Author: Gaurav Kilaru

The Diversity That Could Go a Long Way

The Diversity That Could Go a Long Way

Having a multicultural company has many perks and can lead to many distinct ideas that could ultimately push the company in a positive manner. As my final project, I got the chance to interview some Swarmsales employees about their experiences at the company. I wanted to learn what it was like to be a part of such a company, which has employees of such different backgrounds. Their company has employees based out of California and various countries in South America (Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela). My theory was that the diversity in a company could be difficult to adapt to, but I was wrong.

 

My first interview was with the SVP of Engineering, Anil Koppisetti. Having an Indian background, yet being stationed in the United States, I was able to gain his insight on what it is like working with some of the other employees in the company. He told me that his experiences with his international Swarmsales employees are easier than one would think. Their native tongues do not interfere with one another and they communicate proficiently in English. Being there from the beginning, Anil has got along with the other employees regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. He told me the culture was different, but it was easy to learn and interpret. All of the Swarmsales employees were easy to understand and had no trouble with each other. It was interesting to see his perspective and how their company managed to have employees working all around the globe.

 

After interviewing Anil, I had the privilege of interviewing one of the marketing interns, Clementina Cortes. Coming from Venezuela, she was of the unique employees who was based out of a South American country. I asked her how communications and other facets of the company were in her eyes. She discussed how working abroad was honestly not much different than a domestic occupation. Having previously worked in various jobs before Swarmsales, the transition was not difficult and she felt it was quite similar. She, along with Camila Robayo (the Customer Success Manager at Swarmsales), both enjoyed the experience of working with other cultures. Both are proficient in English prior to working at Swarmsales and have had previous jobs. Camila also added that it was different not having someone watching over them and it added a sense of responsibility to their craft. Since all the employees live in different parts of the globe, they were all held accountable for their work and had to work diligently to ensure the success of the company. It was a pleasure talking with them about their experiences and how having such a diverse company has worked out for them.

 

Finally, I had a chance to interview Kyle Hurst (Customer Success Manager) about us views of the diverse country. He shared similar views with the other employees but has a different background. Originally from California, he now lives in Bueno Aires, Argentina. This may seem like a very different setting, yet Kyle sees no major differences. He works in an office with other Americans and shares a common occupation with many. Due to different time zones, communication was the most difficult part. Although there may be some downsides, the positives for Swarmsales definitely surpass the negatives.    

 

Interviewing these different employees has allowed me to understand the complexities and benefits of having such a diverse unit of workers. Although many of them are from various backgrounds, they all unite to attain one common goal for the good of the company. Going into the future, I look to be a part of such a group because cultural diversity leads to innovation and new ideas. Next time you work in a group or company in which you are unfamiliar with your partner’s background, get to know them because it could truly push you and your company to the next big thing.

 

Social Media’s Influence

Social Media’s Influence

Social media has a massive impact on our daily lives and has allowed us as a civilization to evolve. Through face-to-face connections and posting how we feel, it has connected us in a new and desirable way. As a teenager, I grew up having these technologies at my fingertips and always found myself making the most of them. From taking snapchats with dog filters to the reading humorous twitter tweets, social media has a grand presence, which enlightens all regardless of their age. Its presence also allows us to easily chat with friends when they are not present, which was an unforeseen concept 50 years ago. However, It was not until today that I realized that it was more than just a way to talk to friends and post funny pictures.    

 

Today, I got to see how social media was used in the business world and how any form of it can go a long way in helping a company. The CEO of Swarmsales, Ankur, invited me to his studio where he was recording his new LinkedIn series known as Founders Unleashed. On his show, he interviews investors and entrepreneurship about their road to success. Together, they outline the common flaws of a company and what steps one should take in order to prevent these. It was a unique idea and I was thankful for the opportunity to join him on the set. I was even allowed to sit in the spotlight. This component of social media allows Ankur a different method towards addressing these fallacies. Founders Unleashed uses broadcasting as one of many forms of advertisement on social media. It gives its viewers insight into the life of an entrepreneur and wouldn’t be possible without social media. However, this was only a microcosm of what social media was truly capable of.

 

Commercials, websites, apps, and other advertisements are becoming a new development that allows companies to go beyond their common uses. In the past, social media was used to promote your personal self and gain followers for social clout. But now, businesses sought to reinvigorate this basic concept and turn it into a marketing tool. These tools allow a company to broaden their horizons by promoting their products and sell their ideas. Customers are able to directly converse with the executives about anything in the company. Likewise, it allows companies to attract new customers into their domain. Business owners can also adopt past ideals about social media in order to promote themselves. This allows them to have a wider audience and be the company’s mouthpiece. All these different assets are crucial to a company because it allows their influence to expand to all parts of the globe. Without this mechanism, companies would only have word of mouth and could not develop a wide enough fan base to be successful.

 

As a teenager, being able to see social media evolve has been quite remarkable. I’ve grown up using it as a way to chat with friends and post my childhood adventures. But now, its function has drastically changed and allowed companies to expand their customer database. This tools gives companies a direct pipeline to their customers and grants them the ability to promote their products instantly. It can target individuals free of cost and is highly effective. Businesses around the world are evolving and social media is going to be the driving force behind whether these companies have a large audience backing them. In conclusion, next time I take a selfie or compose a tweet, I will think about the impact that has on my personal brand and how it may also potentially strengthen my professional brand also.

 

Social media college applications? Why not.

 

Pitch Fridays

Pitch Fridays

The founder of Swarmsales Ankur invited me to join him in an event called Friday Pitch Day. It was located at a venue called Plug and Play in Silicon Valley. Coming from Cincinnati, I had never experienced this nor even heard of it. I was excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture of an entrepreneur. When first arriving in Silicon Valley, I was amazed by the amount of I.T. and technology companies there were in such a condensed area. This was especially new for me because I’ve never been surrounded by so many startups and ideas at once.

When I entered Plug and Play, it was quite overwhelming. There were hundreds of people discussing their businesses and getting input from their peers. It was extraordinary to see how many different countries were represented and how different their ideas were. The event was essentially a 2 hour time where the individual’s goal was to promote their company and request funds or awareness from their audience. Ankur was also one of the CEOs who was presenting his startup to the audience. The idea of it sounded very unique and reminded me a lot of a commercial.

A few startups that sparked my interest were VideoMyJob, Resonado, and Sudu. VideoMyJob was a company which specialized in designing branded video job ads using a smartphone. Resonado is a company that revolutionizes the audio industry with its patented speaker technology. Finally, Sudu is a company that offers an end-to-end platform that matches shippers and carriers based upon route optimization.

The reasons why they were interesting was because they showcased very different problems and a reasonable solution to them. Their pitches grabbed the attention of their audience and proved that their idea was a viable solution to their problem. They also portrayed themselves very professionally and were able to handle criticism when questioned about their product. After hearing some of their pitches, I had learned many of the assets required to correctly pitch a product.  This allowed me to learn some of the key techniques for persuading my audience and grabbing their attention. It also taught me ways to professionally demonstrate my idea, while making sure I’m not coming off as cocky or demanding. What amazed me, even more, was that this event was a weekly arrangement. It showed me that there was a world of ideas and startups that could solve any problem.

The event showcased many different fields and interests from various startups around the world. It featured up and coming startups as well as established companies who sought more attention. The audience consisted of investors and critiquers who sought to question the presenter and give feedback on their demonstration. After all the companies had pitched, they were judged by a panel of people in the audience. Then, everyone in the room shared a meal and discussed their companies privately with those in the room who were interested.  

It was interesting to see how one pitches their company and what were the most effective ways of doing so. Some individuals demonstrated their companies by using videos and others used product demonstration. The most intriguing thing was to see the different components of a pitch. Most were similar in that they all addressed a problem and tried to solve it through their product. Their presentations included business models, competition awareness, projections, sales, revenue, and much more. However, I learned one must be concise in a pitch because it is typically only 4-5 minutes long. Once the pitches had concluded, it was neat to be able to talk with some of the presenters and get their advice and insight into their origins. This was a time where people are able to make potential deals or just chat about anything business related. I was able to get advice from some of the people who were pitching on what are the main ideas when promoting a company in such a brief time period.

 

Some of the tips I had learned on how one should perform a pitch in such a finite amount of time include

  • Do not show videos while presenting because it distracts the audience from the presenter.
  • Be aware of the competition and be different
  • Be brief in your demonstration, but effective in your point.
  • Showing your product and backing it up with numbers makes your presentation more effective
  • Be able to take criticism with a grain of salt because no product or idea is perfect. There is always going to be someone who denies the validation of your product, so you need to be able to change or address their complaints.

 

Overall, it was a thrilling experience and one I would love to participate in later in the future. Being from Cincinnati, it really opened my eyes to the field of entrepreneurship and what it takes to become an entrepreneur. The various startups handled their respective problems in unique ways and it made it more interesting to see the backgrounds of how they did it. It also allowed me to understand how to pitch my own startup and how I should appropriately go about doing so. Furthermore, I was able to meet different individuals from around the world who specialized in different areas of interest. Coming out to Silicon Valley has been an amazing experience and has lit the entrepreneurial fire in my belly.