The Secret of Successful Entrepreneurs

Shriya Nevatia - Founder of the Violet Society

Photography : @salaam_ali

Photography : @salaam_ali

I had so many interests going into college, but I wanted to make sure that I ended up in a career where people would take me seriously while giving me the flexibility to do something I was interested in. I started off as a math major but realized the job potential of computer science (CS) majors so I made the switch. The CS journey was tough. I never thought that the tech industry was cool or interesting even though I used tech all the time. The intro to CS classes were extremely hard. The only reason I survived was because I had a friend whose father worked at Google and she had learned basic CS concepts throughout her life. She was able to make sense of material and help me through it. I wanted to have the impressive sounding major, but coding was so frustrating and I hated the concept of asking for help because it made me feel stupid. I was one of those people who had an easy time in academics until this major came along and changed that perception, and that was not easy to deal with. I ended up powering my way through it and now work as a UX engineer at Glidr. My job is ⅓ user experience design, ⅓ product manager and ⅓ front-end developer. I love how I have found something at the intersection of math, design, education, and computing.

In addition to that, I have founded my own startup called The Violet Society. It’s a twelve-week program that helps female founders build a network and community for their startup journey. I want The Violet Society to create more female founders. I have met so many people throughout my life that have had the potential to create something but lacked opportunities, resources or connections and that has always frustrated me. The idea of my startup actually started five years ago when I was in undergrad. All the male students around me were getting together and starting their own companies. Sometimes all they had a was a basic website with a concept on it, along with a deck of what they wanted to build, and that was enough for them to hustle and get connections to people. The women I spoke to, on the other hand, felt like they weren't ready to start something. I could see the imbalance early on and wanted to change that.

I always thought having your own company required knowing some special formula. I wanted to understand the startup world better and have had meetings so I can get advice from startup founders (most of them being men) about raising money. I wanted to understand how to get a VC meeting and pitch my company, but when I started noting down their process, I realized that they were talking me through a basic networking meeting. I was waiting for the process to get hard at some point – for the advice to show me what the secret formula is – but that never happened. I remember interrupting one of the founders once and asking him how this is different from a normal networking meeting, and he said it wasn’t. He went on to explain that VC meetings are like networking meetings, except that you’re asking for money instead of advice. That’s when it clicked that there was no secret sauce that I was missing out on. There is this image of “raising money” being a hard thing that can only be done by a select few and it’s only after I started doing it that I realized it can be done by everyone. I always advise people getting into tech or networking to reach out to other people. Don’t let that little voice in your head hold you back; even if you think you’re coming off as weird, just do it. Some people might even think you’re weird, but a bunch of people will actually admire the courage it took to reach out and respond back, and that’s how you will begin to build your professional network.