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Under the leadership of Rutuja Udyavar, Optimum Data Analytics (ODA), a new age technology start-up, is set to be at the forefront of technology innovation in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Industry 4.0 and Business Analytics. At ODA, Rutuja drives and oversees the continuous renewal of key innovations, processes and systems across the company in client relationship management, delivery excellence, quality, talent management, and leadership development.
Zealous about next-generation technology and harnessing it for competitive advantage and enterprise, Rutuja drives ODA’s emerging technology agenda overseeing pioneering R&D work in areas such as cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, computer vision, software engineering, and intelligent automation.
KYE: How do you manage the two fronts together, being mother and being an entrepreneur?
Rutuja: My experience says, these two things are quite similar to each other.
Being an entrepreneur is like experiencing that motherhood. For a baby, first 5 years are crucial. Same law applies even for a start-up. Give those first 5 years consistently without any expectations and then it will reap the benefits.
There is a pro-verb in Africa “It takes a village to raise a child”. This means an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. That means we are the decision maker for our child, but we keep taking advices from our friends, families, doctors and experts for its well-being. Similar to that for start-up, a founder is a decision maker, but the team that she brings in plays the crucial role. More experienced and more versatile people are involved as a founding team, start-up takes a better shape.
Hence, managing these two things together is easy on a philosophical level.
On execution level, I would say that I am lucky that I am blessed with very supportive in-laws who willingly take care of my kid, not just for everyday but even during my foreign business tours. Moreover, I keep talking to my kid about what I do, how that impacts the society. If a kid starts respecting mother’s work and mother is not guilty about being away from the kid, that’s when it’s easy to manage both the things. In short, if you are really passionate about it and take it pretty seriously, your whole family becomes part of that dream and then they start supporting you, including your kid. It may take time. But persistence is important key for any success.
KYE: What was your motivation in being an Entrepreneur?
Rutuja: Inspirations come either from idols or from philosophies.
TATA group is always my idol. During my college days, I read books and articles about the Tata family. The autobiography of Jamsetji Tata and JRD Tata helped me understand the importance of wealth creation for the country.
Here comes the philosophical inspiration which is in fact related to first question. Working in a job, even at a senior position, still keeps us dependent on the goals of that organization. In my case, I always wanted to form my own company, even from first job. Every entrepreneurial mind has an inclination to create her/ his own entity. But, not everyone can give justice to that inclination. Working in a self-owned company is like raising your own baby. And what else can make a mother happier?
KYE: What are the factors that give you a feeling of accomplishment?
Rutuja: I think “Accomplishment” is quite a heavy word for my current status. I am comparatively at pretty early stage. I think accomplishment might make me complacent. As an entrepreneur, in fact, I have to be on hunt of new projects/ new challenges and can’t feel accomplished.
Let me frame question differently. There are many things that excite me and keep me focussed on my entrepreneurship journey. Few of those could be:
Quality work delivered to client.
A seminar delivered to an audience due to which at least few people are getting inspired.
Technical workshop which help audience to come up with their own use cases and the happiness that I can see when they build some code around it.
KYE: What were the Barriers/Obstacles you faced prior on this entrepreneurial journey?
Rutuja: No business background from family or close network. Hence, there was not ready platform or even ready advices.
As my whole educational background is on technical front and even my corporate roles were also more on a technical side tan managerial side, I needed to learn a lot in various aspects like finance, accountancy, legal etc. I am still learning it, I would say.
Network – The network that I had prior to start this journey was mainly into corporate jobs. Hence, that mindset was completely different. People always alerted me for the risks involved in this career choice. That felt actually very overwhelming at the beginning.
Finance – This is perennial problem even for enterprises!!
KYE: What are the factors that you think will help you achieve your business aspirations?
Rutuja: There are many factors. I will highlight few of those.
Consistency and persistence. Business is something which will not show immediate results. I would need to put enough efforts to grow it.
Risk taking ability – Business is like continuously running trains of opportunity. We don’t know which one is slow, which one is fast. Which one is local or which one is for long distance. Which one has low fair and which one has higher fair. In the beginning, it will be all risks. After few experiences, it may be comparatively easier.
Don’t be nervous from failures – Failures are part and parcel of business. We hope and dream from many things. But, we don’t always get success in all those.
Balance of business and volunteer work – I started this business out of my passion. I enjoy my work. As a business owner, I have to keep the balance sheet in order. But some opportunities are beyond the balance sheet. Those are for mental satisfaction. I always keep a mix of both these types of opportunities and that keeps me inspired to look forward to the next beautiful day. Tremendous support from my family, my very positive and passionate colleagues, and all those youngsters who look up to me as role model inspire me every day!! All this positive energy will help me achieve my business aspirations.
KYE: How this venture has changed you? How did it help in becoming a better human-being?
Rutuja: Business needs a lot of soft skills over and above technical skills. During corporate job, I rarely needed any soft skills. But as a business owner I can’t survive without those and that’s a great transformation I am observing in myself. Few of those points are:
Patience – Business needs a lot of patience, especially when you are handling very intense discussions. It needs a proper balance of right words and right mindset to win any project. I was anyway meditation type of a person. But now meditation is an important part of my daily routine.
Soft skills like sales and negotiation – I always used to think “these skills are not for me. I can’t do that.” In fact, like many people I used to think that Sales is pretty superficial activity. But, as a business owner I started understanding that if these skills are executed in our day to day life, people will respect us as a better human being. Sales can be effective only when that product/ service are truly effective. Thus effective sales actually need confidence in your own products. Thus sales actually helps increase the confidence. Negotiation is another important skills. What to accept? How to accept and what to reject? If you see these questions are meaningful in our everyday life as well, correct?
KYE: Any Words-of-Wisdom to the budding entrepreneurs out there?
Rutuja: Thorough market research before development helps a lot. Many start-ups fail as they spend a lot of time and energy in development before the proper understanding of the market where they want to sold their products/ services.
The time between research and its implementation is far less than it was ever before. Hence, the product which looks outstanding today could be completely outdated tomorrow. Hence, you have to be always in touch with all the new developments.
Instead of developing the product in isolation, have domain experts around you. They are better people to register their requirements, their pain points. These requirements are actually the features that you want to incorporate into your products.
Be as lean and frugal as possible. It will help you to survive for a longer time. If you survive in the market for a longer time and keep showing your work consistently, you will get noticed ultimately.
Watch the entire talk here-