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Vani Kola: Entrepreneur Who Returned Back to Her Motherland


Gone are the days when women were expected to stay in four walls of their houses, and workplace was considered a domain for men!

 21st century women not only work proudly in this sector but many of them are proven leaders in the business world.  Vani kola, the founder of Kalaari Capitals, is one of those inspiring women. 

 She is one of the leading Indian venture capitalist. 

She returned back to her country, despite having a successful career in Silicon Valley. 

She was listed as one of the most powerful women in Indian Business by Fortune India. 

Apart from running an empire, her favourite responsibility is to take care of her two beautiful daughters and spend time with her family

She is one of the most inspiring females for all the girls with big dreams!

She is the woman with many accreditation and person behind Kalaari Capital. 

Let us go through her motivating journey of success!

Her journey from Hyderabad to Silicon Valley

Born and brought up in a humble yet traditional family of Hyderabad, she did her early schooling from the same city. Vani completed her graduation from Osmania University (Hyderabad) in Electrical Engineering. It was in 1980’s when she moved to United Nation to pursue her Master’s from Arizona University. 

Little did she know that universe had other plans for her!

Vani started to work in a renowned company- Empros   based in Minneapolis. She worked there for almost 12 years before taking life changing decision of setting up her very first venture- RightWorks.

First glimpse of major success- Just like every start-up Vani’s first venture had a small beginning. But, after completing 4 successful years, she sold 53% of the shares of the company amounting to $657 Million, to Internet Capital Group, and finally sold the company to I2 Technologies for $86 million in August 2001. 

She did not stop there, and went on to start another company by the name NthOrbit in San Jose. The prime work of the company was to provide assistance and initial funding in the field of technology development. After Vani sold her first venture RW, she went on to find Certus Software, another start-up.  

With this start-up Vani wanted to become a market leader in the world of financial market. 

In some of her interviews she has often spoken about how the time and market conditions were very different at that time and internet bubble was also absent. Due to this reason people were unsure about the working, management and sustainability of start-ups, yet she managed to have such a glorious experience with all her start-ups.   

Homeland Calling

In India, be it be students or working professionals, people are obsessed with going to a foreign land, either to study or to make a career. The government spends significant amount of resources to educate and train us, and instead of returning the favour by contributing to the country’s growth, we dream of flying to other nation.

Under such scenario Vani kola’s decision to return back to India, instead of having a full-fledged career in Silicon Valley is nothing less than an inspiration to all. It shows that our country has a lot to provide, we just have be patient and brave-hearted.

 It was in 2006 when she decided to return back to Bangalore and it took her about 2 months to decide this. Obviously! It was not an easy decision to make.

 She not only decided to leave Silicon Valley after working there for 22 years but, she also left the field of entrepreneurship and entered into the world of venture capital investment. 

The initial phase of this journey was bumpy, and Vani had to spend a good amount of her time understanding the Indian Market as well as its need. She completely turned her focus on traveling, researching, making contacts, understanding the mind-set of the people. 

Kalaari Capital: the ultimate destination for budding entrepreneurs

After Vani was done with all her research, she went on to conceptualize the idea for the new firm. There were many risk involved and she had put in lots of money towards this project.
Would people be interested in start-ups? 

Would Indian market accept start-ups with open arms? 

What type of company should the firm start investing in? 

In addition to all this, there was no denying of the fact India was still naïve and was not ready for the Silicon Valley type venture capital investment. 

But, even with all these questions, doubts and roadblocks she decided to move ahead. Vani decided to launch the firm because she was sure of one thing that Indian markets were on their way for huge transformation.  During her research and travel she did notice one key point that young India is filled with confidence, they have unparalleled zeal to experiment and above all they were in no mood to ‘play safe’ anymore.  This is how Kalaari Capital came into being in 2006. 

KALAARI CAPITAL aims at empowering the prescient entrepreneurs by providing them initial funding. Their vision is to revolutionize the way Indians consume, work and live. The company has invested in about 35 companies in last 12 years. Some of them include- Myntra, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, StalkBuyLove, toffee, upstox, YourStory, Zivame, etc.

Since its establishment, Kalaari Capital has tried to cover almost all the areas including mobile services, fashion, education, E-commerce and so on.

Many start-ups funded by Vani kola have turned out to be extremely successful ventures. This speaks volumes about her visionary approach and validate the mentoring provided by her to all young minds, who dare to make a mark in the world of business. 

Vani kola looks after Kalaari Capitals as its Managing Director and the companies continues to thrive under her guidance. 

How she broke the glass ceilings and re-defined Feminism

At times, success might feel like a distant dream and failure might seem like the end of the world. But, it is your passion and courage which helps you to move forward. 

Vani’s journey in Silicon Valley (as an entrepreneur) and in India (as a venture capital investor), was not always a cake walk. She had to face her share of failures, lash-backs, judgements but integrity was the strongest tool she had. 

As a successful businesswoman, Vani’s life story is a perfect example for women all around the world, who dare to dream big. Vani is all up for being a support system to other women entrepreneurs. She is an active member of Forum for Woman Entrepreneurs and Executives (FWE&E). 

This organization is committed to pull women together and build strong as well as useful network. Vani is associated with the forum as it serves a crucial purpose. It provides a great platform for women to reach out for learning, sharing knowledge with their experience, and ultimately building a strong woman network. 

Vani has often said this, in many of her interviews that she is highly galvanised with the achievements of Indian women. Instead of being identified as one of the  top 10 entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, she still feels there are glass ceilings which every woman involved in business world has to face. 

According to Vani, there is no denying in the fact that women are often marginalized, but we need to define ourselves by our responses and actions. Women who are leaders in their respective field, must learn how to deal with men who feel begrudged working under them, and must never get affected by being wrongly judged or being excluded.  

The key point is to be confident about your success, role and above all the choices you make being leader as well as a woman.

Vani Kola has proven to be a paragon for start-up businesses in India. She is the dream investor every entrepreneur craves for. Above all her life story and teachings continue to inspire thousands of young minds. 

“I think the challenges we face are less important than how we choose to face them.”

        VANI KOLA

By Shivani