When Nyha Shree, an engineering graduate, gave up a corporate career holding great potential by quitting her job at Tata Consultancy Services in 2013, her family could not understand why she was choosing the risk of entrepreneurship and the instability it brought. However, Nyha was sure about what she wanted in life.
“From an early age, I loved building and creating stuff. After graduating from SRM University in 2012, working in a corporate made me realise that I would not be able to explore my full potential. Entrepreneurship, solving challenges, and making a difference were always my first calling,” Nyha recollects.
And Nyha has not looked back since then – despite many trials and errors, entrepreneurship has become a way of life. Today, Nyha’s focus is on Jumper.ai, her sixth venture, which she co-founded with Yash Kotak in Singapore in 2017. Yash is a techie with more than 20 years’ experience of running businesses.
Nyha’s focus is on making an impact with Jumper.ai, which allows brands to sell direct-to-consumers on social media and messaging platforms. In fact, Jumper.ai enables anyone who wants to sell products online to do so through social media and messaging apps. The startup’s conversational commerce solution facilitates instant transactions on sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and blogs, so that consumers need not navigate from a website or app to make a purchase.
In the two years since its inception, Jumper.ai’s global clientele of 11,000 businesses include brands like Marvel, Disney, Ben & Jerry's, and Unilever. Nyha’s brainchild was part of many programmes including Startup Station Facebook, New York Fashion Tech Labs, Startups @PayPal incubator, and Target (USA) Accelerator, among others. The startup has also won many accolades, including ‘Best Early Stage Startup’ at Visa Next Money FF18. It was also the winner at TechSauce Global 2017 and Slush Singapore 2017, besides being named among KPMG Hot100 and E27’s Echelon Top 100 Startups.
Now 31, Nyha was recognised by Forbes for their 2018 30 Under 30 Asia list. She was also nominated by UN Women GICC, recognising women innovators across the world, and was recently selected for the New York Fashion Tech Labs 2019 cohort. But Nyha’s ambition knows no limits. “I have had many micro successes in the journey, but I focus more on the scale of the impact. My biggest success will come with the success of millions of others; it's yet to come,” she says.
The woman in ‘woman entrepreneur’
Nyha comes from a family of journalists. “From an early age, my parents involved me in every decision they took, including my formal name, the schools I went to, moving cities. My education happened across the four corners of the country. I was constantly challenged and reminded to not give up or hide behind the excuse of being a girl and to learn and adapt quickly to figure my way around any problem,” she says.
However, Nyha also says that her toughest moment was winning over her parents' concerns on career options for women, which were influenced by social norms and perceptions. But Nyha was clear. “I've always been driven by a desire to create something that changes things. I like to bring new ideas into the world that have an impact on an industry or that empower lives,” she says, adding that she has not allowed the challenges of being a ‘woman entrepreneur’ get in the way of her ability or motivation to keep building companies.
“It'd be great if we could just be entrepreneurs rather than female entrepreneurs! There are definitely barriers and issues that are often limiting, but change comes from focusing on the solution and workarounds instead of the problem. I've just always stayed focused on what is working and who is supportive.”
A very young veteran
By the time she was 29, Nyha was more or less a veteran at starting up. She thanks her mentors for supporting her from the beginning of her journey. “My mentors have helped me brainstorm and re-access problems from different perspectives,” she says.
Although Nyha rarely has time to mentor startups herself, she says she offers help as and when she can. After all, with the experience of multiple ventures, Nyha has learnt some valuable lessons. She shares, “Always make it a point to hire people who want to excel themselves; and be okay with letting people go when the role shifts.”
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is so challenge themselves and stay curious. “Spot challenges and trends early on. Develop the grit to steer through all the highs and lows, the competence to deliver more than you offer, and a desire to empower others to lead the path.”