Reflecting on Women Founders' Growth on National Startup Day 2024

Reflecting on Women Founders' Growth on National Startup Day 2024

By: Rachita Sharma, Managing Editor | Tuesday, 16 January 2024

Startups are the growth engines of the India success story and this National Startup Day we take a look at their rise over the last few years. We also delve into women entrepreneurs’ rise to success in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Think about this; every single minute aspect of our modern life is touched by new-age technology.

Right from picking the perfect wake-up alarm through a mobile app, to picking the best-suited workout routine, booking transportation, making payments, ordering essentials, almost everything has been made simpler by an app. Beyond all these B2C needs, every single B2B requirement has also been simplified by applications and solutions galore.

Behind each of these applications is an innovative startup led by a visionary entrepreneur. This National Startup Day, let us have a look at how startups have impacted our lives, their growth over the past few years, and the role played by women in the Indian Startup ecosystem.

Indian Startups: Innovation Engine of the Country

India today, much like the rest of the world has been impacted greatly by the emergence of the startup ecosystem. New-age companies that are looking to solve problems by leveraging technology have been springing up everywhere. According to DPIIT, as of Feb 2023, a whopping 92,683 startups had been registered on the government platform.

Although Bengaluru remains the startup capital of India, this growth has moved beyond the major Indian cities to reach Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well. As stated in RS, the Startup India initiative, which was launched in 2016 is also focused on bringing startup growth beyond metros; it has succeeded too. According to data started by DPIIT, almost 50 percent of registered startups are from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.  

These numbers are an indicator of India’s innovation engine that has been driving amplified growth across all major sectors.

Rise of Women-Led Startups in India

At this point, it is pertinent to ask if this growth has been gender inclusive. The truth is that it has not. However, progress is being made to make the Indian startup ecosystem more gender inclusive. India today has approximately 8 million women entrepreneurs.

According to a recent report by WISER, women-led startups have risen to 18% in India in the past five years. There were approximately 6,000 businesses in India, with women leading 10 per cent of these in 2017. This equates to approximately 600 female-led startups.

By 2022, the number of businesses in India had increased to 80,000. The proportion of female-led startups has also increased to 18 per cent. This means that in 2022, there were approximately 14,400 female-led startups in India.

The WISER report indicates that in five years, the number of women-led startups in India has increased significantly from 600 to approximately 14,400. This demonstrates commendable growth and a positive trend in the startup ecosystem toward gender equality. 

The industry is also home to some of the most inspiring women entrepreneurs. Take for instance Falguni Nayar, the founder & CEO of Nykaa, India’s first woman-led unicorn. She began a movement of sorts in 2020 when her beauty platform reached the coveted $1 billion valuation.

Since then, many women-led startups have reached this juncture with 15 percent of all Indian unicorns being led by women today. Be it Ghazal Alagh from MamaEarth, Dr. Garima Sawhney from Pristyn Care, or the many other women entrepreneurs, the Indian startup landscape is full of inspirational stories.

However, beyond the high-valuation startups, we also have a host of women founders who have been focused on leveraging their expertise to make life easier for women in India. For instance have a look at Dhanvesstor, a women-centric finance app built by Anooshka Soham Bathwal. Similarly, other platforms such as LXME, Kaleidofin, etc have been focused on helping Indian women understand finance with ease.

Also have a look at Hunar Online Courses, an online learning platform founded by Nishtha Yogesh, that aims to revolutionize women's empowerment in India via practical education.

Women founders such as Swathi Kulkarni, Tanvi Johri, and Suhani Mohan are on a mission to help spread health and wellness in India through their innovative wellness platforms.

Similarly, women founders are acing various other industries and are only raring to go higher.

The Right Attitude to Overcome Challenges

Women entrepreneurs have often had to deal with challenges such as gender bias among investors, familial pressure, unsupportive ecosystems, etc. However, they have overcome every obstacle in their way.

Shraddha Singh, Co-Founder & CEO, T.A.C - The Ayurveda Company counts adaptability as one of the most critical traits that helped her through her journey. She says, “In my entrepreneurial journey, adaptability has proven to be the most essential trait. The business landscape is dynamic, especially in India, and navigating and pivoting in response to changing circumstances is crucial. This trait allows a woman entrepreneur to embrace innovation, learn from challenges, and consistently evolve her strategies.”

She also counts effective communication and relationship-building skills as other pivotal skills that can help women entrepreneurs achieve success.  

We hope aspiring women entrepreneurs draw inspiration from these women founders’ success stories and script their feats of triumph.

As we all believe, the future is female and the Indian startup landscape will be no different.

Wishing you all a very happy National Startup Day.

A changing attitude

Gone are the days when finding a stable government job was considered the epitome of success. Today’s youth are on the lookout for the next big problem to solve. Although till a couple of years back, taking the startup route was considered risky by the older generation, the tables today have turned.

Startups have become the backbone of new-age India.

From something as trivial as purchasing everyday dairy products to taking people to the moon and beyond, startups have not left any problem unsolved.