December 14, 2023
Coimbatore, Dec 12th, 2023: FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO), the women wing of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) organized an event ‘The SHERISES Start-up Conclave’ – A FLO national initiative under the Start-up Vertical at PSG CAS, Coimbatore. It was a pioneering initiative led by FICCI FLO & STEP that has captured the imagination of aspiring individuals across 16 vibrant chapters. Being an entrepreneur is like a wave hitting against rocks, you have to create opportunity amidst challenges.
Event Moderator Sowmya Keshava, Founder & CEO-Nilah Advisors started proceedings through a short-talk on the day’s agenda followed by a prayer and inviting members to light the lamp. She also introduced the honourable panellists before inviting Mrs. Rama Rajasekaran, Chairperson-FLO Coimbatore for the Welcome Note. Ms Poonam Bafna, Event Chair-FICCI FLO Coimbatore gave an insight on She Rises event followed by the Presidential Address by Dr. D.Brinda-Principal, PSG CAS and introduction of moderator-Parnika Gupta.
Rama Rajasekaran in her speech said, “Greeting the Principal and faculty of PSG CAS, panellists, students and budding entrepreneurs. It’s such a focussed conclave. She introduced the panellists and said each one are a real stalwart in their profession and they will be able to share their experiences and interactive sessions in an interesting way. I am sure they will be a stepping stone in your career paths as Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO said- Chase the Vision not the money, the money will end up following you. A true entrepreneur I think is a doer not just a dreamer and am sure all of you are there to pursue and we are there to help you out. For students, I feel very proud to say that FLO Coimbatore has signed a MoU with PSG and we try to do a lot of this entrepreneurship development program. We have done a few start-up’s and try to get good speakers as we have done today”.
Talking about the program Ms Poonam Bafna said, “The SHERISES Program was a Transformative program initiated by FICCI FlO that empowered women. This initiative unfolded in a series of boot camps, each designed to equip participants with essential skills and knowledge. Topics covered in these boot camps ranged from leadership development and financial literacy to entrepreneurial insights and personal branding. The program’s impact was profound, fostering a community of over 100 aspiring individuals who underwent a meticulous selection process, identifying 25 promising talents from Coimbatore”.
Sowmya in her speech highlighted, “How in the last decade the ecosystem has shifted from being job seekers to job providers. She was happy seeing young people attending the conclave in large numbers and impressed with the number of women students who were interested in moving towards entrepreneurial journey. This session will definitely push you all to something of your own. She thanked the FLO team for conducting this event because India has the youngest population in the world with an average age of 28, hence we are the people who are going to contribute towards the country’s economy”.
Delivering the Presidential Address Dr. D.Brinda said, “I measure the progress of a society with the degree of the progress of the women who have achieved a lot says the reformist Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. She welcomed the guests, Vice-Principals, Secretary, HOD’s and students. According to a recent survey, the number of businesses owned by women has increased by 20% over past five years. Through FICCI FLO all our dignitaries who are our visionaries, encourage women to showcase their talent and experiences across sectors and verticals of economy for a truly inclusive economic growth strategy. With 15 million women owned business in the country employing 22-27 million people; there is always a steady rise of women entrepreneurship that gives us the confidence that within next five years India will become a hub of women entrepreneurs”.
Ms Swathy Rohit sharing about her journey said, having completed her Mechanical Engineering from University of Virginia, USA in 2000, she had the opportunity to contribute towards her family’s textile business and later hospital. Both these stints consumed 19 years of her professional career but it was the Covid-19 pandemic that made her realize her true calling. What drives her is building a business that puts purpose ahead of profit. What gave her the spark was to do something rather than just talking about things. She started working with children by bringing down a program from US that primarily focussed on gender equality, respect for women. After Covid there were lot of mental health issues amongst children which nobody addressed and I saw this as an opportunity to do what I am doing today and started working with schools in both physical and mental health to help children not just with normal disability but also specific learning disability.
Mr.Ravi Kallayil started off by sharing a story during his stint his as Operations Head at Nike when somebody wrote to him asking for discount on a Nike shoe. I carried that hand written letter because it reminds us of what we got to do. There are so many people in India who want good quality shoes but nobody provides them. This gap was a challenge because Nike was a big company and it would disrupt their whole pricing structure. That’s when the idea of designing shoes that could be purchased at an affordable cost struck in the head. Working with his mentor Bruce during weekends who designed shoes for Michael Jordan, he designed a pair of shoes with a selling price of Rs/-2000 which was against Nike’s pricing policies. He stormed out of the company and decided to do it himself. He sold his house and within a week Covid struck shutting things down. Staying at a friend’s house and then coming to India on an evacuation flight and some money with a passion to do something gave birth to Plaeto. If you have the right purpose everything will fall in place.
Ms Yamuna Sastry believes students have lot of power in their hands if they are willing to learn. It was her father’s refusal to buy her a mobile phone for Rs/-1,000 asking her to go and earn it; that sparked something in her and from there on she just did jobs that paid her before finally launching her own venture. Her company was started with Rs 250/-. She did close to 600 different jobs and all of these experiences gave her an insight into what her true calling was career-wise. She is a first generation entrepreneur. Taxes are very large thing for which the country doesn’t have enough practiser’s or the percentage of base. She met 3,000 odd taxi drivers trying to figure out what they wanted- Investments, Savings, Mutual Funds. Though she had no idea, she documented all of these and one fine day a cab approaches her asking why she is coming to the airport every day. She asked him what that one problem I can solve and the guy asked her to help him with filing TDS. She bootstrapped for more than 4 years crossing 70,000 tax returns in 500 cities and 25 crores tax refunds have gone back.
The Panelist for the session were – Dr. Aarti Gupta – CIO DBR Ventures, Ms Swathy Rohit – Co-Founder & CEO Health Basix, Mr. Ravi Kallayil – Co Founder & CEO Plaeto Footwear and Ms Yamuna Sastry – Co-Founder – Cabdost & CIO – FLIP. The event took place at PSG CAS Auditorium on 12th December, 2023.