Inksedge is the brainchild of four women who run the tech company despite having incredibly demanding personal lives as moms.
It is 5.30 am in India and Swathi Kulkarni has finished half of her housework for the day. She calls Rohini Chakravarthy in Mountain View, California, USA for a daily exchange of notes. It seems like a pretty ordinary phone call, two women adjusting their schedules to catch up with each other across opposite time zones. Except that it isn’t.
Rohini and Swathi happen to be running a one-of -its-kind event communications company that is worth millions and operates out of both the US and India, besides being mothers of two and running successful households too. Four fantastic women – Rohini, the CEO, Swathi, the India GM, Anuja Ranjane, the co-founder and Usha Seetharaman, the chief of engineering run Inksedge.com.
Inksedge is a dream destination for anyone looking to host a significant event in their lives – a marriage, a thread ceremony, an arangetram, a birthday, a new baby in the family or even a memorable Diwali or New Year – and need a perfect set of invitations and paper and e-communication for that. With over 2000 products that offer the unique technology of self-customizing ecards and paper cards, Inksedge is now a significant Indian player in the $2 billion card industry.
The four women at the helm are mothers and have managed to balance work and life to the T. Rohini, a serial investor dividing her time between Palo Alto, California and Bangalore, India, and mother to two teenage children, built up Inksedge in 2014 almost as a result of the frustration she faced when she couldn’t get traditional card shops to design her son’s thread ceremony card the way she wanted.
Just as irritation in an oyster shell creates a pearl, Rohini’s haplessness got her to connect with Anuja, who by then was already working for the e-commerce stationery market in the US and toying with the idea of similar, beautifully designed, customized stationery for Indian buyers. “I always had a dream that this model would work for the Indian market as well. I happened to meet Rohini who had the same vision and that’s how Inksedge started,” she says. The co-founders raised $2 million to start Inksedge.
The task of marrying complex paper designs into their e-avatar fell on the engineering genius, Usha. Using self-developed technology that no other player in the e-card market has in the world, Usha will tell you that she is “on a mission to strike a balance between great resolution, performance and ease of use for the customers. We invest in evaluating software quite often so that it can make us faster and more efficient (than anyone else in the market).” Binding the entire process together is Swathi, who wakes up at ungodly hours to set up her household and make sure she has everything ready for her children, one of them a toddler, before managing an entire company, from a glitch in a design to a departmental staff crunch.
A graduate of ISB, specializing in digital marketing, Swathi also has an engineering degree and worked with the semi-conductor industry and wrote codes for close to a decade before the startup bug bit her. She can’t think of another life now. But their biggest achievement, the fantastic four agree, is that they have been able to do this through motherhood, household chores and all that goes with it, and strike the perfect balance in their lives. Anuja, for example, says she relies on to-do lists to get her through the day.
Rohini, extremely hands-on, has her own way of doing things. “Typically, I go through the progress from the previous day first thing in the morning - customer analytics, orders, design work, engineering and marketing - via emails and Skype messages. I follow up with calls if needed with the respective teams,” she says.
“I like things on a weekly cycle, so there is a predictable flow of interactions.” Usha, mother to a 14-year-old and an 11 year-old, says that she talks to her sons every day after they come back from school. “I don't miss their annual days, state tournaments, parent teacher's meeting. Similarly at work as well, I can see people have become much more mature and inclusive of this fact.”
The Inksedge women may have it all, but it all comes down to hard work and organising life to make every compartment of it work in tandem. And doing everything with a little bit of love.
It is these women who inspire us and others world over. In fact, Asianet Newsable's Pink Samaritan is all about celebrating such women.