Women Entrepreneurs: Chetana Pawar Interview
1. Tell us about yourself and your venture.
By education, I am a computer science engineer from COEP, PUNE. After working in the IT industry for 15+ years, I decided to utilize my technical abilities to the betterment of small business’s digitization. Micro and small businesses in India, do not have awareness and budget to automate their operations using software. I wanted to solve this problem by providing them with a very efficient, easy to use and cost -effective solution. With this passion my first startup “Outgo Payment Solutions” was launched. We grew to hundreds of the customers before getting acquired at deAzzle services. Deazzle is funded by Dr. Anand Deshpande (MD Persistent Systems). Here we are helping micro and small businesses to track all their payments in app. We also create a financial picture of their business and help them take better decisions by looking at the financial picture. Our app is called Paytrac which is being used for 65000 small businesses currently. We plan to grow aggressively in the coming 2 quarters.
2. What does it take to be a women entrepreneur?
In my opinion, women are the best mixture to become an entrepreneur. Women can multitask, plan better, follow-up endlessly, empathize and budget very well. With these skills in the DNA many of us should take the plunge into an entrepreneurship.
3. What have been your accomplishments as an entrepreneur?
I have received multiple awards in the startup ecosystem. The most prestigious Maxwell Foundation award was by the hands of Mr. Sam Pitroda. We also received the best upcoming startup at Tiecon and there are more to list.
4. What were the challenges when you set out to establish your entrepreneurial venture?
Major challenges are about resources and funds. Getting skilled resources at cheaper cost is an issue in our country. Raising funds for a single founder is also seems to be a bit difficult.
For Paytrac, we faced customer acquisition cost and retention as a challenge
5. Please throw light on the challenges that you faced in your journey.
To resolve the resources issues, I hired smart freshers from my network, trained them myself, gave them freedom to try new things and involved them into the decision making. This has helped to grow them personally and also feel being responsible while working.
As part of the fund-raising activity, I realized I should have started the activity earlier and also should have had a co-founder to start with. “A team” is what reduces the investor’s risk. While looking for funds, I came across the exit offer and I took it.
In Paytrac, we had to bring down the customer acquisition cost to two digits, which we made possible by using digital channels instead of only relying on field acquisition.
For retention, we are working with the notification framework which helps the customer to get notified of certain important aspects of their business.
6. Is there any hardships or challenges that you feel is more for women entrepreneurs than their counterparts?
Business or money is gender agnostic. After having said that, in India women have a little bit more responsibility towards families and hence while running a startup planning ahead is very important. Setting up your routine well, having multiple people to help at home and good team makes life easier.
7. Who do you consider as your role model and why?
Naiyya Saggi from Baby Chakra is the founder I have come across when I started my startup journey. She has created a big business with the help of a good team.
8. What opportunities does globalised world throw to women entrepreneurs? Are they making use of these opportunities?
Women are not taking up many opportunities yet. They need to come out of their comfort zone and try something new which is also fulfilling for themselves. Every domain is opening up for women to work now, but we have to build that courage and take a plunge to take up those challenges. Women still have the mind set of the not being able to work in the men dominated domains like Entrepreneurship.
9. What according to you is the requisite qualifications to become women entrepreneurs?
Dreaming something big for yourself is the first thing any one should have if they want to create an enterprise. If you have a dream, passion for something, you already have the right mix to get to the sky.
10. How do you strike a balance between home and career?
I have a setup a planned routine with the domestic help where they manage everything as per the instructions given. Having a supportive spouse also creates a big difference when it comes to the female entrepreneurs. I am lucky there.
11. What would you like to say to the budding women entrepreneurs or those who want to become entrepreneurs?
Dream, plan and execute. Have a role model, find a mentor and network with many people. We cannot create a business in silos. Be alert on what is going around your business domain, upskill yourself if you don’t have the skills. Keep learning.