As a young entrepreneur, Ms Roshni Mahtani, 31, attended many networking sessions where she was the only woman in a sea of men.
There were issues she wanted to discuss with other businesswomen, not least how to balance the demands of work and family. "I wanted to ask how they navigated these issues," says the founder of Tickled Media, an online media publishing house.
Eighteen months ago, she set up Female Founders Network, which is more a support group than a mentoring one. It has about 300 members, including entrepreneurs like Ms Lee Min Xuan, co-founder of Playmoolah.
"For the first half of our meetings, the conversation is about basic things like employee stock options, and who's sitting on our boards. Then the conversation shifts to who's the best babysitter and how much she's paid. Some entrepreneurs are going through personal difficulties and it's very therapeutic to share their problems. It boils down to friendships," she says.
A self-confessed workaholic, she also mentors a group of Indian entrepreneurs and those at tech accelerator Joyful Frog Digital Incubator.
Tickled Media came about when she was contemplating motherhood in 2007 and wanted to know what it would be like to raise children. She was in New York at the time with her husband, a finance professional on a posting there.
"I did a lot of research on children, especially on how to get children to listen to me," she recalls.
She decided to babysit to learn more, and that led to interviews with about 100 parents and their children over a six-month period.
From there, she selected young children to babysit. It proved to be an eye-opener, and she noted the differences in the way Asian and Caucasian parents raised their children. Asian parents emphasised education from a young age, whereas Caucasians would let young children play.
She blogged about her experiences on her site called theAsianparent.com. It garnered a large following and she decided to turn it into a business, Tickled Media.
She returned to Singapore in 2009 ahead of her husband. Today, this portal is complemented by two other sites, Pregnant.com and Kidlander.com. Collectively, they reach out to more than 1.3 million mothers.
Tickled Media employs more than 50 people, and has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Motherhood has not happened yet.
Having realised her dream of becoming an entrepreneur, she wants to encourage more women to become entrepreneurs too, but says cultural attitudes have to change.
"If we see men helping at home, and women taking leadership positions in the workplace, this should be celebrated," she says.
This article was first published on July 13, 2014.
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