Behind Her Empire: Hitha Palepu on Women Founders and the 'True' Failure

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Hitha Palepu

Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals CEO Hitha Palepu joins this week's Behind Her Empire to talk about how she became an angel investor focused on women-founded businesses and her latest book, "We're Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris."

Palepu is the daughter of immigrants who came to the U.S. from India. Her father lost his hearing when he was 10 years old. He got through school by lip reading; it wasn't until he arrived in the states he got his first hearing aid.


"All he wanted was the chance to get started in the scientific world. He had his master's in chemistry," said Palepu. He worked scrubbing toilets at McDonalds while trying to land a job as a bench chemist. Her mother left behind a life of privilege in India.

"I think that sums up who I am today, I was born a daughter of incredibly tenacious, hard-working parents who got rejected over and over and over again, and never let that stop them," said Palepu.

With the help of her parent's money manager, Palepu realized she could become a serious investor. It wasn't until about her third investment she felt like calling herself an actual investor.

"I do like to get my hands dirty with my companies and help out however I can. I'm not here to tell them how to run [them], I invest in people that I trust to run their companies," said Palepu.

She learned quickly that women face more hurdles as CEO and investors, as opposed to men, who often get a pass when their companies fail.

"It makes me so mad," she said. "Not only are we not allowed to fail, [but] the business press loves building up a woman CEO or any underrepresented CEO or founder just to tear them down."

For Papelu, business losses don't define failure. "There's just a failure to progress, staying still and not growing and not striving and not learning. That's the true failure."

In this wide-ranging conversation, we hear about Papelu's time in the corporate world, why she ultimately decided to go out on her own, and the many lessons she learned from her first "failure" in the startup world.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Behind Her Empire: AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy On Redefining Success and Embracing Identity

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy
Photo courtesy of AAVRANI

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Rooshy Roy said, as the only Indian girl in school, she spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider and like she wasn’t meeting others’ expectations of “how an Indian girl should behave.”

Flash forward 20 years, and the differences Roy was once ashamed of are now the inspiration for her skincare company.

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