chairman Sameer Gehlaut, who is 42. Sachin and Binny Bansal are ranked no. 86 on the list with identical net worths of $1.3 billion, or Rs. 9,000 crore. Mukesh Ambani maintains his top position with a net worth of $18.9 billion. India is home to the 3rd highest number of billionaires globally.

But for startup enthusiasts, the list offers a lot of hope. It shows that with 9 short years, a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, it’s possible to break into clubs that were once the privilege of an exclusive few.

Indian Startup Discovers World’s Safest DNA/ RNA Stain

Bengaluru-based Indian science startup Azooka Life Sciences has announced the discovery of the world’s safest DNA/ RNA fluorescent gel stain. The stain has been given the name tinto rang and patent for the same is pending. The stain has been developed from a plant source, whose name has not been disclosed, pending patenting.

The founders have claimed that tinto rang doesn’t alter the structure of DNA and can be used for multiple tests in biological sciences and genomics. It is stated to be seven times more sensitive than ethidium bromide. It is likely to be made available during the second quarter of this year.

tinto rang azooka life sciences

Azooka Life Sciences is an Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-incubated startup, which received seed funding from Society for Innovation and Development at IISc. It was incorporated as a limited liability partnership in 2015. It has been co-founded by Dr J Fathima Benazir and Alex D Paul. Benazir, who is also the CEO, is a postdoctoral research fellow from IISc. She did her doctorate from Centre for Excellence in Environmental Sciences, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tamil Nadu. Alex, who is the President, handles the product management and marketing functions.

azooka life sciences founders

Currently, there are around 30 stains in the world that bind to DNA/ RNA, but all of them are carcinogenic. Tinto rang is the first reported food grade DNA/ RNA stain. At present, DNA analysis and genomic labs are constantly exposed to toxic and carcinogenic stains, which are known to affect one’s health. Use of tinto rang would play a significant role in protecting the scientific community from exposure to carcinogens.

Further, this discovery is likely to cut the time taken to diagnose conditions such as HIV to a day, from 3 to 45 days at present. Typically, diagnostic labs need to culture bacteria in a blood test to identify disease, which takes several days. Tinto rang, which uses DNA markers, could bring down this time to just a day, helping doctors to begin treatment in many cases the same day. Another benefit could be that the costs of DNA testing could be drastically cut down as scientists so far were forced to import nucleic stains from other countries.

Interestingly, the name tinto rang, has been formed by combining tinto, which is the Portuguese word for red, and rang, the Hindi word for colour.

Hours After Uber Announces Bike Taxis, Ola Follows Suit

Ola cabs, which has been aggressively looking to be a bigger part of the Commutech industry by experimenting with Share rides, Autos and Shuttles ( and shutting down its groceries vertical) has now rolled out possibly the last remaining piece of puzzle to complete the transport gamut. The Bangalore-based startup has just announced the launch of Ola Bike Taxis.

Ola Bike TAxis

Curiously Ola calls it “first kind of two-wheeler transportation in India”, while the announcement comes a few hours after Uber launched UberMoto – its bike taxis arm in Bangalore. The concept of bike taxis itself in India has caught up with first mover startups like Hey Bob.

As with booking a cab, with bike taxi the driver details will be displayed upfront and it will have features like SOS, live tracking and payment using Ola Money. Interestingly, all pillion riders will be provided with helmets as mandated for their safety.

“Bike Taxis on the Ola app will help customers zip through traffic with ease, at lowest fares. At an introductory fare of Rs 2 per km and Re. 1 per minute of trip time, Bike Taxis will be available to book through Ola’s app in the city of Bangalore to begin with. The minimum fare will be Rs. 30.”, says Ola on its official blog. Both UberMoto and Ola have rolled out the Bike Taxi pilot in Bangalore. Though, at these prices Ola Bike taxis will be cheaper than UberMoto which will cost Rs.3/km. 

That the Commutech sector in India is heating up is established. The intensity with which the top rivals seem to be catching up with each other is staggering. While the customer is now spoilt for transport options, the race to be the number 1 player is on, and the competition is zipping along bumper to bumper.

Moving Into A New Office? Here’s 11 Crucial Factors To Consider First

So, your startup has taken off the ground, the future holds promise, and you’re raring to go. However, your team must expand to allow your dreams to take shape. You need a physical manifestation of your culture, ethos and pace of innovation. In short, you need to move into a new office. But real estate is not your cup of tea. Office layouts, blue prints, cost-per-square feet, lease agreements are concepts alien to you.  Finding the right office space can be both one of the most exciting and important challenges for a business. Moving offices can be stressful and disrupt your business temporarily. So why not get it right from the get go.

Help is at hand. OfficeChai in a partnership with real estate startup Superise round up 11 crucial factors to look at before signing that lease for your next office.

1. Term

Truly Madly Deeply office, New Delhi
Truly Madly Deeply office, New Delhi

Most office leases come with a minimum of a year’s commitment and can go up to 10 years. The last thing any startup wants is to sign a 5-year lease only to realize in 12 months that the space doesn’t actually meet your needs. According to a Quora user, landlords typically ask for five to seven year lease terms but if you can’t make that commitment some landlords have more flexible lease terms and may accept a shorter than 5/7-year term on a direct lease. Be steadfast in your need to lease only for the length of term that suits you.

2. Price

Lookup Office, Bangalore
Lookup Office, Bangalore

Remember, up to 30% of your business’ operating costs are going to be on office rentals and maintenance. Many startup founders have burned cash rather too quickly by getting huge office spaces. Rather than focusing on rent per square foot, determine upfront what your budget is for rent and office related costs including but not limited to parking, utilities, maintenance, relocation, tenant improvements (if responsible), insurance, furniture and other office fees. Be firm in your requirement to stay within a budget that suits you.

3. Paper work

Office lease paper work
Image: Derrik Lin

If you are buying an office space as opposed to renting it, the paperwork involved could be complicated and sometimes murky. Ensure that the seller has all the registration certificates. Namely clearance from the government, property tax receipts, and clear transfer documents from the previous owner if any. Cases of tenants getting a rude shock after discovering that their properties have been built on an illegal piece of land aren’t uncommon.

4. Right Size

Grabon Office, Hyderabad
Grabon Office, Hyderabad

This point is pretty straightforward – the size of the office space should always be sufficient for the number of employees you are trying to accommodate. That being said, you do not want to get too large a space either; you’ll be paying for unused, vacant space and that money can be better spent elsewhere. Any company must consider not only its immediate needs, but also growth and other factors that could change space requirements over the course of the lease.  

Factor in upcoming office layout hacks that allow for more density and utilization of office space, saving you precious rental costs. For example, do you really need an additional 500 Sqft to build sleeping rooms, when a sleeping pod in under a 100sqft will do? Or if you’re an early stage, fluid startup, maybe “hot-desking” or using a co-working space is a better option than renting an entire space for yourself?

5. Location

Apple store crowds
Image credit: The Guardian

This is one of the important  considerations while choosing office spaces- generally, easily accessible locations exist but they are generally more costly. It is up to you to decide what is the balance between how much you’re willing to be pay v.s. the convenience of your office. Vicinity of bus stops, metro stations and eateries are some important considerations to keep in mind. Are you a customer facing startup? Then location of the office becomes even more important. If walk-ins are a huge part of your business, consider a front facing, ground-floor level shop in a busy locality. If your work is mainly online and non-client facing, an office in a city suburb at lower costs would be more optimal.

6. Connectivity options

connectivity issues gif

As trivial as this may sound, the connectivity options available at a certain location will affect your business. Especially if you’re an internet based startup – as most are – you would need a lightening fast and more importantly reliable internet and phone connection. While setting up a nice office in a certain location may be tempting, make doubly sure that the area has presence of at least 2 reputable broadband providers. Many areas in even big cities are prone to network outages or subject to presence of government-broadband monopolies.

7. Layout

truly madly office 2

No two spaces with the same square footage are the same. For example, a 5,000 square foot rectangular space is much more efficient and will support more people than layouts with round or angled corners. And, no two companies have the same requirements for a space plan. Do you require open space for collaboration or enclosed offices for privacy? Make sure the alternatives you select have layouts that support your business requirements.

8. Amenities

Thoughtworks office, Pune
Thoughtworks office, Pune

Do you wish to be a cool Google-like workplace with kitchens, breakout zones, parking, and fancy bathrooms? Or just a basic space with basic amenities would do. Some spaces come with limited amenities or scope to build those. Keep in mind what kind of workplace you wish to be and the perks you hope to provide your employee and take a space accordingly. 

 

9. Style

flipkart cessna park bangalore office
Flipkart office, Bangalore

Quite often this is pushed to the back of people’s minds while they’re searching for new offices. Although it’s advisable to consider the “more important” factors like the ones mentioned above first, there is still a lot to be said for office style.

If you’re a business that hopes to become a “brand” or wants to protect your brand image from the start, then you’ll need to take this into consideration. An office can be a fantastic branding tool. Why do you think Apple has such grand plans, and why should your office be any different?

10. Credentials of the broker

Snapdeal Office
Snapdeal Office, Gurgaon

If you’re getting a property through a broker, don’t be shy to ask him a lot of questions. The above would be a good start too. The broker’s terms, authenticity and reliability is almost as crucial as the landlord’s. His commission for the property and level of intervention should be worked out beforehand.

11. Tech and features of the real estate portal

Superise residential and commercial real estate

Looking and booking properties online is super convenient and reliable today. The power of technology and real estate expertise can smoothen the process of shortlisting, comparing and booking a property. If using a website, and by all means you should, know their terms and conditions and past track record in office lease deals.  Make use of all the features the portal has to offer to optimise your deal. For example, Superise offers features like SmartCal that helps you calculate the price breakup for the listings and SmartView enables a realistic 4D view of the property. 

While the needs for most entrepreneurs and businesses are different, the above factors serve as a good checklist to come back to when looking to lease or rent office space. Leasing a property for an office space isn’t just investment in time and money, but will go on to define your company, and its work culture and is very hard to change later. Make sure you start your entrepreneurial journey on the right note, by getting an office space that not only optimises your budget, but is a true representation of your company, its product and people.