14 entrepreneurial women from China & India you must know about

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By Avani

The startup culture has been on a boom in India and China. Both countries are seeing an influx of their top talent which has studied or worked overseas come back to the country and set up innovative ventures.

Women entrepreneurs in both the countries have come up with a number of companies in the last few years.

These include a number of companies that have become household brands. Both the countries have also seen startups and businesses that have been founded or co-founded by women.

Here, we list down the 14 top women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs from India and China that you must know about:

Zhang Xin – SOHO China

Zhang Xin lived in a room big enough to fit two bunk beds in Hong Kong during her teenage.

She worked for five years to make money for foreign education and left for England when she was 19 to study at Cambridge University. She also studied economics at University of Sussex.

Right after she graduated, she began her job with Goldman Sachs and worked for an investment bank in Hong Kong. After sometime, she returned to her hometown Beijing and started Hongshi along with her husband Pan Shiyi in 1995.

Hongshi later came to be known as SOHO China. It is a philanthropic organisation that engages in education focussed initiatives to eradicate poverty.

In 2014, the organisation also announced SOHO China Scholarships which is a $100 million initiative to grant scholarships at leading international universities.


Zhou Qunfei – Lens Technology

Zhou Qunfei is the Chinese businesswoman who founded the touchscreen maker – Lens Technology.

She also became the richest woman in China in March 2015 after the public listing of her company on the Shenzhen ChiNext.

This year, she was also named the world’s richest self-made woman.

She has had a very modest upbringing and had to drop out of school when she was 16 years old to go to Shenzen to work as a migrant worker.

She deliberately took up jobs near the Shenzen University in order to manage work and do part time courses at the University at the same time.

During this time, she got a number of certificates including accounting, computer operations and customs processing.

She even got a license for driving commercial vehicles.

Zhou got a job at a company that made parts of watches, but she wasn’t very happy with working conditions.

After 3 months of working there, she decided to quit but wanted to bring the bad working conditions to the management’s notice.

She wrote a letter voicing her concerns, and got a promotion after that instead. In 1993, the factory she worked in shut down and she started her own business.

She, along with her siblings started a company which promised high quality watch lenses. In 2001, she got her big break when her company won the contract for making mobile screens for TLC Corporation.

Followed by this, in 2003, Zhou’s company got a request from Motorola to produce glass screens for their Razr V3 smartphones.

It was then that Zhou started Lens Technology and soon started getting orders from the likes of HTC, Nokia and Samsung. Lens Technology also developed iPhone’s screen for Apple in 2007.

Even today, the company makes touchscreens for Apple, Samsung and Huawei. Even the Apple Watch uses glass from Lens Technology.

Yang Lan – Sun Media Group

Yang Lan is surely one among the names you cannot ignore when you are talking about business women in China.

She is a media proprietor, a journalist and a talk show host.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and then did her major in International Economics from School of English and International Studies in Beijing.

She hosted the show Zheng Da Variety in her initial years and then went to the United States to pursue her studies.

She studied film at New York University and then spent two years earning a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

After coming back to China, she took another career risk and became the public relations representative and spokesperson for Project Hope and then later went to work for Phoenix Television.

In the year 1998, she launched two of her shows — Yang Lan studio and These Hundred Years. It was in the year 2000 that she and her husband Bruno Wu set up Sun Television Cybernetworks Holdings Limited.

She is currently the chairperson of Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation. In 2013, she also featured in Forbes magazine’s 100 World’s Most Powerful Women.

 

Peng Lei – ANT Financial (Alibaba Group)

Peng Lei is the co-founder and CEO of ANT Financial and Chief People Officer of Alibaba – the largest e-commerce platform in China.

After getting a degree in business administration in 1994 from Hangzhou Institute of Commerce, she became a teacher at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics and taught there for 5 years.

Shortly after getting married, she quit her job and along with her husband joined Jack Ma and founded Alibaba in September 1999.

She created the HR department of Alibaba and in initial years used to take care of it on her own.

After this, she also became the CEO of Alipay during 2010 to 2013 and under her management; it became the most successful payment gateway in China.

In 2013, she became the CEO of Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services and she was also considered for the role of CEO of Alibaba.

In 2014, Peng also founded Ant Financial Services which broke the world record in 2016 for being the world’s largest private fundraising fund for an internet company at $4.5 billion.

Peng has stayed the Chief People Officer and Chief Human Resources officer at Alibaba Group for over 10 years.


Liu Qing – Didi Kuaidi

Liu Qing is the woman behind Didi Kuaidi (rebranded as Didi Chuxing), which is China’s answer to Uber.

Daughter of Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi, she completed her bachelor’s in Computer Science at Peking University and then later went to Harvard University to do her Masters in Computer Science.

She worked at Goldman Sachs for 12 years, where she became the managing director in 2012.

She later joined Didi Dache as its Chief Operating Officer in 2014 and is responsible for the merger between Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, which was its main competitor at that time.

After the merger was completed, Didi Kuaidi was formed in 2015 and it later got rebranded to Didi Chuxing. Liu Qing is currently the President of Didi Chuxing.

INDIA entrepreneurs

Shopclues – Radhika Aggarwal

If you shop online in India, there’s a good possibility you would have come across Shopclues at some point in time.

The online shopping market place sells a variety of products including clothes, shoes, eyewear, sports and fitness gear, electronics, smartphones and more.

The company was co-founded by Radhika Aggarwal, who is also India’s first woman to enter the Unicorn Club. She currently serves as the Chief Business Officer of Shopclues.

She completed her MBA from Washington University and then studied studied Web 2.0 and Creative Writing at Stanford in an executive program.

She has worked with Goldman Sachs and Nordstorm and her first entrepreneurial venture was FashionClues.

 

Zivame – Richa Kar

Zivame is one online shopping website that is truly a game changer for the lingerie market in India.

Founded by Richa Kar in 2011, Zivame today is the biggest online retailer of lingerie in India. In fact, it has become a preferred way of shopping for lingerie for a lot of women who earlier felt uncomfortable shopping for the same at retail stores.

Zivame also raised a funding of undisclosed amount from Ratan Tata in 2015. Prior to starting Zivame, Kar worked for SAP and Limited Brands – the owner of Victoria’s Secret.

However, in 2017, she stepped down as the CEO of Zivame, but continues to be a part of its Board of Directors.

Post that, COO Shaleen Sinha took over daily running of business at Zivame. It was only recently in May 2018, that Amisha Jain was named as the new CEO of the company.

 

MapMyGenome – Anuradha Acharya

 

A molecular diagnostics company that aims to make people proactive about their health, Mapmygenome offers personalized health solutions based on genetic tests.

The company was founded by Anuradha Acharya in January 2013, who is also the CEO of the company.

After graduating from IIT Kharagpur in 1995, Acharya moved to the United States and pursued her degree in Master of Science in Physics and MIS from University of Illinois, Chicago.

Prior to starting Mapmygenome, she had another venture called Ocimum Bio Solutions and worked at SEI Information and Mantiss Information – which was later acquired by Dynegy Corporation.

She is a member of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and among the board members of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics and Association of Biotech Enterprises and more.

 

Popxo.com – Priyanka Gill

Priyanka Gill is a writer, angel investor and entrepreneur who is currently based in New Delhi.

In 2006 she started a blog called the eStylista, which went on to become Popxo.com which creates stories and social media content on topics young Indian women are interested in.

These include Fashion, Beauty, Weddings, Work and more.

Gill also invests in lifestyle brands and technology start-ups and is an investor in Bea’s of Bloomsbury, Yeildify, Campanja, SoundOut, and Raptor Supplies.

She is also a contributing editor at Harpers Bazaar India and writes for The Guardian, Vogue India and Hello Pakistan.

She has also contributed for some international publications including The Independent and Travel and Leisure.

 

Little Black Book – Suchita Salwan

Anyone who has explored Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Bengaluru would definitely know what Little Black Book is.

And for those who don’t, this is the website or app you need to go to get recommendations for food, events, lifestyle and cultural dos in the city you are in.

While most other services like Zomato or Time out only give users the information they are looking for, Little Black Book also tells people about little known experiences around the city.

The mind behind the platform is Suchita Salwan, who used to work as a marketing executive with BBC in New Delhi.

She spent her weekends exploring the town and then started a blog on Tumblr where she wrote about the new places she discovered. It was this blog that went on to become Little Black Book and Salwan eventually left her job to pursue it full time.

 

YourStory – Shradha Sharma

YourStory is a platform which shares stories of various entrepreneurs and their journey. It also has stories of various startups, resource pieces and emerging trends from Indian startup industry.

YourStory was founded by Shradha Sharma in 2008. Prior to coming up with the idea of her own venture, she used to work with The Times of India and CNBC TV18. When she did come up with the idea of Yourstory, a number of people told her that it wouldn’t survive for more than two years. But Sharma pursued her venture anyway, and today Yourstory is known platform among entrepreneurs in India.

 

Limeroad – Suchi Mukherjee

Gurugram-based LimeRoad is an ecommerce, lifestyle and accessories website and is touted to be India’s first boutique fashion marketplace for women.

The mind behind the startup is Suchi Mukherjee – who came up with the idea of Limeroad while she was on her maternity leave.

She wanted Limeroad to be an e-commerce website where people can discover, share and shop.

Prior to starting LimeRoad, Mukherjee has worked with Lehman Brothers Inc, Virgin Media, eBay Inc, Skype and Gumtree.

She is an alumini of London School of Economics and has won Woman of the Year – Digital Business Award by Infocom in 2015 and NDTV Unicorn Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016.

 

Sheroes – Sairee Chahal

Sairee Chahal made a change in lives of hundreds of women in India when she started Sheroes. Founded in 2014, platform curates work from home jobs in India.

So women can pick up jobs they are interested in from Sheoes and also find the required resources and mentors on it.

Sheroes is known for organizing community meets, job fairs, and workshops and programs for women.

Chahal has also co-founded Fleximoms, is a TED speaker and was one among the finalists for Cartier’s Women’s Award Initiative in 2012.

 

Mobikwik- Upasna Takku

Popular semi-closed mobile wallet Mobikwik was founded by Upasana  Taku and Bipin Preet Singh in 2009.

Taku did B.Tech from NIT, Jalandhar in 2001 and then went to Stanford University to do her MS in management science and engineering.

Thereafter, she worked as a product manager at PayPal in California.


Author Feedback: AvaniBagga@gmail.com

PS: If you think we missed out on several names, and should do a new list – please email us on connect@startupanz.com

 

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