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New age tech firms empowering women

By Itika Sharma Punit
March 08, 2015 19:43 IST
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From increasing convenience to enhancing productivity, the start-ups are adding value to the day-to-day lives of Indian women

Behind every successful man is a woman; and behind every successful woman, these days, is perhaps a new-age tech company that's making her life easier by simplifying her day-to-day chores. From online grocery sellers to mobile applications that help in weight loss and gadgets that enable women’s safety, technology startups are empowering women to be more efficient and effective.

Whether it is working women or new mothers or even homemakers, several services that are enabled through websites and mobile apps have changed the daily battles of hundreds of women.

“These new technologies are definitely a boon for women,” said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of Biocon Limited who uses several mobile applications on a day-to-day basis herself. “Today women are far more enabled to efficiently take care of their homes and kids and still be very productivity at work. All these innovative apps have definitely made a big difference in the lives of women.”

Mazumdar-Shaw, who is one of the most active Indian corporate leaders on micro-blogging website Twitter, says she frequently uses Google Maps for convenience during commuting, and has apps of several e-tailers on her phone, which have “certainly brought down” the number of trips she would have to make to stores earlier.

Asha Poluru, chief of people experience at technology solutions firm Altimetrik, adds these new technologies have become a “blessing” for her. “Not too many weeks ago, I shopped at my favourite stores complete with parking, long lines, and wobbly shopping carts. I have made an exception to this and have started buying groceries online. Online payments are another blessing for a frequent traveller like me and has eased the pressure on my time.”

Saira Mohan, director at pre-school Maple Bear, says she last went to a mall “a very long time ago”. Mother of a three-year-old, Mohan is “a pro” at using websites and apps to manage her day-to-day chores, says a friend of hers. She frequents online retailers for stuff like clothes, diapers and even groceries.

“With a baby, it is impossible to go out because they cannot walk so much and then if you carry them, you cannot shop at ease. So you don't go out and you cannot shop what you want. E-commerce companies were a big relief for me right after my daughter was born, and even now,” says Mohan. “I think if these new-age tech firms were not there, it would have been a very primitive way of living.”

Understanding how technology can ease lives of parents, Mohan says Maple Bear has implemented a communication app for parents, where each parent can log into a personalised dashboard to get updates about their child’s activities at school. Between their busy schedules, working-mothers can even communicate with the school authorities through this app called CoolG.

Several women believe they have become more mobile due to the taxi and auto-hailing apps, which reduce their dependence on others to ferry them for their chores.

Additionally, with most players in the segment choosing to enhance security features such as mobile-tracking and panic buttons, women believe it has become far safer for them, rather than standing on a roadside looking for conveyance.

Meena Ganesh, active investor and co-founder of Portea Medical, believes that technology has not only enabled comfort and convenience but also has the potential of enhancing productivity and providing entertainment.

“Smart apps that help you source just about anything, from everyday necessities like groceries to healthcare, buying books to household goods, services such as plumbers to electricians, comforts such as taxi rides or beauticians or luxuries from jewellery to perfumes, are the order of the day,” says Ganesh. “This trend is only going to increase in years to come with an ever wider array of services being controlled from your phone.”

Ganesh has a number of apps on her phone, such as Flipkart, Amazon, BigBasket, and several taxi hailing apps. She also uses Runkeeper and Myfitness pal for tracking her exercise and weight. For entertainment, she says, she uses music, news and social networking apps.

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Itika Sharma Punit in Bengaluru
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