Industry: Enterprise Software – Marketing Data
LinkedIn: Areeya Lila
I connect to the world empirically, through numbers and proof. I love human passions and I love understanding people, but I do it with the help of the data.
ViewN is enterprise software for marketers. It’s an AI-engine for marketers to unlock customer retention from their own data. Our solution profiles, segments and connects with customers to grow top line revenue for mid-sized brands.
THE BIG IDEA:
ViewN was founded by deep domain experts in enterprise cloud software with a specialization in marketing systems, customer experience, and big data. We didn’t just build a platform, but we really focused our design on the marketer’s needs. Then we further narrowed on understanding data in terms of customers and how and why they purchase your product. Customer retention and our ability to organically distill segments from data to then produce smart campaign lists set us apart because you need both the expertise and technology to really unlock this value.
ON GROWING UP/LIVING IN MIAMI:
I was born in Kansas City, Missouri to Thai parents who immigrated to the United States in the late 1960s. In 2010 my new job required close proximity to a major airport. Personally, I fit most comfortably in cosmopolitan cities and I like tropical weather. Miami was an obvious choice. I love living here.
Growing up as a woman minority in Kansas City, I never fit the norm. Growing up being different might have given me the advantage of not expecting to fit in anywhere and prepared me for my career. Not fitting in means to always having to fight for what you want, for your thoughts, for your designs, for your ideas. I simply got used to that.
ON GENDER DISPARITY:
I was lucky to be an engineer in the late 90s when there was a shortage of engineers and abundance of opportunities. I was also lucky to be in Boston – a very progressive city in terms of gender inclusion. Wage disparity didn’t affect me until the opportunities started to dry up. Engineering jobs and salaries get published and since men dominate the industry, what’s advertised are average male salaries. I always asked for what was advertised.
Structural wage disparities started to affect me when I switched to corporate technology jobs in Florida where opportunities are scarce. Negotiating a fair wage is much tougher when the competition is high. Studies show that a woman of color makes 54% of what a White man makes. After 10 years of working back from the recession, I found myself very close to that gap with my husband, who is working in the same industry with the same title, but in a different company.
In my experience, men in technology assume that women don’t know math and have to be taught. Coming from the engineering background and management consulting I got used to esteemed roles and professional respect. The high tech space is very competitive. In order to keep their positions, men frame you as “not as good” because it is so easily believed. The competition within the technology bro culture with bro code is a real challenge for women in technology. It is designed to be neither obvious nor easily addressed. I didn’t really understand it until I observed its subtle effects. In the last couple of years there has been a real change in terms of awareness and more action is coming.
ON BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR:
Becoming an entrepreneur for me was accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to have the success I wanted within the existing corporate cultures. It was a game I could play but wasn’t going to win. I knew I could build a more inclusive culture on my own as an entrepreneur.
Throughout my engineering and corporate technology career, I didn’t feel like I was innovating. As a technologist, especially in the management consulting positions, you always have to be at the forefront. I used my startup projects to make sure I didn’t lose that grip in terms of innovation and technology while I worked in software development roles. It was natural to launch a software startup in enterprise marketing. It was the fusion of my 20+ years of expertise and personal passion.
Getting to be an entrepreneur wasn’t as easy. I always felt it was reckless to just jump. I always knew I wanted to start a company, but the timing wasn’t there. The 2008 crash hit me hard, I lost my job and all my savings while being unemployed for one year. It took me over 10 years to save back the money and pay off the debts. My husband and I, both worked full-time jobs and built the company at nights and on the weekends. For eight years we have been living on one salary while practically putting the other into the startup. Even then without friends and family, pursuing this dream would not be possible. At least in my case, it has taken a whole village. The talk about entrepreneurship is about going out on your own, but in reality, an entrepreneur without a support network isn’t going to make it.
My biggest challenge now is the day-to-day uncertainties. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to handle a lot of anxiety. With the best-laid plans, you have to be good at dancing on your feet too.
ON WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT:
In 8 years of working on the startup at nights and on the weekends, we got enough interest from the clients, which required me to start taking meetings and work on the project full-time. This is when I approached the family to ask them for an investment. It took some guts to ask my parents for money, but I really believed this was the business. The empowering moment came to me with self-discovery, when my father said that he had started saving up the money after as a child I told him I wanted to be a tycoon. I don’t remember telling him that but wasn’t at all surprised. It’s a privilege to have parents who believe in you and are willing to support in so many ways. They helped with the initial investment and continue helping with things like childcare for my children.
We launched last year in May and we’ve been actively taking orders with brands. The goal is to grow ViewN into a recognizable brand in marketing technology expanding globally.
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