It was in the year 2017 that I first bumped into SHEROES, an Online Women’s Only Community. Honestly, it was an unbelievable thing to me – a complete women’s platform! How can that be even possible? Is it safe? What if someone disguises as a woman? So many doubts, that just got vanished over the time and today I call SHEROES- My Community.
In my early days at the platform, one thing always intrigued me- Who is the person behind it? Today, as I lay the foundation of Talk Stock, let’s meet the brain behind SHEROES– Sairee Chahal, Founder – CEO of SHEROES (women-only social network).
Talk Stock: How and when did the idea of SHEROES was conceived?
Sairee – ““Main kuch karna chahti hoon” – women say this to me every day; they want to do something – pursue a hobby, start a business, tap a talent, learn a skill. SHEROES was borne of those conversations. We are the world’s first social network exclusively built for women, and built out of India. Every other network has come out of Silicon Valley or an Ivy League school. We’ve built a safe, empowering Internet experience for women, that’s also fun and cool, and we’re seeing users leveraging SHEROES in smart ways for their growth. We are a network of dreams.”
TS: We also hear that there is an interesting story behind the namkaran (naming) of SHEROES. What’s that?
Sairee: “The world-famous Dr. Maya Angelou, African American artist, poet, and civil rights activist, first used ‘Sheroes’ during an interview to highlight the power of women. Our connection with this great lady doesn’t end there. SHEROES is in possession of a letter penned by Dr. Angelou, giving official consent to use the term. She wrote, “I always hope that my words will inspire another human being to strive.” Her words continue to inspire millions of Sheroes everyday who are taking charge, changing the world!”
TS: The SHEROES Community we see at present is the like a final story that’s running theatres and influencing real lives that too at very ground levels. However, the actual action and struggles are always behind the scenes. Would you like to share a few backstage and pre/post-production challenges that make SHEROES what it is today?
Sairee: “Lots of brainstorming, building our own tech, hosting hackathons and tech workshops, and developing our own work and network culture.
We also have a fabulous SHE Meets Tech programme that’s bringing more and more women engineers/ coders into our network, giving them opportunities to play a role in building the women’s internet.
We have built a great platform with limited resources, something we are proud of. A lot of this has come from talking to women every day on SHEROES. Check out our tech blog for more behind-the-scenes nuggets.”
TS: There is still a large portion of women in India who don’t have any access to the Internet or even say mobile phones. Being an online community, how do you plan to take the objective and safe space of SHEROES to those lives?
Sairee: “Great question. Internet is a gamechanger for Indian women, and we need to invest in nudging more and more women to embrace it. SHEROES hosts digital meet-ups, events, workshops across the country to bring more and more women online. I also encourage SHEROES members to become evangelists, and invite more and more women to download the SHEROES app, expand the tribe and pay it forward. Our goal is to be a 100 million women network!”
TS: If we talk about the term ‘feminism’ today, then it may have become a little repellent. What do you think?
Sairee: “Feminism is how many of us got access to basic human rights, and we owe a great debt to the feminists to risked their lives to enable us to access the freedoms we enjoy today. This journey must continue and each of us has our own role to play in making it a more equitable world for women.”
TS: Few myths for women and about women that you think should have been busted long ago but are still prevalent today?
Sairee: “Women are bad at numbers, tech and financial management – I know women who rock all three.
Women must be married and become mothers to feel complete – I believe these are individual choices. “
TS: One thing every woman should have with them and one thing that they should give up?
Sairee: “Have self-belief – you can do anything you set your mind to!
Give up self-doubt – you can do anything you set your mind to!”
TS: How do you perceive the success and the journey of SHEROES till date and your take on failures?
Sairee: “Success is about living and owning your truth, and at SHEROES our truth is that everything we do MUST benefit women. I see failures as opportunities to learn. Not all experiments yield the results we want, but we power on with no regrets.”
TS: If I may, then I would like to talk about Sairee, not as a CEO of SHEROES but simply Sairee Chahal. Who is she?
Sairee: “A tech entrepreneur whose always on the move. She’s connected to the flow of the universe, a traveller, nature lover. Believer of tech as a game-changer, swears by yoga, loves a good meal and a couple of beers. Always up to read a good book.”
TS: One word or one sentence answers-
As she says Take Charge, let me know in the comments how do you plan to electrify your lives.
Those who would like to know more about SHEROES, here is a short introduction:
SHEROES is a women-only social network accessible via Sheroes.com and the SHEROES app, offering over communities, a free-to-use counselling chat helpline, resources, mentorship, peer-to-peer conversations, a marketplace, a reproductive health tracker and opportunities for women. SHEROES is reimagining how women use, experience and benefit from the internet. It is specifically aligned to using internet as a tool for change, especially for women in high gender gap countries offering a space for appreciation, recognition, growth and interactions. Safety, empathy and trust are tenets that are built into the platform at every level.