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In their “locker-room conversations,” women entrepreneurs in India share stories about how, at meetings with their male counterparts, they are assumed to be second-in-command and not taken seriously.
But Mayukhini Pande, a 32-year-old entrepreneur in Bangalore, told me she’s also hearing stories of male and female cofounders working together to correct such mistakes. Pande and her male co-founder, she says, “have found ways to manage this together.”
India has a thriving startup scene, with as many as 800 new companies a year receiving an increasing amount of investment dollars. Yet the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is considered one of the world’s worst for women. Less than 10% of Indian startups are led by women, according to the Saha Fund, the first fund devoted to investing in female founders in India. And it’s not getting better: a survey by KStart, found women led just 3 percent of Indian startups funded in the first two quarters of 2016.
That makes the experiences of women founders who have defied the odds all the more important. In conversations in person, by phone and via email, four women who created companies in India, ranging from menstrual educational tools to a women-centric bank, shared their lessons learned.