Podcast: Hard Truths by Vertex | Episode 4 - Truths About Disrupting India's Age-Old Manufacturing Industry with Sonam Motwani and Kanika Mayar

Elise TAN | 01 Mar 2023

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, we bring you Episode 4 of our Hard Truths by Vertex Podcast.

As a second-time founder, Sonam Motwani has a wealth of experience and unique insights into the manufacturing industry in India, which she has used to build Karkhana.io. And Kanika Mayar is one of just 9 senior female #VC investment professionals in India, with experience leading deals and building companies across various sectors. How did this female dream-team (coincidentally) come to be? What does it take to build a business and stand out in the male-dominated manufacturing industry? And what are some Hard Truths our two guests have learned along the way?

At Vertex Ventures SE Asia, as you know, we stand for gender neutrality and strongly believe in partnering impressive talents to cocreate champions, regardless of gender. We are proud to share that in our Fund 4, 40% has been invested into female-led companies. And in the region, we invested into the most number of female leaders of any early stage fund.

Our Guests

Sonam Motwani is CEO and founder of Karkhana.io, a flexible & scalable manufacturing solutions provider with an aim to digitalize manufacturing in India. Prior to Karkhana.io, Sonam co-founded Rolling Cube, and has held a Project Manager position at P&G. She is a rare woman who led a team of 20 to make electric race cars at Formula Student UK back in college.

Kanika Mayar has been with VVSEAI since 2020 and is one of the few senior female investment professionals in the country across more than 500 venture capital funds. She has led deals across sectors such as agritech, business to business (B2B), consumer and health tech. Prior to joining VVSEAI, Kanika was an Investment Officer with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) where she focused on investing in technology, telecom, renewable energy and infrastructure companies across India and South Asia. Before IFC, Kanika was with Goldman Sachs’s Investment Banking team covering transactions in natural resources in Europe.

In This Episode

(01:10) Vertex and Karkhana; Meeting, first impressions and the investment thesis

(08:18) How Karkhana got started

(12:50) Hard Truths about building and investing in manufacturing startups

(18:20) How Karkhana scaled their business

(21:32) Importance of company culture

(27:42) The value Vertex brought to Karkhana as an investor

(29:23) Hard Truth about authenticity

(31:10) Insights about being a female VC and advice for new female founders

Vertex Ventures SEA&I is proud to be associated with over 20 female-founded startups across Southeast Asia and India and this episode is part of our special series for International Women’s Day 2023. Throughout March we will feature four accomplished female business leaders, along with their Vertex investors - so do subscribe to our show and discover what it takes for women leaders to succeed male-dominated spaces.


Notes and Full Transcript for Episode 4 here.

Listen on Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hard-truths-by-vertex/id1659392336

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Or watch our other episodes here on YouTube.

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Your Host

Elise Tan is the Director of Communications and Community at Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India. Prior to joining Vertex, she has had extensive experience in investor relations and partnership at global venture funds and accelerators with more than $100m in AUM. Elise also currently runs a Southeast Asia-based startup community of nearly 800 entrepreneurs called the Asia Startup network and actively supports their startup journey through panels, meet-ups and mentoring programs.


Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India is a pioneer in investing in tech start-ups in this region and has helped to build a number of unicorns. In this podcast, we seek to share and uncover the Hard Truth - raw, unfiltered insights and venture capital knowledge from across Southeast Asia and India. Tune in to learn from leading founders, innovators, venture capitalists, and industry experts in the region and to gain industry insights from those in the know.

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