INTERVIEW: Taking WE-Hub to women masses is the mantra, says WE-Hub CEO Deepthi Ravula

In an exclusive interview with NewsTAP, Deepthi Ravula said, "WE-Hub acts like a facilitator and an enabler for women entrepreneurs"

CEO of WE-Hub Deepthi Ravula

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad-based, Telangana Government's initiative WE-Hub – Women Entrepreneur-Hub, is growing its presence rapidly in the city and has set foot to enter Tier-2 places of Telangana to help women of all ages achieve their entrepreneurial dream.

Women Entrepreneurs, many say that the term shouldn't exist. It should be non-gendered. It is true and very much the need of the hour. However, there's still a long way to go where women and men find themselves with equal opportunities and platforms to set up startups, said CEO of WE-Hub Deepthi Ravula.

In an exclusive interview with NewsTAP, Deepthi Ravula said, "WE-Hub acts like a facilitator and an enabler for women entrepreneurs to be able to build themselves and sustainably take their business forward. We eventually want to be the platform where women entrepreneurs find everything they need to grow big."

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

How does the revolving fund (funding type) of WE-Hub work?

WE-Hub does not fund startups. Funding would mean taking a stake in their business, which we do not want to do. However, we do help women entrepreneurs raise funds for themselves.

First, we make them aware about the existing government support mechanisms. Most women, who we work with, have bootstrapped their startups, maybe by selling something that they have or by using their savings. We create proper financial documentation, give them financial literacy, let them know about the right schemes and connect them to the right banks or lending institutions. For example, women entrepreneurs can get loans up to Rs 2 crore WITHOUT collateral. Most women do not know this and they don't go to the banks as properties are not in their names.

Second, we have started grant programmes, where companies that want to give money to WE-Hub, we directly disburse that money to entrepreneurs, without any equity. Recently, we got Rs 5 crore, which we disbursed to 13 startups.

Lastly, we act as a channel between Venture Capital firms and women entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs do not know who to pitch to, they go around pitching to everyone. So we connect them to VCs who would actually be interested to invest in their work.

What is the ratio of women and men at WE-Hub?

We are a team of 12, currently. It is not true that all are women. There isn't a ratio between men and women as we are an inclusive team. Here, people are men or women or from the queer community. Maybe, a man who identifies as a woman.

What was the highest investment received from VCs or PE for a WE-Hub startup, how much amount and which startup?

Kinderpass, a paediatric behavioural health company, is the WE-Hub startup which has raised the highest investment. The funding they raised was to the tune of $500,000 (around Rs 4.1 Cr).

How many startups (women entrepreneurs) benefited from WE-Hub?

WE-Hub has incubated 2,194 women entrepreneurs till date, both in the start-up and Small and Medium Business category. These ventures were across all stages of development – idea stage, early revenue stage and growth stage.

How similar are the settings of T-Hub and WE-Hub in terms of incubation?

WE-Hub and T-Hub are both incubation centres. The difference is that T-Hub is focused on technology, scaling up and innovation while We-Hub supports women across all centres.

In terms of incubation, T-Hub has more corporate innovation programmes and at WE-Hub, the incubation is more entrepreneurially driven, targeted one-on-one and detailed.

A lot of women entrepreneurs in T-Hub were initially incubated here. We do not run corporate innovation programmes, as such, as there is a very less number of women in tech ethos. However, whenever there are such programmes in T-Hub, women from here participate in that.

What are the types of products/services that WEs are seen pitching? Are most of the startups/startup idea tech related?

WE Hub is a sector-agnostic incubator. Tech is not the only focus sector. However, the portfolio of entrepreneurs is in the areas of FMCG, Manufacturing, Health-tech and Edu-tech.

What are WE-Hub's future plans?

We do not just offer incubation programmes. We also monitor the growth of women and startups and help them scale. Our future plan is to reach 70-80 Tier-2 places in Telangana and ensure that no woman has to travel this far to get the support that we provide. Taking the services of WE-Hub to more and more women has been the mantra and this year we will be focusing on it a lot more.

What are few of the renowned startups that grew from WE-Hub?

Kinderpass - A paediatric behavioural health company.

Sortizy - A food-tech company.

Shu Shu Babies - Vegan and natural products for kids company.

Hunar Online Courses - An ed-tech company.

Laurik - A skin and hair care company.

These are a few noted startups to grow out of WE-Hub.

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