We spoke to Revathi Roy on her venture: Hey DeeDee – India’s First ever Instant parcel delivery service by women launched on 7th March 2016
Revathi also heads Zaffiro Learning – a skilling for employment enterprise and
Zaffiro Ventures – A mentoring and investment arm for student start-ups and Angel Investment
She is also a Mentor at Venture Catalysts a seed investor & Innovation platform. Revathi is very passionate about Women’s Empowerment, and she leads by example. Sharing her experiences and speaking to students is one of the things that she finds very rewarding. Here’s what she has to say about her journey:
- Was there a turning point that prompted you to start out on your own? When and how did you become an entrepreneur?
Ans: It was at the age of 47 when I lost my husband and I became the sole breadwinner of the family, and I realised that I couldn’t get a so-called normal job in an office. Given the circumstances, I had no choice but to take complete responsibility, to run my family and bring up my children. I needed to do something where I could bring money to the table. I had started driving since a very young age of 16, and I was known in my family as be excellent at driving.
So, I decided to use my skill of a driving and become a cab driver. The dignity of labour is something that you can bring into any profession. And driving isn’t just my profession, it’s my passion!
- Can you briefly tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Ans: My journey has been full of excitement. Ups and downs, travails and tensions and also the passion that I could do what I wanted to. It was a completely new field in the sector. There were never any women commercial drivers and it was so insane to see that a woman was ferrying passengers. This continued for 10 years.
Now I have 27 years of Hands on exposure spanning industries ( Print Media, Manufacturing, Women’s empowerment projects, Education, Non-Profit and Government bodies) and being on Mentor on Boards of various Institutes as part of their e-cell. I have helped to build 2 companies 1st as Founder FORSHE CABS and 2nd Co-founder VIIRA CABS. I am also heading Hey Deedee, last mile delivery service done by women.
- Which are some of the biggest challenges you faced as a woman entrepreneur… how did you tackle them?
Ans: I don’t think challenges are different for a man or a woman. Challenges are similar, circumstances can be different. For me, the whole thing of convincing women to become commercial drivers was a challenge. And then to get acceptance from the users was another big challenge. We stuck to it, proved ourselves and continued to tackle them.
- How did you aim for your company to stand out?
Ans: We had to do something really unique. So we had ladylike stickers, makeup kits in the cab, mirrors etc to make it stand out. We learnt the entire gamut of Mobilizing, Sourcing Training, Mentoring of women to ensure that skilling for employability is achieved over various professions, mainstay being Driving and training women to become commercial Taxi drivers.
- What typical skillsets & attitudes do you look for while hiring a team for your company?
And: The drivers are picked up from communities and they are taught to learn driving. So their main thing is that will they work after they get trained. And we need girls who are hard working and ready to be there at all times.
- How do you see your company grow in the next 5-6 years?
Ans: We hope to become the biggest company to have ever had women drivers. Efforts are on right now to bring down the time period of 12 months to acquire a Transport license and make it skill based and not time-based.
- Do you have a person that inspires you? Who would that be and why?
Ans: Every girl who works with me, inspires me.
- How do you unwind… what are some of your favourite hobbies?
Ans: I travel, walk, meet friends, watch movies and chill with my pets at home. I have 2 dogs
- Which are the top 5 destinations on your travel bucket list?
Ans: Munnar, Mt Abu, Turkey, Jordan and London
- Is there enough impetus to support and nurture young entrepreneurs in India?
Ans: There is enough being done at the national and state levels. There are many independent organisations and E-Cells that are running some amazing initiatives for entrepreneurs.
- What advice would you give to someone in the age group of 30-40 years, starting out as an entrepreneur today?
Ans: Have passion, dream big, take advice and make your own mistakes as well.
- Company Name, a link to your company’s website, number of employees, cities of operations.