A startup founder was asked to do a coffee run on her first pitch, now she's among India's richest women
- The 33-year-old Kanika
Tekriwalearned her a fortune of ₹420 crore and was named as the youngest self-made richest womanin the Kotak Hurun report list.
- Initially, she too went through the rigours of starting a business as a woman.
- Tekriwal hails from an orthodox Marwari family where girls are often discouraged from working.
AdvertisementKanika Tekriwal from Bhopal has come a long way from being mistaken for a cabin crew to becoming one of
Her idea of offering a cloud-based solution for those who want to ‘hire’ private jets,
The 33-year-old is also the youngest in the list, with i-banker turned entrepreneur Falguni Nayyar on the top.
‘Miss, can you ask them for tea/coffee?’
Today, she is also noted amongst startup founders who made it in a male dominated world. Her online air charter service is hailed by celebrities, film stars and HNIs not just for private jets but also for helicopters and air ambulances.
Initially, she too went through the rigours of starting a business as a woman.
“I remember walking into a customer’s office to whom we went to pitch, I had just started my company and I was the last person to walk into the conference room.
A guy turned to me and said, Miss, can you ask everyone what they want tea or coffee? and all my confidence fell on the floor immediately as I was very young. It was my first pitch ever and I wanted to cry,” Tekriwal told Business Insider India in an interview.
In the earlier days of the business, when she used to hang out at airports, she was frequently mistaken for the cabin crew.
The Marwari girl ‘discouraged to work’
Tekriwal hails from an orthodox Marwari family where girls are often discouraged from working. However, she always wanted to become a pilot, and that along with her time in the UK inspired her to start her own business.
The idea to start her company, JetSetGo, came from the thought of private flying as more accessible and economical for people. Before her startup, it was a long, cumbersome process where people lost money and faced many hiccups. Her company, however, turned this process online, transparent and allowed people to ‘share’ rides.
Advertisement“The idea came out of the combination of prior experiences and learning where I saw what was happening in the UK and in India, and there is a big gap that needs to be fulfilled and I went about it,” Tekriwal said.
The first roadblock to doing business in the air was registration.
“When I wanted to register the company, the people in the registrar office didn’t want to give me the certificate of incorporation simply because it had the word ‘aviation’ in it and asked me to go and get DGCA approval. Why would DGCA give me an approval for a company? I wanted to do trading,” she highlighted.
Then came another difficult period in her young life when she was diagnosed with cancer. “I had the idea brewing in my head for close to three years or so, but when I took out my sketch board and started working on it, I was diagnosed with cancer, which set me back by a year,” said Tekriwal.
After she became cancer-free in 2012, she kickstarted the business with her friend,
Lockdown and beyond
AdvertisementThe company also overcame tough times during the three months of the first lockdown. But it decided not to lay off staff or cut down salaries.
“I used to actually wake up sweating on most days wondering till when we will be able to sustain this,” Tekriwal added. However, now that’s in the past, the aviation sector has become one of the busiest in the last few months, thanks to years of pent up demand.
During the time, the company added another interesting set of jet-setting travellers – startup founder, says Tekriwal, who was amazed at the trend. Also, those who want to splurge on a private jet for leisure trips too has doubled since January 2020.
“When the Maldives opened in December last year, everyone was running there on private jets. Now it's Dubai. In India, Goa, Rajasthan, and Kerala are the top leisure destinations,” she added.
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