When it comes to the world of business, the spotlight often falls on men, leaving little room for the stories of remarkable women who have defied norms and shattered glass ceilings.
Especially in a country like India, where the path to entrepreneurship is full of challenges and social barriers.
It’s even more remarkable to witness a wave of successful women entrepreneurs conquering the rough seas of startups.
If you’re someone who believes in the numbers, brace yourself with the report of India Brand Equity Foundation which quotes that over 13.5 –15.7 million businesses in India are women-owned and these businesses employ over 22–27 million people and contribute over $150 billion to the GDP.
So, let’s delve into the inspiring journeys of the top ten trailblazing women entrepreneurs who have fearlessly built their own empires from scratch, defying all odds and failures with their sheer determination and unwavering work ethic.
List of 10 Successful Women Entrepreneurs in India
Divya Gokulnath: Co-founder of Byju’s
Education: B.Tech. in Biotech from RV College of Engineering
Current Position: Director of Byju’s
Networth: Rs 4,550 crore
Awards: Fortune India 40 under 40 (2022), Fortune 50 Most Powerful Women in Business (2021), Business Today Most Powerful Women in Indian Business (2020)
Divya Gokulnath and her husband co-founded Byju’s in 2011, India’s largest ed-tech startup that has transformed learning in India.
Her journey into the education field began when she met Byju Raveendran, her instructor for GRE exam preparation after her graduation in 2007. Byju saw potential in her and encouraged her to become a teacher. She began her career in teaching in 2008, at the young age of 21.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Divya took charge of user experience, content, and brand marketing to ensure uninterrupted learning for students.
Byju’s has raised a total funding of $5.5 billion at a valuation of $23 billion. While Divya & her husband Byju Raveendran have a combined net worth of $3.05 billion.
Falguni Nayar: Founder of Nykaa
Education: B.Com from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics; MBA from IIM Ahmedabad
Current Position: CEO of Nykaa
Networth: Rs 32,951.71 crore
Awards: EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021; DNA Women Achievers Awards 2023
Falguni Nayar, one of the most famous women entrepreneurs in India, founded the beauty and lifestyle retail company Nykaa at the age of 50 in 2012 using her own personal funds of $2 million.
Before founding Nykaa she had spent nearly 20 years as a venture investor and merchant with Kotak Mahindra Group. She was also appointed as the MD of Kotak Mahindra Capital in 2005.
The women-centred online marketplace Nykaa is catering to over 15 million registered users and processes more than 1.5 million orders every month. In November 2021, Nykaa was listed with a valuation of $13 billion, which made Nayar the wealthiest self-made female Indian after Nykaa went public. However, in 2023 the market capitalization of Nykaa has fallen to $4.58 billion.
Upasana Taku: Co-founder of MobiKwik
Education: B.Tech. in Industrial Engineering from NIT Jalandhar; MS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University
Current Position: COO of Mobiquick
Awards: Best Woman Entrepreneur Award (2017)
Her professional journey began at HSBC in San Diego, where she gained valuable experience. She then worked for PayPal, where she delved into the intricacies of payment systems across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
In 2009, Upasana returned to India and established Zaakpay. At the same time, she met Bipin and came to know that he was also working for the betterment of the startup ecosystem in the country.
In a matter of six months, Upasana became actively involved in various aspects of the fintech business, and later joined Mobikwik as its co-founder.
Currently, Mobikwik has an active user base of 2.4 million and the company’s total funding is $181.2 million at a valuation of $1 billion.
Vineeta Singh: Co-founder of Sugar Cosmetics
Education: Electrical Engineering from IIT-M; MBA from IIM Ahmedabad
Current Position: CEO of Sugar Cosmetic
Networth: Rs. 660 crores
Awards: W-Power Award by Forbes India (2021); Fortune’s 40 Under 40 (2021); World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leadership list (2022)
Shark Tank India’s famed Vineeta Singh is one of the most influential women entrepreneurs in India.
Singh’s career started during her pursuit of an MBA, back in 2006, when she undertook a summer internship at Deutsche Bank. Remarkably, despite being offered a hefty annual salary of Rs 1 crore, Vineeta made the bold decision to reject the job offer to start her entrepreneurial journey.
Prior to Sugar Cosmetics, she started her first business venture Quetzal in 2007, which unfortunately met its demise in a highly competitive market. Undeterred, in 2012 she started her second startup Fab Bag, a subscription-based platform that delivered beauty products on a monthly basis. At last, Vineeta joined forces with her husband in 2015 to co-found Sugar Cosmetics, marking her third venture into the startup world.
Beyond her entrepreneurial acumen, Singh is an avid triathlete and ultramarathon runner, having participated in 20 marathons, ultramarathons and 12 half-marathons.
Today, Sugar Cosmetics has an extensive network of over 2,500 branded outlets spanning 130 cities, generating a staggering revenue exceeding 100 crores. Notably, in September 2022, Bollywood star Ranveer Singh made an undisclosed investment in the brand and assumed the role of “brand evangelist” for Sugar Cosmetics.
With a notable funding amount of $85.5 million and a valuation of $500 million, Sugar Cosmetics continues to thrive and make waves in the industry.
To know more about other cosmetic brands in India, go through our blog: Top 20 Best Cosmetic Brands in India
Ghazal Alagh: Co-founder of Mamaearth
Education: B.CA. from Panjab University
Current Position: CIO of Mamaearth
Networth: Rs.142 crore
Awards: Business World 40 under 40 (2019); Super StartUps Asia Award
Ghazal started her professional journey in 2008 at NIIT Limited in Chandigarh, India and served there for two and a half years as a trainer of SQL, J2ME and Oracle. However, her entrepreneurial journey began in 2012 when she founded the Dietexpert.com website, a site for customised diet plans. This platform became a success and cumulated a loyal following of over 2,000 individuals. Subsequently, in 2015, Ghazal Alagh established Honasa Consumer Pvt Ltd, which became the foundation for Mamaearth.
The journey that started back in 2016 now has 1.5 million loyal and satisfied customers. In 2019, the renowned Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra demonstrated her faith in the Mamaearth baby care startup by making a strategic investment.
Today, Mamaearth has total funding of $112 million at a valuation of $1.2 billion.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: Founder of Biocon Limited
Education: B.Sc. in zoology from Bangalore University; Masters in Brewinng University of Ballarat, Melbourne
Current Position: Executive Chairperson of Biocon Ltd.
Networth: Rs 16000 crore
Awards: Padma Shri (1989); Padma Bhushan (2005); H.K. Firodia Lifetime Achievement Award (2022)
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw a well-known Indian billionaire entrepreneur started her remarkable journey by establishing the biopharmaceutical company Biocon India in 1978. The company had humble beginnings, originating in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore.
It all started with Leslie Auchincloss, the founder of Biocon Biochemicals Limited in Ireland, need for a partner in India to establish an Indian subsidiary. Recognizing the opportunity, Mazumdar agreed to take on the task and after a brief period as a trainee manager at Biocon Biochemicals Limited in Ireland, she returned to India in 1978 and founded Biocon with a seed capital of Rs.10,000.
Today, Biocon has an impressive market capitalization of Rs 29,780.88 Crores, solidifying its position as a prominent player in the industry. Another milestone for Biocon as it became the first Indian company to secure approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001 for the production of a cholesterol-lowering molecule.
Vani Kola: Founder of Kalaari Capital
Education: B.Eng. from Osmania University; M.Eng. from Arizona State University
Current Position: MD of Kalaari Capital
Awards: Forbes Most Powerful Women in India (2014); Linkedin’s Top Voices (2016)
Vani Kola is an Indian venture capitalist and founder of Kalaari Capital, an Indian early-stage venture capital firm. Renowned as one of the country’s top venture capital firms, Kalaari Capital has made a significant impact on the startup ecosystem.
Prior to her success in India, Kola had a 22-year career in Silicon Valley. Her entrepreneurial journey began as the founder and CEO of RightWorks, an e-procurement company. Within a span of four years, the company was sold to ICG for a remarkable $657 million.
It was in 2006 that Kola started her venture capitalist journey when she collaborated with esteemed Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Vinod Dham and Kuar Shiralagi. Together they launched NEA Indo-US Venture Partners with a $189 million fund, this joint venture aimed to foster the growth of startups.
Following four successful years, in 2011, Vani Kola and Shiralagi rebranded the firm and named it Kalaari Capital. Although the firm began its operations with a $150 million fund but till now it has funded 110+ startups and raised the total capital.
Pranshu Patni: Co-founder of Hello English
Education: B-Tech. and MBA from NarseeMonjee Institute of Management Studies; MDP from IIM Ahmedabad
Current Position: Co-Founder of CultureAlley and Hello English
Awards: Forbes India 30 under 30, CNBC’s Young Business Women Awardee
Pranshu Patni launched Hello English in 2012, an English language learning application that has now evolved into one of India’s leading educational apps with a user base of over 50 million individuals.
Pranshu started her career as a management trainee and business analyst at Pitney Bowes. After a few years, Pranshu & her husband Nishant started a foreign language learning application called Culture Alley. In 2014, they rebranded it and launched Hello English as a mobile app.
For her services to education and improving english proficiency in India, Pranshu has also been awarded a ‘Women Transforming India’ award from the UN. Currently, the app is active in 150 countries with more than 10 million installs on Google Play Store. The platform won awards such as India’s Best Mobile App and Google’s Best of 2016 Apps.
Sabina Chopra: Co-founder of Yatra Online
Education: B.A. from Delhi University
Current Position: COO of Corporate Hotels
Networth: Rs. 263 crores
Awards: Women of the Decade (2017); Women Leadership Award for Excellence in Hospitality & Tourism Sector (2016)
Sabina Chopra is among the most successful woman entrepreneurs in India, she co-founded Yatra Online with impressive work experience spanning 25 years in the travel BPO sector.
She started her professional career as a supervisor at Japan Airlines in 1991 and after working for a bundle of travel companies she gained experience of how the operations worked there. Later she decided to establish her own travel agency and co-founded Yatra.com with Dhruv Shringi and Manish Amin in 2006.
In addition to her role at Yatra, Sabina also held the position of Managing Director at Wyndham Destinations, a globally recognized vacation club and exchange firm. Yatra’s total funding stands at $87.5 million at a valuation of $218 million.
Kanika Tekriwal: Co-foundeer of JetSetGo
Education: MBA from Coventry University
Current Position: CEO of JetSetGo
Networth: Rs. 400 crore
Kanika Tekriwal journey is an inspiration to every youngster thriving to become a woman entrepreneur. Despite facing the challenges of battling cancer at the age of 22, she went on to establish the “Uber of the skies,” a private jet and helicopter charter service company called JetSetGo. Today her company is a pioneer in introducing air taxis for intra-city connectivity in India.
While she was in college, she worked with Aerospace Resources in business development, at Coventry, and from there she seized potential for the charter market in India. In 2011, she returned to India to set up her company and today, her Delhi-based company manages and operates planes for commercial plane operators, even selling services and parts to them.
JetSetGo’s growth has been phenomenal over the years. They progressed at over 600 %, as the company’s revenue shot up from Rs.70 million in 2016 to Rs. 500 million in 2017.
The company has a total funding of $2.84 million at a valuation of $10.4 million.
If you are interested in startup stories like this, you will also like: Successful Indian Startups
Who is the most famous female entrepreneur in India?
The most famous female entrepreneur in India is Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the founder of Biocon, a biopharmaceutical company.
Who is the first woman entrepreneur in India?
Kalpana Saroj is the first woman entrepreneur in India and is referred to as the original Slumdog Millionaire, her rise from the slums of Mumbai to being the CEO of Kamani Tubes
Who is the first youngest woman entrepreneur?
Sreelakshmi, founder of eDesign is the youngest woman entrepreneur in India.
Who is the youngest woman CEO in India?
Radhika Gupta, CEO of Edelweiss MF, is the youngest woman CEO in India.