While COVID-19 was the main villain this year, it had a different impact on different people. While some saw opportunities, some had realisations, while others suffered losses.
It is no different in the case of women entrepreneurs too. The same crisis also presented growth opportunities to businesses, particularly in terms of online sales.
For Dipali Mathur, Co-Founder and CEO of skincare brand Super Smelly admits that initially, COVID-19 acted as a tremendous disruptive force, affecting the startup’s first-quarter sales across online and offline channels.
“For a B2C brand like Super Smelly, the pandemic acted as a growth catalyst after a few initial months of lockdowns as more and more people started to enter the online space. We recorded a sharp increase in our revenue, and a whopping growth of 174 percent in the first two quarters. From April to October 2020, we witnessed growth in revenue by nearly 1,500 percent, a once-in-a-generation kind of milestone amid the pandemic.”
She attributes this growth to the behavioural change in people — not only in terms of increasing online presence but also in terms of a shift to healthier lifestyles, hence healthier options.
For Anushka Shetty, Co-founder of a content and entertainment platform Plop Stories, the pandemic brought in both possibilities and challenges.
“COVID-19 made us question everything but also made us better and stronger. We also ran a special programme wherein we did double payments to help Covid-affected writers. As a way to support the LGBTQ community, we launched a focused shelf as well as saw an 800x growth in users in our company,” she says,
Prerna Puri, CEO and Founder, Prerna's Handcrafted Ice Cream too had a fruitful year.
“2020 was a year full of uncertainty and a lockdown, but it’s this adversity that managed to turn into the best opportunity for me. I started my ice cream business that has now morphed from a home venture into a retail brand.”
Prerna’s entrepreneurial journey began in May amidst the times of pandemic. During the lockdown, she, being a cautious mother, didn’t want to give her child ice cream from local vendors. Hence, she decided to make ice cream on her own.
“I wanted to give delicious ice cream to my child, so I researched various ice cream recipes. I realised that stabilisers, emulsifiers, artificial flavours, and colours were used commonly in the preparation of ice creams — all these are required for the ice cream to get its texture, flavour, and long shelf life so I realised that these additives are not good for health,” she adds.
As a result, she began producing ice creams in her home kitchen with pure, all-natural, and premium ingredients without using any kind of artificial additives.
Today, Prerna's Handcrafted Ice Cream offers gluten-free dairy ice cream brand that are made with low fat cream (not milk) and has no emulsifiers, no stabilisers, no preservatives, no artificial flavours or colours, and no thickeners added to them.
“My ice creams are now shared with everyone who, like me, want to give their loved ones a trustworthy and honest product of love. We now retail our ice creams through premium grocery stores like Modern Bazaar and organic stores, in Delhi-NCR and all Nature’s Basket stores across Mumbai and Pune. We also do direct deliveries in the Delhi-NCR region,” she says.
Adapting to the new normal
With Neha Bagaria, Founder, Jobsforher, the year 2020 started off on a high with AccelHERate 2020 in February, her company’s flagship conference for companies in India to bring about diversity in the workforce.
“Before we knew it, we were plunged into the work-from-home mode from March and we had to adapt to the new normal. All our events were virtual and companies were up to the challenge,” she says.
The company adapted to this change in working conditions and moved its entire hiring process online. In September, it also managed to hold HerRising 2020 — a career fair for women professionals for the first time virtually.
“At JobsForHer, we saw a big push happening by companies to hire tech talent. Even companies in non-tech industries like manufacturing, BFSI, education, retail, FMCG started posting tech jobs — ranging from software developers, cloud engineers, to project managers. And as these companies started to opt for tech, they realised that they need to ensure they have sufficient participation of women in their companies so they could develop and build products and services that would serve the needs of both men and women,” Neha says.
Dipali also shared that for D2C brands like hers, social media served as a fantastic avenue, especially for leveraging tools like influencer marketing. To make the most of this trend, her team started creating smarter, shorter, and visually-captivating videos to cater to our young customer base.
“We successfully drove significant awareness around our products, and boosted sales and revenue levels to another level. It also helped us utilise the power of nimble footage and enabled us to quickly receive and study consumer feedback through comments, engagement, and reviews. We adapted accordingly to the changes in ensuring faster and greater satisfaction,” she adds.
Her team also saw the wave of gender-neutral beauty picking pace in India. “We are witnessing this change with GenZ people as the early and active participants of this movement. We are sure that other brands will also follow suit, sooner or later,” she adds.
On the other hand, Kriti Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CPO, StoreHippo is happy that she achieved a work-life balance in the pandemic. She says,
“The highlights for 2020 were health, ecommerce and family. While there was paranoia about COVID-19 pandemic and isolation related stress, the positive thing for women entrepreneurs like me was that it was easier to have a work-life balance. ”
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)