Note to readers: Storyboard18's Share The Spotlight aims to highlight inspirational stories of women who continue breaking barriers and setting the precedent for other women marketers, entrepreneurs and communication specialists.
The initiative aims to kick off a movement where people from across these communities step up and share their spotlight with other women. They could be women in their team or any other team, a new group or previous one, from a past workplace or the current one.
Share The Spotlight calls on us all to come out and share words of praise and encouragement for each other, appreciating and acknowledging the contributions of so many people who make businesses, brands and workplaces better. Learn and understand how to face challenges and seize opportunities while bringing along others on the path to progress.
This is just the beginning of a long journey to spotlight individuals who are empowering others and bringing change and growth for all. Together we rise.
When we asked Ragini Das, co- founder of Leap Club, a professional network exclusively for women, what the biggest professional achievement in her career is, she said: “Making a real dent in thousands of women's lives along with the team that I get to live my dream with.” She added, “Hopefully these will only compound and we'll prove to the world that you can run a business that makes money and makes an impact, and not either/ or.”
Leap Club which was started in the middle of Covid is a first-of-its-kind network for women. Memberships are usually paid from Day 1, and there’s a waitlist. It is apparently one of the only startups in India with 90 percent women on the team.
A startup co-founded by a woman will probably have its fair share of challenges. Addressing her biggest failure professionally, Das shares, “Building a company is like jumping off a cliff and assembling the airplane on the way down. So you are bound to face failure every single day. It could mean a deal not going through, the team not meeting targets, not getting a single day off, an unhappy customer or a not-very-motivated team member (which takes a toll on founders more than one can imagine).”
She adds, “But having a certain amount of resilience and self-motivation, going ahead and taking that leap constantly is what makes the difference. The media has a way of packaging the entrepreneurial life as a sexy dream, and when you’re on the outside, the grass looks green and lush. But when you’re on the inside, it’s a different story altogether.”
The story goes that Das often faced bias while pitching to a room full of men for leap.club – which is built for women. From prospective investors asking if her long term plans included marriage to potential investors ignoring her presence during pitch sessions and looking at her co-founder when talking numbers, Das has faced it all. Das notes how the rapid growth of Leap Club and “seeing all those articles or members talking about us - it all looks amazing on the outside. But there are 40 people's blood and sweat going into building this every day, failing on a few days and pushing harder post that failure.”
"You can't control what's not in your control. But what you can control is how you decide to deal with it. So push yourself back up, and keep running. It’s a marathon, not a sprint," Ragini Das, co-founder, leap.club
She further adds, “This is how I look at it - you can't control what's not in your control. But what you can control is how you decide to deal with it. So push yourself back up, and keep running. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
When Storyboard18 asked Das to nominate women whose stories need to be told more, Das shared the spotlight with Lulu Raghavan, MD at Landor & Fitch.
“Lulu is one of the kindest, smartest leaders I’ve come across in my career. She was the first member we onboarded in Bombay when leap was in its year 1 and since then she’s been such a guiding light for me - a year back when I was fully stuck on what to make out of branding at leap, she flew in a couple of hours early to our office during her trip to Delhi and spent some time with me on breaking down the basics.”
It forced Das to think about the value of compounding and how small acts can make such a world of a difference to people.
Das also nominated Andrea Stone, Leadership Coach: Andrea was the first coach Das onboarded at leap.club in Feb 2020. “She’s easily one of the wittiest, impactful and warm coaches I’ve met and I remember meeting her last month at the leap affair where she just hugged me and said ‘I’m so proud of you’. While I might hear those words quite often, Andrea saying it was my true validation,” says Das
Suchita Salwan, Founder LBB was also endorsed by Das. In Dec 2019 when Das quit Zomato, she wrote to a bunch of founders including Suchita. “She was kind enough to meet me at her office in Delhi, give me enough gyaan about the ecosystem and challenged me to think by telling me my product wasn’t suited for her. I was disappointed - but it really helped me go back to the drawing board and think through things about my pitch, TG++”, says Das
Over the course of the years, Salwan has done a masterclass for Leap Club members, and been a part of the learning modules faculty. LBB is currently listed as an employer on the jobs board at leap. “She has also been the first founder to cheer for me every time we raised a round, called a spade a spade and I have nothing but immense respect for her,” added Das
Know anyone you’d like to share the spotlight with? Join the movement, give them a shout-out on LinkedIn and tag Storyboard18 so we can take it forward.