Rajshree De: A protagonist who dived into challenges and co-founded two successful technology start-ups
Indian Tech Industry has been facing a hurdle since ages; the gender problem. Still, there are women who have broken this glass ceiling and are improving the outlook for women in technology landscape. Continued increase of women-led businesses and their participation in the entrepreneurial zone have turned out to be a major driver of economic growth the country is witnessing. While the digits are small, it is certainly calling in a fresh breeze of change where many women entrepreneurs are undertaking their entrepreneurial journey and building products not just for India but for the world as well. During our research, we delved deep into the ‘tech’ treasure of our country and what we found was an extremely high ratio of male entrepreneurs compared to women! We were curious to know the reason behind this cheerless statistics in the ‘male-dominated’ industry and reached out to Rajshree De, a proud women entrepreneur in IT domain, writer, blogger and lastly, a beautiful soul to interact with. Interestingly, gender obstacles went out missing during the conversation. Instead, she described how she initiated her entrepreneurial journey of incorporating profitable businesses like Pentechs and QuasarMatrix™– with passion, clarity, and confidence, enabling innovative business ideas to thrive.
When there is anything about you that is less common, you stand out. Read these lines somewhere and they tune up with your journey very well. What would be the two-three highlights of your career that helped you shape who you are today?
To work independently is something I have been comfortable with. To go on with a well paying corporate job was never my cup of tea! Establishingyour own business may feel alluring, but it comes in with its own challenges. During the initial phase of my professional stint, I tried my hands over a lot of things. My first stint with entrepreneurship started way back in 2001 with a cake baking business, named Taste & Flavor in Mumbai. Later, my move to London exposed me to various other facets of learning and new business possibilities. Though I am an MBA in Marketing and Finance, I later decided to try my hands on web technology and study Interior Design in London. That was how my interior design and designer furnishing venture DesignPeninsula was born. My quest for an innovative business idea inspired me to incorporate Pentechs in the field of software development, back in 2013 along with my husband as my business partnerto create Next Generation Software, Web and Mobile Technologies.Pre-empting the global shift from IT service industry, it felt right to create a product that Indian enterprises need. We realized that the businesses with multiple real estate property leases like stores, factories, warehouses, offices maintain their enormous amount of lease data in spreadsheets. Departments spend hours in finding the paper copies of lease deeds and supporting documents. Sometimes the all-important piece of paper is even lost. No one has a clear idea on the latest status of the leases property or when the lease is expiring. There is no software in India that can comprehensively take care of the corporate lease management. We stepped into this segment where technology laid unused with our Enterprise Lease Management Suite (ELMS). I am proud to be the co-founder of two start-up companies that have developed this awesome solution and taking it to Indian corporates.QuasarMatrix™ was founded a year ago to take our products and solutions to the market.
Our inception in the industry is quite an interesting garage story with almost zero investment and it is quite intriguing to see ourselves growing from a three people company in a basement office and a living room to a lovely 1800 sq. ft. office.
QuasarMatrix™ has revolutionized the way corporate lease are managed in India. Tell us more about this pioneering enterprise solution.
QuasarMatrix™ offers a suite of business solutions that add value to organizations. Under the spectrum of QuasarMatrix™, we launched ELMS for complete automation of Enterprise Lease Management. ELMS is a very powerful lease management platform with in-built business intelligence and great user experience interface. All your leases are literally accessible with a button tap, cutting down the cost, error and time in managing hundreds of leases manually. Never miss a renewal of an outlet or forget to recover security deposit on time. Even after a year, we hold the crown as the prime mover in the industry. Our strength lies not only in the innovative solutions but also in our commitment to the customers for specialty customer experience and our personalized attention to details. The solution is being used to manage commercial leases for over 1500 retail stores in India and counting.
What are the future plans associated with QuasarMatrix™ and Pentechs ?
We want to be the market leader in both segments, while expanding our horizon globally. Pentechs turns five in March 2018; a milestone for me.
Although the statistics of women entrepreneurs in India are soaring, yet a woman’s ambitions are often doubted in our society. Is it hard to be a businesswoman in India?
Well, the industries are completely male-dominated and then there are glass ceilings. The basic support system and mentors/sponsors needed by a woman to keep going and lift her career are missed out in our society. We are often prefixed with industries like fashion and apparels; they cannot relate us to the IT Industry, but here I am looking at the bright sidewith my dreams and ambitions.
What has kept you going through hard times? Has your professional life affected your personal life as well?
My parents and my husband.I have gone through hard times in my life, but they stood with me like solid rock and kept motivating me. My husband and I are partners in life and also in business. We have very different work ideologies, therefore difference in opinions is there, but we both work together towards the same goal. We have a son who is extremely understanding for his age. So I should say I have been blessed in this front.
Our readers would like to know about your business partner, the co-founder Mr. Anish De.
Anish is my life partner and business partner as well. He has been my pillar of strength during the challenging times. He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and a member of Information System Audit and Controls Association (ISACA). On the professional front, Anish has spent a span of two decades in the industry with roles of an entrepreneur, technology strategist, business developer, information security specialist, risk manager and auditor. He has co-founded few start-ups including Pentechs and GRCPlus. His previous include chairing management positions with Big4s including KPMG and Ernst & Young in the UK and ICICI Bank in India for over 15 years.
Thank you for answering the interview. Would you like to share a piece of advice for the people who are just starting out?
Well, one should always pursue one’s dream. At the same time have the reality check in place too. A dream supported by proper ground work can never fail.