Monday, July 2, 2018

Boss Woman: Vandhana Ramanathan and Jinal Patel

As part of our Boss Woman Series, we bring you stories of entrepreneurs who have gone forth on their own: dealing with challenges of different kinds, starting up without funding and sailing through, and much more. In the second post of this series, Vandhana Ramanathan and Jinal Patel tell their story and journey into creating WSquare.

The beginning
Vandhana Ramanathan: I did my Visual Communication in M.O.P Vaishnav followed by a steady IT Job where I met my husband and got married by the time I was 21. I was a mother of two kids by the time I was 24. After spending three years following my return into my career, I did a full-time course in Marketing & Advertising for my Masters and later started working as a Digital Marketing Head in an Advertising Agency. It was here that I met Jinal and began our entrepreneurial journey. What started as a co-working space on March 8th, 2017, has now become an eco-system that help women get back to work, build entrepreneurship among women and provide a marketplace for home-based women entrepreneurs. 

Jinal Patel: I did my Journalism at M.O.P Vaishnav followed by a Post Graduation in HR in Pune, which helped me in my career as a Client Servicing Expert, and subsequently start Lets SOS (Shout Out Social), an all-women digital marketing agency along with Vandhana. Having built strong connections with media and gained networking skills in my journey so far, I was able to work with Lets SOS and get more than 40+ clients in 2 years, which soon developed into our next business idea - WSquare. We worked with over 50 women who were content writers, designers, and developers who quit their job and were looking for a way to be financially independent and ensure their skills do not go rustic. While working out of more than 3-4 co-working spaces themselves, due to an inability on investing an office space the first few months, they realized that though all co-working spaces provided facilities required for any startup, there was no community that women could be a part of and understand their needs and wants, which helped in self-motivation and confidence to get back to work. It initially started as a pilot project at the co-working space with 25 women providing a community of like-minded women, and on further brainstorming and discussions, we were led to providing specialized services for women such as concierge services, home-cooked food, on-call beauty services, personalized counseling and more. 

Milestones aplenty
Vandhana: We have provided up to 40 co-working seats for women, and have empowered 842 women entrepreneurs through WSquare Marketplace. We've also been able to incubate six startups right from the ideation stage to a developed product/service. We've built over forty collaborations and partnerships with companies supporting women getting back to work and entrepreneurship, and have curated over sixty mentors for startups and women-led entrepreneurs. We are now aiming at building a 1000+ community of mentors, industry experts, startups, women entrepreneurs and women who are looking to get back to work and connecting them to the right type of communities to help them build their brand.

Jinal:  The biggest challenge has been reaching out to women who are looking to get back to work and addressing the roadblocks that they face when they wish to get back to work either through entrepreneurship or a corporate job. What keeps us going, though, is that we get calls everyday from at least four or five women who tell us things like, "We heard you help women get back to work, I will send you my resume, can you please help me get back to work?" or "I think what you are doing for women is amazing, and I am willing to contribute in any way possible for this initiative!" or "I had a wonderful sale and visibility through your marketplace, and your WSquare program gave me access to the right type of mentor with whom I am partnering to launch my brand!" Receiving messages like these really drives and motivates us to do more every day!