#SheInspires: Sakshi Sureka, Founder and Director, SocietynMore

08
Mar

Their actions have inspired others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. This Women’s Day, 99acres celebrates women who have shown the courage to emerge as leaders in male-dominated industries. Here’s to STRONG Women. May we Know them, May we Be them, May we Raise them!

 

 

When and how did you venture into your current field?

We came up with the idea of SocietynMore about three years back and we launched our final product only about a year ago.

SocietynMore is aimed towards ease of financial and communication management in a community living environment with the usage of state of the art technology. It helps bringing in systems and processes in place for society management, which at present is quite unorganised.

The idea first came to my mind when I experienced my own housing society maintenance crumble due to lack of proper management tools and support available with committee members and time constraints for fellow members. As a committee member, I realised that most residents choose to ignore the issues because of lack of clarity and time. At the same time, when we made an online email group, it was easy to get responses and make quick decision based on common consent.

The above issues and my first-hand experience helped me in designing the concept of SocietynMore (SNM). SNM works on three principles, efficient administration, effective communication and voluntary participation of members 

The SNM application brings together the members and office bearers on a regular basis on a transparent platform. It provides the flat owners a 'fingertip' access to office bearers and facilitate increased participation and binding decision making for better community living experience. The SocietynMore app brings in a completely new dimension in society management.

What/who was your inspiration?

My strength and my entrepreneurial spirit comes from my father and my husband.

It was my father who taught me to detach myself from past experiences and move on. A lesson which is very valuable when you start a new business since success and failures go hand-in-hand on a daily basis. My husband, on the other hand, has taught me that hard work and perseverance is the only way to overcome obstacles.

In my moments of weakness, I turn towards them for finding my way ahead.

Were you discouraged in your initial years of growth because you were a ‘woman’? What reasons/logics were given to hold you back from doing what you wanted to do?

Initially, Yes. If you look at most housing society committee members, more than 90 percent of them would be male dominated, a lot of them would be retired senior citizens and hence averse to technology and change. Moreover, initial years we focused on the financial solution management for societies, an area in which women are perceived to be weak.

Initially, I had to fight all the above biases and keep working towards growing my business.

What kept you going?

My experience in my own society gave me the belief that our product will change the way people perceive society management. I also believed that we had the ability to create and offer a great value proposition through SocietynMore. Our perseverance and hard work has helped us gain acceptance in more than 80 societies in less than a year.

What other challenges did you face as a woman? 

SocietynMoreis a new concept and a task which is not on priority list for the committee members. As an entrepreneur, my first challenge has been to convince people about the utility of the app and the value add it brings to the table.

On a personal front, my everyday challenge, is to maintain a balance between work and home. However, the biggest success also is to strike a perfect balance. I believe that over the course of time, I have been able to do justice to both.

Do you think the society, especially in your industry, still prefers men over women?

SNM is more about technology and technology enablement. It is more inclined towards better service and management, an area where being a woman is definitely an advantage.

Share one experience where you got the opportunity to prove your mettle.

This was at the initial stages of launching our product. I had to attend a committee meeting of a society with all senior citizens in the committee. While I was making a demonstration about our product and benefits, I could feel the resistance for technology from a number of people present there. I had almost given up hope of getting a positive response. However, to my surprise, the eldest member of the committee was the most keen to go ahead and support the technology for their society. Not only did they sign with us but also opted for the gatekeeper and online payment options for their society members. 

Are you taking any conscious steps to battle gender bias in your field/organization? As a company, do you have any pro-women policies?

In today’s world and age, we believe providing ‘equal opportunity’ is perhaps the best policy. We recruit based on individual merit and believe one’s performance should be measured on the basis of efficiency and not gender.

What do you consider you biggest achievement so far?

SocietynMore besides introducing an efficient way of managing housing societies overall financial operations also helps in introducing environmental friendly practices.

We are reducing the use of paper by eliminating the need to print many society documents like the monthly bills and notices. On an average, there are at least 70-100 flats in each housing society that we manage, and I feel happy about saving every paper that we do by avoiding printouts of notices that no one ever reads.

Our technology also helps same interest groups to come together through "hobby groups", which is a unique proposition offered by us to bring the neighborhood together according to their interest sets, thus reaping benefits of community living.

Most important, we feel our app helps in building a sense of connectivity within the societies, thereby enhancing the overall community living experience.

Do you want to share a message to the budding women entrepreneurs out there?

It is always about the first step towards your dream. If you have the passion and belief in your idea and yourself, success will follow.


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