Celebrity serial entrepreneur Revathi Roy currently leads India’s first all-women instant parcel delivery service Hey DeeDee. Before Hey DeeDee, she founded Asia’s first all-women Taxi Service Forsche. This was her first venture. Roy took to the driving wheel to raise three sons, post the untimely demise of her husband. At the peak of its success she sold her stake to restart again with Hey DeeDee.
Apart from her many achievements, which includes being on the cover of Forbes magazine, Revathi is also winner of the 2018 Niti Aayog – Women Transforming India Award.
In an exclusive chat, Revathi shares her success mantra as a serial entrepreneur.
Mahima: Hello, Revathi. Congratulations for the latest feather in the cap, you are now on the panel on the National Commission for Women. But the traditional media has always portrayed you as single mother struck by tragedy who became a serial entrepreneur. What’s your message to them, if you were given the liberty to change that introduction?
Revathi Roy: That’s fine Mahima, if they project me as a women struck with tragedy because genuinely there was a tragedy. But the part that needs to be emphasized is how we came out of it.
M: Indeed, as people say, you literally moved the Earth by turning Serial Entrepreneur, and above all a role model for women. First an all-women taxi service FORSCHE and then an all-women two-wheeler delivery service HeyDeeDee. What is the vision behind it?
R: Vision was and has been simply the belief that ‘no one should go through what I went through’. The idea was to teach the urban poor women like me how to drive and become independent. So, if I can help anyone get out of a tough situation, I consider it my biggest achievement.
M: What role has technology played in the success of your startups?
R: We have used ‘technology’ to the best of our ability using everything from GPS tracking to delivery apps. Thus our girls have become tech savvy… to keep pace with the changing world. (sic)
M: Why did you sell off Forsche, why not handle the two ventures side-by-side?
R: Forsche had a strategic investment from ORIX and IL&FS. Our visions really didn’t match. Hence, it was better to sell my stake there and continue with my vision and move on.
M: A lot of budding women entrepreneurs are reading you through TechThirsty. Please share the five things that need to be kept in mind and strictly followed for the success of a startup.
R: 1. Passion 2. Ability to face challenges 3. Perseverance in the face of failure 4. Understanding of the business 5. Willingness to pivot.
M: Being a super-successful Serial Entrepreneur, was the journey driven by technology or vision or both? Please detail the amalgamation?
R: Vision and mission are very important. And the integration of technology with this. For example, moving forward we have to look at the possibility of using electric scooters as well for HeyDee. Being eco-friendly is the need of the hour. So in short, a vision is driven by passion as well as the technological advancements that are the need of the hour.
M: Technology drives the world these days. What cautions do you take consistently so that Hey DeeDee stays ahead of the curve?
R: Again electric scooters and monitoring routes via GPS.
M: How has been your journey as a woman who leads an all-women team?
R: The journey of an entrepreneur itself is amazing. Everyday is a new day and you see it differently. There are ups and downs but that’s okay.
M: How many women are employed with HeyDeeDee and how has the journey been different from FORSCHE?
R: There is more experience now, and as you grow one is also willing to adapt much better. The difference is of course dealing with more people, more cities, different regulatory factors, and then integrating it with your vision. Ultimately it’s my vision board, which says 10,000 girls have to be employed by 2020.
M: What role in your opinion, does technology and social media play in the success of modern day startups?
R: Technology helps you scale. Social media obviously creates awareness.
M: Trolls, social media trolls. Have you faced any, professionally/personally or both? How did you handle it ?
R: Not much trolling (I don’t think I that famous) but the lesson is that anything negative just take it in your stride (sic). Nirlajjam Sada Sukham is a Sanskrit saying, which means ‘Ones who give a damn, are the happiest and most focused ones’. Follow that.
M: How do you strike a balance between your personal, professional and social media life, in the modern age of technology?
R: I don’t think balance is possible. I am quite imbalanced (she laughs). Rather, the right word is integration. You have to learn to integrate it to the best of your ability.
M: Your message to budding entrepreneurs.
R: Don’t give up so easily. And Dream Big—dreams are free.