Meet a Member: Geetha Sreedhar
Tell me about yourself.
I was born in India and always had the desire to accomplish something outside of the ordinary. After college, I became a chartered accountant, which in India, is a highly sought-after profession and very respected since only a small group of people can pass the tough examination. I went straight to work for one of the largest insurance companies in India. When I came over to the US, I got my MBA and CPA before I went back to work in insurance for a small company in Framingham. I got exposure to finance and investments and led a lot of the technology initiatives. After that I held leadership positions in large financial organizations, including Putnam Investments, Fidelity, and Liberty Mutual. I was always motivated to move up the corporate ladder. It was really interesting to be at Liberty Mutual around 2016 and see the emergence of insurtechs. Larger insurance companies were beginning to pay attention to these small insurtechs which were changing the insurance landscape with new ideas and new technology. MondCloud gave me the opportunity to really explore insurance outside of the corporate space. They were in the low code platform space, with insurance clients outside the U.S, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to bring it into the U.S. And later in 2018, I co-founded Tarmika, an insurtech that offers a SaaS platform which is used by insurance agencies to get streamline the quoting process.
How did you get involved with TiE Boston?
When I began my entrepreneurial journey, I had heard of TiE, but really didn’t know anybody personally in TiE. I turned to Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) because it was well known at that time. One of the most critical things, when you start out as a new entrepreneur, is to build your network. A friend told me about TiE ScaleUp and that Cohort 5 was about to begin. So, I applied, became connected. I leveraged the resources and broad network of TiE especially the mentors of the TiE ScaleUp program.
Simone LaPray, Executive Director at TiE Boston, was amazing and connected me to some great people. In fact, that’s how I met the co-founder of my start-up, Tarmika.
Being a member of TiE has been so rewarding for me, I have access to an unparalleled network of successful, serial entrepreneurs who are deeply engaged and committed to providing mentorship, tactical advice, and expertise to emerging entrepreneurs.
What prompted you to shift from the corporate world to entrepreneurship?
I was at the point in my career where I had achieved the goals I had set for myself and I felt it was time to do something different, challenging and more fun. I’ve never done the same thing for more than two or three years. Even in corporate life, I constantly switched roles or companies, always trying to go for the next big thing. Life is too short to be doing what you don’t want to be doing.
As an entrepreneur I felt I could have a broader impact not only on the industry but on people. Helping others, creating jobs seemed very exciting so I made the plunge. For me it was the right time, but it is never an easy decision to move from a good job to become an entrepreneur,
Has COVID-19 Pandemic Impact your business? If yes, how did you manage?
I have a very interesting story, until February 2020, my team shared a workspace. We signed a lease to move into our own space from March 1st, which we were so excited for. We spent the weekend before painting the walls with our color purple. We were in our new office for just one week, and then COVID happened, and we had to shut it down. That came of nowhere and threw us off. But luckily, we were always talking numbers and were financially prepared, so we were able to weather the storm. Sales during the first two months were tough, but after that, we came out stronger and saw the huge increase in adoption of our platform by both the insurance companies and agencies. A whole lot of digital transformation has happened, and for the insurance industry five years’ worth of innovation has seemed to have happened in just five months.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, one of the keys to success is setting goals. Set high goals for your life and your career. Once you have your goals then you need to put a plan and execute it.
I think one of the biggest joys of being an entrepreneur is having the ability to choose to the do the work you care about and enjoy. If you are passionate about something, don’t be too afraid, take a chance. But at the same time, take calculated risks and have a Plan B. To grow and succeed you will find out quickly that there is only so much you can do on your own, you need a team. So, surround yourself with good people — a great team of advisors, partners and employees. It is also incredibly important to keep your goal, mission, and vision of what you want to accomplish to guide direction and priorities.
Enjoy the journey, give back to the community. When you started, there were people who held your hand and showed you the way, now do the same and help others.