These entrepreneurs share why furthering development in technology is a cumulative effort
YourStory is the outreach partner for SheLeadsTech from Facebook
Tiffany Pham was all of 14 when she promised herself that she would start a company one day. And she did. Today Mogul, an all-inclusive technology platform for women worldwide to connect, share information and access knowledge from each other, is used by millions of women across 200 countries. Tiffany taught herself to code so that she could fully build the platform before raising funds.
Another tech entrepreneur, Alicia Navarro, the founder of Skimlinks, a content monetisation platform for online publishers, started coding at the age of nine. After studying computer science, she worked as a business analyst, business consultant and a product manager, before starting up.
From left: Sameera Vanekar, AceBot; Niyati Agarwal, Morph.ai; Lisa Mohapatra, Hofeto
Look around and you will find more inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs like Tiffany and Alicia, stories of computer scientists, marketeers, homemakers who discovered their passion for entrepreneurship by chance and women who always knew that entrepreneurship was a natural fit. Irrespective of whether they had the tech expertise or not, many of these entrepreneurs laid the foundation of successful tech businesses and their cumulative effort is shaping the technology industry today.
Here are the stories of three such entrepreneurs who are crafting success stories in business and technology
Niyati Agarwal, Morph.ai
Niyati Agarwal started her career as an early employee at Sprinklr, now a $2 billion company, and was witness to how the company grew into a unicorn. “The journey of Sprinklr was inspiring and helped us dream about achieving what people thought was impossible. It also saw many of us wanting to chart a journey of that kind on our own.” She and three other colleagues used to indulge in discussions, debates and build on ideas. “It was during these debates and discussions that we realised that there was an opportunity to enable personalised conversations at the marketing layer and thereby boost the lead generation quality.” In March 2016, Niyati and her three colleagues launched Morph.ai. In less than two years of starting up, Gurgaon-based Morph.ai could count big names like YES Bank, Estee Lauder, HSBC, Macnhester City Football Club, among its key customers.
The B2B SaaS startup empowers marketers to use messaging as a marketing channel and build personalised conversations between businesses and customers to achieve up to 2x more high quality leads in the same ad budget. Explaining how Morph.ai’s chatbot makes this possible, Niyati says, “Our chatbot reaches out to a brand’s potential customers in real time and qualifies them automatically with regular follow-ups to give brands high quality leads. Morpha.ai also enables content marketing on chat. It segments and targets a brand’s audience to send them engaging personalised content, be it from the brand’s newsletters, YouTube, Blog, or other content platforms, and supports conversion in leads.” Morph.ai’s intelligent chat marketing assistant takes into account the comfort of time availability, content preference, frequency of the brand’s every single target audience, and helps to achieve personalised conversation at scale.
Today, with clients across six countries, the startup is keen on expanding its geographical footprint. “From a technology roadmap, we are also working to towards achieving personalised marketing automation with chabots.”
Niyati believes that Morph.ai has the potential to be a unicorn. On its way to achieving that coveted status while also enabling brands in their marketing journey, the startup focuses on innovation and improving the technology offering.
Niyati leads business development at Morph.ai – from implementing sales strategies, strengthening the sales channels, handling partnerships, overseas business, chatbot creation and updation among others. On how she manages to shoulder key responsibilities, she says, “It’s not always easy. Sometimes, even with the work experience you have or the people you know, you need advice and guidance. And, for me that support to a large extent has come from being part of the She Leads Tech community. I have been part of the community from the very beginning and the journey has been fruitful, be it the Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions or the meetups. But, the best thing has been the mentorship. Through She Leads Tech, I got connected to mentors like Shalini Prakash from 500 Startups and Meera Parthasarathy from Facebook.”
Facebook’s SheLeadsTech, helps women entrepreneurs utilise technology in the best way possible through workshops, meetups, events and access to Facebook Developer tools. By providing women entrepreneurs access to community, tools, resources and mentorship, it helps women entrepreneurs in their growth journey.
Watch how SheLeadsTech helped Morph.ai to zero in on marketing as their use case.
Lisa Mohapatra, Hofeto
With a career spanning across industries and functions and after having worked in enterprise systems for technology giants like SAP & Cognizant for six years, Lisa Mohapatra took over the marketing and brand function at Home Centre, Lifestyle. “This is where I gained a lot of experience in the furniture and décor industry. I was quick to spot huge gaps in the way various functions were managed in traditional businesses, more so in the interior-furniture sector.” In 2013, she dove into her first entrepreneurial venture with Huzzpa, an online furniture startup, which over time evolved into a leading architecture and home interior decoration firm in Bangalore and Mumbai. A few years later, she spotted yet another opportunity and in June 2018, she started Hofeto, a managed marketplace for interiors and home furnishings. “Hofeto enables two-side discoverability, matchmaking and shortlisting in an all-digital workflow for the homeowners and interior suppliers. The product is a smart intelligent engine focussed on one vertical and fulfils an unmet need of the end user.”
According to her, “As an entrepreneur, one has to fight battles every day. While some of these battles are minor, some are more on strategic level. The challenges also differ at various stages of the startup journey. In my early days, incorporating the company, trying to get my first VAT certificate, looking for office space, etc were some of the challenges that took dedicated time and effort to resolve. Today, my challenges are more to do with answering questions like ‘how do I scale?’, or ‘how can I hire and keep my team motivated?’, or ‘how do I manage my cash flows more smartly?’.
Delving into her experience as an entrepreneur, she says, “The journey has not been without moments where I wanted to give up. But today when I look back, I am happy for having created a revenue-generating business when others shunned us saying we were trying to find success in a crowded market. To be honest, competition is a given truth. Also, one must remember that it is the competition that drives you towards excellence. And, if you are operating in a segment that already has established big players, it makes no sense to go into a head-on battle. The best way is to strategise and see how to solve the problem differently.”
Sameera Vanekar, AceBot
A digital marketer and outreach specialist with over 13 years of experience in building brands and user base for companies in market research, fintech etc, Sameera Vanekar was at the top of her career. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Sameera had a natural inclination towards entrepreneurship. In 2015, she teamed up with an angel investor, a startup incubator specialist and a software developer to co-found AceBot, an enterprise chatbot solution that uses conversations to enable collaboration, team productivity and data collation within any enterprise. Today, the four-year-old startup has two products: Snippect – a conversational AI solution built to help website owners and marketers convert higher leads through embedded chat, and Acebot.ai – an AI-based conversational survey solution that leverages the power of chatbots to run web surveys in an engaging conversation.
Talking about the startup’s journey, Sameera shares, “AceBot has been growing consistently over the last three years. Our conversational web surveys solution currently has some of the larger Market Research firms such as Nielsen, Kantar and Millward Brown as our clients running conversational surveys. Snippect has seen tremendous growth among marketers, we are growing at a 50% growth rate month-on-month and have already clocked in close to a million interactions in a few short months.” Sameera believes that with Acebot they are bringing about a big change in the way survey respondents and website visitors interact with a brand on a constant basis. “Nothing beats the excitement of seeing a brand interact with its consumers in a humane way and to know that we have a small part to play in it,”
Sameera says that finding the product market fit was one of the most challenging parts of her entrepreneurial journey. Today, the challenges are more to do with getting visibility in the market, considering there are a lot of players in the marketing industry, each tackling the solution slightly differently. But she adds that this is for the larger good. “It’s fascinating to see how cumulatively our efforts are furthering development in technology, and all of us are playing a role in that narrative.” It is this context that she says, that a platform like She Leads Tech has been an engaging and informative experience. “You get to meet people doing some very interesting work. And, as an entrepreneur in the technology space, you ought to be up to date with innovations in the space. Personally, for me, She Leads Tech is a great platform for that.”