Q: Please Tell us about your background.
I grew up very much in Pune, which taught me hard work, dedication, and enormous empathy for others. Right from the beginning I was involved in many aspects of my parents’ businesses in different forms. But I had very big dreams for myself, dreams that only girls could realize so I set off and went to USA to complete my fashion designing post my Diploma in Computer Engg. and also continued my CA to help me build my core
expertise in fashion , technology and business acumen. I am married to very smart and lovely husband Akash Sureka, serial entrepreneur himself and global advisory to many startups/funds and have a wonderful handsome 5 year old kid Abhimanyu, who are my inspirations and support system which keep me going daily to achieve more and more.
Q: What did you do before starting Piperz?
I was a full time entrepreneur for couple of years trying out different ideas before hitting on Piperz.com idea. I also assisted my husband in his own startup which he sold recently to a listed company which gave me lots of learning in the ecosystem much needed for my own venture. I started my career as a Computer Diploma Engineer but I continued my education in Fashion Designing and CA.
Q: How did you start Piperz.com, how and when did this idea strike you and how is it different?
My husband was always after me to do something which interests me, but was being lazy many times to take a concrete jump in starting something new. He then started his own after working for many years in global roles in Tier1 Global MNCs which became an example for me to learn and think in that direction . It just also happened while I was browsing and exploring my startup venture, that after I had a kid of my own, I found it very difficult to find fashionable and exclusive kids wear for an affordable cost. That’s where me and my husband decided to step in this market and create a fashion wear for kids which is otherwise difficult to get in India, and that too all online as Piperz.com making it accessible to Tier2 and Tier3 towns.
We said lets create an example of ZARA but in India and take it global with our fashion wear for kids and then extend same to Moms as well along with new innovative products categories to cater to both. We have a vision to create a global Kids & Mom company with variety of innovative premium trendy products, never seen before, in changing worlds and requirements of Kids and Moms. We will differentiate ourselves by curated designs, our brand label, innovative products in future never seen before and expand globally.
Q: What is it like being a founder being a women, wife and mother at the same time?
It’s actually a wonderful feeling being executing all roles at the same time 🙂 . Being wife and mother allows me to spend quality time with my family and the stress after a hard work schedule and at the same time becomes my support system to do more every day. Many qualities and learning from being a wife and mother, gives immense ability to handle daily founder activities, decisions, operations, people and customers in my startup and also gets a very supportive hand from my husband who is super energetic always and a virtual co-founder.
Q: Was being female either an advantage or disadvantage in working on your startup?
Definitely an advantage working on my startup because I’m solving a problem that I have and women have in general for their kids. If I was male it would be hard to relate to my demographic and build a product that women would use for their kids. A disadvantage would be fund-raising I would say. I won’t go into detail but the short answer is that it is still hard for women to raise money as I read and follow the ecosystem in general, especially as a solo founder.
Q: Why do you think there are fewer startups with female founders than male ones?
In terms of technology startups, the simplest answer is that there are fewer women in general that are interested in coding when compared to their male counterparts. If you take into consideration all businesses in general it has to do with the fact that many women chose to go the traditional route which is a home-maker. Most of my friends are raising kids at the moment and are busy being moms and wives, which are very hard jobs. Having a startup simultaneously would be a big challenge. It takes enormous dedication and sacrifice to work on a startup. The startup is your baby so as
a woman you can either chose to have a human baby or a startup as your baby. I’ve made my choice of choosing both and I’m very happy with it.
Q: What’s your current and future plan for Piperz?
We are doing aggressively expanding our reach in Tier1 cities starting with Pune. We have been invited by likes of Infosys and Wipro to exhibit our products, have been covered by global platform like Brand Stories and many more. We have more than 100 unique visitors daily on our website and hundreds of social media followers. We are tied up with Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and FirstCry as well for online distribution. In future, we are increasing our own label, go for unique designs, look for off-line distributors, raise PE funds and go global to create a global brand !
Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were 15?
To follow your heart, do what you want and only what you want and love, do not compromise. I still get this advice from my husband and parents every single day!
Q: Any other thoughts for emerging women entrepreneurs?
It’s just as hard to work on a startup that is solving a problem in a small market as it is to work on a startup that is solving a problem in a big market. Do your homework and make sure you are working on a problem in a big market as this will be your life for 10-20 years if you are lucky.