India is among the major startup hubs in the world with ample of opportunity for both men and women alike, or at least that is what we would like to believe. The journey is difficult, and it's not always that you will come across the right people. A friendly and polite demeanour is often misunderstood, especially when it comes to women. Sharmin Ali shares her journey as a woman entrepreneur that is undoubtedly far from easy. From being asked to step down and pave way for a male CEO to being propositioned by an investor, she has seen it all.
Sharmin has been dabbling with theatre for almost 17 years now. That led to the formation of her first startup - Art-Right-Is Productions - a platform to both amateurs and professionals to speak up and promote new talent. She plans to re-launch her second startup, which is an online marketplace for stories in hundred plus languages.
She is a published author, professional speaker, playwright, theatre artist & and entrepreneur. The course of the journey has left with many bitter-sweet moments. Working out of a cozy space in Koramangala, Ali tells us that it was last year that her startup had gained enough traction and they had started approaching VCs. It wasn't as easy as presenting an idea, the 28-year-old had to face questions related to marriage, and was even asked to step down as the chief paving way for a male co-founder. "My co-founder told the VC, sir if you want a man to be the CEO, then she is the man and this really boosted my morale, " she told us.
Another incident was when she was propositioned by an investor. Yes, you heard that right! She didn't disclose a name, but she did say he is among the leading VCs in India. She is now penning down a book that encompasses her journey in the startup world, so far. This hasn't made her bitter and if you are expecting a feminist rant, then Ali makes it clear that she isn't one. "I am not a feminist and I don't think all men are the same," she added.
She is currently running a crowdfunded campaign on FuelADream.com to raise funds to publish a book titled How I Was Forced to Become a Staunch RACIST. The non-fiction illustrates her struggles in the startup world. "The book, explains the six paradigm pillars of the modern age racism, the unavoidable and incredibly obtrusive sides of a regular hexagon: Parenting, Virgin Evolution, Failure, Social Networking, Neuro-Marketing and the Indian start-up culture," she said.
Ranganath Thota, Founder and CEO FuelADream says, “This is a book that needs to see the light of day. We are very happy that Sharmin decided to partner and work with Fueladream on this campaign publish this book."