Entrechat with Amrita Chowdhury


India is projected to become one of the largest economies by the middle of this century; and in this growth journey, digitalization, and those who fuel intelligent digitization are expected to play a key role. Indeed, today, digital transformations are a welcome reality; and so are those
businesses/entrepreneurs who strive to bring about these transformations. Team SheAtWork delves into a tete-e-tete with one such entrepreneur/business strategist/innovator/engineer and innovator, Amrita Chowdhury. She is the Co-Founder &CEO of Gaia, an information and analytics SaaS company, which provides deep learning solutions and digital transformation advisory for cities, government, and enterprises, alike. With the vision of embedding intelligence into our living environment, Gaia, has been instrumental in building several national scale platforms for central government ministries and missions; served as tech strategy advisor to multiple smart cities and government departments; and built SaaS platforms serving Indian and global clients. Amrita’s unique understanding of business growth, technology, digital spaces, marketing and branding, have together culminated into a ‘Midas’ Touch’ for her clients.

“Entrepreneurship is a long-term game. To win it, understand the basic rules, and take slow but steady steps forward.”

Ques. Tell us a little about your venture. How long ago did you start up? What has been your motivation and what do you aim to achieve?

Gaia was founded 8 years ago with the vision of amalgamating intelligence into our living environment and impacting our lives, work, and play, in a positive manner. Today we have evolved as a company providing deep technical solutions and transformation advice to businesses, government, and society, alike. We work towards developing infrastructure enterprises through connected solutions and digital platforms. Our SaaS products enable enterprises and public services organizations to manage large-scale, complex and distributed operations and provide e-governance assurance as well.

Ques. Where did the inspiration for setting up a business come from?

Gaia was founded with the vision of ‘technology for impact’. The world is digitalizing rapidly today, and our environments are blending innovation, inclusion, and interaction in the way we operate as individuals, businesses, society, and ecosystems. Gaia is playing a role in this transformation from large scale urban city systems design and implementation management to building multi-party platforms for national footprint gov-tech systems. Building complex solutions at-scale and continuously blending new technologies to solve challenging problems drives us as a company.

Ques. How easy or tough has it been for you, as a woman entrepreneur, to set up and promote your business?

Entrepreneurship is a long-term game. As a company, we have had our peaks and meanders – and it has taught me extreme control and the ability to constantly seek new ideas, new options, new opportunities with constant hope. I believe that it is not as much about gender, as it is about developing agility, learning quickly, adapting constantly, and implementing thoroughly. I have had years of being an intrapreneur before co-founding Gaia and that taught me to go deep as well as broad in running businesses. As an entrepreneur, I have learned to rely on myself and my co-founders even more. Having a tacit understanding and the willingness to back each other up is crucial for staying on course. Most importantly, I am passionate about what I do; I enjoy the variety and complexity, and that keeps me motivated.

Ques. Do you think women entrepreneurs support other women across the value chain of business? How have you impacted/supported/mentored the careers of other women?

Today, there are many fora and platforms for women to network and interact with each other. I was indeed lucky to have found mentors and champions early in my entrepreneurial journey – both men and women. At an individual level, I have always mentored women – both within and outside my organizations. I have been a part of multiple committees, panels, awards and networks for promoting women in tech and business. I have co-founded ‘Winning Minds’, a platform for women innovators and creators as part of Women Inspiring Network, and have hosted more than 75 women achievers to showcase their achievements and motivate young women. These interactions fill me with energy and enthusiasm.

Ques. How has the support of friends and family played a role in your being a successful entrepreneur? How do you balance your professional and personal life?

Our environment can propel us forward or hold us back, and I have been extremely fortunate to have parents, family, spouse and children who have always supported me, motivated me to try my best and given me the space to follow my passions and goals. I am an entrepreneur. I am an author and writer. I am an independent director on the Boards of multiple listed companies. I am a part of various associations and committees. I have many interests from thinking, engaging, and contributing to areas related to business, economy, geopolitics, culture, literature, and more. I find slivers of time for each of these roles and identities between my primary identity as an entrepreneur. Each interaction is a learning opportunity that contributes to my understanding of the world.

Ques. What is the road ahead in 2023-24?

Gaia’s path ahead is marked with new goals that will require me to constantly engage with my team and cofounders to find new areas of growth and impact. Technology is changing so fast, that as a team, we have to be continuously treading the steep curve of learning and executing to remain relevant.

Ques. Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs who are starting their journey?

Entrepreneurs need to be resilient, patient and deeply passionate about what they do to stay on course in the long journey of entrepreneurship. However, the entrepreneurial journey cannot be taken in silos. It takes a team; having co-founders who are strong, complement each other in skills and outlook helps in dealing with challenges, which will come aplenty.

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