At the age of 26, Manisha Raisinghani decided to change the way Logistics, one of the most unorganised industries in India, worked. This meant that she was starting up by giving up a secure job and a six-figure salary in the US, and turning down her parents’ hope that she would take over the family business.
Six years later, India is glad that Manisha took this decision. Her startup, LogiNext Solutions, provides SaaS solutions which improve logistics planning and delivery route optimisation. Manisha mostly works out of Mumbai while her Co-founder and LogiNext CEO Dhruvil Sanghvi works from the US.
As the Chief Technology Officer, heading Product department at LogiNext Solutions, Manisha is among the very few women at the intersection of B2B and logistics in the world. Many a times at business meetings, client briefings, and networking events, people assume that Manisha’s male co-founder leads the technology. But things are changing. She spoke to MAKERS India recently about her journey before and after embracing entrepreneurship.
Mumbai girl in ’Merica!
Following her under grad from Mumbai University, Manisha joined Mastek as a software engineer in 2008, and later moved to a Mumbai-based startup as Solutions Architect. But soon, she wanted to pursue something that would help her analyse how to leverage technology to realise strategic opportunities. She found her answer in Information Systems, and in 2011, she went on to do Master degree in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University in the US.
Post her master degree, Manisha worked at IBM’s logistics tech, where she met Dhruvil who later became her partner in crime at LogiNext.
Manisha elaborates, “In the US, millions of dollars are spent each year on optimization despite their infrastructure being so much more advanced and better than most emerging markets. But they’re still always looking for ways to optimize (logistics). However, in India, even the big players aren’t yet invested in technology in the same way, and this creates a potentially huge untapped market for logistic tech players.”
With the boom in e-commerce, food, grocery, deliveries, and laundry services, etc. which gave way for tremendous improvement such as in optimizing routes, calculating ETA, providing customers with a better experience, etc, it was natural for the founders to move to India and start their company LogiNext providing tech solutions to optimize logistics. Upon returning to Mumbai in 2014, the duo launched LogiNext with no previous experience in entrepreneurship.
In their six-year journey, LogiNext has grown to more than 200 employees and has raised about $50 million from investors including Tiger Global Management and SteadView Capital.
Manisha is all praise for her co-founder Dhruvil, who she says treats her as his equal as not as a ‘woman co-founder.’ In fact, his comment on Manisha’s LinkedIn profile says, “I have not met anyone who can push the limits so hard. From day 1 at LogiNext till today when she is carrying the responsibility of hundreds of clients, users and team members, Manisha has given her 1000% every single day and trust me, it is not easy to pull it off single handedly as a technology leader in today's dynamic environment...Her business acumen combined with technology skill-set makes her the "techie at the top" and one of the most successful women I know.”
Manisha, who calls herself a hustler, says that entrepreneurship has taught her to enjoy the journey rather than getting to a particular destination. “In the initial days, I used to feel that within a few months, or even a few years, we will not have any challenges. But as you grow, you see the challenges are more, and tougher at every stage. I realise it's never about the destination; it is about the journey.”
Over the year, this journey has won Manisha many accolades - including being named in Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 in 2018. But for Manisha, her biggest achievement is her family being proud of her. She has stated how her mother actively supported her in pursuing her dreams and ambitions despite her scepticism.
“It was my mother who encouraged me to take up engineering instead of the other option which was Medicine – because she was worried that I will have to study for 15 years and will not get married. Although I was in electronics and telecom, I love analytical thinking, and I'm good at it. So it was a natural shift for me to go from electronics to coding.”
Although her move to the US was against her mother’s plan to get her married to ‘a suitable boy,’ Manisha is grateful that instead of discouraging her decision, her mother just revised her dreams
The Woman in ‘Woman Leader’
Although India struggles with having hardly 27 percent women in its workforce, Manisha does her bit for gender parity at her organisation. LogiNext has women leading departments of marketing, QA (quality assessment), customer relations etc. “We are big on referral bonuses; with 20% additional referral bonus for referring female candidates,” she says.
Manisha adds that giving appraisals and promotions on same factors for all genders matters a lot, as transparency is really important. “It is important that people understand that you really do not have any inequality in your organisation,” she opines.
Manisha is also a champion of women entrepreneurship. “I work with a lot of independent women entrepreneurs who reach out to me on LinkedIn. I do give them time on weekends. Also, I work with a few incubators and initiatives like She Leads Tech where I've taken a couple of sessions for early stage women entrepreneurs.”
Manisha is all for encouraging more women to enter tech workforce too. Although she loves coding, Manisha rarely gets opportunities or time to be hands-on these days. “I still try to be a part of LogiNext’s discussions on coding and architecture because I love that. I sneak in even if I am not needed there,” she laughs.
(Producer: Urmi Chatterjee)