Mrunalini Rao: A Passionate Entrepreneur Creating a Revolution in the Feminine Hygiene Space

Mrunalini Rao,  Co - Founder

Mrunalini Rao

Co - Founder

India is home to the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, next only to US and China. Given the massive advantages the country offers, India is seen as one of the most sought-after destinations to start a new business. Realizing the importance of startups in its economic growth, the government too is launching a number of initiatives to encourage startups and entrepreneurship in India. The Startup India initiative which was launched in 2016 and National Initiative for Developing & Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI) which was also launched in 2016 are some of the major initiatives taken by the Indian government in this regard. Additionally, the government is also giving income tax exemptions for startups for the first three years and also offering the flexibility of selfcertification under labour and environmental laws. As a result, there has been a sharp rise in the number of startups operating in the country. According to Department of Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT), the total number of startups which was 471 in 2016 has increased to 72,993 by the end of June 2020, showing a massive 15,400 percent growth.

Given such fertile conditions, a large number of youngsters today are opting to take-up entrepreneurship rather than work in any other company. Their risk-taking ability, desire to solve persisting issues and mentality to be their own boss are few other factors fuelling the entrepreneurship spirit among today’s youth.

This is not just limited to youngsters many professionals who previously worked with other companies too have embraced entrepreneurship and incepted their own startup. Thus, India is witnessing a large number of startup leaders gather limelight by driving their business to success through sheer passion, determination, perseverance and thorough knowledge of the industry.

One such leader who is leading her startup business towards great heights is Mrunalini Rao, Cofounder of Doha Systems Pvt Ltd.Having completed her BE in Industrial Engineering from BMS College of Engineering and MS in Management from Indian Institute of Science, Mrunalini boasts of a 23 years long career during which she has held key roles across Infosys Technologies and Glo Life Care Equipments, prior to establishing Doha Systems in 2018.

“My long tenure of 13+ years in the IT industry had given me good exposure to both technology and business, as I had assumed different roles.
This helped me to tackle challenges by taking-up things outside my comfort zone. Challenging ourselves to step out of our comfort zones motivates us to venture into entrepreneurship.This experience of a startup, where there is no organizational structure or hierarchy, allowed me to explore and learn all sides of business, right from design, production and commerce, to accounts, profitability, feasibility and many more. Here we need to be ‘Jack of all, Master of One’,” says Mrunalini.

Always concerned about women’s personal health & hygiene, Mrunalini observed the rapid growth that was happening in the number of women entering into the IT, technology and other mainstream areas. With a strong desire to contribute towards personal hygiene of working women, she incepted Doha Systems in 2018. Since Mrunalini’s father-in-law was among the pioneers in India in developing women’s personal hygiene products, she had first-hand knowledge of the technical know how in the personal hygiene products manufacturing industry. This further boosted her confidence towards startup in this industry.

I personally feel that women must keep aside all the societal expectations and admit that there is no such thing as balancing their personal and professional lives

Shortlisted as the ‘Approved Vendor’by the Sanitation Department, Government of Karnataka, Doha Systems’ product portfolio includes automatic sanitary napkin vending machines, manual sanitary napkin vending machines and sanitary napkin incinerators, beverage vending machines and other special purpose vending machines. All of the company’s machines are built after thorough R&D using latest technologies and are integrated with digital payment options, thus further easing the process for women employees.

“Since we have our inhouse R&D department, we also manufacture machines to suit customer requirements such as our RFID based vending machines which are most preferred by corporates to provide napkins round the clock as a value addition to their women workforce. Our thirst didn’t stop just with supply of sanitary napkins vending machine and was followed by a device to destroy the used sanitary pads in a scientific and hygienic way a sanitary napkin electrical incinerator. Being bothuser-friendly and ecofriendly, all our machines are test certified on emissions and electrical safety by approved respective agencies.”, Mrunalini further explains.

A strong proponent of team work, Mrunalini believes that for a leader, entrepreneur or a professional to be successful, it is their entire team’s efforts that matter the most and not just their own personal hard work. Also, the way a leader guides his team, perseverance and ability to work smart act as major catalysts in determining the degree to which he/she can be a successful leader.

“Entrepreneurship is harder for women compared to men because they play multiple roles professionally and personally. While most women professional try really hard to balance their personal and professional lives, I personally feel that women must keep aside all the societal expectations and admit that there is no such thing as balancing their personal and professional lives. Also, women must speak out more for getting equal opportunities rather than about equality and work hard towards creating equal opportunities, as opportunities do not differentiate between different genders”, says Mrunalini, expressing her views about challenges faced by women leaders & entrepreneurs.

When asked about the future roadmap set for her company, Mrunalini says, “We are now expanding our product line and venturing into vending machine for other products like PPE kits, snacks & other beverages, and our forte is in developing special purpose vending machines. Our mission is to make sure that every school, college, hostel or organization has our products installed, and envision being among the topmost companies in the women hygiene products space.With the new executive and leadership team, we are geared up to take the next big leap.”