This Woman Leader is Enabling Young Startups Navigate the Indian Finance Industry

This Woman Leader is Enabling Young Startups Navigate the Indian Finance Industry

By: WE Staff | Monday, 1 April 2024

Tanul Mishra, CEO of Afthonia Lab, carries more than 20 years of experience, having an aim to empower Indian startup eco-system. Having worked in several organisations and now being an entrepreneur, Tanul talks about Fintech landscape in addition to various challenges that women face in the sector. 

With the growing Indian startup landscape, women are willingly foraying into the field with innovative ideas in addition to skills. Amongst various kinds of domain in the technology sectors, there comes one domain which has been thriving with tremendous attention i.e., Fintech.

A report published in October 2021, by Bian & Company says that Indian Fintech contributes about $100 billion of Enterprise Value (EV) as compared to an overall of $1.4 trillion FS EV in the year 2021.

Besides the growth of Indian Fintech landscape, women’s contribution has also increased through their startups. Women with new problem-solving ideas are establishing their startups in order to generate profit and make other’s life easier. But the percentage of women in the startup world as well as in the fintech sector is yet to align with their male counterparts.

As per a 2023 report by Tracxn, amongst the 7993 fintechs in the India while making it one of the World's largest fintech hubs, only 436 of the start-ups are led by women.

Despite the under-representation of women in fintech, we see several women entrepreneurs stepping into the sector. Armed with the technical prowess and a will to succeed, women entrepreneurs are making a splash in the field of Indian fintech. 

Women Entrepreneur India spoke to one such woman, Tanul Mishra, who has been challenging the Indian Startup landscape with her leadership in the fintech domain. She is the CEO of Afthonia Lab, a fintech-focused incubator. In a conversation with team WE, she provides insights about her journey in the fintech realm while dealing with several startups to grow their business. She also sheds light on how more women can be brought into the Indian fintech industry.

Read out the interaction between WE Team and Tanul Mishra to know more about her.

Prior to founding Afthonia Lab, what other industry experiences did you gather? What learning have you acquired from those organizations?

Before embarking on the journey of founding Afthonia, my professional trajectory traversed through the realms of media, telecom, and payment sectors. Within these domains, I held diverse roles spanning from pioneering developer positions to spearheading product development initiatives and forging strategic alliances. Moreover, I ventured into entrepreneurship, co-founding a business that culminated in a successful exit in 2008.

The amalgamation of these experiences has imparted invaluable insights. Foremost among them is the imperative to discern and cater to the genuine needs of the market. Prioritizing this understanding over mere ideation forms the cornerstone of effective business strategy. It underscores the significance of pragmatic execution, which eclipses the allure of a brilliant concept alone.

Furthermore, I've come to appreciate the pivotal role of partnerships and collaborations in fostering rapid growth, scalability, and market penetration. Cultivating symbiotic relationships not only accelerates progress but also enhances resilience in navigating the dynamic business landscape. Thus, leveraging synergies through collaborative endeavours emerges as a potent catalyst for sustainable success.

As an active member of the startup community in India, can you share any memorable experiences or lessons learned from your engagements with Google Business Group events, Robinhood, and education institutes?

As a proponent of these initiatives, I firmly advocate for the reciprocity inherent in community engagement. Contributing as much as one seeks to gain within these communities is essential. Through active participation, we not only establish connections but also foster meaningful relationships that aid in spreading the word and facilitating connections with pertinent business entities. Moreover, such involvement offers invaluable insights into the diverse strategies employed by others for scaling, growth, and learning from challenges. Additionally, it enables me to give back to the community by facilitating connections among its members, exchanging insights, offering support, and championing one another's endeavors. This symbiotic relationship reinforces the fabric of the community, creating a supportive ecosystem conducive to mutual growth and success.

What do you perceive as the most pressing challenges currently women are facing in the fintech industry in India, and how do these challenges impact the growth and sustainability of startups founded by women?

The challenges encountered by women in the startup ecosystem are widespread and pervasive. These obstacles often become more pronounced, particularly in sectors traditionally perceived as male-dominated, where women might not be expected to concentrate their efforts. Among these challenges is the difficulty in securing funding, which can present significant hurdles for female entrepreneurs.

How do you engage with other women entrepreneurs and professionals in the fintech ecosystem, and what benefits do you see in such collaboration?

In order to actively participate in the fintech ecosystem alongside fellow women entrepreneurs and professionals, it's crucial to acknowledge the significance of empathy and the power of shared experiences. As an entrepreneur, understanding and navigating the challenges unique to our gender, we foster a sense of solidarity among sisterpreneurs. These challenges, specific to women, encompass various situational and circumstantial hurdles. By embracing empathy, we enhance our capacity to address these challenges more effectively and collaboratively. Thus, fostering a supportive environment conducive to growth and innovation within the fintech community.

What are your aspirations for women in fintech, and what role do you envision yourself playing in advancing gender equality and empowering more women to lead and innovate in the industry?

As the leader of an esteemed incubator within the country, our primary aspiration revolves around fostering greater female participation in the fintech sector. Whether it entails women actively engaged in fintech endeavors or those spearheading successful fintech ventures, our aim remains unwavering: to champion the inclusion of more women within this dynamic realm. We are fervently committed to extending a warm invitation to women from all walks of life, offering them access to our supportive ecosystem replete with invaluable connections, insights, mentorship opportunities, and financial resources. Our overarching goal is to empower women, dispelling any apprehensions they may harbor, and equipping them with the tools necessary to thrive in the fintech landscape.