Two sisters have created what they claim is the world’s first immersive sales, training, marketing and servicing solution for the healthcare industry. One is a doctor, the other is an architect. With their startup ‘Nexrea’, what they have built is a proprietary Augmented Reality Platform that offers tailor-made solutions for companies using immersive, 3D interactive learning solutions and high-fidelity synthetic virtual environments that create realistic, detailed, and engaging learning solutions.
With no formal training in technology, what has been driving Ramya Gujjula and Priyanka Gujjula is the vision of using creative skills in businesses to create innovative products and deliver top-class solutions. And Ramya says, that coming from a family of people with creative skills, it was almost organic that both of them chose something on these lines.
Right from their childhood, Ramya and Priyanka say that they always had the support of their parents to do whatever they wanted.
“They always believed in our ability and knew we could do something big. And our parents have been a big wall for us. They didn’t let anyone influence us in a bad way or anything affect us. They knew what each of our interests were and always encouraged that is us. For example, Ramya was always the studious one while I was more interested in making things. They would ask me every day, show us what you made today. So, it has always been encouragement and nothing else,” Priyanka says.
Ramya says that today there are a lot of women graduates and engineers who take up the traditional It jobs and take their careers forward. But a woman starting something in technology is still looked upon as something unusual.
“I have been in a client facing role where I meet clients for business development and marketing of the product. I head global sales strategy and marketing for the company. But I have faced situations where if I go for a demo with a male member of my team, unless they hear what we have to say, the attention is on the guy. They focus on them and they think it’s the guy who’s built the technology till I do the speaking,” Ramya adds.
On the project execution front too, which Priyanka heads, Ramya says that unless Priyanka talks to them about how she built the tech and what the value propositions of the company -- building our own platform – are, they don’t have that confidence in us.
But for Ramya and Priyanka, the confidence in the product they built is very high and they don’t see these as major challenges.
“What brings clients back is the intricate details that we take care of. And that happens just because we are women. Small things matter and we take care of every tiny detail and that’s why clients like us. I believe that when compared to men, women have more attention to detail,” Priyanka says, adding that another quality that women have is persistence. They don’t give up easily.
And that is how they also mastered the technology they use today, despite no formal training. While a lot of what they do has to do with 3D, it’s something both of them have learn through their careers. But technologies such as understanding AR, VR, among others, Priyanka says that they started exploring these technologies since 2014 and by now have built the efficiencies.
Solving the perception problem
Coming back to the gender bias women still tend to face today, Ramya believes that perception remains a major challenge in the ecosystem overall.
“There is a lot more representation of women in the technology and entrepreneurial space, but people have this perception that a woman would start something in a commodity space, like setting up a boutique, etc. That's been the perception, which must change. Women are getting into more powerful roles and starting off their own companies in deep technology,” Ramya says.
And what needs to change in order for that to happen is the percentage of women taking up these roles. There has to be more representation, she says. And this can happen when women are given support and encouragement not only from parents and spouses, but also from the ecosystems.
And for women looking to enter the technology space and also take the plunge of entrepreneurship, Ramya’s advise to them is to remember that as you grow in your personal life, it tends to become more challenging. Women always have two worlds to manage. And the best way to ace is, she says, is through work life integration and not work-life balance.