Friend of Modern Mums

Motherhood need not be a cause for sacrifice, says Naiyya Saggi, CEO & Co-Founder, BabyChakra, a trusted companion for modern mother and one-stop platform for child care in India

The Womenz had an opportunity to interact with Ms. Naiyya Saggi, CEO & Co-Founder, BabyChakraIndia and here’s what she shared with us

Please give some background like your education and life at BabyChakra

I was earlier a consultant at Mckinsey & Co. and at the Bridgespan Group Boston. Most of the projects I chose in both places were on maternal and child health. Even while doing my MBA at Harvard Business School, I consciously chose my projects around Maternity and Health care. Maternity & child health has hence, always been a passion of mine. I am happy that I am able to carry out my passion at BabyChakra.

What inspired you to begin with BabyChakra? How did you coin this interesting name?

Today, the internet is an active source of information for all areas of our lives, such as – looking for a house, ordering food or buying clothes. We observed that there’s a massive asymmetry of information in child care, which is a critical aspect of a young parent’s life. Also, young mothers today, mostly live in nuclear families, which implies that they cannot fall back on traditional advice unlike a generation before. Thirdly, an expecting or a young mother is actively consuming information on the Internet and is participating in parenting discussions on communities on social media. So, while she is banking on the Internet to find solutions to her child care related concerns, she may or may not be able to find credible information. That stemmed the need for BabyChakra. 

We wanted to bridge this gap. We also realised motherhood is a whole new journey that few women in nuclear families are unprepared for. We wanted to become a trusted, care companion for the modern Indian mom/ parent. 

The life of a young couple and especially a woman, changes dramatically after the birth of a child. Even personal decisions revolve around the child. Hence the name ‘BabyChakra’ deemed a good fit to the problem we are trying to solve for.

Your initial journey and motivation to scale this far?

We spent a lot of time understanding mothers’ requirements and service providers in this space. In the first 90 days, we spoke to nearly 600 influential mothers (top Mom bloggers, community leaders, Mompreneurs) and 500 top service providers in Mumbai. This helped us lay out the building blocks when we started work on the beta version of the BabyChakra website. 

We want BabyChakra to be a household name for every Indian family which has a baby. Today, we have 15000  users who use the BabyChakra Android App monthly and nearly half a million registered users visiting our website every month.

As a woman, did  you face any hurdles in your journey so far?  If yes,  how you faced and conquered them?

It will be incorrect to say that I wasn’t ever asked the odd questions. Many women entrepreneurs are asked about marriage plans, your husband’s background, when are you planning to have a baby and other such questions which the men counterparts are never asked. But demonstrating the right commitment levels and having a good business case helps win over such perceptions. 

There might be unconscious biases vs. overt biases to women running and leading companies. If you go to tech conferences and ask an engineer who which entrepreneur/ VC s/he looks up to or would 'follow', the answer is invariably a male. It’s not like women don’t exist in the ecosystem. The multiple 'manels', 'women entrepreneur vs. entrepreneur sessions', lack of senior female VCs etc. exacerbate this problem.

It is evident that there is under-representation of women in funding and entrepreneurship. It is high time that we  create role models of the women in this space and demonstrate this is a viable career a girl can aspire to.

How is BabyChakra different and the plans for the future?

BabyChakra is a one-stop social discovery platform for child care in India, which helps mothers-to-be and young mothers in making informed decisions. They discover and decide on local services and products through reviews and recommendations of peer moms. They also learn from experts through articles and direct interactions.  We connect with over 5,00,000 young parents on a monthly basis, whose children are in the age group of 0-5 years or, those who are expecting a baby. All aspects of childcare such as health & wellness, education, development, entertainment and support are covered on the platform. For the businesses (services and products), BabyChakra is a social marketplace where the get access to qualified leads, can interact with the customer enabling a buying  decision and finally make a sale on BabyChakra. Today, we have around 25000 services and products in the maternity childcare space listed on BabyChakra.

We aim to touch the lives of every Indian parent in a way that BabyChakra be their only lifeline and support system for raising a child in India. We want to make BabyChakra the most intuitive and reliable child care and parenting support platform for young parents in India. We also want to facilitate helpful conversations between parents (especially mothers), experts, service providers and even larger brands, in a way that truly creates value for all stakeholders. Community, content and commerce will come together by way of our website and APP in a seamless manner to create the most unique user experience.


Team BabyChakra

Tell us about your family? How you manage on both fronts family and BabyChakra?

My mother is an ex-IAS officer and is on the board for several companies post her retirement. My dad was in the Ministry of Shipping. He retired as the Nautical Advisor to the Govt. of India and is now heading a vocational skill development institute. 

He has been instrumental in shaping our leadership styles. Leadership is about building new leaders. I learnt this from my father, who would let us make mistakes and learn from them and be accountable for them. I saw my mother demonstrating leadership, commitment and taking risks as I grew up. I learnt from her that being a woman wasn’t ever a deterrent in building a successful career or a company. 

I got married to my ex-colleague at McKinsey: Sandeep Rao, who is a graduate of IIM-Bangalore. He works in the healthcare space as well. We are both super passionate about the work we do and the potential we have to create impact at scale. However, what I have learnt from him is constantly to look at the bigger picture and not let the ‘here and now’ affect me. 

So I always had my family marching with me in support of my aspirations. I never had to ‘manage’ them.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Every other day, we hear from a mother expressing gratitude to BabyChakra with clear instances of how it helped her in childcare. At a leading conference, the grandfather of a child walked upto me and thanked BabyChakra for being a great support for his daughter.  We have moms who want to work with us or actively participate in building BabyChakra. We have Moms who have become bloggers, businesswomen, community managers on and through BabyChakra. 

On the business side, we have businesses who built their brand through BabyChakra. About 15-20% of Businesses on BabyChakra are run by Mompreneurs who are raising a second child in their business. 

These are the stories that really make me and all of us at BabyChakra happy, besides the recognition we have been getting from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, other media and the overall business ecosystem.

Your message to  other women who are struggling  to  prove themselves

My message to all women is simple -  Believe in yourself and your strengths. Always focus on what will work and what must work rather on what won’t work. If you don’t believe in yourself, it is hard to get the necessary help and support from the ecosystem.

Don’t be afraid of taking risks as that will give you much greater satisfaction that not having taken the risk at all.

At BabyChakra, we see many women taking a break or putting an end to their career after motherhood. I’d say motherhood is a delightful journey for women, it shouldn’t be made a cause for sacrifice. You shouldn’t close other doors for happiness and success. A career must be considered as important for women as it is for men in the family.  So, while it may be tough as a new mother, it is not impossible if you keep the faith alive.

We The Womenz team thank her for sharing the story of  BabyChakra. We are sure that her story will inspire our  readers

Naiyya can be reached on Linkedin, twitter, Facebook

First Published: 09-Apr-2017- 17:58