Scripting digital success: Gadget 360 CEO Bhawna Agarwal

An award-winning leader in the Digital space, Bhawna Agarwal’s career reads like the history of the digital boom in India. A visionary with an experience of more than 16 years leading media houses, Internet companies and start-ups in India, she began her digital journey in 2000. Since then she has dabbled in areas as diverse as fashion, pharma and of course e-commerce. Having been on the founding teams of Times Internet,, and Seventymm, she was an active participant in setting up the start-up ecosystem in India. She also a member of various forums, where she is involved in mentoring digital start-ups & nurturing entrepreneurship. Currently her passion is NDTV’s e-commerce venture Gadget 360, of which she is CEO. In an interview with SheThePeople.TV, Bhawna talks about her current role and the experience of scaling up leading brands.

Gadget 360: A digital transformation that was exciting

Over the years, NDTV group established a very strong leadership position in the tech & gadgets space through its successful programming of Gadget Guru shows. The shows have been very popular and very well respected amongst the tech community. Month on month, we have strengthened our leadership position in the gadgets category where we cover almost everything in the world of technology & gadgets through high quality content & expert reviews.

The business in its earlier model was already seeing very impressive growth year on year growth and had a very strong connect with the users. The opportunity to transition the brand from NDTV Gadgets to Gadgets 360 got me excited as the digital transformation of the brand to become India’s only true hybrid platform of content and commerce was very interesting and a game changer in the category and is absolutely poised for next level of growth. Our focus is clearly going to be on providing best user experience & empowering them to make the right choice.

Our vision is to become world’s most reliable source for everything tech with a platform that brings together all gadget lovers.

The challenge: Keeping up with technology

In this fast paced digital eco-system, technology is moving at an incredible speed and keeping up with these quick changes can be challenging especially for the teams. As a practice, we invest time to anticipate the next wave of major opportunities that can be created and new product innovations that can deliver true value for users. Time management becomes extremely crucial as one can get easily distracted by new projects, new ideas and competition, we try to stay ultra-focused to the core. A winning & agile team that is able to deliver results very fast in a high pressure environment makes all the difference.

Bhawna Agarwal on shethepeople

Keeping up technology a must in the digital space: Gadget 360 CEO Bhawna Agarwal

When you believe the idea or the product is big enough to take on the market, nothing can stop you from convincing the person sitting on the other side of the table

Start-ups do face structural barriers

As startup ecosystem in India is evolving, a lot more people are becoming first generation entrepreneurs and facing newer challenges. Till some time ago, lack of market augmenting regulations used to serve as a big barrier to entrepreneurship.

A lot of first time entrepreneurs do face the heat due to insufficient capital as cash constraints can be the biggest factor limiting growth. And lack of strong cash flow becomes an issue to make ends meet. Since this has a direct impact on the ability to compete with other established & well-funded competitors and becomes a barrier to enter into certain markets.

Depending upon the nature of the business, many entrepreneurs also feel that the infrastructure is still in its nascent stages and lack of a robust system does not allow them to save time and costs in distribution.

Also watch: Madhu Trehan on the power of digital, setting up News Laundry 

The recipe for success for an entrepreneur 

Time management and ability to focus – Time is one of the least available resources for entrepreneurs. While it is tempting to get into everything to do all the work yourself, it is better to focus than to spread yourself thin and not being able to achieve anything out of it.

Hiring a team with the right attitude – While it is easier said than done but it is better to have lesser people in the team who have impeccable execution quality than build armies of people who will eat into your time and bandwidth with nonproductive work.

Adaptability & Decisiveness -As an entrepreneur, there is no room for indecision. Procrastination stalls progress & can cause you to miss opportunities. And even if you are the lucky one whose initial idea worked, the world will change around you sooner than you expected. To continue to be relevant, you will have to be able to adapt.

Persistence -Inevitably, you will encounter bumps in the road. You will need loyal customers & good employees. The policies or regulations for running the business could change making things more complex. To succeed, you will have to be willing to persist through difficult times.

Adequate Resources -Many entrepreneurs think they cannot launch without VC money. Actually, successful entrepreneurs use a host of other resources to get started. The important thing is to determine what you need to get started. You don’t necessarily need funding, but you do need resources.

The trick to raising funds: Pitching an idea convincingly

A recent research shows that woman-led businesses have got significantly lesser venture capital funding. While stats may give you a picture that being a woman trying to raise venture capital is like living in a man’s world, not every woman entrepreneur has had the same experience.

Raising funds for your business is more of a confidence issue that as a CEO of the company you must place in the idea while pitching. When you believe the idea or the product is big enough to take on the market, nothing can stop you from convincing the person sitting on the other side of the table. We tend to believe that it’s going to be a roadblock for women on the basis of past experiences. But times are changing, and with more and more women running successful businesses, the easier it gets for other women entrepreneur to raise funds.

Opportunities do exist for women and we need to continue to support and promote women in the limelight who have the ability and the right attitude to encourage others to come along for the ride.

Bhawna Agarwal on shethepeople

The digital is empowering women: Bhawna Agarwal

We have to understand that gender equality cannot happen overnight and it’s only when we invest in aspects like a woman’s digital fluency, we speed up the process.

The digital boom has empowered women entrepreneurs

While India had its own share of women entrepreneurs before the digital era, it is only now so many women entrepreneurs are getting noticed. Thanks to the digital boom, women are finally being recognized as powerful leaders.

A lot of women running large companies successfully are garnering headlines and have popularized the image of women in high-level roles and opened the door for a conversation about the need for more female leadership. Fortunately, women outside of the spotlight are also excelling and being recognized for their outstanding leadership skills.  There are more women entrepreneurs supporting less-experienced female entrepreneurs today than ever before. For example, I’ve been mentoring a few female entrepreneurs who are extremely bright and have the passion to excel.

The corporate world and a lot of investors are also starting to notice that it pays to have a woman in charge. Considering it wasn’t very long ago that women were shunned from the boardroom, the timing of this shift couldn’t be better.

Also read: We need more women at the top: Twitter India Policy Head Mahima Kaul

Digital fluency is advantageous for women

Digital fluency, in this day and age, is a must irrespective of the fact that you may bear a male or a female tag. However, when it comes to women, technology plays a much broader role. Being digitally fluent is the key to find the work-life balance, which actually is the biggest challenge for any working woman in any part of the world. Other than being a major influencer of showing great potential at work, technology makes your everyday life stress-free. You can sit in part of the world and coordinate with your colleagues probably sitting thousands of miles away.

We have to understand that gender equality cannot happen overnight and it’s only when we invest in aspects like a woman’s digital fluency, we speed up the process.

Message for young entrepreneurs

Your ‘will’ shapes your future.


Dealing with workplace discrimination: Leadership Coach Aparna Jain

Bias often becomes discrimination because people are brought up thinking a certain way about women in our society says Aparna Jain on Power Breakfast. “Using data” can help crack some stereotypes around women. She reflects on the challenges women face today and how reinventing the culture of an organisation can go a long way in fixing stereotypes around women at work.

Power Breakfast is a high energy meet of women in the corporate world. Executive women, entrepreneurs, and technology thought leaders from around India converge to collaborate on innovative solutions to common business challenges; explore new business opportunities that underscore how women are empowering change; and build and expand strong connections in a welcoming networking environment of women committed to helping each other succeed. We invite 25 upcoming women from the corporate and business world to be part of a spectacular conversation with two speakers.

Register here for future events

How the Bhartiya Mahila Bank is an agent of change

A bank just for women and by women- Bhartiya Mahila Bank is supporting women to start their own businesses and stand on their own feet. The bank aims to uplift women by giving them loan under 1 cr without asking for any security. The bank claims to change the condition of Indian mindset that traditionally disallows the transfer of property on the women’s name. The bank also has this clause that it will only have women at the executive level adding to the credibility and strengthening the idea to the fullest. Poorvi Gupta caught up with the Executive director of the bank, S.M. Swathi a progressive woman whose is helping build the bank’s infrastructure.

Q1. How did your joining into BMB happen? What made you take up the job?

Executive Directors of Public Sector Banks are appointed by the Government of India after a selection process. Out of eligible General Managers of PSB, I got into this bank being the only successful female candidate and also topping the list of selected Executive Directors.

She was the only successful female candidate and topped the list of EDs

I come from Coorg, Karnataka. I joined Corporation Bank as an Agriculture Officer three decades ago and rose in my career to the position of Executive Director. Bharatiya Mahila Bank’s vision is Economic Empowerment of Women and this noble cause made me assume charge with great delight.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank from SHE THE PEOPLE on Vimeo.

Q2. What has the inspiration been into the starting of BMB?

The Bank was set up with a vision of economic empowerment of women. There was a dire need to financially include the women of the country, particularly, the women who had no formal, regular access to banks, banking services and banking products.

There was a dire need to financially include the women of the country

The Bank was set up with the Mission to be a bank of choice for all women, enabling economic empowerment, in both urban and rural areas by: Facilitating inclusive growth through access to financial services; Addressing needs of women across all strata; Eliminating lending bias against women; Promoting asset ownership by women; Promoting women entrepreneurship; Supporting women’s livelihood; Supporting self-help groups to widen outreach; Promoting financial literacy amongst women; Constantly innovating on products, processes and delivery mechanisms to provide best in class products and services; Continuously adopting newer technologies and low cost delivery models to· bring in efficiencies; Predominantly employing women to address gender related issues; Operating on lines so as to ensure the financial viability and sustainability of the institution.

Q3. How does BMB work to uplifting women economically?

By Introducing innovative products; educating women on banking products, services and facilities; providing service to women customers according to their needs; working with Self Help Groups and other organisations of repute are some of the efforts taken by the Bank to uplift women economically.

The Bank has designed and developed many women centric products like BMB Parvarish – loans for Child Day Care Centres, BMB Annapurna – loans for Catering Centres, BMB Shringaar – loans for setting up beauty parlours etc. The Bank conducts Financial Literacy programmes through all its branches every Saturday. We strongly believe in being a catalyst of change in the lives of women of India.

Q4. What all sections of the society does the bank focus on and why?

The Bank focusses on all segments of the society. The Bank has products to cater to the needs of the women belonging to all economic strata. For example, our special Recurring Deposit product Komal kali is a product that caters to all women. The monthly minimum investment is just Rs.50 which is affordable by all and no cap on upper limit. The Bank is keen on inclusive growth. The Bank organizes workshops for women entrepreneurs wherein it provides guidance to the existing women entrepreneurs. The Bank even finances for purchase of cows, solar lanterns, e rickshaws etc. BMB focusses on ensuring Banking benefits reach the entire pyramid of women, in every corner of the country.

Q5. Do you think there is adequate awareness among rural women about the bank? How does the promotion of bank in rural areas work?

The Bank has 23 rural branches and the women in these areas are aware of the Bank. We also have tie up with NGOs, Self Help Groups and other organizations of repute to reach women in the remote and deeper pockets.

Q6. Has the bank been able to attract as many customers on a national level? What are its strategies?

The Bank’s customers are from across India. The Bank has built a strong customer base of over 1.7 lakh customers. We have very simplified KYC norms and our entire manpower works in line with our tagline Empowering Women, Empowering India. Constantly improving the customer service, introducing innovative products, hand-holding of customers are all the various aspects that we adhere to for attracting our customers.

Q7. Why do you think that we need such gender-oriented banks?

Though women have been doing lot of financial transactions, women seeking the formal banking channels for financial transactions are very less.

“Women are very shy to even enter into the Bank,” says S.M.Swathi

Though women do earn, the decisions relating to their finances are mostly dependent on men. Women focused Banks can ensure that women in the country are not only given access to banking; but also shown the path and guided to attain economic empowerment.

Q8. Did entrepreneurship banking come easy to you?

Even if one has any innate talent, one has to work hard to nurture the same.

Banking became my second nature because I always was very willing to learn.

I never hesitated to literally walk a long distance even 10 km to get a good account. Learning and equally unlearning have helped me become a professional banker.

Q9. How has your experience been being an entrepreneur banker for such a long time?

As a banker for over three decades, I have been able to interact with many women. As an agriculture officer, I have also interacted with rural women. As Circle Head, I have had the opportunities to interact with corporate women. So my experience and exposure to various areas of banking particularly credit and agriculture come in handy to efficiently and effectively take the Bank forward towards a growth path.

Q10. What is your idea of an empowered woman in the country?

The moment she thinks of her independence, when she is able to identify her inner self, fix the goals towards achieving the same, decides the path she needs to take, she becomes empowered, the rest will follow.

WATCH: Highlights from Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast is a high energy meet of women in the corporate world. Executive women, entrepreneurs, and technology thought leaders from around India converge to collaborate on innovative solutions to common business challenges; explore new business opportunities that underscore how women are empowering change; and build and expand strong connections in a welcoming networking environment of women committed to helping each other succeed.

Our inaugural session was two amazing women – Ameera Shah of Metropolis and Anuranjita Kumar of Citibank, both of who are achievers in their own right and have truly helped a progressive dialogue on gender balance and women at the workplace.

Our next Power Breakfast is in Gurgaon in December. Register Here

Set to transform Indian fashion’s biggest brand Abu-Sandeep: Meet CEO Saudamini Mattu

Saudamini Mattu is changing the face of Abu-Sandeep, a revered and legendary brand in Indian fashion. Young, energetic and full of ideas, Saudamini is on a mission to scale up, take ideas to more and fashion to the people. In her efforts to achieve this, the young CEO at one of India’s original fashion brands adorned by the likes of Dame Judy Dench, Aishwarya Rai Bacchhan and Dimple Kapadia is hoping to make Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla a corporation not just a brand. She is bringing structure to the style of functioning and hiring new energy to fire up plans.

Often the last one to leave office, Saudamini didn’t think she would take up the reigns of Abu-Sandeep given her stints so far were in business television and financial research. She worked a few years understanding the business world at NDTV Profit and later moved to crunching data with an analytical firm. Having brought up in a house that lived and breathed fashion – as the niece of Sandeep Khosla – Saudamini realised putting business sense to fashion could transform the brand.

Here’s her story.


Three things that make Kirthiga Reddy a believer in herself

As CEO of Facebook India she has a packed calendar day after day but what makes her a real achiever? The belief that she can do. The fact that she carries her dream in her eyes and works with each day to achieve it. Want to be like her? Get inspired by her? Don’t miss the three things she lives by.

More in our series It’s Her Business

Three bankers, three inspirational mantras

They have build careers, reached the top in their businesses, chosen to collaborate over compete and inspired the next generation of women to work. Meet Naina Lal Kidwai of HSBC, Kalpana Morparia of JPMorgan and Anuranjita Kumar of Citibank. Get three valuable lessons on succeeding.

Hiring women is a business imperative: Debjani Ghosh

She is a big champion for women at work. Intel’s Debjani Ghosh talks about the gender wage gap in this chat with Poorvi Gupta asserting the need to bring it down. Ghosh believes things are looking up as organisations gainfully employ women and see the benefits of doing so. Nonetheless she says there are times when women have no choice but to ask for fair pay.

Get women to work through their careers, not give up half way: Apurva Purohit

She is a motivational speaker who encourages women to build their careers and get on their own feet. Getting women to work is no longer tokenism or CSR –  we are seeing a change and organisations are seeing the real benefits of hiring women for their goals, asserts Apurva. She insists it’s not enough getting women to start work but to make them stay the course. Meet this multifaceted woman – an independent director, a CEO and an author – Apurva Purohit. She speaks to our features editor, Meghna Pant.

More stories in It’s Her Business

Share Your Story