This Woman Serial Entrepreneur Doubles up as a Perfect Mentor to New Ventures
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Lathika Pai is leading the effort to cultivate a movement predicated on women supporting women within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She has been an active member of India’s entrepreneurial community, including the Indian Angel Network since the 2000s and now mentors more than a dozen ventures at any given point.
She shares her views on the angel investment scenario in India today:
Representation of Women in VC/Investor Circles
In what is a traditionally male dominated area, Pai states that “The current venture capital scene does not have too many women entrepreneurs or investors”. Although, the venture capitalist industry has started to include women who are venture capitalists (VC) and angel investors, the actual number of women angels and VCs is still comparatively less.
Lathika believes that investing in startups requires a lot of courage and determination but remains optimistic about increased representation of women angel investors. “The number of angel investors continues to grow and hopefully we can bring more into the fold to invest in startups (preferably led by women),” adds Pai
Driving women entrepreneurship in India
As Promoting women entrepreneurship has become more of a priority, angel investors, like Lathika are keen on granting women entrepreneurs access to a network that was previously inaccessible. “The good “old boys” network equivalent doesn’t exist for women,” she points-out.
Lathika’s interests led to the creation of SonderConnect in 2016. “It all started with providing funding and a network that was missing for women-led businesses”, she says. SonderConnect’s aim is to create a pipeline of high-potential women entrepreneurs, and assist them in scaling by connecting them to investors and providing access to a powerful global network.
As a serial entrepreneur herself, she is eager to share lessons she’s learned through her own entrepreneurial journey and today, focuses on mentoring and investing in women-led ventures. Investors turning into entrepreneurs (and mentors) generally results in them acquiring sufficient experience across all cycles of starting, building, exiting, crashing, burning, and restarting business processes.
Lathika has invested in three ventures. SonderConnect’s mentoring portfolio includes women-led ventures such as Astrome (Space Tech) , Azooka Life Sciences , Happy Healthy Me , NIRA Finance (Fintech), StyleNook, Medimojo (Healthcare), OncoStem Diagnostics (Healthcare), BonOrganik (Retail), WONK tutoring app (EdTech), Merxius (AR/VR), GoPaisa - and Huzzpa.
She is eager to support women-led ventures across various industries and is actively looking to mentor and invest in high potential women entrepreneurs in South Asia.
The key to getting investors interested
From the perspective of an investor/entrepreneur , Pai states that it is the ability to help businesses that can scale and create value for the founders and investors, that gets her interested to mentor ventures. “My personal philosophy is not to chase funding but to create viable businesses that can then scale over a period of time, and are generating revenues and preferably profits sooner than later,” Pai emphasizes.
Solve genuine problems, and get funded
With new-age technology being a driver of a majority of new ventures today, it is imperative for founders of these ventures to develop necessary technical expertise so they are capable of troubleshooting their own issues. On Funding, Lathika advises startups to “focus on creating a solid business with a team that will stand by you through the good and bad times”, emphasizing that funding would come if startup founders can convince investors that they are able to add value within their offerings.