AlchemistX: Innovators Inside

E.28 - Neha Sampat: Software Sommelier

Published on

February 24, 2022

“Let the technology solve that problem so that people can do things that make their experiences more innovative.” - Neha Sampat

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Show Notes

Rachel Chalmers:

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Neha Sampat. Neha Is Founder and CEO at Contentstack, a leading content management system and content experience platform adopted by brands including Best Buy, Chase, Holiday Inn, Iceland Air, Morningstar, Miami Heat, Shell and Walmart. Previously, Neha was Founder and CEO of digital experience platform, Built.io, which was acquired by German software powerhouse, Software AG, in September 2018. She's also the host of the podcast, Dreammakers with Neha Sampat, featuring conversations with trailblazing women who pursue profit and purpose. Neha, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Neha Sampat: 

Rachel, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Rachel Chalmers: 

It's a pleasure to have you. How are your corporate customers meeting all of the challenges of this moment?

Neha Sampat: 

That's a great question. So, we work with a lot of large enterprise companies or organizations that have complex challenges when it comes to digital transformation or dealing with their content strategies and what they're trying to accomplish. It starts from a few different angles. The first of which is that over the last 10 to 15 years, a lot of people inside organizations have decided to take technology in their own hands, and they've started to adopt their own platforms that they like to use or tools. Sometimes it's productivity. Sometimes it's content, sometimes it's data, or analytics. And what ends up happening is you've got data in all kinds of different systems and tools across the organization, and often those tools are not connected. And so that's one big challenge. Another is that business people and technology people are all technologists now, at least to a certain extent, and they often want different things. Businesses want to let their experts be experts. They want the business people to feel empowered and do what they want to do. They want technology people to be able to do cool and innovative things, so they have to find technologies that help harmonize the two sides and bring them together. So that's kind of the second challenge. The third is that now when you think about digital content, we're no longer just experiencing it on the web, which was true for over two decades.
What's happening now is people have their mobile devices, they've got their smartwatches, they're taking walks and seeing digital screens everywhere. They walk into a store and there's digital displays. And so you're consuming digital content all the time, even if you don't realize that you are. Those experiences need to be cohesive, and brands have the burden of having to figure out, “How do I keep my experiences engaging and also cohesive, regardless of where my user is or where the fan is?” — If it's a digital fan experience, right? And so when you think about that, it's really just about cohesiveness for the omnichannel experience and making it as personalized as possible. And then finally, the fourth thing is that digital transformation initiatives are changing very quickly inside organizations. It could be that there's a focus on AI and machine learning one year or personalization or analytics or changing the architecture to employ best-of-breed services. And you have to have technologies that can keep up with all of that. So if you look at kind of those four big trends that are happening across digital transformation inside companies, we start to think of Contentstack as being sort of at the hub or the center of it and helping to solve a lot of those problems.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Your point about the consumerization of enterprise IT is a really good one because this was a deliberate strategy on the part of a lot of enterprise software companies that wanted to create a grassroots movement and have these pockets of adoption within the enterprise. But it has led to that decentralization. The democratization part has been great, but the fragmentation of these bodies of institutional knowledge has been a huge challenge for a lot of corporations.

Neha Sampat:

It absolutely has, and that was actually the company that I ran before Contentstack, was Built.io, and it was an integration platform that was essentially trying to solve that problem. If you look at any software or service or tool or IoT device or application, many of them now have APIs, and it was an API orchestration engine that would connect one point to another and orchestrate logic between them. And that became so common that now there's a whole integration world out there with companies like Zapier and MuleSoft and several others that are leading the charge right? And so it's been a big problem, not just recently but for years. And the beauty of it is that with that democratization, you are allowing experts to be experts. The problem and the burden should be on the technology side, let the technology solve that problem so that people can do the things that make their experiences more innovative. That's really what we focus on is: How do you let experts do their work and do the best work of their career and empower organizations to be able to empower their people?

Rachel Chalmers: 


And Zapier, in particular, is a constant reminder to me because it was a company that I passed at seed stage when I was an institutional investor. So every time one of my founders comes to me with an MVP built in Zapier, it's a reminder to be humble.

Neha Sampat:

Fair enough.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Who do you think is doing particularly strong work in digital transformation?

Neha Sampat:

You know, what's interesting is we just passed the one year anniversary of an alliance called the MACH Alliance. It's spelled M-A-C-H, and what that stands for is Microservices, Api-first, Cloud native, and Headless: MACH. And to me, that's sort of the future of where digital transformation is going and how organizations will, in the future, think about building the best solutions that they bring to their customers or their fans. The companies that are involved in that, which includes Contentstack, but several others, I think, are leading the charge when it comes to new and innovative ways to do things digitally. 
I'll give you a few examples: There's a partner of ours called Valtech, which is one of the four founders of the MACH Alliance alongside Contentstack, and they recently released (what's really cool) a Valtech dynamic store, and you can Google it or YouTube it and find the video, but it's this whole thing about unlocking the future of personalized retail and connected commerce, and you can see all of these really cool use cases coming to life inside stores, inside car dealerships, inside cities and smart cities, and all this innovation that we've been talking about for a really long time, ever since people started talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) maybe 10 or 15 years ago. It's real now, and these are experiences that are touchable and tangible and in the market, and it's all been done by putting together all these composable technologies and all in the cloud. It can be designed by the people that are now feeling empowered because the technologies allow them to do that work.
So that's one of the coolest things I've seen recently. There's a lot of vendors in the MACH Alliance that are kind of leading the charge here, including Contentstack, Commercetools and BigCommerce on the commerce side. Algolia is kind of on the personalization side. Cloud and area constructor, Binder, Gatsby, Smartling for translation. So all of these companies are sort of leading the way and the brands that are adopting this new approach and becoming ambassadors of the MACH approach to building are: Bed Bath and Beyond, Don Foods, Ulta Beauty. And so they're doing all these really cool things with these MACH vendors and technologies and starting to bring those experiences to life in their stores or through their mobile applications or through their digital experiences, which has been really fun to watch. I think some of the coolest use cases I've seen recently are personalized A.I. when it comes to fitness; there's an app called Freeletics that makes sure that you're engaging in a very personalized way. It'll serve up content that fits your fitness goals and needs, which is pretty interesting. The spectator in the UK is doing some cool things with bridging the web and the print experience together digitally. Gaming companies that are serving in-console content that personalizes your choose your own adventure sort of gaming approach. And so it's been really cool to see some of these companies bring experiences to life using modern tech.

Rachel Chalmers: 

And for those of our listeners who haven't encountered all of those building blocks of the stack, Algolia is this fabulous custom search engine tool which we back in my past life as an investor we had given a term sheet to, but our term sheet was not accepted. There was a better offer on the table. So far, this is a very painful conversation for me now.

Neha Sampat:

Thank you very much.

Rachel Chalmers: 

So a very tragic memory. And on that note, what are some of the mistakes you've seen companies making as they try to deal with this new environment?

Neha Sampat:

You know, I think the biggest thing is that there's this fear of change and a fear of failure. We always like to say stacks, not suites. And if you look at how the world has changed the suites that people used to buy, so that could have this one throat to choke mentality towards buying software, having one place to call for support, holding those large vendors accountable for all of the support experience. That monolith system no longer works, and it slows you down from innovating. And so the biggest thing is you have to take a leap and be OK with the new approach to building your digital experiences. And from that perspective, we think about stacks or microservices, you know, combining the best of breed of all the different layers or solutions and tools in order to deliver the best experience possible and doing it in a way that's agile, that lets you quickly change, and there may be a new best of breed. That's the whole point of having the competition and driving the innovation. And so being able to swap out the tools that you need to deliver the best experiences is so powerful. But companies kind of hold back because they're not used to that approach and they often might feel, “Well, if I go down the path of this big vendor that everybody knows, my job will be protected,” because a lot of companies do that. They're a little bit more nervous or shy about going down the path of working with multiple vendors and having to negotiate multiple contracts and potentially having to deal with multiple support experiences. And so the onus is a little bit on us as vendors to ensure that we can remove that barrier to entry. Contentstack today just announced what we call care without compromise, which essentially is working with some of the brands and vendors that I mentioned earlier, ensuring that if you come to Contentstack but you have an issue with one of our partner companies that will make sure that we have a soft handoff will take care of the customer, we'll make sure that the same SLAs are honored on both sides. And so it's this approach to essentially allowing companies that might have been a little bit shy about adopting the new approach, giving them a really easy way, and a frictionless way, and a worry-free way to do so.

Rachel Chalmers: 

You mean you're not just going to blamestorm your customers and point fingers when they're in trouble? 

Neha Sampat:

It’s funny. That's kind of been the challenge that companies and brands have, right? They're nervous about [it]. Like, “What if I use Contentstack? But then I'm also using Binder?” – for example. “How do I know what the problem is? And then do I have to deal with two different support people?” And so we're trying to take all of that off the table and make it really easy and seamless for you to work with any of the best of breed vendors and mix and match them however you need to in order to feel supported and cared for.

Rachel Chalmers: 

It's not very oracle-y of you. 

Neha Sampat:

No, we're not. 

Neha Sampat:

Or speaking of Oracle, I worked at Sun Microsystems many years ago. So yeah. Speaking of pain points, yes.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Yes. For the younger members of our audience, Sun was one of the biggest companies in the valley and it was brilliant and it did a lot of amazing stuff, especially with hardware and its Solaris operating system. And Oracle ate it, and there's nothing left except the Sun logo on the back of the Facebook sign. Just to remind you that companies that seem like the center of the universe can be gone in an instant. But that Sun was fabulous because all of the best engineers worked there like you would go and work at Sun for a while and then you would go and do your start up. 

Neha Sampat:

It was such a cool company and such an interesting… I have to just comment on the culture of innovation at Sun. You know, it's been 20 years since I worked there, and it still, to me, was the model for culture, and they did some things really well. One was everyone had a seat at the table and I was just in my 20s. I was just starting my career. I wasn't even a technologist. I still am not. I'm a business person in technology, which is also bizarre sometimes. And I found that if I had an idea, it got heard and I was just this kid, right? Like, I actually started there as an intern and I had the opportunity to present to the board while I worked at Sun because my ideas were taken seriously and I was given the opportunity to have these conversations. And it was just something that I've tried to bring with me in all the companies I've built in terms of ensuring that people feel like their voice is heard and that the diversity of opinions is super important. And just one more story on Sun like this is so bizarre to me. But just a few months ago, they decided to do a Sun reunion, and it was put together by just Sun alums that came together and it was a holiday weekend. You had to pay a couple hundred bucks to go, and people showed up from all over the world to attend this event so that they could rekindle relationships with ex-colleagues that they maybe had not seen in 10 or 15 years. And that's not Oracle-y. That's Sun. You know, it's very much a unique culture, and I had the opportunity to see some of the people that I looked up to for a really long time. When I was really young in my career, I had the opportunity to hang out with Scott McNealy and a lot of the other founders, and it was just such a cool and moving experience.

Rachel Chalmers: 

It was a remarkable company. As you were speaking, I was thinking it really is my litmus test of corporate culture, whether a company is able to generate-to create women who go on to achieve extraordinary things. So like you Kim Palese, I look at a company like Second Life of all companies. Linden Lab has also sent out this generation of incredibly strong women engineer founders. It's just a remarkable test that you can put in front of an engineering organization: Do you actually listen to women?

Neha Sampat:

That is absolutely true, and I don't think it hit me until after I left Sun that it was actually a thing. I did not feel the gender divide there. It's really fascinating.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Yeah, you were lucky getting in there as an intern. What do you think makes innovation so difficult? As great as Sun was, it didn't move fast enough on Linux, and that contributed to its downfall. Why is it so hard for a company like that to ensure its own survival by changing?

Neha Sampat:

Yeah, that was a very painful time for me. I lived through it. I actually was the person that was leading marketing for Solaris on X86 Systems at the time. 

Rachel Chalmers: 

Oh sorry. We're just going to revisit all of our career low points! 

Neha Sampat:

It feels like it! I managed the relationship with AMD, and we were trying to catch up, and I learned through that experience that you have to move faster and you have to be willing to accept that maybe you made some of the wrong decisions earlier and that has to be OK. And that goes back to that fear of failure. The way that I look at it in my startups and my scaleups is that if you're not failing, then you're not trying hard enough because you have to push yourself; you have to try different things and then you have to create a culture that accepts failure and learns from it and moves forward. And that seems so obvious. But when it's actually in play, you know, you think about the sunk costs or the time lost, and then there's a lot of people just trying to cover themselves you know, they don't want to accept that they did something that caused failure. And I think that's something that we've done pretty well at the companies that I've run. The real challenge with innovation and what makes it so difficult is that everything's moving so fast now. And that's partially because of the democratization of tech, right? And the fact that business teams are now able to put out their own experiences or their own products really quickly because they've got the tools and the software to do that.
So everything's moving quickly. Everyone has this feeling that innovation has to be something cutting edge, leading edge, brand new. But sometimes it's just about changing the way that you do something or thinking about a new process or a new approach to something. And I think it's more of a mindset shift than it is an actual physical thing. It's organizations being open to understanding that the way that you innovate has changed. The pace at which things need to come to market has to be quicker. Things don't necessarily have to be perfect to go out in the market anymore. There's a lot more acceptance for trial and error. If you look at SAS software, we are releasing new software through the cloud on a daily basis, at times. Major innovation might come in multiple two-month sprints or one-month sprints, but there's constant change and that's how software is delivered now. That's how innovation happens now. And so it's just a mindset shift. I think people have to kind of come around to the new way.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Yeah, versus at Autodesk, where they release once a year, whether the software is ready or not. It was when I was at Autodesk that I was actually managing the risk register for the cloud, and I came relatively late in my career to this risk lens, this risk perspective. But it's so valuable because when you look at an organization through that risk lens, it's really obvious that corporations have the most to lose if they stand still. It's also really obvious that the primary job of a startup is to reduce the biggest risks first and to just work through all of the risks to their businesses one at a time and do that sort of the snowball method of paying down their risk debt.

Neha Sampat:

It's interesting. And the larger companies, the risk is sort of flipped, right, because they're also thinking about, “Well, if we go down this path, are we cannibalizing our existing revenue or existing channels?” And that makes it harder because you've already got something to protect where startups can move more quickly because there's a lot less to lose. And so it's finding that balance really to be able to remain innovative and finding ways to do it so that it doesn't slow down the trajectory you're on, but it can just accelerate it at the right time.

Rachel Chalmers: 

If you take a purely internal point of view, the biggest risk to corporations is that they don't take on enough risk. But if you look at the larger context, they're in very, very threatening environments, but they don't always appreciate it because it's really comfortable on the inside.

Neha Sampat:

Yeah, yeah, that's fair.

Rachel Chalmers: 

When you look back on your career today, what are you proudest of?

Neha Sampat:

 You know, it has to be the people and the talent, and I'm now on my third enterprise company and I think back to some of the first hires back in the first company. And many of them are still with me today at Contentstack. And to me, that's a combination of knowing that I was able to find talent really early in people's careers and in unexpected places to a certain extent. And then I learned so much from them. But I also made sure that I was unblocking them so that they could do their best work. My job was really to get out of the way, but to make sure I was continuing to take care of them along the way. So I think it's the best testament to success, to know that some of the people that really helped me build the first couple of companies wanted to be here for the ride as we continue down this path. I'm so thankful for that, and I think it's really just about enjoying the journey, even though it's not always easy and going through all the crazy twists and turns together and weathering the storm. But then knowing that you can kind of get back on the boat together and keep going, I think that's probably what makes me the most proud.

Rachel Chalmers: 

I joke about the ragtag team of misfits, but it really is the case that the primary engine of innovation is five engineers with one humble leader, who's just clearing the way for them to do their work. As an investor, I was always looking for people who had worked together in the past who are getting the band back together because it's such a hugely functional unit of productivity.

Neha Sampat:

It is. I think the fun should not be underestimated. You have to kind of like each other, and it's hard to keep that as you continue to grow in scale because you bring a lot of new players in. And I find that it's kind of crazy, people that come from larger companies or companies that have less focus on culture tend to not believe when they come in that people can be this happy or that there is this one-dream-one-team mentality or that we actually care — it takes a little while. We kind of joke that there's this PTSD thing that happens with new people, and it's true because it takes a couple of months for people to [feel] like, “Oh, they actually meant that they actually do care about us.” So it's tough. It's tough to do that as you scale because it's a bit unique.

Rachel Chalmers: 

There's so much culture washing out there as well. I can understand why people get cynical because you'll have these company values which are up on the wall and routinely violated in the conference room. It's difficult for people to trust when they do and enter an environment which is high trust.

Neha Sampat:

Yeah, and upholding values and focusing on values takes time, and it's time away from the day to day business. And as a company of our size, you're so focused on getting to the end state. You know, you've made a commitment to a number everyone's trying to drive to that number. We actually do take time out of our schedules to think about our values and make sure that we're living them. They're a part of our OKRs we build it in. There's a whole section just on our values and how we live those values and uphold those values. We hold what we call CVAs which are Contentstack Values Awards, which is a ceremony, and people are essentially recognized for upholding values. And it's all based on what colleagues have submitted, and it’s colleague nominated. So it's a very peer-focused way to focus on upholding values in the organization. It's not easy to do, but it's important

Rachel Chalmers: 

If you had one do over, what would you do differently?

Neha Sampat:

I always hold myself accountable for not moving fast enough when it came to our company restructure and just to kind of give some context there. So we had started a company called Raw Engineering almost 15 years ago, and in that company we incubated Built.io and Contentstack and several other products that didn't really get to see the light of day. But it was sort of an innovation engine and a services organization, and the services part of the organization was profitable. We were able to reinvest the profits into the innovation labs. In the innovation labs, we built these really great cutting edge products, and so Built.io and Contentstack came out of that sort of innovation engine. And the only thing that I wish I would have done differently is I waited way too long to spin them out. We spun out the companies in 2018. If I could do things over, I probably would have made that decision earlier and done the spin out a couple of years earlier and raised money for both and found leadership for both because I think they both had the opportunity to really exceed and excel in the market. But we ended up selling Built.io and focusing more on Contentstack. And in hindsight, I think we could have driven more value across all three companies had we had a little more time.

Rachel Chalmers: 

That's a pretty high-class mistake, though. I mean, a nice sale to Software AG is not the worst outcome.

Neha Sampat:

Absolutely. And that was a highlight in my career being able to go through that experience. So yeah, for sure.

Rachel Chalmers: 

How would you distill your experience into lessons for our listeners?

Neha Sampat:

I think about a few things that are repeatable lessons, and I talk about this a lot when I do talks for younger entrepreneurs or founders, institutes, and things like that. But the first one, I think, is the most important for any entrepreneur to hear, and that is that you have to be rejection-proof and resilient. Kind of start to build a little bit of a thick skin. This is probably also true for innovators that are trying to be disruptive in an organization. Be OK with throwing out ideas and bringing them to your peers and them not being taken right off the bat. I think it's really important to be OK with taking that risk and feeling comfortable doing it. 
The second is I've learned this, that there's more than one way to reach a successful outcome. There's multiple paths to it and you should be open to the road less traveled. And just in my personal example, I'm a female was in Silicon Valley for 20 years, not an engineer. I sold Bill.io to Software AG without a banker. I ran a company for 12 years without raising any capital. Those are just not traditional things. And whether I would do them differently or not, it almost doesn't matter. I got to this outcome. This is where I am today, and I took the road less traveled and that was OK. It resulted in good things for me in the company and the team.
The third thing is to always remember, you get what you pay for. Sometimes you learn this the hard way. When it comes to, I think, two main things people in technology invest wisely, you know, choose the people that will be your champions, rally around you, and move the ball forward in the right direction. That applies to lawyers. It applies to engineers, it applies to your administrative team across the board. Invest in the right technology. Don't cheap out too much on technology. Be smart about it because it ends up being the foundation that's going to take you to the next level. And so that's just, you know, you kind of get what you pay for. Keep that in mind when you're making important decisions. 
I'll do one more, which is just: Surround yourself with champions and take care of them. And this is sort of the experience I've had. Hiring people that are in underrepresented places, but also hiring people that are super smart, that know a lot more than I do about various things and bringing them along on the journey, taking care of them along the way, making sure that they feel incentivized and getting out of their way so they can do their best work. That's been really key to any successful outcome I've seen.

Rachel Chalmers: 

What's really interesting to me about your four lessons is they all revolve around the quality of your relationships because the only way you can be rejection proof and resilient in the face of endless people saying no to you is by investing your ego, not in your ideas or in your success, but in something else. And that's something else invariably turns out to be relationships when you're thinking about getting what you paid for in terms of bankers and lawyers, again, it's about the relationship, it's about how much you can trust them. It's about their integrity. So it's really interesting to me that what you describe as the culture of Contentstack is also really evident in what you describe as your lesson for young founders.

Neha Sampat:

Thank you. Yeah, I've never thought about it that way. I'm definitely a people person, and maybe that comes from not being so much of an engineer, but being more of the business mindset. I've built my companies through pulling people together,

Rachel Chalmers: 

Business, but not finance. I mean, it is the road less traveled. You've walked away from venture that you could have raised. There is an enormous pressure, particularly when you take a lot of venture to make decisions that are in the interests of the money rather than the people. But having bootstrapped and being able to sell your own products has given you a lot of latitude to focus on what's best for the people, rather than avoiding hurting the money's feelings.

Neha Sampat:

Fair enough.

Rachel Chalmers: 

How do you think the pandemic might affect corporations in the longer term?

Neha Sampat:

I think it's been really interesting. So I started off maybe in the first couple of quarters, believing that it was completely OK to just work from home, and we could still be as productive and build relationships and we founded the MACH Alliance in the middle of a pandemic. I raised my Series B in the middle of a pandemic, and you know, those were all things that you can successfully do remotely. I found that on my first trip back to visit my San Francisco team just a couple of months ago or not, even three weeks ago, I found that it was so remarkable how much we were able to accomplish in just a few hours and how many Zoom calls that would have taken had we not been together in person in a room. And so I think that what that comes down to is there has to be a hybrid approach to how we continue to work and flexible schedules are going to become pretty normal. And I think that's really a great outcome from the pandemic. 
I think access to jobs and talent for employers and access to capital. The fact that I was able to raise my B, which is not a small amount, I did a 57.5 million dollar round with a brand new investor in the mix who I still today have not met yet in person. We did that all building relationships and building trust over Zoom. And I think that the hybrid approach to continuing to do the work that you need to do, but having the opportunity to return to work if you'd like or at least travel to spend time with your teams is going to become very normal, especially in tech companies. And then the other piece is that we did spend a lot of time learning about what employees need to feel safe at work, and a lot of that was about their health and their fitness and the need to be able to take time off, even though there's nowhere to go and you're stuck at home. And you know, just some of that focus, I think, will carry over even as things start to return to more normalcy. I think that focus on wellness is something that will stick with us, and I hope that it does. It's been important to focus on that and continuing to invest in the culture of the company

Rachel Chalmers: 

With all of the stuff that you're working on, how do you avoid burnout?

Neha Sampat:

I love music. I like to dance… alone. I am actually, on the side as a hobby, a certified sommelier, so I love to explore wines, learn about them, read about wine regions, winemakers, producers, viticulture and I try to host wine events. I've had to do many virtually for the last year and a half, but I'm looking forward to returning to doing those in person again. I do love to travel and usually outside of the pandemic, work allows me to do a lot of that. So that's also a lot of fun. Yes. So I have hobbies that I enjoy a lot, and they take me away from the stress of everyday work life. I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing. I can put things into a box and give myself a little break and then go back to the box, and that really helps.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Well, I also like wine very much so if you ever need anyone to fill out a spare space in one of your wine tasting parties…

Neha Sampat:

Good! I will absolutely do that!

Rachel Chalmers: 

Now, what's the best way for our listeners to connect with you or to follow your work?

Neha Sampat:

So I am on LinkedIn pretty religiously and it's Neha Sampat, and you have to know that there are two of us with the same name and we often get confused. So look for the one associated with Contentstack. I host a podcast called Dream Makers, which tries to bring together several women to have conversations about success and purpose and what it takes to bridge both of those things. And so you can listen to the podcast, tune in or participate, and those are probably the best ways to get a hold of me.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Okay, for the next five years, everything in our industry goes exactly the way you hope it will. What does the world look like in 2026?

Neha Sampat:

So from the perspective of technology, digital experiences are going to be super cool and interesting, and to the point where I will feel like giving a lot of my personal data because the value that I get in return is going to be so dramatic and so, so engaging that I will start to feel like that's part of the currency. And I think that's what I've called for years now, the opt-in economy, which we haven't even really touched. But if you think about personalization and personalized experiences and not in a creepy way, but in a way that brings you real value to your life and ease to how you do your work and convenience to how you travel. Those are the types of things that I think are going to change, and we're going to start to see it happen really quickly because all of the technology is now there. It's in the hands of the innovators to get us over the finish line. From the perspective of tech, I see that happening and I'm excited about it. 
From the perspective of everything else in the world, one thing I care about a lot is just a more level playing field, and that refers to women in entrepreneurship, women in tech and all STEM-related careers. Also, just generally, if you think about people (and this is another thing that I tend to be really passionate about) that are in places that maybe don't have access to the same opportunities. Being able to access that talent or cultivate that talent is super valuable, and it's easier now than ever before because of the technology that exists, and because what used to be a digital divide is no longer really a divide. Even just the experience I had with raising in a pandemic, knowing that someone sitting in a rural part of India or the Philippines that has a really good idea can raise money now. That's to me, really powerful, and I think we'll start to see the playing field become more level, and that gets me really excited as well.

Rachel Chalmers: 

I think so. Over in our startup accelerator, our batches are becoming more and more international as more and more folks get access and exposure to these ideas, it's really exciting to me. Is there anything else I should have asked you?

Neha Sampat:

You know, I think one interesting thing is what keeps you going, because I'm curious to ask you that too. We do a lot of hard work and we spend a lot of time just kind of giving and cycling and that whole resilience constantly being beat up. And why do you show up again the next day? Why do you get up in the morning and still smile? And why are you still laughing now, you know, and as an entrepreneur, you just get beat up a lot. It's tough, but the wins are so much fun, and in this entire time, I've never been bored. One of my life mantras is to never be boring. It's a challenge and it's fun, and I like to beat my own — just like an athlete likes to beat their personal record running, swimming — in that way, I have the same goals. I want to get a little bit further, and every time we do a deal, I tell my executive team, “This is the smallest, large deal we'll ever do again.” And I like the idea of going bigger and winning bigger. And really, why do you do all of that? It's so at the end you can give back and you can do things that are bigger in the communities that you care about. I'm really driven by social impact. You know, I feel like the more I do, the better example I can set, the more I can do to give back to the world and help level the playing field. And so that's what keeps me going.

Rachel Chalmers: 

It's a really deep question. I think what keeps me going is those moments of epiphany when people connect with another person and they realize how to create a product that makes that other person's life easier. I think you build out from that epiphany into systems that actually are compassionate and build in slack for human error. So I look at Edith Harbaugh's company, LaunchDarkly, which lets you release in production and make mistakes and roll back and no harm, no foul, it actually instantiates a kind of blamelessness in the technology. And I think that's how we can connect our technology practice with our social impact practice by making the tech itself more humane and more accessible and more democratic. So a really great question.
Thank you for asking that one.

Rachel Chalmers: 

Neha, it's been a delight to have you on the show. We'd love to have you back. Thank you so much.

Neha Sampat:

Thank you, Rachel. This was a lot of fun.

Contact

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References

Neha’s LinkedIn on LinkedIn
Neha’s Twitter on Twitter
Contentstack where Neha is Founder and CEO
Built.io where Neha was Founder and formerly CEO
Dreammakers Neha’s podcast
Zapier software integration company
MuleSoft software integration company
MACH Alliance Contentstack a part of the alliance 
Valtech a Contentstack partner 
Commercetools referred to by Neha
BigCommerce referred to by Neha
Algolia referred to by Neha
Binder referred to by Neha
Gatsby referred to by Neha
Smartling translation software 
Freeletics referred to by Neha
Sun Microsystems Where Neha worked in early career
Linden Lab supporting women entrepreneurs 
LaunchDarkly referred to by Rachel
Intro and Outro music composed by: www.PatrickSimpsonmusic.com

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