The Spice Girls!

Mallika Reddy and Swathi Nimmagadda have found recipients for their amity – each other. 

We don’t get to choose our families but friendships are purely our choice. That’s what makes our buddies all the more special. Life is a product of our choices, and our choices are hugely influenced by our friends. No wonder the bard said, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” And looks like Indukuri Mallika Reddy and Swathi Nimmagadda have found the right recipients of their amity – each other. 

Daughters of two well-known industrialists of Hyderabad found each other one and a half years ago. “My parents and Mallika’s in-laws have been friends forever. We hit it off from the moment we were introduced to each other. It was a case of friendship at first sight,” recollects Swathi, “Our friendship is effortless and breezy. It was meant to be. I think it helps that we are of the same age. We have several common interests like food and fitness but our personalities are very different. We think differently. The strengths that she has, I don’t. She is bold and confident. I am too in my own way but she gets things done better than I can.”

“That’s actually quite nice because we complement each other,” says Mallika, “We’ve a few similarities but those few are the things that matter in life. There are times when she shows me a side of things which I may have completely overlooked. I can be quite stubborn when I make up my mind but she has the ability to get her point across even if I don’t see it at first. Our comfort level with each other is the basis of our business partnership. Our friendship is the foundation for everything. There is immense trust between us. We always interacted with each other one-on-one. We were not introduced by a common friend. I think that helped us understand each other.”

So how did the progression to being business partners happen?

“We had both completed our undergrad and we were here. Whenever we would meet, we would discuss our ideas and what we wanted to do. I would go home and share Mallika’s ideas with dad. He suggested we set up a business together. I bounced it off of her and she was game. It helped that we share the same set of values. That’s how it all started,” says Swathi.

 “Her dad invests into businesses and keeps looking into new businesses. He is the one who suggested we do something together. And we thought, why not? We came up with a bunch of ideas initially,” explains Mallika, “but we weren’t exactly racing against time or anything. It wasn’t like we had to start something tomorrow. So we took our own time getting into the depth and finding a niche we could fill. We researched extensively before narrowing down on one particular business.”

Mallika Reddy and Swathi Nimmagadda (2)

Mallika and Swathi formalised their partnership and floated a company called Akiko Apps Private Limited. “We wanted the name to sound different. Akiko in Japanese means empress,” they elaborate.

From real estate to environment, infra to brands, they went through the whole gamut and finally decided to get into technology. “We wanted to add value to a business. We wanted to provide solutions to a problem. Finally, we decided to get into technology.”

“Every time we would bounce off our ideas to people, they would invariably ask us why we were not doing anything online. That kind of swung it for us. Still, we took our time before taking the plunge,” says Mallika.

Their business mentor, Ajay Sharma, who is an ace in the world of apps did some hand holding till they were ready to venture out on their own. “He taught us everything, from ideas to execution. That’s a very confusing stage and without him we wouldn’t have transitioned as smoothly.”

So what is the big idea?

“We have several friends in the fashion industry. And whenever we would visit their studios, we realised that they were hugely challenged in the areas of inventory and billing,” explains Mallika, “So we came up with the idea of developing an app that would help them manage everything on their mobile phones.”

That was the origin of the genesis of `Myhashtag Tote’, a virtual Warehouse and Book Keeping app that helps fashion designers, boutiques and showrooms to bring their business to one platform. The app is available on iOS and Android platforms. “A tote can carry everything and each person organises it the way he/she wants. And hashtag is the current buzz word. That’s how we came up with the name.” So what purpose does the app serve? “It’s a B2B app. It takes care of the back end of a fashion house. It makes inventory management seem like a breeze.

Mallika Reddy and Swathi Nimmagadda (6)

It comes with a multi login facility. So the designer, their staff and the clients will be able to interact with ease. It’s a very user-friendly app that allows the user to edit the way it suits them.”

So how does their business arrangement work?

“It evolved naturally. It wasn’t like we discussed at length about our roles,” says Swathi, “We don’t impose our views on each other. We discuss issues in detail. Our working styles are different. And that helps because our collective strength makes us formidable as a team.”

“We approach a task or decision in different ways,” says Mallika, “But when we finalise, it’s always by consensus. She helps me look at the broader perspective. She is quite critical and asks me questions that I wouldn’t have thought of.”

So where to, from here?

“An app is never complete. We have just launched the Version 2 of the app. This is just the beginning. We have a lot more things in store. This app is just one of them,” echo the duo who are all set to simplify the work lives of fashion professionals.

Way to go, girls! May you live `appily ever after’!