Madhavi Shankar is a tech entrepreneur breaking through barriers for women in STEM across India and beyond. As co-founder and CEO of one of India’s fast growing tech startups, SpaceBasic, Ms Shankar inspires for women and girls across her country, eager to overcome gender and cultural stereotypes to become leaders in business and entrepreneurship. She represents a new generation of leaders, determined not to replicate business as usual and passionate about the impact their work has on the world.
Ms Shankar came to Australia in 2012, after completing her Bachelor of Engineering at home in India. She was eager to experience a more independent life throughout her post-graduate studies, enrolling in a Master of Engineering Management and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Her studies in Australia opened her mind to the world of possibility in entrepreneurship, and the potential for solving tangible and critical problems with technology. During her studies, Ms Shankar took on a role working with an emerging Australian startup, immersing herself in the world of software sales and product management as she supported the founders to grow and scale the business across Asia. Her experience there, combined with her studies at UTS, inspired Ms Shankar to launch her own venture upon returning to India in 2017.
Today, her company SpaceBasic empowers colleges and universities drive student success with a connected campus experience. Whether it’s campus housing, integrated payments or digital cafeteria, students easily navigate the university experience. The SpaceBasic’s AI platform brings together meaningful data sources from everyday tasks and communication, to provide universities actionable insights, leading to cost significant reductions and streamlined operations. Over 50 universities and student housing communities are now automating everyday tasks & communication with SpaceBasic. Ms Shankar’s goal is to expand the footprint of SpaceBasic beyond India, with the hope of reaching Australian university housing in the coming years.
Ms Shankar’s achievements as a young entrepreneur have attracted national and international acclaim. In 2019, she was named as one of the Top 30 Women Transforming India by the Indian government and the United Nations. In 2019, Shankar represented India at as one of the Youth Speaker at Untied Nations, Geneva, for United Nation Training and Research’s (UNITAR) 1M2030 initiative. She was also selected as to sever as a board committee member for this initiative by UNITAR and Global Challenges Forum. Ms Shankar has leveraged this recognition to advocate for and inspire more girls into technology and is part of 1M2030, an initiative by the UN to motivate one million young adults and students – especially women – to choose to become entrepreneurs by 2030.
In 2020, she was recognised by Forbes in the 30 Under 30 list for Enterprise Technology in Asia. Ms Shankar attributes the learnings and experiences she had during her post-graduate studies and startup job in Australia with helping create the launchpad for her career as an entrepreneur, instilling in her a belief in her own potential to bring her big ideas to life.