Meet the youngest contestant of the Indian Affairs New Age Woman in Innovations & Creativity 2016, the 25 year old bubbly entrepreneur who left a tempting MNC job to start her journey to change the look of wedding mantras at her very own enterprise indear.in. Indian Affairs spoke to Saana on five point reply to the question on why she should win the coveted award at the India Leadership Conclave & Indian Affairs Business Leadership Awards 2016 ,currently in its 7th glorious year to be held in Mumbai on Friday, 1st July 2016 at Hotel Hilton, Mumbai India under the theme “ADVANTAGE INDIA, IT IS NOW OR NEVER
1.Describe briefly about your organization/You
Before founding Indear, I grew up all over Asia – in India, Singapore, and the Philippines. I then attended Brown University in the US where I started my first company and got a taste for entrepreneurship. After graduating I joined Morgan Stanley New York’s investment banking franchise, where I focused on equity transactions in the technology sector. However, the entrepreneurial bug never really left me. After two years of working with inspiring technology CEOs on their initial public offerings, and selling their stories to investors, I knew I had to go back to my first love. When listening to my friend complaining about the wedding planning process – I had a gut feeling I had found my next venture.
Despite India’s enormous spending power and cultural fascination with weddings, there was no centralized site for high-quality wedding content, products, and services – and we intended to fill that gap. http://indear.in is an inspiration, planning, shopping, and services portal for Indian weddings. We source wedding content, products, and services directly from India’s best wedding vendors and designers, and organize it in an innovative manner to simplify the process of planning your dream wedding. Users can explore, save, and share wedding ideas, purchase wedding fashion, jewelry, gifts and favours, as well as book venues, make-up and mehendi artists directly on our website. We are a one-stop shop for all your wedding needs, from planning to purchase.
2.Why do you think that you deserve the coveted Award
I believe I deserve this award because my company is completely transforming one of the largest, oldest, and most disorganized industries in India. Despite being a $40 billion industry, most of the Indian wedding industry (from small designers, to florists, to venues) do not make their information and rates accessible online, and make it impossible to actually make a purchase or a booking online. We are solving this problem by organizing them, making them accessible and facilitating bookings online too.
We started out as a team of 3 people working out of a restaurant’s back office in Lower Parel, and grew to a company of 18 people offering a full range of wedding services (from inspiration, to purchasing products, to booking services) in a span of 18 months.
We also just raised our first round of funding of INR 4 crore from an institutional investor and active angel investors to scale our model and reach new customers across India and abroad (the funding will be formally announced during the last week of April). Raising this round of funding makes me one of the youngest Indian women ever to raise an institutional round of capital.
Not only are we changing the way Indians plan weddings, but there are many factors that differentiate us from our competition too such as:
- We are a complete end-to-end portal from inspiration, to planning, to purchasing
- We allow users to make real-time purchases on our platform in both Shop and Services
- We have any extremely supportive offline concierge service to help users make bookings and even visit venues with our customers to assist them through the process
- The very best brands and vendors in the business are our partners, including the Taj Group of Hotels, the Wedding Filmer, Ritu Kumar, Anita Dongre, Amrapali, Forest Essentials and many more
- We have a very high standard for the vendors we allow to be listed on our portal
3.Describe the career highlights & top moments
Attending Brown University (an Ivy League college which is one of the hardest to get into in the United States) was a definite highlight, as it was there that I discovered I had a passion for entrepreneurship after I co-founded our college’s largest student-run business at the time. Our business, 2020 Restaurant Discount LLC, offered discounts to students at nearby restaurants during off-peak hours. I graduated Magna cum Laude from Brown, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honors society in the United States. I then was offered a highly competitive role as an investment banking analyst on Morgan Stanley’s technology equity capital markets team, where I worked on landmark IPOs such as Twitter, Care.com, and GrubHub Seamless.
However, the top moment of my career so far has definitely been founding Indear. I saw a genuine need in the wedding space that was not being fulfilled, and despite being out of the country for so long (and never having worked in technology before), I did the research and then took a leap of faith to found this company. As mentioned, we also just raised our first round of funding of INR 4 crore from an institutional investor and active angel investors, making us the first company in our space to receive funding from a prominent institutional investor. Lastly, we were interview by Bloomberg a couple of weeks ago about our journey, the link to the video is here: http://www.btvin.com/videos/watch/17375/indear–tension-free-weddings.
4.What are the unique differentiators of this Nomination that would merit this category to be considered for an award?
I think this is a really interesting and relevant category to be nominated for. Unlike other more traditional categories like “Business Women of the Year,” this award for “New Age Woman in Innovations and Creativity” focuses on women that are innovating and providing creative solutions to the fields that they work in. These platforms are not necessarily purely online or offline, but are often a mixture of many mediums to provide the most effective solution for customers.
I genuinely believe we are providing a modern, useful, convenient and fun solution in an industry that has lacked innovation for many decades, and I am very grateful to be nominated for this award.
5.What is your Vision & where you want to see yourself in the year 2020?
In 2020 I want every woman who gets engaged in India to think of our company the moment the ring slips on her finger. I want our company to be completely ingrained in the wedding industry across cities, cultures, and budgets so that every Indian bride can find any product or service that she is looking for (be it mehendi giveaways or a DJ) on our portal. I want us to continue having fantastic customer service so that these brides trust that our company will make the biggest day of their lives as special and stress-free as possible. With the wedding industry pegged at $40 billion and growing 25% year-on-year, I believe we can be a billion dollar company by the year 2020.