Budding and aspiring entrepreneurs gathered to hear the success stories of women who broke the ceiling in what is considered a male bastion.
When around 200 women from different parts of the country came under one roof to celebrate a day abbreviated as WED, they weren’t discussing anything about weddings. They meant business.
Jet Airways GlobalLinker and FICCI Ladies Organisation on Thursday afternoon organised an event to mark this year’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), celebrated worldwide on November 19. The day is meant to recognise the achievements of women entrepreneurs and to celebrate, empower and encourage women in business. The theme of the event was ‘Connecting Women Entrepreneurs’ and panellists like Kanika Tekriwal (founder, JetSetGo), Neha Kirpal (founder-director, India Art Fair), Priyanka Gill (founder, POPxo) and Richa Kar (founder, Zivame) shared their experiences and success mantra.
Answering the question, ‘why they do what they do’, some panellists called themselves accidental entrepreneurs while others credited passion, business acumen and even boredom of corporate job as the reason behind their start-ups. “Soon after you start, you face a lot of situations where you think ‘I didn’t sign up for this’. But that is the beauty of being an entrepreneur as the journey itself teaches you so much about your own capabilities, which regular jobs can’t teach you,” says Richa.
As the topic shifted to challenges, Kanika talked about the difficulty of working in a set up with 90 per cent male workforce, many thrice her age, some of them hoping she would fail. Priyanka, who works with 80 per cent girls with average age of 25, called it a unique situation but no less daunting. The latter added, “Anyone who ever told you entrepreneurship is easy, is lying and we all get to hear the word ‘No’ a lot and we shouldn’t take it personally.”
Kanika reminisced about how people advised her to open a boutique instead and added, “First day nothing worked out and I sat and cried for two hours and apologised to the customer. That day, I made a strong resolve that I will make it work. People have made my life difficult on purpose. But today, I can dismantle an aircraft with my eyes shut and fix it back,” she narrated with great sense of pride that comes as a result of perseverance. Neha talked about the importance of not hogging the limelight and making every team member feel a sense of ownership.
On a lighter note, Richa said, “Like men network post work in a bar, women need to figure out a way to network,” but added, “Also a professional CEO doesn’t fake as much as an entrepreneur does. We need to be honest with each other, otherwise the journey can be so lonely.”
The sessions covered aspects like hiring the right team, fighting stereotypes and labels, and maintaining work-life balance. The listeners, who had been delighted and inspired to hear about how the speakers overcame odds, then got the chance to ask them questions and click selfies with them.