Sherman Center Venture Co-op: FindHer
Ananya Shah, a Venture Co-op student at the Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education, embodies what it means to be a woman in business. As a fourth-year data science and finance major, she has begun the initiative of taking what she has learned in the classroom and applying her skills to her growing company: FindHer.
“FindHer aims to revolutionize how women find jobs in India,” said Shah. “We want to be the one-stop shop platform for women to join the workforce, rejoin the workforce, and continue to stay in the workforce.”
For the past two months, Shah has been developing and growing the FindHer platform, which uses data and AI technologies to help women connect with jobs best suited for them.
“The female labor force participation in India is shockingly low,” said Shah. “So we sat down, we had a few more brainstorming sessions and we realized that this could be a viable business.”
According to The Indian Express, the workforce in India from 2022-2023 was only 10.3% female, which is down from 15.3% in 2017, and 12% in 2020. Therefore, FindHer’s platform provides insights to users about what jobs may be best suited for them.
“As women go to join the waitlist on the site, they have to submit a review about a workplace,” said Shah. “That’s the insight we’re collecting from them.”
Shah began to show her enthusiasm for entrepreneurship in high school, and it was there that she started her first non-profit that worked toward destigmatizing menstruation in India. After applying to many universities in the U.S., Shah felt that Northeastern was a perfect fit for her and her goals as an entrepreneur.
Throughout her first few years at Northeastern, Shah bounced around a variety of majors before settling on data science and finance. During her first co-op in 2022, Shah worked at Hercules Capital in Palo Alto, California. While in California, Shah met Anjali Surana, a student at Stanford University.
Shah and Surana both grew up in India and recognized the gender gap in the workforce. As an issue they both were passionate about, bridging that gender gap sparked their partnership, and from there they brainstormed their business model and created FindHer. “We wanted to empower women by providing transparent and personalized insights into workplaces, helping them make informed career choices,” said Shah. “Our goal was to bridge the gender gap in the workforce and create a more inclusive and empowering professional landscape for women.”
With that mission in mind, Shah submitted their plan to Generate, a student-run product development studio offered through the Sherman Center, where they were then accepted by the program.
With the help of Generate, Shah was able to grow her platform and create a five-year plan for her company. After that, she decided that the next step in expanding her platform was to apply for a Venture Co-op.
“I think the biggest part of my application was all of the conversations that I had with Theo and his focus on my journey as a founder and how serious I was about the idea,” said Shah.
After being picked as one of six Venture Co-ops this fall, Shah moved back to India to work closer to her target audience. Now, she is two months into her six-month journey, and her platform is already gaining traction.
“It’s actually been quite, quite a rollercoaster,” said Shah, “A month ago, I did not even know how to host a website. So every day has been a crazy learning curve for me.”
Building a company does not only come with successes but also hardships. Every day, Shah is learning something new and working with new people to help maximize the optimization of the platform.
“It’s continuous learning, it’s continuous research,” said Shah. “We’re just like working crazy hours, making sure execution is getting done. I think day-to-day really looks like I’m just learning something new every single day.”
As for the future of FindHer, Shah is optimistic and looks forward to expanding her platform into its next stage.
“The platform that’s going to be rolled out in the next two months is this insights and information platform where women can see information about workplaces,” said Shah. “Rolling out more features to help women navigate the workforce in the Indian ecosystem is our goal.”
Written by Christina McCabe, Kalina Monova, and Xavier Cortez