Four women entrepreneurs who turned down campus placements

Female entrepreneurs are relatively rare in India, women-led startups spawned at college campuses are even more rare still. But a steady trickle of women are now turning down lucrative campus placements in order to pursue new business ventures.

Sangeetha Narasimhan
Narasimhan’s idea is one of four from women, incubated at the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at ISB. She will launch her consumer tech start-up Twimo, next month.

After passing out of the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at ISB, Hyderabad, Sangeetha Narasimhan is gearing up to roll out Twimo, a consumer technology start-up, which will be launched next month.

Narasimhan, a former systems engineer at Cisco Systems opted out of 2011 placements to get her idea incubated at ISB. She spent the whole of last year bootstrapping her start-up, and the centre helped her evolve her original plan. “I could take the leap of faith as I became confident that not all would be lost,” she says.

Ventures that do not take off are not perceived as failures, but as valuable life lessons, she adds.

 SangeethaNarasimhan
 Ridhi Agarwal

This fellow programme student at IIM-C launched an online grocery portal in the beta stage six months ago with an investment of Rs 5 lakh. An MBA from IIM Kozhikode, her previous venture was online library portal, xelf.com 

Agarwal, a fellow programme student at IIM Calcutta, shunned job interviews as she is busy testing the beta site of her online grocery store. She set it up six months ago with a Rs 5 lakh investment. “Entrepreneurship is a double edged sword. Letting go of a fixed salary at placements is tough,” she says. “But being a Marwari, I feel entrepreneurship is in my blood.”

This is Agarwal’s second start-up, though it’s her first on campus. After passing out of IIM Kozhikode in 2007, she worked at L&T Finance for a year, but got bored thereafter. While in Kolkata, she launched an online library portal, xelf.com, with about Rs 4 lakh of her savings.

She broke even in a year and sold off her venture before moving to IIM Calcutta. “Taking the first plunge is the scariest part,” she says.

 RidhiAgarwal
Butool Abbas

Of the 14 companies at IIT Kanpur’s incubation centre, one belongs to a woman: Abbas’ design and communication research company Thinking Threads. She has also been picked for US Embassy’s international leadership programme. 

Thinking Threads, promoted by Butool Abbas has four fledgling ventures under its fold, and will grow out of the incubation centre in the next few months. One of them, Oink – a Lifestyle store, has raised Rs 25 lakh funding.

Abbas declined a job offer from an IT giant in 2009. “I realised that a corporate job would not give me the dimension and experience that I was looking at getting by running my own firm,” says Abbas.

“I am surprised there are not many women who opt for entrepreneurship as we are not considered to be the breadwinners and our liabilities are lesser,” says Abbas.

 ButoolAbbas
 Minnat Lalpuria

Lalpuria launched 7Vachan Services after graduating from ISB last year. The company offers wedding-related services at a discount. 

“I was bold to let go of placement offers,” recalls Lalpuria. “It is not easy to give up on offers to start something from scratch.”

 MinnatLalpuria

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