In the first part, we focused on three Indian women, who have been able to make a mark for themselves in the US with their successful entrepreneurial ventures. We will continue with the same and focus on the stories of three more successful women entrepreneurs.
Trisha Roy, Founder, The Barn-and-Willow
A few years ago, a young Trisha (around 27–28) was busy furnishing her house in California, when she found that drapes and custom-made window treatments were too expensive to afford. Some of the customized curtains were as expensive as $10,000. This was when she was struck with the idea of starting off on her own. She made a trip to India and got in touch with a few family members who ran textile units in Kolkata and Delhi. Gradually she figured out how the supply and chain management worked and why the materials were so expensive. So, finally, she came up with the idea of launching her drapes and linen business. Thus, Barn-and-Willow came into existence.
“Multiple traders in the supply chain buy from factories and mark up the cost by the time they sell to a retailer in the United States,” says Trisha. In the retail world, the markups can be more than 250 percent when they are sold to the consumer. She realized that if she could cut these three or four layers of middleman, she could solve a business problem in the USA.
She began sourcing cotton samples from a manufacturer in Tamil Nadu and the finest quality linen from Belgium. Roy gets the raw material stitched to order in a factory in Delhi. From India, the product is shipped to a warehouse in California, and from there the final product is delivered all across the country. And guess what! The product markup is only 60 percent.
“I had never thought I would leave my comfortable job to start my own company. But my utter disappointment with the painful process of getting custom-made draperies for our home led me to start Barn & Willow.” says Trisha, a Punjab University and University of Arizona, Eller College of Management alumna.
Her first order for Barn & Willow was fulfilled in December 2014. Now her company does monthly revenues of $50,000 and the business is growing by 45%, as per reports. She has already been featured on San Francisco Chronicle, Remodelista, Lonny Magazine, and Elle Decor. Roy, too, was picked up by 500 Startups with an initial investment of $125,000.
Yosha Gupta, Founder, Lafalafa.com
From Aligarh to Silicon Valley—Yosha Gupta’s story is as inspiring as other women entrepreneurs. A graduate in Economics from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, Yosha always exhibited a daring attitude since childhood and an ability to do things on her own. Even as a child she knew that she would do something of her own, rather than working for someone for too long.
After completing college she worked as a consultant with World Bank and took her to the remote parts of countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and China. Eight years back, when working for startups were just being introduced, she dared to join one.
However, she continued to itch to do something on her own, and thus Lafalafa came into existence. Age was a factor that pushed her into having something of her own. She was driven by the idea to start soon before it’s ‘too late.’
Officially launched in April 2015, Lafalafa.com is an online coupon and cash back selling portal. While its operating base happens to be Gurgaon and Hong Kong, the startup is already the “talk of the town” in California’s Bay Area after being selected for 500 Startups Accelerator Programme. 500 Startups has already invested $ 125,000 in the company.
Rituparna Panda, Co-Founder, Fulfil.IO Inc.
Like Trisha and Yosha, Rituparna’s journey from Jaipur to Silicon Valley is equally inspiring. Her venture, Fulfil.IO was formed to help small businesses move to cloud and technology. She was working with a boutique upon completion of her engineering, when she realized that, those small and medium traders, across the world, lacks the required platform to manage their inventory when selling on several channels. Thus, she was struck with the idea of bridging this gap and went about building a new ERP system that could use the cloud to track inventory and orders on numerous platforms—both online and offline.
Fulfil.IO was aimed to support small businesses migrate to the cloud and mobile technology. In her words, “This was an opportunity, and it was not easy. If we could only convince SMBs to use an efficient tab-based multi-channel tracking and fulfillment system which could break legacy IT, then the idea was here to stay”.
She picked up the US as her first market, and she did reap the benefits. According to a report published by IDC, the consulting and research firm, about $161 billion was spent by US-based SMBs to modify their IT infrastructure in 2015. Needless to say, the market responded in positive.
In mid-2015, when Fulfil.IO was only a couple of months old, Rituparna made a trip to the US. She and her other co-founders discovered a tool manufacturer whose business was integrated upstream—and supplied downstream to retail stores and e-commerce platforms.
The subscription model of $1,000 a month became popular in barely eight months’ time, and the company now has more than 20 paying customers. No wonder they got picked up by 500 Startups, which seeded them with $125,000.
After following the stories of these six women, it must be said that Indian women entrepreneurs are making it big in the western hemisphere. Their journeys are truly inspiring for the next generation.