“Making Womanhood mindful and accessible for all” reads the caption on the Mind & Mom’s website. Mind and Mom is India’s first and only pregnancy wellness app with proven solutions for a healthy pregnancy. I am all too excited to introduce the founder Padmini Janaki. Growing up in a humble background in old Madras, Padmini had been observant of the health and nutrition issues faced by women. When she realised it had nothing to do with personal wealth or the development status of the nation where the women lived, she decided it was time for some action. As a consequence, Mind & Mom emerged.
The Mind & Mom app was founded in 2021 and currently has about 170,000 women followers. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has called it the best women health company. The app is a one-stop destination for millennial moms who seek guidance throughout their journey of pregnancy, including baby growth tracker, wellness studio, customized diet plans and access to a wealth of information. The icing on the cake is that all this has been ‘created by moms for moms’.
We are pleased to feature an interview with Padmini Janaki, CEO and Co-founder of Mind & Mom. She opens her heart about entrepreneurship and shares learnings from her journey for the benefit of our younger women readers.
1. What are your strengths that helped you reach where you are today? If there were anything apart from the technical skillsets that a woman leader would need, what would that be?
One of my biggest strengths, something I nurture and grow on a daily basis is structural thinking. As an entrepreneur, everything would seem tempting. When building something on fertility, something on paediatric would be interesting. When building something on B2B, something on B2C or E-commerce would sound interesting. However, when you have structured thinking, you focus on what really you want and what is possible. What would be priority number 1, and then what comes next etc. I would attribute this as my biggest strength and I am constantly striving to improvise on an everyday basis.
This is important not just as a woman entrepreneur; but for anyone I would say.
2. Anything you learnt later in your life and wished you had known or learnt earlier, that would have probably eased things for you?
One advice I would give to my younger self is not to give your mind-space to things that would be immaterial after a certain number of days. As a woman entrepreneur or product manager or someone working in IT sector, I had given my mind-space for emotional thoughts like ‘why did this person tell me I can’t do this, or that as a pregnant lady I can’t do something or as a new mother I can’t handle that’ etc. When someone spoke to me like that, I worked really hard to prove them wrong. I had spread myself thin to prove them wrong. Now, looking back, I feel it’s not really worth the time and effort. I think we should be clear on what we want in life and work towards it, people are always going to keep telling us what needs to be done and how.
Two things that we should keep in mind for a successful life are:
- Not to worry about ‘who’ is thinking ‘what’ about us; and
- Not to expect anybody to do certain things our way.
Both are not in our control. Once we realise this, life will become very peaceful and we can focus on our goal.
3. Do you think your journey was difficult because you were a woman? If so, what would be your message to budding women entrepreneurs?
As a woman entrepreneur, we should not be taking our gender too seriously. Like we tend to think that ‘someone is not investing in my business because I am a woman or someone is taking advantage of me or other men are trying to hit on me’. I think we sometimes take ourselves too seriously, and for things that need to be ignored.
In today’s scenario, most situations that women are going through are the same as that the men are experiencing. As entrepreneurs, life is quite difficult; however, this is what we signed up for. If we are not ready for it, we should not be taking it up.
As research suggests, in terms of women support groups or angel network, the numbers are much lower. If you look for a community, you may find it difficult. Nevertheless, I strongly think we should just forget our gender. That is one thing I realised rather lately; ‘do not look at yourself as a man or woman, come out of it and look at everything as an entrepreneur. That makes the whole process much easier.’
4. Has the corporate world and people’s attitudes really changed in terms of the way they look at women in the workforce? Please share your thoughts.
I really think it is evolving; people are more understanding these days. However, my question is ‘Why do you care? How is it going to affect anything you are into?’
If somebody is not hiring you because you are a woman or a new mother, or somebody is not supporting you because you would potentially get married, do not even work for them. They don’t deserve you. You should rather find your own path and attract your tribe where these things are respected. If somebody is reacting or responding in a negative sense just because you are a woman, learn to ignore them. There are quite a lot of people and companies who respect you for what you are and what you are capable of doing.
5. How do you think women leaders can contribute to empower other women?
I think women leaders should support and promote other women. They should be the voice in a room full of opportunities for other women; not just in words but also through actions. It is very easy to talk, advice and motivate. However, it is the actions that speak louder than words. If you are a woman angel investor, you should invest more on other women. If you are a woman in the corporate, you should promote other women to come up into leadership roles. This way, more women will come up in action and that is the most constructive way to empower than to talk or share posts on Women’s day.
Putting it in a nutshell, let us focus on our goals, channelizing our energies towards improvising our strengths and grabbing the opportunities that come our way. In doing so, let us also ignore the negativity in the people and thoughts that surround us. Let gender be a matter of biology, and not interfere in our careers and dreams. Let us not allow our gender to hinder our goals or the means to achieve our goals.
‘Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want.’ – Ken Poirot