Slideshare – a name that needs no introduction owes a great deal for its magnanimous success to the Indian-American women entrepreneur – Rashmi Sinha!
Rashmi is now based in San Francisco with her husband and the co-founder of their technology company Slideshare.
Rashmi is a Lucknow girl who completed her Bachelors and Masters in psychology from the Allahabad University in India. Academically keen, Rashmi went on to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuropsychology from the highly reputed Brown University in the US.
She then started to get familiar with the science of computers and design. Computer science studies, human-computer-interaction, and learning how to design educational software got her all prepped up for what was to come in terms of Slideshare.
Rashmi recalls that it was not an ‘entrepreneur’ she aimed to always become. She just knew that she would want to work independently and not as part of a huge corporate giant. She loved the world of academia, however the pay there wasn’t too enticing. Thus, she believes a start-up was perhaps the apt set up for her to indulge in.
Her first start-up Uzanto was a user-experience consulting company which further honed her skills for Slideshare. As a part of Uzanto, she worked on projects for eBay, AAA etc.
Slideshare was the brainchild of Rashmi’s husband Jonathan Boutelle. They launched it together in 2006 with the headquarters in San Francisco. Many term it as the “YouTube of PowerPoint presentations” It provides an online platform for people to share presentations, infographics and figures.
Being true to her Indian roots, Rashmi opened Slideshare’s Indian office in Delhi which was run by her brother, Mr Amit Ranjan.
Slideshare has been patronized by celebrities and VIPs alike even since its inception and rightly so. It connects people through rich content. It provides added channels to advertise and generate leads for companies and users.
In fact, within the first 6 months itself, 9 million presentations were on SlideShare. Initial funding series raised close to 3 million dollars from Venrock and angel investors.
In 2012, Rashmi and the other co-founders sold off the company to LinkedIn for a whopping 100 million dollars plus valuation.
What is inherently even more applause-worthy? Slideshare reached its success via capitalizing on an organic marketing approach. They rarely invested in paid marketing and all the traffic was due to viral content itself.
Rashmi in an interview said, “I believe we achieved this by having a great product that is immediately useful: within five seconds of getting there, the site is useful.”
Rashmi herself is a great woman of worth. Her take and experiences on entrepreneurship are nothing but inspiring.
In an interview, she says “I knew how to build a product, I didn’t know how to build a company”. “List of things I didn’t know was more than what I knew.”
She, however, points out that the one thing she did know, was how to learn and figure out the situation. Business is like putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together.
Rashmi says “In a start-up, everything is surprising and changing”. This she exclaims is the fun bit and actually a great thing. Each day is a learning experience.
She says in order to run a company one must be open to advise and learning. “It is important to ask questions”. She recalls learning how to grow a business along the way while actually sharing opinions with her board of advisors at Slideshare.
To all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, Rashmi’s valuable insights are to start a company with a set of partners who they can completely trust. These should bring on board, skill sets, that you yourself lack. For example, bring in a tech expert as a cofounder, if you’re not from a technical background yourself.
Starting a business is hard, and if you have right minds with you, it puts you at an edge.
Before launching a start-up, Rashmi advises to pragmatically assess if the financial resources needed to run the business are in place. Do not give up your job unless you’re sure you have enough capital to support your idea.
“You shouldn’t run out in a matter of months or else your idea shall not get enough of a chance”. Rashmi continuously inspires and guides entrepreneurs via blogging and interviews.
As for formal recognitions, Rashmi was listed no. 8 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs list in 2008. One of the top 10 world’s women influencers by Fast Company and in 2015 one of 20 “most influential” global Indian women by Economic Times.
She also is guiding and growing around 500 start-ups as an advisor.
Truly an inspiration, Inventiva salutes this powerhouse of positivity and entrepreneurial greatness that is Rashmi Sinha.