Mama Mentors is powered by Lincoln. Learn more about our partnership here. To us, our partnerships with brands are about so much more than business. We carve out relationships with brands whose values reflect our own and those of our members, and work together to thoughtfully tell stories and create experiences that speak to moms’ real lives and real interests.
Through projects like this one, HeyMama endeavors to enhance the professional success of our members by bridging the gap between those who have already arrived and the ones who are still on their way. We hope this journey will keep us all moving forward, just like Lincoln.
Hitha Palepu, CEO of Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals, creator of #5SmartReads, and published author, excels at the art of multitasking. The mom rarely relies on a set routine, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, juggling parenting responsibilities while she squeezes in work whenever possible during the day, then logging intense work hours at night after her children are asleep so she can run her business and finish her second book.
“I thrive in chaos, which sums up motherhood and entrepreneurship,” Palepu told HeyMama. “You can throw any situation at me, and I figure out a way to solve it.”
The year 2020 has certainly been chaotic, which would help explain why, on top of preparing to take her company’s lead product into Phase III in 2021, running a daily news curation company “to help people be smarter in a short amount of time,” finishing up her second book set to be published in the fall of 2021, and parenting two small children, ages 5 and 1, Palepu decided to be a mentor to a HeyMama member. HeyMama’s Mama Mentor program, powered by Lincoln, pairs an up-and-coming entrepreneur or corporate working mom with a seasoned veteran working in a similar field to build a supportive relationship that fosters growth, education, and solidarity.
“If we moms can survive this year, there’s nothing we can’t do,” Palepu explained. “And for so many moms, they have book ideas and concepts that they file in the back of their mind and those ideas stay stuck there. If I could help just one mom take her idea and begin flushing it out into a proposal and to start building her writing muscle, it would be a success. I absolutely adore my group and we plan to keep meeting monthly in the new year.”
With so much to do, and never enough time to do it, Palepu knows the value of having a support network — in life and in business — when you’re an entrepreneurial mom. “It was only with the help of my parents, who all but moved to New York, an incredible nanny and housekeeper, and my incredible co-founder and literary agent that I was able to make it all happen,” she said. And given past years in which she has taken on too much (“I definitely took on too much in 2015. I gave birth to Rho, launched Bridge2Act, and wrote How To Pack in nine months.”) she also knows the value of slowing down, setting boundaries, and establishing reasonable expectations of herself and others.
“The pandemic helped me reprioritize, shuffle things around, and make progress despite a global pandemic that definitely impacted the supply chain for my pharma company, and my community’s capacity for the news for #5SmartReads,” she explained. And at a time when people are eager for information, avoiding burnout has been crucial.
“Tens of thousands use #5SmartReads as their primary news source, and sharing accurate information and reporting on the science of the virus and therapeutics is a responsibility I take very seriously,” she explained. “It also was a rare case of both of my jobs overlapping —
I was able to explain the science of COVID and the various therapies and vaccine candidates in a clear manner that anyone could understand, which resulted in people sharing my analysis and my community growing. I moved up the launch of a paid daily newsletter because of the engagement and support from my community by about nine months.”
While Palepu’s businesses have certainly taken a hit during the pandemic, she has also found a way to secure funding at a time of so much financial insecurity and uncertainty.
“It took a lot of being brutally honest with everyone to be introduced to eventual investors, shaking off the rejection, and refining our fundraising plans to deliver progress on our program with minimal funds,” she explained. “We raised a bridge round this year, and are in a strong position to raise our Series A next spring. My best advice for fundraising is to build your network and the relationships before you need them. I’ve been in conversations with some prospective investors for two years now, keeping them up-to-date on our progress and welcoming whatever feedback they may have.”
So whether she’s securing investors, growing #5SmartReads, running a pharmaceutical business, parenting, or mentoring, Palepu knows that she is not doing it alone. Whether it’s her family, her co-founder, or others within the HeyMama community, including her long-time mentor Divya Gugnani, Palepu relies on her village for all things personal and professional. Just don’t ask her how she “does it all” — that’s not something she’s interested in discussing.
“I hate being asked how I juggle parenthood and work,” she said, “when my husband has never been asked that question in his entire career.”