Designed for South Asian women in business, this networking event features an afternoon of sharing business wins and current challenges.

LadyDrinks is a networking platform for South Asian women executives in New York City. Helmed by long time business news TV anchor Joya Dass, the movement is expanding to Houston with a sister event this fall.

The Hotel Granduca hosts an exclusive event for 15 women business leaders Saturday September 21st 2-4pm in the tea salon. The mission is to share your current business wins and current challenges. How can we, as a collective, help South Asian women leaders advance more quickly in the workplace?

LadyDrinks hosts this style of event monthly, and it provides a structure for professional women to introduce themselves and offer up resources to one another. Joya will moderate the group discussion

Date: Saturday, September 21st

Location: Hotel Granduca,1080 Uptown Park Blvd. Houston

Event timeline:

  • 2:00-2:15pm Guest arrival and seating
  • 2:15-3:00pm Joya leads the group discussion and thanks event sponsors
  • 3:00-4:00 Tea, networking and wrap

Takeaways from the LadyDrinks webinar “Raising Capital for your Business for the First Time” with Angela Lee, Founder, 37 Angels.

Thursday, June 6th, Angela Lee, founder of 37 angels, spelled out the ABC’s of raising capital for the first time for female founders at LadyDrinks. She presented a slide deck with statistics and a treasure trove of resources women can leverage when seeking angel investment dollars for the first time.

Angela Lee’s background

  • She is Chief Innovation Officer and Associate Dean at Columbia Business School where she has taught both leadership and entrepreneurship
  • She has founded 4 startups 
  • She has spoken at the White House and advised high level decision makers
  • She is the founder of 37 Angels, which has invested in 50 startups and activates new investors through an investment bootcamp

The traditional funding sources

  • Founder, self funding
  • Friends and Family 
  • Seed stage with professional investors
  • Series A, B, C D private equity firms with co invest with VC’s

Other ways people are financing businesses 

  • Revenue based financing (Good for restaurants) You still get to retain 100% of the business. An investor takes 5% of the revenue for the first 5 years
  • SBA Loans, which are built for small businesses
  • Grants. Hire a grant writer if you go this route

Tips when starting to seek angel funding

  • Go on Linkedin and search by function for the following key words, investor, angel, vc
  • Start by connecting to people you already know
  • If they aren’t the right person, ask them to make an introduction to 2 people who are a right fit.
  • Always remember to be specific in your ask.
  •, click on ‘resources’ to find accelerators you can enter into. For creatives, startup leadership program and tackle box are ideas
  • Angel list Here you can see which angel investors invested in startups by industry. This is a great place to search for ‘food’ angel investors. It can help to inform your Linkedin networking

Where are women tripping themselves up when raising capital

  • Women don’t ask for enough capital. Ideally one raises every 18-24 months. Angela recommends adding 25% to the ask amount
  • Men when in front of investors get asked promotion based questions. Women, when in front of investors get asked ‘prevention-based’ questions. While women should answer it, they should also be prepared to present projections and forward looking data about their business
  • Anecdotally, women are conservative in their asks. Men present the ‘pie in the sky’ scenario

Paying yourself

60% of founders pay themselves

Where are the investment dollars going?

75% of what we are looking for is tech based, because investors are looking for hyper growth. 

When a founder is presenting, everything is being evaluated. Both the pitch deck and the style of presentation.

  • If you can’t convince a potential investor, the concern is that you won’t be able to ‘sell’ to other critical relationships such as vendors.
  • The common mistake is seeing founders who focus presentations on product. A better presentation focuses on the problem you are solving.
  • Recommendation: role play your pitch with a friend. Ask for feedback.
  • Mindset is key when pitching
  • Know that you will hear a bunch of ‘no’s. 

Common mistakes women founders make when starting a business

  • Ask yourself what is the difficult part of my job and hire around that
  • Outsource everything else
  • How to prioritize a never ending to do list: Put a dollar sign next to each to do list item and list how much revenue you will glean from making good on it. 

If you are in the retail space VC’s to look at

  • Forerunner Ventures is an early-stage VC firm dedicated to partnering with ambitious entrepreneurs.
  • Lerer Hippeau is a seed stage venture capital fund based in New York City. The firm invests heavily in early-stage companies and has historically focused largely on startups in the New York metro region. In 2018, two-thirds of the portfolio were New York-based companies, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles

Legal Resources for entrepreneurs just starting out

Three newsletters you should subscribe to for startup events

Other great resources

Books to read

A little activism with a side of parasol

Someone asked me last week, “Joya, you do events all the time. What makes an event ‘successful’ in your eyes?’

During the Fireside Chat in March, Anjula Acharia, Priyanka Chopra’s manager and partner in Trinity Ventures, talked about failure.

She talked about her first venture failing.

She cried in her closet for a year. Curled up in a ball. Unable to engage. So deep was the disappointment.

The TV anchor in me is always scanning the room to see if the audience is engaged. Are people bored? Are people on their phones? Are they shifting in their seats. Are they walking out?

As Anjula spoke with plainness and transparency about her failure, and subsequent heartbreak, it was pin drop silence in the room. The room was riveted. The silence was palpable.

That moment —was everything.

We,  as a culture, shy away from conversations about failure. We talk about our kid going to Harvard. We discuss being married to a surgeon. We gush about buying the latest Louis Vuitton bag. But the conversations about our kid getting rejected by Yale, their first pick? About our husband not getting into medical school the first time. About getting divorced. About getting depressed? About friends committing suicide from the overwhelm of pressure.Those conversations rarely see the light of day.

Those conversations get brushed under the rug.

Saturday, August 18th, I hosted the third and final celebration of LadyDrinks turning seven in Princeton. The theme was to share one thing each attendee had to ‘give’ for the year and the one ‘ask’ each attendee had of the community.

Trupty (names changed for the sake of the story), talked about her son. At school, he was friends with a little boy. That little boy shared that his mommy was in an abusive marriage. Trupty’s son came home and told her.  Trupty told her son to tell the little boy to tell his mother to call her.

Aparna called right away. She escaped to Trupty’s home with just a few dollars to her name. Trupty fundraised to help Aparna pay for expenses.  She secured financial aid for Aparna’s daughter to enroll in college (her father had pulled her out of high school). Aparna’s kids now stay at Trupty’s house while Aparna is at work.

Trupty took action and put her own interests aside to rescue someone. When she declared her ‘ask’ to the room, Aparna was standing silently next to Trupty.  Trupty asked the women in the circle to help find Aparna a job so she can support herself and her three kids.

Pindrop silence.

An attendee pulled me aside later and admitted, “When I heard stories like this in my community, I always thought ‘This is not my problem.’ But in hearing how Trupty MADE IT HER PROBLEM to rescue Aparna, made me realize that I need to do my part. I won’t turn the other cheek again.”

Yes Saturday’s event was in a beautiful house. Yes there were beautiful parasols. Yes there were beautiful dresses. Tons of food and wine. Hats a plenty. But something far more powerful was happening in the room.

The sharing was THE most powerful part of the event Saturday. The safe space we have created with LadyDrinks for this dialogue to happen was THE most powerful part. Women, sponsoring each other’s careers —and safety— was THE most powerful part. Three women raised their hands to say they would help find Aparna a job was the most powerful part.

Change…is in the air.

It was evident in the pindrop silence.

 Become a LadyDrinks member, go to

What it must be like to be Serena. When women speak up

I go to the US open every year. It’s the one New York sporting event I have attended religiously since I first moved to New York City 21 years ago. I played competitively in high school.

So, as is tradition, I bought my tickets to the Women’s finals match for Sept 9th. I secretly hoped to see Serena play. Since she and her sister came onto the tennis scene, they have injected a wonderful new energy into women’s tennis. Men’s finals were always the most anticipated event and the women’s matches were a ‘coda.’  Prompted by a conversation happening behind me at last year’s match, I read Richard Williams’ book Black and White: The Way I See It.   (Serena was playing on the main court, of course.) The guys behind me were in awe of the fact that her father wrote a manifesto about the athletes—no the warriors— he was going to nurture and create someday. This was written even before Serena and Venus were born. Once they were born, he moved his girls from the sleepy suburbs of Long Beach, California, to the drug-addled tennis courts of Compton. Why? Because he was building warriors. Not princesses. What must it be like to be Serena?

Fast forward to this past Saturday. Just as we were heading into Arthur Ashe Stadium, my friends and I got into a conversation about the headwinds Serena upon returning to tennis post child-birth.  For the 13 months that she was away from the game, her ranking slid from No. 1 in the world to No. 454.  French Open officials faced criticism for not seeding her, even though she won the tournament three times already.  She made it to the fourth round anyway. Hours before she was due to face off with Maria Sharapova, she was forced to withdraw because of an injury. The US Open decided, starting this year, that it will no longer penalize players for pregnancy-related breaks.

Yes, I saw Serena break her racket on Saturday at the US Open women’s finals. Yes I heard about the code violation. Yes, I saw her in a heated debate with the umpire, gesticulating wildly in protest. Yes I heard about the second code violation, and the awarding of an entire game to her opponent Naomi.  It seemed extreme. The game was on a downward spiral afterwards. It was as if the air had been taken out of a balloon.

As I posted photos on Facebook, folks from my hometown and friends asked me what it must have been like to be at the match on Saturday.

I thought about what it must be like to be Serena. To live her life in the public eye. To have a father who was once her coach.  To not get seeded at the French Open because she gave birth to a child. To face criticism for cheating.

So my take on that moment, when she was locked in debate with the umpire, was that it was a watershed moment. The pot had boiled over.  Every allegation, every criticism, every injury that has happened since her return to the game, came to a head.

Rather than buckling, she stood up for herself. And she said it out loud. She stood up for her daughter.

Indra Nooyi, speaking at the Forbes Women Conference this summer, said, “Women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves as men.” I would wager, after Saturday’s match, women also have to work twice as hard at grace under pressure.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Serena.

What happens when you push outside your comfort zone

My SO Matt asked me to go to a Yankee game this weekend. If you knew me a little, you know that I”m not a spontaneous person. I plan everything 6-8 months out. The only New York sporting event I attend each year is the US Open. Baseball ain’t my thing.

But he is an avid sports fan and happily goes to so many of my meticulously planned out things. Sundays are big work days for me but I said ‘yes.’.

The stadium was full. We weren’t sitting in our assigned seats because somebody else was sitting in ours. The lines for everything from food to water was crazy. There was only food that is really bad for you. My metrocard on the return ran out of money and every darn refill machine was malfunctioning from the crush of humanity trying to get home. But it was fun! My natural instinct is to do what makes me comfortable. But I would miss so much if I didn’t break through my lack of comfort.

June 9th, 2018, seven women joined me in Williamstown, New Jersey, for the LadyDrinks skydiving retreat. I was curious to see who would turn up, especially since I helm a group of culturally conservative women. Pro skydiver and LD member Melanie Curtis led the day. We spent the first hour talking about areas we wanted to experience a breakthrough.

We did the jump.

Then we sat in a circle again to talk about what came up for us after this extreme sports challenge.


See, our brains are designed to cause us the least amount of stress and anxiety possible. It’s called the ‘comfort zone.’ Push too far one direction and it’s a negative thing. Don’t ever leave—-and you plateau. But there is a space, just beyond our comfort zones. It’s called “Optimal anxiety” where our brains are experiencing a slightly higher level of stress, but our mental productivity and performance are at their peak. THAT is where I hope to take ladies each year with the annual extreme sports challenge.

When we sat in our circle last year pre-jump, I wished for a financial breakthrough. I wanted to run LadyDrinks full time. November 2018, I left my day job to run LadyDrinks full time. The path hasn’t been easy, but I’m also not living in a cardboard box. Divya’s expressed a desire to flip her reflex response from ‘no’ to ‘yes!’ Her real estate empire has quadrupled since doing the jump.


SO this year’s challenge is on June 22nd, I’m taking 5 women to Trapeze school on the West Side Highway at 8am. Sign up here

We will be fitted with a safety belt and begin class with a brief ground school lead by an instructor. After learning the basic safety rules, we will practice the knee hang. And then we get connected to safety lines , step on the ladder–and learn to become a flying Wallenda!

The final 30 minutes of class will be devoted to catching. An instructor will hang from another trapeze bar and catch a flyer! or you can keep practicing flying through the air with the greatest of ease.


Afterwards, we will sit in a circle and talk about what came up for us. Taking risks in a controlled environment and challenging ourselves to do things we don’t usually do, can make us more agile. We can better handle unexpected challenges in life. And you know they always come. As we get more used to being a state of ‘optimal anxiety’ we will also find it easier to push the envelope in the future. SO. Who’s coming with me?

Melanie Curtis and I share our top time management hacks

With Speaker, Author and Coach Melanie Curtis

Thursday, May 16h, we hosted a time management webinar. A big ‘thank you’ to Speaker, Author, and Coach Melanie Curtis who always brings her uplift and positive energy to any conversation. If you would like to schedule a session with her, here is the link for the special life coaching Sample Session for LadyDrinks members.

A quick recap of the items where women needed support today

Pooja Khurana feels she is juggling too many balls. Melanie suggests self-care as a primary daily habit because it fills you up and readies you for all the other roles you play. Nagina Sheth Abdullah is a mom and business owner. She assigns themes to each month. January kid 1 picks everything you do socially. February 2 may be when you finally do that kitchen renovation.  It could be days of the week that have themes. Monday, I work on my website. Tuesday I dedicate to payroll. etc But this way, you can feel empowered that you are giving each your all on the days assigned versus feeling like giving piecemeal to all.
Annette Diaz is seeking more self-care in her schedule. Annette lost her mother and her sister in the last year and it was understandably devastating. Melanie acknowledged her for putting self care on the calendar and actively pursuing it. Remember to celebrate the little victories in accomplishing commitments like these to ourselves. 
Menka Uttamchandani wants more organization around her email and paperwork. Melanie suggests affirmations around productivity. Often our overwhelm in completing a task can be rooted in a story we tell ourselves. Affirmations help flip that. Tactically, I’m a fan of installing Boomerang in my email which automatically reminds me if I haven’t responded. I also created folders in my gmail, and spend a few minutes each day, sending emails to those folders so I can retrieve ‘travel’ or ‘Corporate sponsor’ collateral quickly when I need it.
Jelena Diklic knows where everything is, but is seeking more organization around completing projects during the day. David Allen, Founder of Getting Things Done, suggests his five step process, which starts with a brain dump, and putting to paper everything you have to do. Verne Harnish, who is the founder of EO, says the most succesful people in the world do one thing before they go to bed: rank the top five things they need to do the VERY NEXT day, in order of importance. Time management author Laura Vanderkam always recommends doing the toughest task first thing in the day when your reserve of will power is strongest.  Melanie shares this article on will power
Suchitra feels she is always putting out fires at her graphics and printing business and not getting to work on the high level stuff. We recommended getting up earlier and really leveraging the 5-8am hours when customers and employees will not be bothering her. Again this is counsel Vanderkam shares in her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
Smita Sharma wants to be more productive. She is a meditation teacher and feels she has become too laid back in accomplishing tasks. We recommended making a list of priorities 1-5. Sarah Walton’s counsel to clients is to ask yourself first thing in the morning, “What is the MOST important thing I need to do today?” and say no to those tasks that don’t move the needle forward on priorities number 1 and 2
Ami Patel is about to deliver a baby TODAY and is worried about folks at work running slipshod all over her time with her baby because they don’t access the knowledge transfer and systems she has set up. We recommended having stronger boundaries. Set a time each day when employees can check in. She checks in as well. But honor the boundaries in being inaccessible beyond that time. Jennifer Macaluso Gilmore counsels that women can have it all, but not at the same time. We live our lives in chapters. This chapter is about the baby.
Prema Roddam has a never ending to do list and her discipline goes out the window when it gets to be too long. Committing to accomplishing 5 or 6 big tasks each day can be productive. Since perfectionism is something that plagues us all, I recommended Kate Northup’s exercise here (listen at 18:43) on writing down 3 things you value about yourself at the end of the day. And follow that up with three ways you added value to someone else’s life that day. Do it for 21 days. Melanie shares this video on discipline
To become a LadyDrinks member, go

Upcoming events

June 5th Fireside Chat with Liz Tenety
June 6th WEBINAR on startup funding with Angela Lee, 37 Angels
June 6th Members Only Cocktail: A conversation about money and women
June 22nd LadyDrinks goes to Trapeze School!

When we support one woman, we support all women

Begin to Heal founder Pooja Khanna last night

Lady Drinks NY
 member Pooja Khanna had a ‘come to jesus’ moment while working in corporate for many many years. She got very sick. Her father was the CEO of a pharmaceutical company in India, so popping a pill for any ailment was regular fare for her. But this time, traditional medicine just wasn’t working.

That’s when Pooja went the natural medicine and healing route. She was surprised that she was in better stead in short order.

She quit her job and decided to found Begin To Heal which today is an aggregator of alternative medicine practitioners. The portal allows you to book sessions with each as well. I was supporting her last night at her inaugural event, which featured a sound bath meditation.

The business world can be dog-eat-dog environment, and it takes a strong person to succeed. That strength has been associated with masculinity. But when you help one woman, it helps all women. When you show someone that you think she has value, you can transform her life.

On this Mother’s Day, I mull the question “Where are you from?”

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

On this Mother’s Day, I mull the question, “Where are you from?”
I was in Milwaukee recently, visiting my boyfriend’s parents. After Easter mass with his mom, we stopped at a local gas station in search of graham crackers and chocolate. Matt was home building a bonfire so we could make s’mores. As we left, he called to me to get ANYTHING but Hershey’s. “It’s crap chocolate,” he bellowed.  I mulled the candy aisle in the Mobil Unimart. My prospects of finding Ghirardelli or Lindt looked bleak.
I grabbed the Hershey’s bar and made my way to the register. The curiosity of the man behind the register was palpable. He stared.

“Where are you from?”

I actually hate this question. It usually devolves into “Where are your parents? Where are they from? Where do you live?  Where is your husband?”  Sometimes, I say I’m Mexican to diffuse the conversation. But that seemed irreverent in front of Matt’s mom.

Where am I from?

My mom is from Calcutta. My dad is from Burma. My dad emigrated to the US in 1962 because of anti-Indian sentiment.   I was born American and raised in Pennsylvania.  I played with Barbies. I learned to change the tires on my car.

But, I was never quite ‘American.’ 

When I turned 30, I bought a British Airways ticket and visited India. I travelled. To Calcutta, Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bangalore, Chennai, Pondicheri, Coimbatore, Cochin. I wanted to reframe the conversation about what it meant to be Indian. I rejected the version that my parents jammed down my throat.  Here I was, discovering the beautiful and the unfinished. 

To Indians in India, I wasn’t quite Indian.

I went to college in Pennsylvania. I went to graduate school in Boston. I did a stint in Wyoming.   

Today,  I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My boyfriend lives on the lower East side. Given the trappings of the modern New York romance, I split my time between  the two neighborhoods. And here I was at a gas station in Allenton, Wisconsin, Hershey’s in hand, staring at the eager stout Indian gas station owner, who was secretly hoping I would affirm his hunch, that I was, in fact, Indian too.

“I’m from New York,” I replied flatly and without emotion. “I’m from New York.”

Takeaways from the LadyDrinks Linkedin Workshop

LadyDrinks Linkedin Workshop

Linkedin’s Ashley Pham and Vishu Patel lead the LadyDrinks Linkedin workshop May 9th at Luminary

Thursday May 9th, LadyDrinks partnered with Linkedin to host a valuable workshop on how to build a compelling profile, how to network on the platform, and how to leverage a new service Career Advice to find mentors on the platform.

Ensure you have a profile photo that is professional. Profiles with professional photos can more engagement and visits. Photos engender trusts.

Ensure the tagline that sits underneath your name explains succinctly your title and position.

The summary section of the profile is the area to tell a story about your career and connect the dots on your resume. This is a section to talk about your strongest skill set and opportunities you are seeking. Incidentally, the AI on the LInkedin platform will auto generate a summary based on your career entry inputs on your profile.

Ask for ‘recommendations’

List your skill sets. This is especially helpful when people are searching for you by key words.

LinkedIn is a place to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Consistently post articles and posts each week to position yourself as a thought leader. Unlike Facebook, when you like or share a post/article, you show up more frequently in the newsfeed.

When networking on the platform, search for ‘people.’ An advanced filter will allow you to search based on more specific search criteria such as “CEO” or “broadcasting” industry.

When networking on the LInkedin platform, ask first level connections to make introductions to your desired person.

Turn ‘on’ your ‘Career Interests’ function if you wish to be approached by recruiters

To leverage ‘Career Advice’ Linkedin’s new platform to connect with mentors, fill in the form on the areas you are willing and able to offer advice on.

Join ‘groups’ on Linkedin to find like-minded people in your industry. This is also a way to by-pass the Inmail system to connect to people you couldn’t connect to otherwise.

Use the ‘Find nearby’ function at events to send Linkedin invitations to people in the room and connect right away. Make sure your Bluetooth is turned on to access this.

Create a ‘company’ page to place sponsored ads on Linkedin.

Assertiveness: Helpful or Hurtful to Women

Wednesday May 8th, I was on a panel for the Women in Negotiation Summit. The topic was on assertiveness for women in the workplace. I often marvel at how poorly most panels are moderated, but we had an excellent! moderator
in Jennifer Parlamis who teaches negotiation at the School of Management at the University of San Francisco. While this panel was titled “Assertiveness: Helpful or Hurtful,” I would title it “How to get what you want with grace.” Assertiveness is asking for what I want, but still considering the needs, wants and rights of the other party. Aggressiveness is unilaterally telling someone, this is how it’s going to go, ignoring the other party’s needs, wants, and rights. I had a dad like that, so I know it too well.

Some of the other topics we covered:
For women looking for tools and language to have in their holster when speaking up, I recommend reading Fran Hauser’s book “The Myth of the Nice Girl.” In a negotiation, always keep the discussion focused on the growth of the business or the division, and less personally focused.

How to prepare for negotiation? I recommend that you have plan A ready and data to back it up. “I brought in 30% more revenue last quarter.” But if plan A is met with a blank stare and a rejection, then prepare plan B, C, and D and be prepared to deploy them. “Can we agree to meet in 2 months to revisit this?” It’s also smart to know the personality type that is sitting across the table. Asentiv, the coaching service, has an interesting quadrant that puts people in four categories (Go-Getters, Examiners, Nurturers, and Promoters) and the associated ways they like to engage. It’s worth knowing which quadrant the person sitting across the table falls into.

Both myself and my co panelist Lydia Frank, who is currently with Payscale, lean on our training as journalists when in a discovery session. Ask questions. Flip the paradigm. Dig into you find where the pain point is for the person sitting across the table. Then figure out a way to rise to fill that painpoint.