For Vinita Rathi, success has come through a mindset that many professionals and entrepreneurs struggle to adopt: knowing your strengths and leveraging them accordingly. But, as Rathi discovered, that often takes time and a few painful lessons.
A software engineer, Rathi started her career at Goldman Sachs, where she leveraged technology to help salespeople understand and position the company’s products to better serve customers. “When I became an executive director at Goldman, I really started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and what would happen if I continued to be in investment banking for the next ten years,” she recalls. She decided to act upon a long-standing goal: to start something of her own.
There were fits and starts. In 2011, Rathi founded a UK clone of Groupon. “Groupon was not in the UK at the time and I thought if we could be an early entrant in this area, then we’d do well,” she says. But neither she nor her co-founder were particularly adept at, or enjoyed, sales. “I realized that my expertise is really building systems, but not going door-to-door to shopkeepers and signing them up to run deals,” says Rathi. The business was short-lived. Next, she launched a business that gave developers daily, bit-sized tips and tricks through text messages. “I think that could have worked if I had persisted for a year or so, but I quit early,” she recalls.
The third time was a charm. In 2012, she started Systango, a software development company, with her husband, Nilesh Rathi. She’s the tech wizard and he focuses on management and operations — a complementary skill combination that plays to both of their strengths. “I'm naturally quite introverted,” Rathi says. “I like working on my system and I’m not really somebody who would want to go out and build connections. And I think he does that well.”
Systango leverages talent in India to provide high-level business domain expertise to clients. Early-stage, high-growth companies are Systango’s bread and butter — UberConference and Waitlist.me are long-time clients that have grown substantially. Systango also serves enterprise clients such as Porsche and Deloitte.
"I want to position myself as someone who really understands the [crypto/blockchain] space. I feel good about being able to participate in conversations and contribute [through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle]."
Among the company’s offerings are blockchain technology solutions. “Right now, we’re building a decentralized tamper-proof database that’s aggregating data from different blockchains,” Rathi says. “And then we’re building an API on top of it.”
Rathi was well aware that her company would face significant challenges. She grew up in India, but worked in the UK and knew that there were some negative preconceptions about Indian developers. “You hear that they don’t write good code, or that there are communications issues,” she says. “I realized that it’s more of a culture issue, more of how you mentor and develop your team. It’s a solvable problem.”
She hires developers from local colleges so she can train them before they develop bad habits elsewhere. New hires go through three to six months of training, during which they are mentored by a senior staff member and continually evaluated. “We’ve spent a lot of time designing and executing this over the last ten years and we have evolved a lot as an organization,” says Rathi. Building a blockchain team, she says, was particularly challenging and required signifcicant time, energy and financial resources. The company now has approximately 350 people, 280 of whom are developers.
Inspired by a specific need of her own, Rathi recently founded another company, Shootih. It’s a wealth management and trade execution platform for small- to medium-sized businesses that makes recommendations for short-term investing. Rathi realized that Systango collected revenue all month long, but expenses (mostly payroll) were almost all incurred in the beginning of the month. “We realized that between the 10th and the 30th, the cash sits idle in our bank account,” she says. Shootih (a Sanskrit word meaning prosperity) makes recommendations for investing that spare cash and then executes the trades. It’s currently being tested by six companies and is available only in India.
Rathi says she was attracted to Cointelegraph Innovation Circle by the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals. “I haven’t really come across a lot of women entrepreneurs who are also techie in nature,” she says. “I felt I could get involved [with Cointelegraph Innovation Circle] and give back to the community as well.” She is also participating in Expert Panels to establish herself as a thought leader. “I want to position myself as someone who really understands the [crypto/blockchain] space,” Rathi says. “I feel good about being able to participate in conversations and contribute.”