“Jobs in India haven’t grown. The footprint of women in the workplace has actually shrunk… As the jobs don’t grow, women are not going to get replacement jobs. Those are held by men and will continue to be held by men.

Sairee Chahal

A women’s only platform for networking in the early 2010s seemed superficial but Sairee had a vision and she made it a reality. At Decoding Draupadi, we love each thing that empowers women and attempts to shatter the glass ceiling. 

Over the next few weeks, we’re collaborating with The Podium, a network of podcasts, to bring you stories of female entrepreneurs showcased on their show, Founder Thesis

Part 1 – Sairee Chahal, SHEROES

Sairee Chahal is the Founder and CEO of Sheroes – initially a job board designed for women that evolved into an inspiring women’s platform and community that offers support, resources, opportunities, and a place to network with women. 

Here are a few lessons from this conversation we HAD to share with you: 

  1. Having a clear vision lets you experiment and NOT lose track of the long-term game.

Sheroes closed down their job board model because they believed that the job board model was not the right fit for the project. And instead, shifted focus towards building an all-encompassing women’s platform.  During a time when more and more women began using the internet, Sairee wanted to build a platform for women to network with each other, and build a safe space for them to come together online. 

Since we started DD, we’ve shot multiple arrows in the dark. Built various projects. And the ONLY thing that helped us stay committed was our vision. In fact, we also suggest documenting your vision early on. Write it down. Chart it out. Draw it. But, document it. 

  1. Network WITHOUT an agenda

If you’re building a business, meeting people and building connections goes a long way. Sairee says, “Build your network before you need it, maybe you won’t ever need it”. When you enjoy the process of networking, you build lasting relationships instead of mere transactions. And, when you enter a room without an agenda, you have meaningful conversations. Everything else is an additional benefit. 

  1. Find your tribe 

In the earlier version of Sheroes, they had a helpline feature which was later converted into a chatbox feature. Through this helpline, Sheroes found a way to connect with women directly at a time when more women were beginning to shatter the glass ceiling. This helpline gave them the opportunity to understand women, draw insights, and also build trust. The lesson here is to build a community and build it in a manner that you can monetize over time. 

For each one of us who is building a mission-driven business, one of the toughest things to do is build a community while keeping its monetization capability in mind. As we do this at DD, we love to talk to folks who do this! If you’re on this boat, we should chat <3 

  1. Curate content for your users and know your TG

Since the beginning, Sairee had a clear vision of what she wanted to achieve with Sheroes. And what it would grow to become. This clarity was Sheroes’ most powerful tool. Especially clarity in knowing your target group inside and out. It also helped them tweak the platform to fit the needs of the users.

At DD, we’ve made multiple shifts in our focus, solely because we wanted to create for the right audience. Currently. 

5. Clarity and Confidence

Sairee was fortunate to get funding for her project from the network and connections that she built over time. And she could do so because she had clarity in her mind regarding the direction that her business would be following in the long term. She was able to build confidence in her business idea in the minds of the investors. 

At DD, we believe in a similar thing. And if we could summarise it into one piece of “advice” for fellow founders, it would be to have clarity and confidence in your own ideas. And, the ability to articulate it for others. 

6. Allow yourself to make mistakes.

Sairee took a while to get the hiring process right; she even made mistakes. There’s one thing she said about these mistakes that stuck with us – you have to push yourself to deliver, regardless. As long as you are doing that, you can make those mistakes. Every founder makes mistakes throughout their journey in building the business or the brand. It’s inevitable. 

It’s how you learn, fail, and get back up again, all in time. 

That is all from us for today. 

Until next time,

Busy Decoding Draupadi <3