Founder of BabyChakra on All Things Entrepreneurship

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Naiyya Saggi

Naiyya Saggi is the CEO and Founder of BabyChakra, a popular parenting app in India. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where she was a Fulbright and J.N. Tata scholar.

1. How was BabyChakra born? Tell us about your journey from inception to launch!

The trigger for starting BabyChakra came after I saw my sister struggle with the journey of being a new mother - spending copious amounts of time listening to random advice, browsing on Google, and experimenting with different doctors and daycares. There simply wasn’t enough reliable information out there for new parents. It was clear to me that there was an immediate need for a technology disruption in childcare. This led to the birth of BabyChakra.

2. How does BabyChakra differentiate from the other parenting apps in the market?

Unlike BabyChakra, existing solutions for parents are static and not personalized to a user whose time is extremely limited: a mother does not have the time to sift through large amounts of information to find what is relevant and useful to her. The experience a mother has on BabyChakra is completely unique and personalized to her. Our web and mobile app recommends products, services, articles and questions which are relevant to the user, which makes us different from other parenting apps.

3. What has been the greatest challenge in starting and running a company for you?

In the first days of BabyChakra, our main challenges were to find the first set of fantastic team members, to understand what our users truly needed from us as a product and build credibility among experts and influencers. In order to answer our questions, we spent a lot of time understanding mothers’ and service providers’ requirements in this space. We spoke to nearly 600 influential mothers (top mom bloggers, community leaders, mompreneurs) and 500 top service providers in Mumbai. This helped us lay out the building blocks when we started work on the beta version of the BabyChakra website.

4. Would you say you faced any special challenges as a female founder? 

There were specific challenges in setting up a business as a woman. When I started BabyChakra, I was in my thirties and married, so others doubted my commitment to the business despite my professional experiences.

5. You’re a mentor for Facebook’s She Leads Tech, a program that encourages women to start businesses. What advice do you have for women who are interested, but haven’t taken the plunge to start a business?

  1. Work hard. Nothing comes easy so you need to be willing to put in the effort for the expected outcome.

  2. Be resilient. Don’t let anything fluster you. Investors don’t just invest in an idea – they invest in people. Be prepared and ready to answer any question that is thrown at you. Confidence is the key. Show you are passionate and have complete conviction in your business.

  3. Find the right team. Nothing is more important than the right teammates who will share your vision and help built it out together.

6. You previously worked in Business Consulting. Do you think the time you spent at McKinsey has been useful tin your journey as an entrepreneur?

The McKinsey experience is famous for giving people fantastic team management skills and the ability to approach a problem head-on, which are essential skills to have as an entrepreneur. I also discovered my passion at McKinsey, where I worked extensively on maternal and child health & nutrition and this became one of the first steps in the journey to starting BabyChakra. The professional networks I made during my consulting experience have also been invaluable to me in building and growing BabyChakra.

7. What have been some of your most important learnings from your experience of pursuing the MBA from Harvard Business School?

The most important learning I had at Harvard during my MBA is that there exists not just one type of leader. A successful leader does not have to be loud and outgoing. There are a range of different kinds of leadership styles which can succeed in their own way.

8. You studied law from the National Law School in Bangalore, prior to working in Consulting. Why did you decide to not pursue a career in law?

Although law is a great career path for making change, I wanted to create something which is impactful and at a large scale, affecting millions of people in a positive way. This is why I decided to become an entrepreneur to build a solution for mothers and families across India.

9. With so many Indians wanting to settle abroad, why did you choose to come back and start a company in India? You must have had no dearth of job options in the US after your Business School degree!

At the end of the day, India is my home, so India is where I saw myself settling. From a business perspective, I also saw India is as the place where I could make the maximum impact with a solution like BabyChakra. The maternity and childcare market in India is estimated to grow to $74 billion by 2020, which is a ripe opportunity for technological disruption. I saw BabyChakra as the solution for millions of families across India, making life easier for parents who already lack the time and energy to search for trusted information.

10. Tell us how do you take care of yourself? Burning out is common in the startup world - Tell us things you do for your wellness?

It’s important to make time to relax sometimes, so as to not burn out and be in the game for the long term. Once a year, I take a two-week-long vacation with my husband to a place with no Internet connectivity. On a more regular basis, I try to keep myself off the phone every Sunday evening to clear my mind and detox.

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