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Women on Top in Tech – Roshni Mahtani, CEO/Founder at Tickled Media and



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is my interview with Roshni Mahtani, CEO & Founder at Tickled Media and theAsianparentRoshni is also actively involved in the start-up community. In 2015, she founded the Female Founders Network, a group of over 2,000 female founders. She also sits on the board of TIE Singapore and is a mentor at JFDI and the Crib where she works with early stage start-ups. Besides her interest in the start-up world, Roshni is also an Executive Producer of Untouchable: Children of God – A 2014 documovie about young girls in the brothels of India and how they are sold and trafficked from Nepal. The film won the Humanitarian Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival 2014 and is currently playing on Singapore Airlines flights.

Roshni has graced the cover of multiple magazines and newspapers in the region. Her company has been mentioned in over 200 media outlets ranging from the BBC to the Singapore Straits Times.

What makes you do what you do?

I’d always wanted to create something that would have a positive impact on the world around me. I noticed that a lot of organizations focused on education, children’s welfare, housing – covering our basic needs. But even more fundamental is parenting, and I knew of none that was singularly intent on making that better.

So I thought, if I could capture a mere 1% of the 20 million Asian families online, I’d be making a difference in at least 200,000 of next-generation children. We all want to make the world a better place; and to us at Tickled Media, the simple solution is: better parents = better kids = better tomorrow.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

When you say ‘rise’, you think steady upward trend; but it’s really been more of an uphill battle with lots of stumbles for me. Startup life is neither easy nor predictable. We got to where we are through making calculated yet still gutsy moves, eventually making mistakes and learning from them, then using this knowledge to refine our strategy.

Despite the hurdles, we’ve just had to stay laser-focused on our mission and goals and one thing that’s helped us do that is our market research department. We conduct both commissioned and our own studies on Asian mums, so we can keep track of how the market is evolving. Again, knowledge is power; acting on what you discover propels progress.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?

I remember way back when I started my company at 25, and people just didn’t take 25-year-old Asian women seriously. I would go to meetings with male business owners in their 40s, and they wouldn’t even look at me, directing their questions to junior male employees instead.

I powered through anyway, not to prove them wrong but to do something right – to pursue what I believed in. I fully knew that entrepreneurship would take over my life and even change its course; but I persisted, taking on this challenge for the same reason we all do – because I knew it mattered.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

My first mentor, who continues to advise me to this day, was Zoomit co-founder William Klippgen. William has been an integral part of theAsianparent’s success and is an exemplary leader. Amongst a score of others in my support system, it’s important to have advisors with a good understanding of your industry. For that, I’m fortunate to have the support of people such as Ashwin Puri, formerly from Komli, and Dave Weiss, formerly from BabyCenter.

As the founder of the Female Founders Network, I’ve also tapped on the expertise of a global community of women entrepreneurs who come together with the common objective of sharing knowledge and empowering women to achieve their goals.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

Spotting talent is the easy part – a person’s achievements speak for themselves and word gets around about rising stars in the industry.

Crucial to developing and supporting talent is setting people up for success. Provide the right resources, have the right culture + environment in place, and challenge don’t choke. Training helps, but what I’ve found to be more important is mentorship. It gives me great satisfaction to know that many of our former employees have gone on to do incredible things – that we’ve played a part in helping them reach their potential.

Supporting our Ticklers’ personal alongside their professional lives is something we’re also keen on. If someone in our team has to move all the way to the other side of the globe, we’d still find a way to make it work, time difference and all.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

As a company speaking to mothers, we actively support working mums in our own environment. We offer flexible schedules and work-from-home arrangements, we have breastfeeding and kids’ rooms, we’ve built a culture of understanding – these are all part of our efforts to be truly mum-friendly. We have dads working for us too and they’re equally supported.

Since we’re present in Singapore, Thailand, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, we’ve got such a rich multi-cultural pool of talents. Even with the complications in logistics – time differences, different holiday schedules, having to do calls instead of face-to-face meetings, etc – the benefits absolutely outweigh the costs.

Our flagship product is and we’ve got so many Asian parents under our roof! This doesn’t just help us in terms of authenticity and knowing our audience intimately; it also allows us to learn from each other’s parenting principles, styles, and traditions. All these elements come together to provide our readers and partners with the best we can offer.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

There’s no one formula; no one size fits all. Each person must tap into their leadership potential given their own context and decisions thus far, skill set, passions, support system… all these things that make each leader’s journey his or her own.

I wish I could tell you what the key is, but I can only share what has been mine. Macro view, it’s been to always be one or even two steps ahead. The industry is moving at light speed and competition is intense. You can’t fall behind in the game; you have to be best player you can be. Your team looks up to you to make the right decisions – what you decide puts food on their tables and sends their kids to school. There’s no slacking off when that’s what’s at stake.

Within the organization, be a good listener. Take the time to get to know each of your team members – not just their strengths and weaknesses, but also their families, their dreams. People are your best resource so invest in them. You can’t have a good grasp of your organization if you only know the operational side. Be familiar with its every aspect, especially your people.

Advice for others?

Listen to your mom/wife! She’s always right.

To learn more about Tickled Media, please see

I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
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Is International Women’s Day just another Tokenism?



Yearly on 8th March around the world, we celebrate a day for women. This year that was 2 weeks ago, before this article was published.

A Question for You:

Did we change for the better after that day? or

Did we just all go back just to Business as Usual?

And if so, why?

As a psychologist and conscious leadership coach, I work to change mindsets to do more good in the world. We all know bad habits are hard to change. Ignoring Women talent and needs is a bad habit. Calling attention to it once in a while is simply not just not enough, it also assuages leadership guilt. The guilt alone does not lead to sustainable efforts to transformation.

We all know one International Women’s Day yearly is simply not enough.

One women’s group in your company is not enough.

One women’s breakfast in the technology conference is not enough.

One Women’s March is not enough.

But it is the start.

It’s the start. We need to join forces.

Join forces with leaders who read #MeToo and ask themselves what we must do today to reduce and end such harassment. Tech Leaders who are aware of the power of money and resources lying in the hands of a few heightens potential bullying and unwanted sexual advances. Leaders who actively act to counter or stop abuses and want to create new workplace cultures. Leaders who promote women on merit, but who also look to sponsor, mentor, and support more women to the senior leadership tracks.

We need a critical mass to tip Gender Parity to become the new norm. We need to dialogue and language new ways of being and leading in the world. We need daily, weekly, monthly habits to make gender parity the daily actionable. What is your daily actionable to not just gender parity, but inclusion and diversity in all aspects of our work and life? Let’s build the momentum by increasing connections across companies, countries, and communities. This article brings insight to what we can do next and communities you can support.

On March 8th, at 1880 , a private club where one of the focuses in women’s leadership, the Salon discussion was on “Undressing Feminism”. Participants spoke frankly about unwanted sexual advances and what both men and women can do to stop work and national or religious cultures where such actions are deemed normal. One husband joked about how he told his wife he was attending the event and she told him to shut up and listen carefully. We were all listening carefully and we spoke as a group with a transparency that is rarely found in conservative Asian culture and even in rather Westernized Singapore.

Who we heard from:

Matthew Spacie at Magic Bus

He spoke of his work in the non-profit and called out the terrifying statistics that should not be hidden or ignored.

This is an average Indian girl’s gender based obstacles throughout her lifetime

There are about 600 million women in India. They have the highest rate of infanticide of girls. Women are 56 times more likely to die before the age of 5 years as compared to boys.  If a girl does get to go to school; up to 53 percent drop out and only 1 percent graduate. 40 % of the women are married off as children.  If she gets to have a job, 40% are in unregulated work which means they can be bullied, paid less, and anything else without any external regulatory bodies to assist.

Aware’s Executive Director, Corinna Lim:

If the vision is – a society where there is true gender equality – where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives. Then we look towards Aware, Singapore  as a resource – for their mission is to remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.

In fact, after the #MeToo movement came out, there were 80% more calls to sexual harassment center in Singapore. And Corrina shared how one in ten women in Singapore has been physically abused by a man. Do know that AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre, the only centre that supports victims of sexual assault and harassment  can be reached at  6779 0282.

Survivor of War, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Assault, Lurata Lyon:

Forgiveness is what is needed to heal and also to take the lessons and give ourselves strength. She shared how she was molested in Singapore by a British expat and she immediately grabbed his phone to keep him there while she called the police. Her two children were with her and thankfully a local pregnant woman came and stood by her as the man tried to force her hand to let go of his phone. She reminded the audience that this could not have been the first time this man acted in this unacceptable manner, yet how many others had let his behavior slip through our silence.

Asian Feminist Role Model, Activist, and Burlesque Artist, Sukki Singapora:

“Someone has got to be brave. If it is not you, it’ll have to be someone else. So make it you.”

Sukki braved her family’s strict culture and Singapore’s public indecency laws to fully express herself in her choice of art and profession, burlesque. She left us wondering why should sensuality be repressed? What is the world so afraid of? Her choice of expression was initially considered a crime in the public decency act of Singapore. Now she is a champion and face of freedom of expression for women in socially restrictive countries.

These conversations can evoke small changes in public consensus which will bring about swift changes in the societal consensus, that’s why we have political debates during the elections.  We are part of that dialogue, debate, and actionable steps and accountability. It’s our call to not let International Women’s Day fall on deaf ears. Let’s not just have one token discussion on one day set aside, but make such discussions a daily act.

Thanking Matthew, Corinna, Lurata, Sukki, and Marc Nicholson panel moderator and co-founder, 1880 for allowing their stories to inspire and confront us all again with the unknowing discrimination and bullying we may be supporting under our own roofs.

Like this piece?

See my article on International Women’s Day

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Women on Top in Tech – Vidya Vellala, Founder and CEO of Faasthelp



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Vidya Vellala is the Founder and CEO of Faasthelp, a 24/7 (round the clock) customer support on any business application through Artificial intelligence powered products. It analyzes what the customer is asking using natural language processing, machine learning and processes that to give the accurate responses to the customers instantly. Vidya is an Entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and latest technologies, having 17 years of Technology Experience. She won the India’s Best Startup CTO by Dell EMC.

What makes you do what you do?
I believe technology can solve any problem. Innovations in technology can improve the quality of life and the quality of work people does.
I am grown with a mindset which says self-sympathy is the enemy of self and hard work consistently without expecting a result will open bigger pathways. What I am doing is the combination of all.
Being an entrepreneur is an eternal learning which I love and I enjoy playing with technology and challenges that is the reason why I am doing what I am doing today.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Updating myself with the latest technologies is a must. Having said that, that alone is not sufficient. Always thinking positively, fighting against the fears, perseverance, and working hard helps.
I am lucky to have a big support from my family. My sisters who are also into technology field, make my life more beautiful and meaningful, to share not only the personal but also technical matters with them.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
With the bigger goal of supporting the future generations, this is the beginning. It had to start somewhere. In the very long journey this is the first step that I took.
My current startup is Faasthelp. We build artificial intelligence products.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him?
There have been many mentors at all stages of my startup. A startup eco system has brought me too many friends and mentors who have been very helpful at every stage of my startup and I am thankful to all of them.
My primary mentors in my life are my parents. The spirit of entrepreneurship was ignited when I was a kid and my mother was managing her small industry. The strong value system, sense of service, and responsibility towards the society is instilled in me by my dad. The strong urge to do something by myself was driven by my parents. They are the role models and driving factors.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I take personal interest in grooming and nurturing talent. I have established processes that identify the potential talent and to groom. I play to the best of their strengths and encourage them to take risks. My business needs also drive me to develop new skills and grow them. I value emotional intelligence and so is the strength of my team.

Do you consciously or subconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously and subconsciously support diversity, this again I can say got from my parents, my dad always wanted all women to be empowered and my mother had more women in her work force.
I have mentored women entrepreneurs, especially in their technical initiatives as I come with a vast technical expertise. I have extended my entrepreneurial connections to other women entrepreneurs. Our organization has more women representation.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
To be a great leader, you have to be a good leader, for that you must be a good human being, driven by high values, honesty, and ethics with great empathy for the people around.
Motivating the team, being a good listener with persistent hard work is a general thumb rule. Now there might be several ways to implement these and depending on the industry the implementation might differ but the ground principles remain same.
Entrepreneurship is continuous learning and I encourage others to do the same. Aim high and work towards the set goals is a way to go. I believe mindset to do service is also a way to become a good leader.

Advice for others?
Always be positive and create a positive impact on everyone. Have your values defined and do not compromise on them at any cost. Each small step taken towards the big thing is important, value them and go ahead, you will succeed surely. Success is something which we define our self and it can be achieved from any field and anywhere, on the way keep helping others.
The present focus is to develop the startup which I have taken up and my next idea is to continue to innovate and create technology products which will improvise human life.

If you’d like to get in touch with Vidya Vellala, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Faasthelp, please click here.

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