BASED IN: CALIFORNIA
Tell us about Revel Systems:
Revel Systems is an iPad based Point of Sales system for restaurants, retailers, stadiums,events etc. The company was founded in 2010 and we spent about a year prototyping the idea. The product is a software for recording sales at the point of purchase and manage inventory. The software integrates with third party vendors and can also be customized as needed. Some of the big names that use Revel systems include Tully’s coffee, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and also retailers like Belkin. We recently partnered with Apple and Intuit. So you should see more of us.
How did you find your calling?
I was always interested in business and had an urge to do my own thing. I tried regular jobs at big firms and realized I did not fit in. A quote that aptly summarizes how I felt, is one by Theodore Roosevelt. The quote, summarized, says it is better to be in the arena fighting the battle rather than be a bystander on the stands. The quote helped me think about how to come to terms with failure. I went out and kept trying different things. First, I started a distribution company for Brazilian bathing suits. Then there was the children's toy and then there was the website that let experts sell lessons and monetize their skill sets. I like restaurants and noticed their ordering system isn’t seamless. That was the genesis of this idea.
You were a competitive swimmer right through college. Did did that influence your entrepreneurship style?
Absolutely! I trained with a very elite group of swimmers. That instilled the extremely competitive spirit in me. I learned to perform under high levels of stress and pressure. In competitive swimming, the results are very black and white. Having experienced that style of living, I built and am running a very results oriented team. I spent a lot of time building a good executive team and giving them the tools to be successful. I also learnt and ask for quick recovery from failure. We need to learn from the past failures, but cannot let them shadow the next race or future success.
Now that you are your own boss, how do you manage keeping it all together?
It feels very satisfying and thrilling to be my own boss. But the journey wasn't all rosy. I want everyone to know that. The first few years, I did not have any social life and lost friends. I did not have a lot of support, from even some of my own female friends. I had an attitude that this is my life and nothing else mattered. It was very lonely. But now I have a different perspective. I built a support network around me. I have help to manage the stress and pressure. I have friends, like Mada, who live a life similar to mine. We talk about running a startup, share the highs and lows etc. So, I don’t magically keep it all together. I actively work on keeping it all together.
Did you face bias being a woman entrepreneur? How did you get over/around it?
Oh yes! I think it is a lot better now compared to how bad it was when I started 6 years ago. There is bias in the VC landscape simply because they have seen enough of women entrepreneurs to know what to expect and how to be supportive. The way I got over or around the bias is by learning to play the game meaning understanding what they are looking for. I realized once I proved results, it did not matter whether I was a man or a woman. I built alliances and relationships that guided and are still guiding me. It is not easy at all. The key is to recognize bias exists and have the tools to help you get around or over it.
Any tips for our women waiting to make the jump?
Sure! Just get out and keep trying. Taking the first step is the key in the journey. Don’t be afraid. You will make mistakes, because it is just how it is. But the important thing is to recover quickly and keep going forward. Making mistakes is essential to growth but also how you learn from the mistakes determines success. Sexism exists. Period. Acknowledge it and learn to overcome it. And finally, develop a sense of confidence borderline overconfidence. Women are naturally humble and sometimes Remember it is the first time for many of the people out there.