Are Female Run Start-Ups Different?
What is it that makes a female-run start-up different from one started by a man? The double X chromosome notwithstanding, where does the difference lie? Why should a woman make a difference to the company? Ideally, there should be none. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Our members share their views:
Ganesh Natrajan, TiE Pune Charter Member and Chairman, 5F World
At 5F World, nine of the 11 companies that we have funded and mentored are run by women. Is that by choice? Not really. It’s accidental, but we do find that women tend to bring a lot more commitment, passion, and patience in building up a company and taking it to success. I think the genetic code is like that because women have been used to raising families, putting up with all kinds of temperaments, and making all adjustments wherever necessary. And that is a skill that they bring to the table when they start a company and grow it. This is absolutely admirable! So, I am all for women-owned or supported start-ups. In fact, I am now supporting an entity called StrongHer which is a fund to support women-run companies and companies that intend to make women’s products. I do believe that is a trend that will continue. So, more power to the women in our community, and may the men continue to grow and support them. All the best to all of you!
Manjiri Dharmadhikari Deshpande
Manjiri Dharmadhikari Deshpande, Co-founder, Permeos
My husband and I founded this company to help offer a more affordable electro-chemotherapy treatment to Indians. In fact, our company is the first in India to use the open-source technology that exists and make it “Indian” so to say. It has several features that take into account the lack of reliable electric supply, a locking system for the applicator, and so on. This is the first time I am running a company and I have noticed that often it is I who will take a more compassionate view on say employees while my husband may not. Or that I have a more cautious approach whilst he is a risk taker. I can’t say for sure that this is because of gender or because men have more experience in the working world while women may not necessarily have that. Perhaps with my business experience expanding I may not be so prone to compassion and caution. I can’t say for sure, but in general, women tend to think out-of-the-box, which works
Arti Agarwal, Director, Anaxee Digital Runners
My husband Govind and I co-founded this company. We help businesses scale in Tier 2 and 3 geographies. We have people in smaller towns that can help in marketing, data collection, lead generation, and so on. I think an entrepreneur, be it a male or female, has to struggle with the same issues, be it talent, funds, and so on. I think men can afford to be completely focused on the work at hand but as a woman, I have more empathy towards my staff than my husband would. They feel free to express themselves with me. In fact, even with money, I am more conservative. I run this company like I would run my own home. I spend on things that are necessary and don’t go overboard. I believe in planning for a rainy day. Besides this, I don’t see any other differences.
Zelam Chaubal, Director, Kesari Tours
Men can be very focused on their work, unlike women who will always be thinking of home and hearth, no matter whether she is employed or a businesswoman. Women are natural nurturers so it is not possible for them to not think of the kids, the kitchen, or the family’s well-being. A woman entrepreneur has to prove herself at every step to be taken seriously. Unlike men, it is only success that will earn her the trust of others. Let’s say there are two entrepreneurs, one male and one female, pitching before a VC. Immediately the fund manager will have thoughts about whether she is married, whether she will have kids, and how consistent she will be, which I think are natural. A woman will have to prove her mettle in business and balance her role as a caregiver as well. And even when she is successful, she will still be deeply involved with family and kids. I am, so I know. It is rather tough, though things are slowly changing.