D Sangeeta, Founder and CEO of Gotara

June 14, 2021

1. What were you doing before you launched your startup?

 I was the VP Connections at Amazon.

2. When did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I have been mentoring young women in STEM for my entire career, but I could only help one woman at a time. I wanted to create a scalable platform that could offer insightful career advice to STEM women regardless of where they lived in the world. I didn’t have a eureka moment where I thought, ‘Okay! Today is the day I quit my job!’  It was a dream I had been nurturing for some time, and, like any great passion, it grew to the point where it couldn’t be ignored. And it was perfect timing from the market perspective. That’s when I knew it was time to scale what I describe as my second [career] mountain. Leaving India to do graduate work in the States and building my professional career here at Nielsen, GE Aviation, and Amazon was the first mountain. It was a fantastic hike, but Gotara is a whole new beautiful landscape to explore.

3. What initial hesitations did you have about starting your first company?

Like anyone, you can get used to the routine of having a job that is intellectually and creatively fulfilling. Still, in my life, I have always tried to resist becoming too comfortable and coasting in a role. I like to have butterflies in my belly; that delicious mix of facing the unknown but also knowing that’s the way I want to lead my life because of the rich adventures it always leads to—like Gotara

4. Can you remember the day you put in your notice? What was it like, what was going through your mind, how did your manager take it?

I loved my time at Amazon, so the day was a mix of emotions, but it felt like I was running toward a new challenge. You don’t get to experience those moments often in life, so you have to seize them. I had already prepared my manager for a change almost a year before.  She was supportive and intrigued, and her curiosity gave me an added boost of confidence that this was the right time to make a move. 

5. What are you doing now?

I’m climbing that second mountain and loving every moment. There’s been a few times when the climb seems a little too steep, and the path is uncertain, but Gotara’s mission is so clear, and my dreams for it are so vivid that I catch my breath and dive back in. I’ve created a virtual global team who all share this dream to create this platform because we know it will change women’s lives. And given the hit STEM+ women have taken during the pandemic—Gotara’s purpose is even more poignant. We’ll help women get back on their feet and back in the game. The advice, support and key learning moments we share with them will be life-changing. They’re not the only ones who benefit. Employers have engaged employees and the inventions these brilliant STEM women imagine will make all our lives better.

6. Looking back on your experience of founding a company, what do you know that you wish you knew before? Are you happy with your decision?

Good question. If I had a proverbial crystal ball, I might have made some different decisions earlier on in terms of how and when we might deliver specific services, but having to pivot exercises one’s innovation muscle, and that’s a good thing. We’re constantly examining how and why we do things and if the process can be improved. I’m content with the decisions we’ve made—and proud of how we have innovated around moving goalposts.

7. Any other advice you can share for others contemplating a similar path?

It isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to know what you want; and have a North Star vision that keeps you on course. Be open, curious and have enough humility to know when to trust your team and be open to reevaluating a decision or changing direction. There will be tough days; you’ll have to make tough decisions but our tagline at Gotara is #spiralup. It’s also my mantra in life because I’m wired to reach for the stars. 

Learn more about Gotara here

Join Venture Out