Rashi Narang is the chair of the jury for the Digital Women Awards 2022. The initiative considered the biggest for women entrepreneurship in India, Digital Women Awards is in its 8th edition. Narang, who is the founder of Heads Up For Tails, is one of the early winners of this coveted award.
Narang’s journey is an inspirational one. Not only has her business – founded in 2008 – grown into India’s largest pet supplies marketplace and brand, Narang has kept intact her central philosophy of doing business. Her love for animals comes ahead of all her objectives. At the Heads Up for Tails office, pets are allowed and often stroll around the various cubicles. The business last raised $37 million in Series A through Verlinvest and Sequoia Capital India.
Heads Up for Tails is now expanding and the company sells high-quality pet items, salon and spa services supported by dog behaviourists and experts, a Pet Bakery, informational blogs and workshops for pet parents.
Interview with Rashi Narang
SheThePeople: With half the population not working, making India $5 trillion economic target seems questionable. What will it take women to start contributing, and entrepreneurship can be way, What do you think about it?
A huge, huge portion of our population, at least half is not working. And I believe it has the potential to bring about all the reforms we want to see in our economy. We must be presenting these chances for women of our country. We must encourage women to speak up. We must convey to them that failing is acceptable. I believe that women hold themselves to such a high standard, and you really try to manage your home and your children while doing everything correctly. Manage the family, and there’s really not much time left to actually pursue a job that appears risky and challenging, even though we all have so much more experience than what entrepreneurship throws at you.
What do you think as the Chair of the Jury about how women should be on the lookout for when it comes to helping one another?
I believe the first step is to support small companies wherever we can. It’s important, in my opinion, to have sincere, open discussions about the difficulties we all face at that stage. Making mistakes and failing is natural instead of something to be despised or seen negatively, in my opinion, is the key. Since every setback, in my opinion, is an opportunity for growth, the same goes for every success.
There are numerous methods to help, including spreading the news, making a small sale, supporting someone during a tough time, or lending a hand by helping out at home, with family, friends, or as a close friend or member of the extended family. These are the minor issues that might occur.
How can we ensure more and more investors support and invest in businesses run by women?
I’ve personally asked every investor I meet why they don’t support women, and they all have some variation of the same response: there aren’t enough women coming forward. And that is really, really the truth—there are so few women coming forward. We must inspire more individuals. They need to know that there are different kinds, not just one, when it comes to sourcing funds for their startups.
You should be aware that there are various forms of finance accessible on the market for you to launch and expand your firm. It might be cash that is considerably more long-term, or patient, or coming from family offices. It doesn’t have to be one sort, like the venture capitalist money, who could scare a smaller company.
Do you believe the stereotype of women working in ‘soft’ industries has started to fade away?
I’m seeing women in industries like cement, automobile, racing, you know, managing all kinds of industries which were primarily male dominated earlier. It’s definitely shifting. I think some of the shift comes easily to women who may be part of those while others will take some more time.
Life is rigged in my favour. I believe in that – Rashi Narang
I also think sometimes women are slow and shy when it comes to talking about their own work. But I do see that changing. Sometimes they don’t lead in the front, but they work quietly from the back. But I think that they’re definitely there and that the narrative is surely, surely shifting.
I’m sure all of them have their stories of struggle.
We want to pick the point that you made about the importance of not doing everything and picking your right areas of expertise. How can women not aim for it all, and focus on specific talent?
I don’t think we need to know it all. Women need to focus on their strengths and hire for the rest.
Through this interview you have mentioned the importance of not taking failures personally, and learn from them. How did you deal with your rejections?
When I look back and join the dots I feel I know more in hindsight. We look back we realise that what that door that shut in our face, it felt horrible at that moment. But then there was something else that opened up which turned out to be so much better in the long run, right? So I think that for me, I still continue to deal with a lot of rejection, but I think I’ve developed an underlying belief system. That helps me cope with it very well.
And that underlying belief system is that whatever is coming my way is for my best. It’s coming to serve me, it’s coming to teach me. It’s coming to grow me. And you know, if there is a rejection, there’s something I need to learn, and I know there will be a better opportunity. It is. Life is rigged in my favour. So I think that helps because I look at every one of those shut doors as a new opportunity for a new door to open and for something new to come.
You have been with Digital Women Awards from the very start, as a winner, what’s your message to entrepreneurs?
I remember being a winner. This was, I think, back in 2016 or 17, and I can’t quite explain how lovely it felt to be recognised. And I know that awards are not everything and not everyone will get one and sometimes that’s okay. But I just wanted to tell you that it does go a really long way. It’s a little bit of a validation and just want to thank you for doing all that you have been in this place for supporting them, encouraging them. A massive thank you to you and your team. And for the listening and breaking the stereotype.
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Digital Women Awards is India’s biggest initiative for women entrepreneurs that puts the spotlight on their growth stories. The event, supported by Google, Colors, Axis Bank and Tanishq brings women in business together to discuss small to scale journeys, the support system women need and the way forward for the Indian economy.