When Jesrina Arshad talks about her startup, she draws you in, sharing her journey from being in ill health to making sure that those who need a health boost know where to go.
She is a ‘maven’, the kind that Malcolm Gladwell talks incessantly about in his book The Tipping Point, the kind who is always ready and eager to share what they know with everyone. She knows her stuff, and she should because she has worked as a digital strategist in media for a long time.
Also, business is in her blood. Her father Raja Tan Sri Arshad Tun Uda is a prominent business leader who is the chairman of telco giant Maxis and a senior director on high-profile boards, including ACR Capitial and Yayasan Raja Muda Selangor.
Three and a half years ago she co-founded PurelyB – a health and wellness online community portal, and is currently running it as the CEO.
Being at the helm suits her, even when there are ups and downs, but for Jesrina having passion and vision help. “I could never go back to corporate life now that I have had a taste of not just running my own business but driving a vision that I’m so passionate about.”
ON WOMEN IN BUSINESS: “It isn’t more difficult for women in business, I feel that, yes there are certain biases but some of that may be unconscious. I find that some women, not all, may lack confidence and have that preconceived notion of where they stand. But I do see that changing and more women are starting to overcome that.”
ON BELIEVING IN THE BUSINESS: “We know our stuff, there’s nothing we can’t answer confidently and because we bring that to the table, stakeholders and investors believe in us. However, when I talk about this in a funding situation, I find that this is where issues come about. Just in general, venture capitalists are more male-skewed, male dominated. They tend to invest in businesses that they know, or are familiar with, something that they can relate to. When it is a women-skewed business, it is very difficult to convince male investors to invest.
ON GENDER EQUALITY IN BUSINESS: “It is getting better now. Men should definitely be part of the conversation, this isn’t about women versus men. Sheryl Sandberg wrote about it in her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, it is just a conversation that needs to be had so that there will be more awareness. There’s no change that can be made if it is just women coming together, no impactful change.”
ON CREATING THAT AWARENESS: “I moderated a panel recently about women in tech and I had to set the tone because the majority in the room were men. I said that this is not about men against women. I talked about the stats that showed women-founded companies get funded a lot less than men. But when it comes to profitability and delivering results, higher success rates are with women-founded companies. The stats are there. What’s the next step? It’s action. Because that’s what is lacking. Some countries are doing it but not a lot in Asia.
AN EXAMPLE OF THAT ACTION: In hiring, take gender out of the resume and see how that person performs and see if they are right for the job.