Handholding the Journey of Parenting

Naiyya Saggi, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer @ BabyChakra

Armed with an MBA from the prestigious Harvard Business School and a law degree from NLS, this young lady is determined to dent the $20 billion maternity-child market.  She was earlier a consultant at Mckinsey & Co. and at the Bridgespan Group Boston. While at McKinsey Naiyya Saggi developed a passion for healthcare and education, as well as working with young women and children.  Her early background in law is also what helped her to create a child nutrition strategy for India as part of the Gates foundation.

It was in HBS (Harvard Business School) in 2010 that she carried out a project on scaling healthcare interventions. She worked for a year with the Bridgespan group on developmental consulting in Boston, before moving to India to start BabyChakra. Most of the projects she chose in both places were on maternal and child health. Even while doing her MBA at Harvard Business School, she consciously chose her projects around Maternity and Health care as these areas have always been a passion for her.

The idea of BabyChakra culminated when a lot of her friends became parents. She also noticed multiple facebook groups that were strewn with questions ranging from parenting to pediatrics. She is happy that she is able to carry out her passion at BabyChakra. Team ABT reached out to Naiyya to share her Trailblazer journey with us.

Who is your greatest inspiration & why?
My greatest inspiration is my mother. She is one of the bravest, smartest and warmest professionals I know. She qualified to the Indian Administrative Services (probably one of the most competitive qualifying exams in the world) when she was pregnant with my sister. I have seen her in situations where she has single handedly managed the riots along with district police and administration. At the same time, she has been an exemplary mother to my sister and me and a wonderful wife and daughter. She instilled in my sister and me, the value of self-worth and knowing we were always equal to (if not better) than any man professionally.

Do you recall the circumstances that led you to set up?
BabyChakra. What is it all about? It was while working in Maternity & child Health, that I realized the massive opportunity and need for a technology led disruption in the space. My sister had a little boy; it frustrated me to observe how technology had not yet addressed the needs of moms and their children. This was the genesis to the idea of BabyChakra. Today, we have created a disruptive, first-of-its-kind parenting platform that handholds a mother (and dad) through every day of the journey from pregnancy to early childcare. It’s an end to end ecosystem: connecting them to child care products and services, other mothers in the neighborhood and reputed experts. Today, BabyChakra is home to close to a 1 million mothers who visit every month seeking answers for a wide variety of issues related to pregnancy and childcare.

How were the initial 90 days like?
We spent a lot of time understanding mothers’ requirements and service providers in this space. In the first 90 days, we spoke to nearly 600 influential mothers (top Mom bloggers, community leaders, Mompreneurs) and 500 top service providers in Mumbai. This helped us lay out the building blocks when we started work on the beta version of the BabyChakra website.

Do you feel privileged as a Woman Entrepreneur?
Yes, absolutely but perhaps to the same extent I feel privileged to be a woman. Being a woman entrepreneur, I could perhaps connect with the mothers’ community effectively. However, granted that most other aspects of the venture are gender agnostic, the gender of the entrepreneur is immaterial.

What has been your most challenging assignment so far?
In my career so far, BabyChakra has been the most challenging yet satisfying assignment. What we are doing at BabyChakra is critical to the well-being of millions of young families in India. The challenges lie in mapping out the varied needs of a young parent and responding to them in a relevant, fast & intuitive way.

If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
I would learn to trust my gut. Early on as an entrepreneur creating a business model and venture first of its type globally, there is a lot of cynicism that you face. Today there are players in the pets & elder care space among others who are leveraging the BabyChakra model, not to mention other parenting ventures that have mushroomed and are building this sector alongside. My learning from this experience is to spend less time listening to the cynics and more time just building traction rapidly.

How has technology & media influenced your business?
Being a technology start-up, we are leveraging technology to its fullest to achieve our objectives. We are creating an online marketplace which will connect parents, service providers, brands, experts and others in the maternity-child care community and will facilitate commerce for the brands and service providers. We are also leveraging machine learning and predictive algorithms to really learn from what a user needs from our platform and respond in a serendipitous manner accordingly. Technology is at the core of all we do.

What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
Our vision at BabyChakra is to reach out to every young mother in India and be her trusted companion through her incredible journey of motherhood. In the next 3 years, we are looking to have 30 million mothers use us monthly.