Top 10 Women Investors working to change the startup ecosystem India

Women entrepreneurs find out what makes them happiest, exactly. "They spend on these things generously, but cut out the rest." In the current Indian startup ecosystem, the mindset of the Women investors really aligns with these words of the renowned author Laura Vanderkam. For the startup ecosystem, these Women investors are imperative, particularly because they signal to their peers that they belong here and carry their own emotional quotient and gut instinct.

Top 10 Women Investors working to change the startup ecosystem India

Top 10 Women Investors working to change the startup ecosystem India

Women entrepreneurs are emerging to align themselves with the top business houses in the country as industrial production oscillates. Today, they reflect not only the innovative ideas emerging from young people but also a new asset class for investment. What gives them the power to swiftly grow? The Angel, Venture Capital, and Private Equity Investors' beliefs.

However, it is difficult to find someone other than Women investors who dominate the Indian and worldwide start-up space when one studies early-stage investors. The transition in this paradigm and the face of investment is none other than the modern woman of the new century. These women investors, charging forward with gumption and unbridled passion, are prolific entrepreneurs and have a strong appetite for innovation and creativity. At the same time, they leave no stone unturned for the future generation of startup entrepreneurs to build a sustainable ecosystem.

They are now becoming role models for women entrepreneurs as well as common working women of the coming generation. A few of the leading names in this respect are Asha Jadeja Motwani, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Bharati Jacob, and Rekha Menon. Together, these leading ladies bring strength to the ecosystem and look out for their colleagues. They don't just follow the crowd, but they lead, ask questions and share information by example. With the courage to re-imagine the future, entrepreneurs, dedicating themselves to what they feel most passionate about.

This article aims to illustrate these women investors and to epitomise the change they are bringing about in institutions. These women investors are the pioneers of investing and are leading a movement to create great businesses for women entrepreneurs. These ladies bring a new template for inclusive creation with them and have set out to make a difference. They are some of the most involved and prominent women investors in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, and Hyderabad, including Angel, Venture Capital and Private Equity.


Ankita Vashistha

Location: London, Bengaluru, San Jose

Industry: Healthtech, Edtech, Fintech, Foodtech, Ecommerce, Data and Business tech, Cybersecurity,

The average size of ticket: $500 K

Portfolio: Licious, Luxola, Consure, Uniphore, Inner Chef, Fitternity, GoCoop, Mpaanii, Pretty Secrets,

Criteria for start-up selection: Concentrate on healthcare, AI, fintech, cybersecurity, blockchain and IoT and invest globally in tech-focused / enabled startups from Pre-Series A and Series A.

Ankita Vashistha is the CEO and founder of the SAHA Fund, the first venture capital fund in India to invest in Women entrepreneur and innovation. She is also a member of the Product Council for NASSCOM. She was the President of Innovation and Ventures at Tholons Capital earlier, too.

She worked at Wavemaker Labs, Aureos Resources, and Abraaj Group before the Tholons / SAHA Fund. At Aureos Capital, Ankita was part of the London-based global investor relations and portfolio management team and was part of the team to raise funds for the group's regional funds from cornerstone investors including CDC, Norfund, FMO, ADB.

Ankita Vashistha has experience working with a wide range of women investors, including institutional investors, development finance institutions, banks, funds, family offices and HNIs. She is an active ecosystem member and is part of the Indian Angel Network and a TiE Charter Member.

Ankita Vashistha has over a decade of experience in the UK, the US and Asia in Tech Ventures, Private Equity and Venture Capital. Ankita works very actively in India, Singapore, the UK, the USA and Japan in the startup ecosystem to source, analyse, mentor and invest in early-stage technology-enabled and targeted businesses. Ankita is very enthusiastic about fostering workplace for Women entrepreneur in emerging markets. Also, to help them build value, scale and grow, she works closely with portfolio companies.

Bala Deshpande, NEA

Place: NA

Industry: The Agnostic Sector

Ticket Average Size: $5 Mn-$25 Mn.

Portfolio: Air Functions, FSS, MediSys, Naaptol, Nova, Panacea Medical, GreytHR and Knowledge Node

Criteria for Startup Selection: Startups that generate value by disrupting the format of "business as usual." The disruption could come in the form of revolutionary new technology applications, data leverage, or even by redefining market boundaries.

Bala Deshpande has a total of 27 years of experience, with a total of 17 years of investment. From nurturing women entrepreneur to women investors and conducting numerous exits, including IPOs, buybacks, strategic sales, and stock market divestments, her private equity expertise has seen the full cycle. Currently, she heads the India operation for NEA, the 20 billion AUM investment company headquartered in the United States. She earned her post-graduate degree from the University of Mumbai in Economics. She also holds a master's degree from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in management studies.

She claims that "Ideas, perceptions, and visions are completely gender-agnostic and each of us can contribute to the world in our own unique way through genetic design." To achieve our ambitions, it is up to and of us to rise above the roles, expectations, and limitations centred on gender that have traditionally been perpetuated by society.

Debjani Ghosh 

Place: Gurugram

Industry: The Agnostic Market

Ticket size average: $7.70K-$15.41 K (INR 5- INR 10 Lakhs)

Portfolio: Mobilewalla, INCLOV,

Criteria for Startup Selection: Groundbreaking companies with enthusiasm, determination and the ability to find creative ways to solve critical problems

Debjani Ghosh is SMG Intel's former VP and Intel South Asia's MD. She began in 1996 with Intel and has held various leadership positions with the organisation throughout her 21-year career. She currently serves on the Yes Bank Board as an Independent Director and is a member of the India Advisory Board of Cisco. She is also a NASSCOM Foundation trustee and the FICCI S&T / Innovation Committee's Honorary Adviser.

Her presence is often with time and finance in the women entrepreneur environment. The journey of being a women investors have just begun for Debjani and most of her early investments are with IAN and the IAN Fund. One business in which she has invested directly is INCLOV, which is the world's first matchmaking app for people with different abilities.

"Every research done in this field shows that startups with women investors perform better," Debjani claims. The proportion of women entrepreneurs, however, remains dismally poor. If that's something we want to improve, we have to raise our hands and get into the game. I believe that women entrepreneurs will bring considerable value as they appear to be natural solvers of problems and are more related to the realities of the ground.

Dr Aarti Gupta 

Place: Kanpur

Industry: The Agnostic Market

The average size of a ticket: Undisclosed. Usually involved in the rounds of Series Seed or Series A

Portfolio: Easygov, SAAHASS, Innerchef,

Startup Selection Criteria: Looks for women entrepreneur with intelligent and transformative solutions to larger-scale problems of women investors 

Dr Aarti Gupta holds a PhD from IIT Kanpur in Economics, a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Studies from Harvard University and a Master's Degree in Economics from Northeastern University.

Married to the Jagran tribe, she has been managing Devendra Mohan Gupta's family office for the last seven years. Her position as her angel investing entity's Chief Investment Officer includes diversifying the portfolio of the family through investments in women entrepreneur. At present, she is an LP in funds such as IDG Projects and SAHA. She has an inner bias towards women entrepreneur as well as women investors. 

A message for the women entrepreneur out there will be similar to how with 'Impatient Hope' she approaches her life.

"In her words," Be ready to cause chaos for those around you to improve, not because the present situation is bad, but because you are hopeful that the future will be better with your help.

Dr Anu Gupta 

Place: Hyderabad

Industry: Engineering

Average Size of Tickets: Unrevealed

Portfolio: meetings and offices (in the process), Kalaage, Edgefc, Imaginary, Swajal

Startup selection criteria: Looks for people who are passionate about their ideas, have stories  of failure to share and are "able" to be trained

Dr Anu Gupta a women entrepreneur and a qualified physician (MBBS MD Pathology) with an MBA from the Indian School of Business (ISB), offers a unique perspective through her 17 + years of experience in Indian hospitals and the global pharmaceutical industry.

Dr Anu believes in believing in "great people with decent ideas that are scalable." Dr Anu has a portfolio of five early-stage start-ups that are tech-enabled, ranging from media, publishing, education to the social sector, three of which are led by women entrepreneurs.

She has been an active women entrepreneur member of Ah! since returning from Switzerland in 2015. Ventures, Rajasthan Angel Innovator Network (RAIN) and Hyderabad Angels. Anu is committed to the growth of the startup community as a charter member of TIE Hyderabad and is on the Board of Mentors and Panel of Advisors for various incubators and accelerators, including INVENT-IIT Kanpur Social Incubator Program, Tapchief, Z Nation Lab, Spark 10 and Brandshoot Projects of the Times Group.

Invoking their inner "Devi" meaning "to shine" (root word "div"), Dr Anu encourages women entrepreneur to self-actualize themselves. Never too old to fail and never too young to succeed ... Try to learn Fail Shine ... Repeat "is her message to everyone."

Meeta Malhotra

Place: Bengaluru

Industry: The Agnostic Market

Ticket Average Size: $30K-$100 K

Portfolio: Voonik, YourStory, LetsVenture, Axis Rooms, Kinetic Glue, Varana

Criteria for Startup Selection: Escape Velocity: Can you obtain and maintain clients in a sustainable way

Meeta Malhotra, with two exits to her credit, is a 3X founder. At Ray+Keshavan, a leading agency for design and branding, she was one of two partners. She and her husband sold the agency to WPP, the world's largest media conglomerate with a turnover of $14 Bn, after operating the agency for over a decade and creating industry-leading brands. Kinetic Glue, a social enterprise software that BMC Software, a Fortune 500 corporation, acquired in 2015, was also co-founded by Meeta.

Meeta is currently part of Varana's founding team, which aims to develop India's global fashion and beauty brands. She's an influential women investors and a mentor to a variety of startups. She is also the advisor to Kstart, the seed-stage fund of Kalaari Money. Meeta runs a free brand and marketing Q&A at, in an attempt to give back to the group.

Her investment is for startups stems from her experience in marketing. From an 'outside-in' viewpoint, she looks at companies and concepts to judge whether the startup has 'escape velocity'. There are two questions she asks:

Will this be valued by the business and the client?

Will clients with high speed and low burn rates be acquired and retained by the team?

In her words, "First, understand yourself clearly-what are your strengths and weaknesses?" Learn how to increase your abilities and give your startup access to the abilities you lack

Nandini Mansinghka

Place: Bombay

Industry: The Agnostic Market

Startup selection criteria: The project needs to look scalable, the founding team's grit and dedication and the co-investors are crucial.

The founder of The Booster Network, discovering and developing new technology companies, and the Chairman of the Mumbai Angels, is Nandini Mansinghka. She is focused on developing women entrepreneur, Digibooster, a media and entertainment B2B content market. She has collaborated with J.P.Morgan and the Times of India Group previously.

Nandini is a woman investors invested in 12 + projects so far. She is on a continuous search for new asset groups in which she can invest, aside from investing in startups. She has invested in the rental company's furniture assets, films, and is now an avid cryptocurrency space learner. She makes investments mainly through Mumbai Angels in startups.

Investing in a portfolio strategy has worked for her over the last 6-7 years. But her current strategy is to assign a similar ticket size across investments so that they should be able to offer her returns across the portfolio if one or more of them provide returns. Initially, she cuts a smaller check to hold aside funds in case there is a potential in the next round to up the investment. She has invested in media space firms, tech goods, Call Center SaaS, home cleaning, hotel aggregator, areas of sales analytics.

She thinks, "I do not see gender-dependent investment or  women entrepreneur." Once you are in an environment, any ecosystem, before you become an expert, what matters is understanding, building and developing. As I walk into a new space, I never worry about not knowing people as I keep building my expertise until I am invited as a speaker on the day! It's a more enjoyable way to concentrate on 3-4 areas that I want to develop as a lifetime craft. There is zero function for gender to play!

Nita Kapoor

Place: Gurugram

Industry: technology, services for customers

Criteria for startup selection: Creative startups that meet customer needs. Looks for concept clarification, felt customer need, the team leading the innovation, experience and mindset of go-getting and the team's pivots.

The career experience of Nita Kapoor extends over three decades. In the FMCG and consumer goods industries, she has immense awareness of customers, brands and new products. In company processes, P&L duties, she has learned the ropes and held diverse leadership positions. She is currently mentoring Hult Prize India, HP, which is the largest social enterprise for students globally for profit. In India, they work with the top 100 campuses and plan to introduce the community of startups to them.

Basically, Nita's investment thesis is to work on a strategy, i.e. Draw out the long-term financial needs of the individual, lifestyle ambitions, properties, education for children, health and personal longevity. Then, make an investment pool that will take care of this. Develop, over time, this nest egg. Nita has a range of savings that include fixed assets, recurring income contracts, insurance, equity, and debt since she began early.

Nita has invested in the top 30 companies and funds that are listed. In the area of technology, her outliers have been startups.

"She says," The lifeline is financial independence. Not only for you but also your loved ones.'

Padmaja Ruparel, IAN

Place: New Delhi

Ticket size average: up to $25 K (personally); up to $1 million (through IAN Angel Investor Group); $1 million to $ 5 million (through IAN Fund)

Startup selection criteria: With an outstanding team with relevant domain knowledge and a high emphasis on execution, startups are either "disruptive" or "creating a new need." Searches for startups to add value either directly or via their network.

Padmaja Ruparel is the co-founder and president of the Indian Angel Network (IAN), a key figure in the Indian women investors and women entrepreneur ecosystem. From the outset, she founded IAN, making it a globally unique institution within 10 years, with over 450 investors across 10 countries and a portfolio of 130 + companies in seven countries spanning 17 sectors.

As Co-Chair of the Global Business Angel Network (GBAN), Padmaja has been nominated. In the "Most Influential women entrepreneur in Indian Business Awards 2017," she was awarded the "30 Most Powerful Women in India" by Business Today. She also set up and operationalized The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) chapter in Delhi, an enterprise-oriented organisation with 15,000 members in 60 chapters across 14 countries.

Her investment thesis rests, firstly, on the entrepreneur and his team in the start-up / early process. They should understand the room, understand what they are doing, have the ability to "sell" the idea and be of high integrity. Secondly, in a room that she knows, it should be. Padmaja has a portfolio that contains more than 15 investments.

The planet is your oyster, "Padmaja says," and it's up to you to open it to find a pearl. But you do need to dive deep, check for yourself and string together the pearls!

Paula Mariwala, Stanford Angels, Entrepreneurs India & SeedFund

Place: Bombay

Industry: Fintech, Deep Tech, Education, Social Impact

The average size of a ticket: NA

Portfolio: RedBus, Carwale, Voonik, Heckyl, Browntape, Frontier Markets, VResorts-(through Seedfund); KopyKitab, Betaout, Unacademy, Gyandhan, YourDost, AawazDe (Angel Investments)

Criteria for startup selection: Searches for scalable startups to solve big, impactful issues, a creative and differentiated approach

Paula Mariwala is currently the Managing Director of the Early Stage Venture Capital Fund Seedfund, founded in 2006.

The fund has a portfolio of more than 35 firms, two of which have women investors. She is also the Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs India Co-Founder and President, and the Stanford Alumni Association India Branch Co-President. Also, she is the sponsor and board member of Hinditron Group of Companies, a high-tech company founded in 1966 by her father, Hemant Sonawala, which is involved in IT, instrumentation, telecommunications, high-performance computing and infrastructure management, etc. Her investment dissertation focuses specifically on the start-up team and vision.

She likes women entrepreneur who has a  strong vision is focused on execution. Since there are no statistics to audit or analyse at the start-up level, it is necessary to gauge the chemistry of the founding team and the relationship between the investor and the entrepreneurs. She bets on the team and their ability to accept input and listen to others, whether they be members of customers, clients or teams, as well as their ability to face failures and challenges. Besides, she also searches for areas where she can add value and where she can see development in a realistic time frame and the opportunity to quit.

Currently, she has investments in the Bay Area, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Jaipur, and four of her investment firms are women-owned or managed. In her words, "Believe in yourself and your vision." Her message to women out there is to go out and follow your dreams with passion and perseverance.

Yourself is the only one that can deter you. Hunt for strong teams and mentors. When appropriate, take suggestions, reach out for support and aspire to become a role model yourself. She also adds that Women entrepreneurs seem to have greater empathy, I have noticed.

The communication and dedication needed to develop a business. Align your desire with fact and take one step at a time while bearing in mind the overall objective of achieving your summit. The world is full of alpha males, but some many men and women will love you and support you on your journey. So, go out and just do it, as they say!

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