ET Startup Awards 2021: ZestMoney’s Lizzie Chapman wins the Woman Ahead award
The elite jury, which discussed various parameters before picking Chapman, also acknowledged how Singh, a close contender for the top spot, had been building ventures in the beauty space—earlier with FabBag—before hitting it big with Sugar Cosmetics, a brand designed for Indian women.
“Almost 10 years ago, we saw that Indian consumers would love a product that had the lowest costs and was the easiest to use. We were probably a tiny bit too early, but the observations we had then that BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later) was going to be much needed in the Indian ecosystem has finally become very obvious,” Chapman said.
Chapman’s journey in financial services goes back to 2011 when she was the India head of UK-based BNPL player Wonga.
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In 2015, amid a funding frenzy in the startup ecosystem locally, she founded ZestMoney with former colleagues from Wonga, to make digital goods and services accessible to the masses.
The platform is a three-way marketplace – for consumers, for merchants, to whom it offers payment solutions, and lenders, for which it is a software and acquisition partner.
The company has partnered with point-of-sale platforms to make its BNPL solutions available across 75,000 offline stores, in addition to its 10,000 online partners.
About 70% of its customers are from tier II and tier III cities and most are new to credit or have only limited credit exposure.
In the next year, the company plans to take its offline network to 400,000 stores.
“ZestMoney has built something unique which I personally haven’t seen anywhere else. Also, it’s scaled not just online, but also offline in partnership with point-of-sale. By essentially competing and winning in this competitive category, Chapman and ZestMoney deserve to get the award,” said jury member Gokul Rajaram, the product and business leader at US-based food delivery platform DoorDash.
While inclusivity of women in the tech world is a challenge globally, spotlighting their work inspires the next generation of women to “reach for the stars,” Chapman said.
“One amazing thing that happened just from being nominated was that so many young women reached out. I’m meeting a few women to help them with fundraising and other things,” she added.
Sugar Cosmetics | Vineeta Singh
Singh cofounded Sugar with her husband Kaushik Mukherjee, which in its initial years faced challenges in raising funds. That started to change when direct-to-consumer brands began seeing heightened investor interest.
Sugar has raised $21 million this year, in a round led by Elevation Capital.
Sankar developed the core product of her current venture Atlan, a data-ops company, as an internal tool for her previous venture, SocialCops. The product is a data collaboration software that exists as a layer on top of data warehouses, which has received traction at an early stage, allowing Atlan to
raise $16 million in May this year.
Wysa | Jo Aggarwal
Aggarwal founded the AI-powered mental health app after she couldn’t find a product to help cope with depression following the failure of a previous startup, which did not find a product-market fit. Wysa is one of the few well-funded businesses in the mental wellness space in India.
10club | Bhavna Suresh
Earlier this year, Suresh’s startup
10club raised $40 million, the largest ever seed round in India, to enter the buzzing roll-up space. 10club acquires e-commerce product sellers with an intent to operate and grow the businesses. Before she founded 10club, Suresh had sold an online real estate platform that she helped build.