[quote style=”boxed”]Stay excited, focused on results and be incredibly optimistic. It’s okay to really believe in your gut – just make sure that you see the results with it.[/quote]
Shivani Siroya is the CEO and Founder of InVenture. InVenture helps to expand small businesses around the world by providing access to growth capital and business tracking tools via the Internet and mobile technology.
Shivani has a wide array of professional experiences in global health, microfinance and investment banking. Prior to InVenture, she worked in health costing at the United Nations Populist Fund and in mergers and acquisitions at Health Net and Citigroup. She is a 2011 Echoing Green Fellow and a 2011 Unreasonable Institute Fellow. Shivani holds a M.P.H in health economics and policy from Columbia University and a B.A. in international relations from Wesleyan University.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on rolling out the new beta version of InSight, our text-messaging based tool for micro and small businesses in India.
Where did the idea for InVenture come from?
InVenture was founded because I saw that micro-credit was not doing enough to help existing micro-businesses expand beyond sole proprietorships and create jobs within their communities. Our team at InVenture envisions a world in which business owners, regardless of their location or background, will have access to the financial, social and intellectual capital necessary to scale their businesses and drive local growth.
To that end, in addition to providing access to capital via our own website, www.inventure.org, we have also developed a tool called InSight, a simple and customizable financial tracking tool. InSight can be utilized by businesses around the world to perform basic accounting and goal tracking; the data is collected and used to help users gain access to capital from micro finance institutions and banks. Mobile users also have access to reports on-demand, i.e. daily, weekly, monthly and YTD income statements, allowing them to better understand their own metrics and make better financial decisions for their businesses.
What does your typical day look like?
In the mornings we do check-ins with our field staff in India at around 7 AM, checking in on our businesses and the overall portfolio. We get a report from everyone that has reported through our SMS platform, check for errors and do any necessary follow-ups. Throughout the rest of the day, I work on our strategy for refining our solutions, next steps within our current regions, get on Twitter/Facebook and have phone or in-person meetings around our marketing and partnership strategies. And usually we have one mini-crisis at some point in the day :). Just because there’s just too much to keep track of! In the afternoon/evening, I focus on Mexico operations and we go through the same process as the morning. After work, I go to yoga or run depending on if I worked out in the morning or not, then I usually get back on a quick consulting call and then head home.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always want to make things better, so it’s a constant puzzle for me. I want to see how things fit together, understand why and then try to see how it could be made better. But honestly, a lot of great ideas happen when you’re just frustrated with a current situation. A lot of my ideas happen on a plane, waiting in traffic or waiting in line. Our team is really how the ideas come to life, they make it happen!
2 trends that excite you?
- Wikipay in the U.S. (SMS payments between users). I love the fact that in other countries SMS (text messages) is literally being used for everything and it’s finally happening in the U.S., as well.
- Turntable.fm – Just a really fun site for music. The InVenture team uses it even when we’re traveling; it keeps us connected 🙂 And, we’ve even got our own DJ room.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job actually wasn’t that bad because it taught me a lot about myself. The assignment was to pick up dress samples for photo shoots. I ran all over NYC, back and forth from studios to showrooms. I found the most efficient routes, saved a lot of time, and used my extra time to explore the city and realize that I wasn’t cut out for following a set path.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I really wouldn’t change anything because without all of my previous experiences, I wouldn’t be here. But in the beginning my main objective was to find a way to provide access to flexible capital for micro-small businesses to grow; capital that they could not currently access. I didn’t think about the system as a whole and why this kind of capital didn’t exist. Our refined solution now addresses both access to capital and helps to improve the system as a whole by creating a credit rating and risk mitigation system. Basically, I would think past solutions that are a means to an end and always look at the root cause.
What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?
Stay excited, focused on results and be incredibly optimistic. It’s okay to really believe in your gut – just make sure that you see the results with it.
Tell us a secret…
I’ve always wanted to be in the CIA, so much so that I am a huge Alias fan.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Blogging actually works, especially on other sites.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
[amazon_link id=”1578516447″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Monk and the Riddle [/amazon_link]by Randy Komisar is an awesome book about startups, financial goals and keeping your passion at the forefront of your vision.
If you weren’t working on InVenture, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t working on InVenture, I would be working at another startup in the U.S. or India or opening up a flower shop/yoga studio.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @endeavoringE : because she’s witty, smart and an awesome entrepreneurship and development writer.
- @techcrunch: the latest news on technology and startup trends.
- @good: facts, statistics and the latest news and articles on social enterprise and startups.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Last night at dinner when the InVenture team discussed guilty pleasures and one of my teammates confessed that he secretly still loves Americas Funniest Home Videos and then told us about each of his favorite videos.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
- Leticia Jauregui: CEO & Founder of Crea.org in Mexico
- Parris Whittingham: Photographer
- John Coonrod: Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project
Shivani Siroya on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/shivsiroya
Shivani Siroya on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shivani.siroya
Shivani Siroya on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shivanisiroya
InVenture email: [email protected]