Women in Tech: MLIT’s Archana says acceptance for women entrepreneurs is growing

While there is growing acceptance of women at the workplace, Archana says that they are still expected to handle the household and perform equally well in office.
Women in Tech: MLIT’s Archana says acceptance for women entrepreneurs is growing
Women in Tech: MLIT’s Archana says acceptance for women entrepreneurs is growing

Archana Chindam does not have a technology background. But that hasn’t stopped her from successfully running MLIT, an IoT-based startup, which she co-founded with her husband Srinivas Chindam.

While Srinivas manages the tech side of the company, getting customers, developing a network, doing market research, understanding the pain points customers are having and ensuring MLIT is solving them – all this is done by Archana. And this is very evident at MLIT’s office space in Hyderabad’s T-Hub, where one can see Archana, doling out instructions, ideas, getting updates from the team through the day.

“My husband is into analytics. The platform, strategy, the know-how of the system functioning. I complement that technology. All the other aspects of the startup other than the tech, I handle it. So, it’s two sides of the same coin. And these aspects are just as important as the technology for the company to flourish,” Archana adds.

“While starting off, we used to brainstorm a lot over these technologies. I always came from the user perspective if these are the challenges, how would you address these challenges and what tech is to be used. Even now if a customer wants to know how this works, what is the type of technology involved, how is it wireless or how is it communicating, etc., I am the one addressing these questions,” she says.

Being a woman entrepreneur

Archana says that while starting off their venture, even the family initially had some apprehensions over the fact that they were moving into a completely different industry and that there would be long hours of work. They knew this coming from an entrepreneurial background, themselves. “They were concerned how it would affect the kids and the family. But there wasn’t a major obstruction. We mutually discussed this and concluded we can handle both. They say there is a thin line between work life balance, but it always does overlap,” Archana says.

Even on the professional front, it wasn’t easy in the beginning. MLIT develops IoT-based solutions for the poultry industry, something disruptive for an industry that is still largely traditional, Archana says.

“When we started our journey, we had to interact with major customers, clients. There was hesitation about what they would think, ‘does she know what she is talking about?’ That kind of initial apprehension was there. When we would go and meet customers to do a trial or a demo or try and understand their problems, there still existed that kind of resistance and hesitation,” she says.

But Archana says that once you start talking their language, they also understand that she knows what’s she’s talking about.

On a larger note, Archana says that as a woman, you are expected to handle both office duties as well as your home and at the same time perform just as well as your counterparts.

“But in my case, my partner is very supportive that I manage so many things at the same time. I wouldn’t know how it worked in every household but yes, a woman is expected to handle the home and perform equally well at office. A woman is faced with a lot of expectations. As a man, it’s expected you go to office and return but in the case of a woman, it’s a lot more. If anything goes wrong, the blame always tilts towards the woman than a man. That bias still exists in the society,” she adds.

Archana with her husband and co-founder Srinivas 

But women are more equipped than men at multi-tasking. It comes to them inherently, she believes. And things are changing too, Archana says.

More recently, there have been policies and reforms that are women-centric, providing many benefits to women. Maternal leaves, government push for women entrepreneurs to enter the field, increasing the presence of women in the overall work space, are all encouraging, she adds.

On a professional front too, acceptance is growing. “The more we are interacting with the second generation entering the industry, they are very open talking to me as the woman founder. Now people are aware that I am in the industry and they recognise me. They also feel good that there is a woman in the industry trying to make a difference. I am getting that kind of recognition when meeting new people or existing customers,” Archana says.

Women are also starting to feel more confident about taking chances and starting businesses on their own.

“Let’s take an example of T-Hub itself. Initially we saw fewer women entrepreneurs. Now they’re prominently seen everywhere. Women in entrepreneurial roles are widely being accepted and it is a positive change. Now T-Hub has a lot more women entrepreneurs, interacting with each other and understanding problems, than when we started out,” she adds.

Archana too, as a woman co-founder wants to help give more women the chance to enter the technology field. While MLIT is still a growing startup with a very small team, Archana and her husband are now focusing on hiring more women, be it someone who is starting out or someone with experience that could be a right fit for the company.

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