Be part of empoWer – India’s first accelerator for women entrepreneurs building tech-enabled businesses

Here is your last minute chance to be part of Indian history. empoWer is India’s first accelerator for women entrepreneurs building tech-enabled businesses and you can apply here to be part of it.

If you are woman entrepreneur – apply now; the deadline for application is 31 May 2016 (tomorrow EOD). The accelerator program includes mentoring, workshops, case studies of successful women led startups, industry connect, peer network,  investor connect and over 60 lakhs in cash and professional services.

Find all the details below.

Zone Startup Women Only Accelerator

Jaya Rawat from Chotee

Jaya Rawat, Founder of Chotee
Jaya Rawat, Founder of Chotee

Name of your business:

Chotee (Website: www.ilovechotee.com)

Tell us about your business…

In Hindi Chotee means tied hair, it also means peak of the mountain. The idea is quite simply to provide as much joy to the hands that make them as the wearers of the beautiful products. Chotee is an inconspicuous brand of handmade fashion accessories made lovingly for girls of all ages. Each product is lovingly designed and crafted to give an Oh So Gorgeous look along with functionality. These are crafted by underprivileged women who are taught from scratch to make these, and they are paid fair. Mostly it is a lot of hair accessories in addition to necklaces, hand chains, rings, belts and even eye glass chains. Each product is tested for functionality, quality and durability before it is launched.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I belong to the Marwari business community, and always had the bug of starting something of my own, so when I found I was able to train women to make this stuff, I jumped right into it. The whole idea of designing, marketing and selling products that I absolutely love is what excites me. In addition, I get to help women including me, lead a better life!

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

The sheer number of choices one has to make on an everyday basis is pretty crazy. In addition, juggling between the roles of a designer, trainer, marketer, procurement officer, model and seller is a little bit tricky. Also, being in a market which is so unregulated, and is mostly compared to goods that are mass produced in China by people who have no concept of Fair Wage is difficult to say the least. Moreover, India as a market doesn’t believe in spending on handmade products, because somehow people believe handmade products should be cheaper since no money was spent on machinery.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I have participated in almost 50 exhibitions so far, and learnt so much from the process. From understanding the client requirements/psyche to the price point that would work to even the colors that are popular. It has a been huge learning. Talking and explaining the process of making these, and how both quality and design of Chotee products is much superior, has helped immensely.

How did you find your first customers?

Chotee was launched 2 years ago at Bangalore’s largest and most loved flea market Sunday Soul Sante. That was the first time the products were put up for sale. The response was phenomenal, it also gave me idea of what works, and why and how. I received instant feedback on the products, and it helped immensely in developing new products as well.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Exhibitions and online, they both work very well for Chotee products. Events provide an opportunity for the buyers to try the products, and experience the look and feel of these. However, the attention is drawn to the products that are displayed the best. Online listings provide equal weight to every product, hence allowing the customers to pick from a wider variety that is all displayed very aesthetically.Further, online listings provide a large reach of the products.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

The fact that I get to call the shots!

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

The fact that I have to make so many choices, its the best and the worst thing because there is no way to measure the true impact of the decision.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

Chotee is my baby, I just can’t let go of it. Usually, its in realizing how far I have come. Also,speaking with other entrepreneurs helps greatly.

Who inspires you?

All the awesome women who run their own venture.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Stay true to yourself, your choice and your idea. Give it time and energy, and don’t beat yourself up if people don;t get what you are doing and why. It’s your baby, keep going and you will find your way.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jaya!

You can check out more details here and please share some social media love with Chotee via Facebook and Twitter.

Pallavi Singh from Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India

Pallavi Singh, Founder of Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India
Pallavi Singh, Founder of Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India

Name of your business:

Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India

Tell us about your business…

Hindi Lessons for Foreigners in India is a first of its kind initiative to help the expat community learn about and engage with the Indian subcontinent without feeling handicapped due to a lack of understanding of the language. Locals don’t use English in their day to day lives as a medium of interaction– learning the Hindi phrases and expressions you need makes any experience with the country exponentially more rewarding.

What motivated you to start your own business?

Lack of realistic and feasible “student” jobs in India made me feel paralyzed as I wanted to study and work (I started teaching when I was 20 years old). This sort of pushed me into doing something of my own with time flexibility and decent money. I guess I never looked back…

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

A lot of people come to India thinking everything can be “bargained”. I used to get a lot of students asking for a “discount” as they assumed this is India (a cheap country) and hence they can always get a lower price than initially offered. Also, people not taking me seriously, arriving late, being disrespectful when it comes to honoring payment cycles. I mean; there are laws and rules which people follow more seriously back home (I intend to say the “West”), but its India; so it’s harder to convey your business etiquette with equal force and potency.

How did you overcome these challenges?

By standing firm on my ground; my services are professional, of high quality and competitively unique in the market. And inevitably have a price to them. It takes a while, but eventually, people understand the seriousness.

How did you find your first customers?

Initially through Facebook, then referrals.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Online presence and referrals.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

Definitely meeting new people and through them, vicariously, visiting new cities and places. 🙂

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

Travelling in Mumbai, which is one of the most chaotic and unorganized cities ever. Travelling here drains you of your energy and the heat and humidity does not help either.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

By thinking of the bigger picture and seeing the amount of good the overall situation has.

Who inspires you?

A former student, a life+business mentor, a “go to” person in times of adversity. I would like to call him Mr. AAD (Adopted American Dad) 🙂 For sake of maintaining his identity, I cannot name him, but this person has been a solid inspiration for all the things he has accomplished and the sheer grit, intelligence and smarts he has.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Go, do your own thing and never consider marriage a final “resort” if nothing works out. Live “your” life. Identify who “you” are and capitalize on your strengths to make a name for yourself.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Pallavi!

You can check out more details here and please share some social media love with Pallavi via Facebook.

Serene and Raisa from Jamboree Party Planners

Serene and Raisa, Founders of Jamboree Party Planners
Serene and Raisa, Founders of Jamboree Party Planners

Name of your business:

Jamboree Party Planners

Tell us about your business…

We are two young women, one Indian and one foreign, who have come together to give your party the perfect feel and look! We know both what the Indian market wants as well as what is out there abroad. We are able to join these two and make a hip and happening event for you and your guests. We create the perfect ambiance by using a variety of decorations; we keep it simple but elegant. We specialize in the decor for children’s birthday parties and for small events/special occasion e.g. baby showers, bridal showers, naming ceremonies, kitty parties etc. We will also look into the entertainment for your event and make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. At jamboree we don’t give you the everyday party look, we create something beyond. Handmade or specially sourced decorations give the personal touch to your event.

What motivated you to start your own business?

We both have children of our own and when ever it was their birthdays we could never find what we wanted from the “Local” party planners. We always ended up doing everything ourselves. So we thought that this would be a good business, to do parties from a different aspect and point of view and not just the local balloon decorations. It was then that we decided to start our own Party planning company, Jamboree Party Planners.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

The biggest challenge is to be different and not the same as there are many party planners in Mumbai. It is also important for us to be able to source the decor we need, we don’t use the “normal” and easily available things.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Many of our decorations are handmade; we personally look into each and every aspect of your event and make sure we give it that personal touch. Our clients are not just another number; we meet them several times before the event to ensure they get exactly what they want.

How did you find your first customers?

That was a long time ago! But from what I recall when we first interacted with her she was a little unsure! However once we showed her what we plan to do and in the budget she had, she was happy to go with us. She loved the event we planned for her and was very happy with the outcome! Since then she has used us for several of her events!

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Word of mouth is the best way for people to hear about us and the work we do.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

We love that what we are doing is something that we enjoy and makes us happy!! It is important to be happy with what you do; this will show through the products you produce! We also have the freedom to work freely and create whatever we want.

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

We love what we do so much that there are not any negatives! The only thing is, we don’t like it when the party we have been planning comes to an end!

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

We have not yet faced many difficult times and we hope to keep it this way by always being positive and looking at the brighter side. If you focus on the negatives then you are sure to face many all the time. We are happy people and take things as they come.

Who inspires you?

Steve Jobs, he had an idea and pursued it. He started in the garage of his parents’ home and from there he made it so big! We have started Jamboree Party Planners because we have a vision and ideas that we believe in.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

There are no limits; if you have an idea then pursue it with all that you have. Never be afraid of starting your own business and follow your heart. There is no greater feeling than working for yourself.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Serene and Raisa!

You can find more details about Jamboree Party Planners on Facebook and make sure to check out the beautiful pictures on Instagram.

Honey Jain Kathuria from Kowrk.com

Honey Jain Kathuria, Founder of Kowrk.com
Honey Jain Kathuria, Founder of Kowrk.com

Name of your business:

kowrk.com

Tell us about your business…

Kowrk is a platform that allows users to find, review and book co-working spaces in Hong Kong, Singapore, Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Siem Ream (Cambodia).

What motivated you to start your own business?

My desire to solve a problem in the most optimum way. Lack of an integrated platform for coworking spaces presented that opportunity.

Which have been the biggest challenges when starting your business?

Product development – it took me time and trials to find the right team for product development. Company Registration in India took around 2 months and a lot of back and forth with regards to paperwork.

[Note from Entrepreneuress.in: We have an exciting partnership coming up to support new female entrepreneurs with company incorporation. Stay tuned!]

How did you overcome these challenges?

Belief in my idea and confidence in my problem solving skills helped me get through the wait and failure cycles.

How did you find your first customers?

Twitter.

What is the most effective way to sell your products/services?

Digital channels: search engines and social media platform.

What is the most exciting part of running your own business?

Learning something new everyday!

What is your least favorite part of running your own business?

Rejecting people who apply for jobs at kowrk.com.

How do you stay motivated during difficult times?

When things go south, my family and friends are the support pillars who give me confidence and encouragement.

Who inspires you?

Sheryl Sandberg – a woman of actions and words.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Go out and chase your dream. You will never be fully prepared to launch your business.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Honey!

You can check out more details here and please share some social media love with the team via Facebook and Twitter.

Morning Routine for Power Women

Wow. This morning I got so much done. It is 11.24am right now and 90% of my to-do list for the day is completed. Such a great feeling. (If anyone wants to come over and celebrate success, I am dancing in my home office and listening to WHO RUN THE WORLD by Beyoncé…)

Have you ever felt that if you start your day right everything just aligns towards success and happiness? Here are my tips for a great start to the day.

Morning Routine for Power Women

Get enough sleep. A great start to the day begins with a good night sleep. Experts suggest 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. That means: If you want to wake up at 6am, you better be in bed by 10pm (and maybe read a book instead of scrolling through Instagram).

Go for a walk in the park. If you have the luxury of greenery around you, take advantage of it and go for a quick morning walk as soon as you wake up. I do this even before I brush my teeth. I get out of the bed, wear my gym clothes, take my phone and listen to an inspirational/business audio book while I take a few rounds in my building complex (We don’t have a park nearby but  plenty of trees and a community garden in our society). I love to breathe in the fresh air and see the sun rise. The best way to wake up body, mind and soul.

Eat a healthy breakfast. Why do you think the most successful and influential people in the world eat a healthy breakfast? Because it fuels you for the rest of the day. I love quick oats with a punch of fruits or brown bread and scrambled eggs the way my Mom used to make it when I was a kid. On weekends, we usually indulge in long breakfasts and lazy brunches. Check out what Richard Branson and Co. eat for breakfast here.

Exercise. Before getting into phone calls, business mails and a stressful day at work, I hit the gym. Sometimes, my husband and I play an hour of squash together. Sometimes, I simply run a few miles. And when we have friends or family visiting us, we go for a morning swim.