The idea of risk taking in entrepreneurship often conjures up images of impulsive startup founders. Add the fact that the entrepreneur is a techie and you immediately think of a bearded youngster working in a garage on AI or Deep Tech.
Neha Kanodia’s profile flies in the face of this entrenched stereotype on all counts. This, then, is the story of intelligent risk taking by a techie who left a well-established and high-paying job to start a newfangled business of her own called GoGaga, as narrated to HerMoneyTalks.
Neha has over 14 years of experience as a tech lead with major corporates like Oracle, Software AG, and Goldman Sachs, with expertise in Cloud/SaaS Applications. She stands for women rising and shining, and encourages them by being a mentor at various platforms. She is one among the 15 pan-India ambassadors for Facebook’s SheLeadsTech, a Facebook, and YourStory initiative to help women entrepreneurs in India. Neha was also awarded the “Digital Women Award” powered by Google and Colors TV last October.
A business built on the currency of trust Neha discovered early on that she was a true-blue coding enthusiast and opted for engineering in IT from SGSITS, Indore. She started getting recognized as a star performer early in her professional career and soon got a chance to lead global teams for MNCs.
However, she nursed a secret desire to build something from scratch. While looking for a bride for her brother Meet, Neha realized the immense possibilities of developing an innovative relationship app. This led to the launch of GoGaga, a digital referral-based matchmaking app that heralded the start of Neha’s story of intelligent risk-taking.
Neha is currently the developer and co-founder of GoGaga along with Meet. Now youngsters can find someone trustworthy in their own social network at GoGaga. We leverage Artificial lntelligence (AI) to show users only relevant and credible profiles. “I chase codes and bugs during the day, and my daughter in the evening,” laughs Neha.
As a business builder she realized that the matrimony apps were community-based and operated by parents. Whereas, the casual dating apps ran on the currency of hookups and lacked trust. Neha decided to use the classical way of establishing trust via referrals in GoGaga. “Before the advent of matrimony apps, parents used their extended social circle to find a partner for their children. Now youngsters can find someone trustworthy in their own social network at GoGaga. We leverage Artificial lntelligence (AI) to show users only relevant and credible profiles,” adds Neha.
Bootstrapping the other side of the risk-taking coin Key challenges with matrimony and dating apps are prevalence of fake profiles, bots, expectation mismatches, and untrustworthy profile information. GoGaga has mitigated these issues since the existence of a common connection between potential partners provides information authenticity and credibility. The heart stirring motivations from my dad, husband, and brother helped me plunge from a corporate world and become a business woman.
Developing an app from scratch without a team was not easy. Though not very confident at the outset, Neha took on the challenges and started overcoming them one at a time. “The heart stirring motivations from my dad, husband, and brother helped me plunge from a corporate world and become a business woman,” reveals Neha with a touch of pride.
Being a startup in stealth mode, Neha did not hire employees. Instead, she coded the entire app on her own. It required a lot of hard work, not to mention a healthy dose of intelligent risk-taking, to learn a new technology and code an entire app single-handedly. Once the company got registered and started hiring people post the beta launch, Neha and Meet decided to take all sorts of decisions, including the financial ones as a team.
“I had left a well-paying job at Goldman Sachs. To become a business leader, I made drastic changes in my way of living. I even stopped shopping for unnecessary things and clothes, and bootstrapped my startup with hard work and enthusiasm,” confides the GoGaga founder.
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“Meet is on the product side, given his investment banking background. But quite often, when we go for meetings and introduce ourselves, people assume that he is the techie behind the app, and I am handling the business side. When we tell them that it’s the other way around, they are mostly surprised because very few female techies choose entrepreneurship in life,” laughs Neha.
The GoGaga founder has even heard many women saying their parents do not approve of leaving a settled job to run a startup as their marriage prospects would dip. In her view, most married women are under immense societal and family pressure to bear a child. And the uncertainty of post –delivery situation stops women from taking the entrepreneurial plunge. People assume that he is the techie behind the app, and I am handling the business side. When we tell them that it’s the other way around, they are mostly surprised.
“I started GoGaga when my child was around a year old. Of course, it is very difficult to manage the pressure of a startup and a young child at home. Both are your babies! Many of my friends asked me about the need to do all this. But with my family being very supportive, I am able to sail through,” beams Neha. For her, this is yet another dimension of intelligent risk-taking that just seems to work!
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Neha is clear on the example she wants to set for her daughter. “Since I am financially independent, I can take decisions for my daughter without having to look at anyone for approval. I will be able to set a role model for her only if I can stand on my feet.”
This personification of intelligent risk-taking has a few aces up her sleeve for newbie entrepreneurs:
(1) Plan your finances well before starting up
(2) Be stingy when it comes to spending money for your startup; do everything else in-house
(3) Never spend a lot on marketing
(4) Choose a product that customers would love all day
(5) Develop your perspectives on business; realize that starting up is the best way to educate yourself GoGaga has recently launched Al- driven profiles for users using a gamified approach.
Neha envisions including additional ways to improve the trustworthiness of profiles, in line with her aim to make dating safe and reliable. GoGaga is also looking to raise investments to scale up their app.
This is one story of intelligent risk-taking that is sure to have even veteran entrepreneurs going gaga.
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