These three start-ups by Indian women are creating quite a buzz in the Bay Area. Here’s why

India At Large staff

Yosha Gupta
Founder, LafaLafa

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Yosha Gupta started Lafalafa out of Hong Kong in 2014. The premise was simple — to create a seamless experience for shoppers looking for a platform offering them a range of ways to save money. Today, the e-coupon aggregator has tied up with 500 plus online brands, including all the top brands like Flipkart, Paytm, Snapdeal and Shopclues. Companies like MySmartPrice, CouponDunia, Grabon, Cashkaro, Pennyful are her competitors.

Gupta says she wanted “to create the best savings platform for customers in India and later Asia as well, to leverage all my experience across markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Hong Kong, where the scope for this proposition is also huge,” as per Forbes.

In September last year, she got picked up by Silicon Valley angel investor Dave McClure’s incubator, 500 Startups, which has offered her an initial investment of $125,000, apparently because her business was focused on mobile and the adoption was growing rapidly. Seventy percent of Lafalafa’s traffic came from the Android app. The company is also moving into offline business models, where in-store coupons and cashback will be a natural evolution.

“While we first thought of launching with just a web presence, within a month of launch we realized that more than 70 percent of our customers were accessing the mobile optimized version of our website,” says Gupta, “that was a clear indication of the power of mobile in India,” Gupta, a Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, and MDI Gurgaon alumna, was quoted as saying by Forbes.

 

Trisha Roy
Founder, Barn & Willow

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Trisha Roy launched Menlo Park, California-based Barn & Willow – a vertically integrated home décor brand — with a simple idea to make window treatments more accessible. “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 Roy, 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. Roy, too, was picked up by 500Startups with an initial investment of $125,000.

“We are questioning the obvious and disrupting traditional retail. We travel to cities to find the factories and the craftsmen producing the finest fabrics and build strong relationships with them,” explains Roy, who worked with several online tech companies like eBay and PayPal before starting Barn & Willow.

 

Rituparna Panda
Co-founder, Fulfil.IO

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Rituparna Panda, along with co-founder Prakash Pandey and CEO Sharoon Thomas, says they are preventing spreadsheet abuse, one company at a time. They offer a bundle of software services that helps small businesses manage their inventory, accounting, manufacturing and purchasing.

Fulfil.IO was born in July 2015 to help small businesses migrate to cloud and mobile technology. In 2012, Rituparna finished her engineering and started work in a boutique consulting firm, before realising in 2014 that small and medium retailers, all over the world, do not have the platform to manage their inventory when selling on multiple channels. She went about building a system that could replace the old ERP systems and could use the cloud to track inventory and orders on multiple platforms, both online and offline.

“I grew up around different cities in India, which led to my love for travelling. My parents thought I was rebellious as a kid, but I liked to be independent. I was always attracted to new ideas and my curiosity to learn and explore landed me at my first start-up,” Panda, who studied at Jaipur Engineering College, Kukas, before working with companies such as Convergent Technologies and Openlabs and eventually co-founding Fulfil.IO, was quoted as saying by Sheroes.in.

Panda and her co-founders initially bootstrapped and had a revenue model from day 1. Later they raised their seed funds from 500 Startups.

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