We’ve all seen reports that underscore the positive impact of diversity on a company’s bottom line to how women-led startups tend to employ more women professionals — at every level. Personally, I have experienced this firsthand, having had the privilege of working with and spotlighting dozens of successful women founders, especially in the tech industry.
Here is one more example. Meet Manasi Vartak, a tech pioneer and founder of Verta. She developed the first open-source model management system and is passionate about using artificial intelligence (AI) to positively impact humanity and drive the future of intelligent automation.
In this interview, Manasi opens up about entrepreneurship and launching her startup to empowering data scientists and plans for the future.
Let’s jump in.
Tell me about Verta and what inspired you to launch the company?
Manasi: Verta is built on the first open-source model management system, which I created while working on my Ph.D at MIT. We re-imagined how data science and machine learning programs should be tracked, versioned and shared for productivity and compliance, while reducing time to market.
I launched the company with two primary goals:
- Operationalize AI so every company can build products efficiently and safely, while empowering data scientists to innovate and problem solve, fast.
- Increase gender diversity within the company and encourage more women to follow the startup route.
Today, our software is used by a variety of companies, including Fortune 500, in highly regulated industries — from finance and insurance to healthcare and workplace collaboration.
And, women make up 50% of the Verta family with representation across the various teams — leadership, engineering, product development, operations and go-to-market.
What challenges did you face while pitching to investors?
Manasi: As a first-time entrepreneur, a female entrepreneur, and in my case, a solo founder at that time, I had to work extra hard to get introductions to the right VCs. In addition, I had to make sure my pitch was watertight and effective, while having to continuously build VCs confidence in me.
What tip would you give to a first-time entrepreneur?
Manasi: This tip from Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella really resonates with me and is essential for any first-time founder: Believe in yourself, more than you think you should.
Where do you see your company going in the next couple of years?
Manasi: In today’s digital era, we are on the cusp of bringing intelligence to all software and hardware products, and Verta is uniquely positioned to power this new generation of intelligent applications. In the next few years, I expect to see Verta support some of the most influential intelligent applications across industries (e.g., homecare robots and commercial drones to drug discovery and document search) and bring enterprises into an AI-enabled world in a safe and responsible manner.
In short, I want to build a company that leverages AI to positively impact people, products, and processes, while transforming current products into intelligent systems that make lives easier.
What keeps you up at night?
Manasi: As an entrepreneur, many things keep me up at night. But mostly, it’s about how to continually differentiate our product in a rapidly evolving market and building and growing a world-class company.
A tech evangelist and a voice for gender inclusivity, Parna Sarkar-Basu serves as a strategic advisor to transformational leaders and tech pioneers, and helps them launch and reinvent companies. She designs powerful programs to build brands and elevate entrepreneurs into industry thought leaders. Parna is frequently invited to speak at various women in tech conferences and her insights are regularly published in the media, including Forbes, Authority Magazine and Boston Business Journal.
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