At HerZindagi’s first edition WomenPreneur Awards hosted in the national capital recently, HerZindagi recognised women running successful businesses across spheres. Some women achievers took home Editor’s Choice Awards for their exceptional performance in their respective fields. Elizabeth Thomas, founder, Phonologix, a speech therapy and child development centre working towards transforming the lives of children with communication disorders.
Thomas is the brain behind Phonologix, an NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore incubated startup making speech therapy and early intervention accessible to children with communication disorders or delays. Phonologix, supported by Kerala Startup Mission, aims to provide equal opportunities to all children to overcome their communication challenges, improve their quality of life and reach their full potential.
The Foundation Of Phonologix
Elizabeth Thomas holds a Masters Degree in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology from Mumbai University. She has 22 years of experience in the field of rehabilitation. After her post graduation, she started working for an institute in Bangalore. Soon, she moved to Chennai and then to Gurgaon where she worked as a consultant in various hospitals like Apollo and other organisations working with children with special needs. In the year 2020, Thomas decided to start Phonologix with an aim to support children with communication orders and delays.
The journey to building Phonologix wasn’t a smooth one. Thomas shared that she and her team faced a lot of struggles. Talking about the same, she said, “Some of the struggles we face are trying to explain to friends and family why we are following our vision and that we haven’t completely abandoned the responsibilities to our families. We often heard stereotypical comments like, you don’t know how to sell, you are too emotional, you are not aggressive or assertive and you are not ambitious enough.”
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How Entrepreneurship Changed Elizabeth Thomas’ Life
While you see Thomas’ journey to success, little you must be knowing about her entrepreneurial ride. Entrepreneurship changed a lot for Thomas. “Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey with many setbacks on the way. It is a responsibility we can’t keep aside even on weekends. There have been instances where I have questioned my decision to be an entrepreneur. However, the impact we are creating in the lives of hundreds of children has been very fulfilling and it keeps me going. Entrepreneurship has helped me in my personal growth as well. I have become more responsible and resilient and it has helped me develop many new skills outside the realm of clinical practice,” she said.
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Biggest Challenges For Women Entrepreneurs
Elizabeth Thomas further shared how women continue to face challenges, discrimination, and gender bias despite having made significant strides in the workplace. She shared that women are still underrepresented in leadership positions and receive less funding and support than their male counterparts. “As a woman founder, there have been many instances where I was advised to have a male cofounder. Many of my concerns have been brushed aside implying that they are inconsequential,” Elizabeth Thomas added.
There has been a significant rise in the number of women getting into the workforce. However, they continue to face multiple challenges. Talking about the same, Elizabeth Thomas said, “Women entrepreneurs often face challenges related to family responsibilities and societal expectations, which can make it difficult for them to balance their personal and professional lives. Despite having 18 per cent women founders in our country, women entrepreneurs (women's day special) are expected to juggle so many responsibilities while men are expected to focus only on their businesses. I have seen many women around me give up on their dreams due to lack of support and many having to go against their family to follow their passion.”
Thomas signed off with a message for all women out there, “Believe in yourself and follow your passion. We women have immense strength and determination. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel inferior. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Embrace every setback as an opportunity to learn and grow.”