“I love to make things work. Almost everything I studied during my engineering years was a passion,” says Srividhya Srinivasan, Co-founder of Amagi. Hailing from a humble background, Srividhya’s parents were teachers in a government aided high school in a small village near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Srividhya studied her elementary education in Tamil and later joined an English medium middle school. “While initially a struggle, I gradually got a hold of the English language in the 11th and 12th grade,” adds Srividhya.
She completed her B.Tech in Computer Science from the Government College of Technology, Coimbatore. “College for me was mostly about self-learning; I truly enjoyed software programming, operating systems, data structures and almost everything I studied,” she says. After graduating, she got her first job at Texas Instruments. She stated that the hiring manager gave her a comprehensive description of the kind of technology she would be working with. This completely fascinated her. “I was extremely proud when I received my first pay cheque of Rs. 6,000 in 1996. Back then, I felt it was a lot of money,” adds Srividhya.
Software tools designer to starting her first venture
At the age of 24, Srividhya Co-founded her first venture Impulsesoft with her two friends. At Texas Instruments, they had designed a large number of software tools in the electronic design automation domain. Soon they realised that this experience could help them build a software product company of their own in a market like India where too many of them did not exist.
Thus, in 1998, they quit their jobs and began building Impulsesoft. “After building a few software tools, we decided to go ahead and build our own Bluetooth protocol stack. I ended up reading 1000 pages, all in just one night, about Bluetooth specifications and started to build my very first protocol stack,” says Srividhya.
Srividhya says that Impulsesoft was an exciting journey. It involved different elements like hiring talented engineers, understanding logistics and other business nuances. She also adds that the business operations were widespread, serving international customers like Siemens, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Texas Instruments. Finally in 2006, after being funded by angel investors throughout, Impulsesoft was acquired by SIRF, a NASDAQ-listed semiconductor company.
Srividhya believes that she has learnt a lot during the building of Impulsesoft. According to her, apart from understanding the technical nuances, Srividhya says she learnt several aspects of the business like building a good technical team focussed on delivering solutions, constructing a scalable business model and recognising the importance of key technology differentiators in building a market-winning product. “It is fascinating to be able to deliver technological solutions to problems through engineering,” adds Srividhya.
Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur
After the acquisition of Impulsesoft, the team was itching to go back to the drawing board and work on new things. So the team decided to build Amagi on three fundamental goals namely:
1) To deliver technological solutions in India – although Impulsesoft products were licensed to international customers, we were excited by the prospect of experimenting with the home market
2) To establish a disruptive business that revolutionises the industry
3) To build a billion dollar business out of India
“As a company whose media technologies are deployed at scale, it is fascinating to solve challenging problems in the sector,” says Srividhya. With broadcast media delivery at the heart of the business, Amagi’s solution reaches millions of viewers every day. “So, we have to ensure that our solutions are 100 per cent error free and work 24×7. This, in itself, is very exciting,” she adds.
The challenges women entrepreneurs face
Speaking of the challenges as a woman entrepreneur, Srividhya says: “I have had trouble with multi-tasking and time management. I have also faced difficulty maintaining a healthy work life balance between Amagi and spending quality time with my children. In a business context, there are instances when people initially fail to acknowledge my role in the business, but things take a positive turn when they understand my role and responsibilities.” Srividhya says that she finds her work very enjoyable as she gets to solve interesting and complex problems. She says that it feels really good to create and deliver innovative technological solutions much like an athlete who feels good on the field. “I’m proud of creating solutions at Amagi and most importantly, I’m proud of our team!” adds Srividhya.
As an advice to all women who love engineering and are interested in technology, Srividhya asks them to be bold and not succumb to pressure. She further adds that many women professionals have quit their jobs. This is because they’re unable to handle pressures from family, managers or work assignments. “With patience and perseverance, these can be worked out,” adds Srividhya.
Srividhya asks the women to ask themselves, ‘Why are you where you are?’, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘Are you doing things that excite you?’ And when you do things that excite you most, you will go places. She adds, “Then work will no longer be work, it will be life.”