Sairee Chahal of Sheroes - The Termsheet Podcast

Sheroes: Building Women’s Internet with Sairee Chahal

Episode 4

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Women in Tech

Should we celebrate that India has become the second largest internet user market in the world? Or shall we be concerned that the user base is skewed heavily towards one gender: male. Some studies put the breakdown as 65% male and 35% female. Clearly there is need to do more to make internet in India more inclusive. Thankfully it is changing with women, or rather “Sheroes”, catching up fast. In 2019 the growth in women internet users was at 21%, compared to 9% for men.

This imbalance extends to India’s fledgling startup ecosystem as well. In 2019, only 12% of funded startups had at least one woman founder. But, encouragingly more and more ecosystem enablers and stakeholders are actively talking about this imbalance. But, there are already a few woman founders who are dreaming big and building companies that could impact India in a massive way. Sairee Chahal, founder & CEO of Sheroes, is one such woman founder.

Sairee is an atypical startup founder. She is a woman and she doesn’t have an IIT/IIM background that has become the norm nowadays. In fact she doesn’t even come from a tech backdrop. And that makes her story of building a tech startup even more unique and striking!

First Impressions

A friend introduced me to Sairee and we hopped on a phone call. What struck me in my very first conversation was Sairee’s candor and humility. From the moment I talked to her I knew her story was sure to inspire hundreds if not thousands of men and women alike.

I was also struck by the origins of Sheroes, by how she dumped all her savings into it and convinced Vijay Shekhar Sharma to buy into her vision of building a women only platform. Sheroes, today, is by far the largest social network for women in India with over 20 million registered users.

In this episode…

I ask Sairee about her experiences growing up in a small town and dreaming to leave a mark on this country through her work. We also talked about her vision for Sheroes and what motivates her despite her already many accomplishments such as being a board member on PayTM Payments Bank. She still has the spark of an entrepreneur and her passion is contagious. Catch this and many more interesting musings in this inspiring episode.

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Episode 4