London Startup Talks #2: How to become a Bot Builder

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Hey everyone!

It’s been quite a long time since my first ever London Startup Talk with the founder of Social Belly, and that happened for a couple of reasons: I’ve been experimenting a lot with my blog and I’ve decided to reserve this space to introduce amazing women entrepreneurs in tech.

Why the London Startup Talks Series?

During this year of blogging and consultancy for startups, I realised that, even if women are engaged in amazing projects, they’re less exposed than men and that’s not fair. We’re working twice as much, why can’t we have the same treatment? We’re always involved in diversity and equality topics or easily involved in the fashion industry or blogging contests, but why can’t we just talk about tech or engineering? Is it that strange asking a woman about her love for tech?
As I’m in love with tech, I’ve decided to interview the most amazing women I know and not only because we share the same love, but also to give them exposure and highlight what they do.
And of course to give you a bit of insight of what I feel about tech. ūüôā

So, a few months ago I went to a Chatbot Meetup and together with the amazing organiser Kriti Sharma (recently featured on BBC for Ada Lovelace Day) I met with Anindita from Gupshup, a Bot Builder Platform, and Susana Duran, Director of Mobile Development at Sage.
I was curious to hear from them, learning about their experience, concerns and ideas about Bots and the next technologies, that’s why I decided to ask them a few questions.
And today I’m very happy to share this interview with all of you!

The interview with Anindita and Susana

1) When did you understand you wanted to be in tech?

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Pic by Ian Schneider

Anindita: It was a natural progression. I always wanted to do something that would help people interact. Communicate better and faster. Technology is evolving so rapidly that every day is a new with a million promises.

Susana: My parents bought me my first computer when I was 10 years old and that was a long time ago. I liked it and I took some programming lessons by that time although it wasn’t very usual. Time went by and I started my Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and after that a master degree.

2) Did someone help you achieving it? If yes, how big was his/her contribution?

Anindita: My mentor, boss and guide, the CEO of Gupshup.io. Mr. Beerud Sheth. He changed my perspective. Sometimes it is important to be futuristic yet elegantly simple.

Susana: My parents. Although they would have preferred other traditional careers, they provided all the support I needed since I was very young.

3) Why do you think Bots are the next big thing in tech?

Anindita: It is a once in a decade paradigm shift. It is similar to the web or the app wave. It will change the way people use technology to communicate. It will be a bigger and more powerful medium than anything we have seen before.

Susana: Mobile is the future and immediate and quick actions are the key. Mobile apps are also trying to follow the trail of bots with solutions like Google with Android Instant Apps but now bots provide the best and most complete solution for any platform.

Bots represent a once-in-a-decade paradigm shift. It is similar to the web or the app wave. It will change the way people use technology to communicate. It will be a bigger and more powerful medium than anything we have seen before.

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Pic by Fabian Irsara

4) Do you think there are more or fewer obstacles being Women in Tech?

Anindita: Depends. I think technology is a great leveller. It does not look at gender. It looks at innovation, usability and reach. If you have the grit and willingness to change and adapt to new things and to serve people, there is no stopping you.

Susana: Although everybody says there is no difference, women need to demonstrate more than men and by default are considered less valid for tech issues.

5) How do you think we can improve a more gender equality in STEM?

Anindita: Ability, humility and hard work. The world is changing. Gender biases will have to go away if there is talent.

Susana: Family is still a matter that is considered a woman duty, as well as all tech stuff is a man thing. Equality will be achieved when both things can be imagined for anyone.

6) Who’s inspiring you?

Anindita: My mentor, boss and guide, the CEO of Gupshup.io. Mr. Beerud Sheth

Susana:  There are lots of entrepreneurs and people who deserve being our inspiration but my inspiration mainly comes from my own overcoming instinct and my willing of continuous evolution. My family give me their support and even when I am frustrated and I think that this is too much they are always there to hug me and make me smile again.

Family is still a matter that is considered a woman duty, as well as all tech stuff is a man thing. Equality will be achieved when both things can be imagined for anyone.

7) The best advice to give to an 18-years old girl looking to find/build her future path

Anindita
:  it is important to be focused, but it is equally important to have fun. Great ideas come from a free mind. Changing these ideas to reality come with a disciplined self. All the best!

Susana: Do what will make you happy as you will probably spend the most part of your time and life on it. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s not going to be easy just try it.

 

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Conclusion

..and now we need to follow their advice, girls: do what makes you happy and remember to step outside your comfort zone! And if you feeling stupid, just do it anyway, it won’t be that stupid if it’s really what you want to do!

How are you feeling, girls?
Say hello on Twitter!

How are you feeling boys?
Does it sound like a bunch of stupid words? Read why we need your help

London Startup Talks #1: Social Belly

Hello everyone, are you enjoying your Friday ? I know Friday is not the most amazing day to read a blog post, but, no worries, it’s a simple, interesting¬†and really nice one! ūüėČ
This is the first of a new series of articles sharing the experience of early stage startups, especially when they’re run by women.
For this very first post, I’m glad to introduce you¬†Dimple Lalwani, founder of Social Belly, a platform to let people host, take part and share amazing dinner parties.
If you have more questions for her, feel free to add them in your comments below! ūüėČ

1) How did you come up with the idea of Social Belly?
I first came up with the idea of Social Belly towards the end of 2013. This was after I started hosting multiple dinner parties with friends of friends as a means to get to know new people. I was new to London and¬†soon realised that my life was revolving around long hours at work and commuting from home to work. Most networking events I attended were a combination of drinks at pubs and/or work related events. But what I really wanted is to have a good meal with a few people I had common interests with. This is basically how it all started…social-belly-platform-screenshot

2) Being an expat, is it difficult to set up your own business in London?
Not at all. Actually,¬†I felt it was easier to set up a company here than anywhere else. The procedures are really well explained plus there are lots of events for entrepreneurs to find out the first steps into starting a business. I definitely think that you need to be extremely¬†passionate about what you’re doing. There’s a lot of research you should do and always try get the best deals out there.¬†

3) What are the main things you need to do at the start?
First, it’s important to validate your concept through an MVP. Make sure you don’t spend too much money on this, remember it’s a¬†product with the highest return on investment versus risk. Second, really narrow down who exactly is your target market. It’s easy to say that everyone would use your product however it’s important to be very specific, it will be helpful when you start your marketing campaigns. Finally,¬†listen to your users. Keep talking to them and ask them the key questions; why are they using your product?¬† Why did they sign up? Why would they visit your website again?¬†

social-belly-logo4) You’re based at Google Campus, which is the co-working space you’d suggest to people aiming to open a business in London?
Yes, and it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. I’m based at TechHub and the networking and community here is excellent. I had no background in startups before and I feel I’ve learnt so much in the past six months due to the community here. If you’re working on an idea, I’d recommend you work in either a co-working space or coffee shops within the tech city. It’s amazing how many people you’ll meet and build relationships with. For me, that’s been one of the biggest advantages since I started Social Belly.

5) Who’s the first person you would hire (or you have hired) at Social Belly?
It really depends on the business you’re in. I remember that one of the first things I needed for Social Belly was a prototype therefore I hired a Graphic Designer. After this we won a startup competition worth ¬£50,000 from¬†Simpleweb¬†and from that we got some tech support as well. After that, we’ve hired a CTO and now on the lookout for a COO.¬†

6) Do you really think people will change their schedule to attend a dinner with strangers?
Absolutely. This¬†trend has been going on for several years around the whole world. I think there is a definite market for people to meet like-minded people without the pressure of going on a date or a double date. When you’ve got a new job or when you’re new to a city, it becomes hard to meet new people outside of your circle and that’s where Social Belly comes in. We match Londoners based on common interests and let them bond over an authentic meal.¬†

7) Is friendship possible in the startup world?
In my opinion, your success as an entrepreneur will be strongly impacted by your ability to build new business relationships. It really depends what you consider to be a friendship. For example, I’m based at TechHub in¬†Google Campus¬†and I feel that we’ve become more than friends. When you’re working long hours and continuously supporting each other through difficult¬†times, you become more like a family. Trust and support is key when you’re running a business and that’s probably the best thing about having your own startup.¬†

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