Meet Woman in Tech Sunandini Verma, founder of an award-winning ad-tech agency in Toronto called Amrev Media Inc. The Agency offers a wide array of services from media promotion, web development, digital marketing, app development to eCommerce development, software development, and more.
Back to Verma, Verma studied Communications and Broadcast Journalism and did the whole t.v / movie world thing for a bit. That journey allowed Verma to travel and gain experiences in different corners of the world. Post broadcasting, Verma decided to transition into her own business since marketing comes naturally to her as she grew up around the business. From a very young age, her parents instilled in her she could do absolutely anything she put her mind to. Business and entrepreneurship have been a part of her life for as long as she could remember.
Verma knew in her heart that she could do it, and used her experience and knowledge to develop and grow a successful company that would make herself proud. Read below our interview with Sunandini Verma.
Tell us something about Amrev Media and what are digital initiatives it has taken since its launch?
Amrev Media is an ad-tech agency where we focus on both pillars, advertising and tech product development. It was always important to me to be an agency that not only develops apps, websites, softwares and IoT- but also helps the product go to market. I wanted to be involved from the ground up to ensure the success of the business we are working on. Technology and marketing absolutely go hand in hand as one cannot succeed in the current market space without the other. We have always been focused on growth and ensuring that we offer services and skillsets around what is required as tech evolves. Over the last 3 years, we have focused on securing a team that can fulfill blockchain development and IoT products requirements as that is a need for now and into the next 5 years. Innovation is all about pivoting, adapting and evolving.
We don’t think it’s any secret that many women in the tech industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
Unfortunately, this isn’t just in technology. I have worked in various industries prior to tech, from broadcasting to finance, they all have the same stigmas. I felt that I have to work harder to prove my intelligence, skillset and capabilities. There are a lot of instances that people typically don’t think about, such as the impact of starting a family on a woman’s career, or the requirement to excel in all aspects of life. I personally faced many situations where I was defined by my gender rather than the work I can do. The best way for me to conquer this has been to be careful of the story I share. I feel that people are always perceiving in you, what you see in yourself or a reflection of just themselves. If your self-concept is clear and you know what you bring to the table, the people on the other end will see that in you. If they don’t, that’s a reflection of their own inner belief and has nothing to do with your ability to succeed or fulfill a requirement. I have worked hard to be conscious of the story I share, and I encourage women to do the same. It’s about knowing your own worth and opportunities that match that worth will eventually line up.
What do you think companies can do to encourage more women to choose careers in tech and rectify the imbalance?
I think encouraging young women to understand technology from a detailed perspective is key. Women are not exposed to various types of roles that exist in technology and I feel teaching them the variables is important. Companies should take steps towards the obvious, equality and expansion, but also focus on sharing initiatives around the various sectors in technology. Technology needs to be showcased from all angles and the impact it has on each market, especially now.
How is Amrev Media preparing for the post-pandemic era and what do you hope to achieve in the coming years?
For the main change was in the way that I network with people. I love going to shows, connecting, building relationships with business owners face to face, and not being able to do that has been challenging. However, the digital age has many advantages, where you can connect with people globally. We have been a “work from wherever you want” company from the start, as it was important to me to have flexibility and allow my team to do the same. I hated being tied down to one place and a set number of hours, so I made sure that was something we always had. We hope to help more businesses get online and focus on e-commerce, as we have through the pandemic and offer easier integrations. The pandemic helped us refine our flow for ecommerce development for our clients. We have worked hard to involve our clients in the process of the roll out so they are excited and invested in their launches. We hope to create impact through the types of products we are launching and help go to market. There are a lot of products that are going to create waves in the market and it’s exciting for us to be involved from the ground up. I am excited to see the success.
As someone in a field that is perpetually evolving, what are your strategies for staying current?
You said it, evolving. The best way to keep up is to dedicate scheduled time to growth. I ensure I spend even 15-20 minutes a day on learning, reading, listening to what trends are prominent in my industry and other industries. It is even more important to understand what is happening in industries outside of the services that we offer, because that’s where I see opportunity. If you stay in your bubble, you only know what you know. If you learn from other businesses, niche markets and entrepreneurs, you have leverage in the way you communicate and the gaps that you can fill. I always try to relate to my clientele and see how I can insert the need for technology into their space.
Wearable tech has recently gained a lot of traction in the mobile tech space. How do you see wearable tech changing the approach of UX design for mobile applications?
Wearable technology and IoT are constantly changing and it is all about convenience. Wearable technology has to have UX that is instant, whereas mobile apps can take a few more steps and share more within a screen. With wearable, the key is to have the most important information displayed in the least amount of space. That formula makes it a winning experience for consumers. Mobile applications are pivoting and working hard to address the concept of fitting in as much as possible and converting their apps to design that matches the wearable tech aspect. To be honest, this is great news for us, it allows us to create a product that works on so many different interfaces in the easiest manner possible. Wearable tech has it’s limitations with the functionalities people are able to access, however, when synched with the mobile version, the consumer is able to have the full experience. It’s great for businesses to keep their retention and engagement high when they have a wearable tech version of their app. I have seen businesses grow their revenues by adding this component to their product.
Driven by your passion for technology, you have spearheaded innovation culture in the agencies where you worked. Tell us about what innovation culture means, and what methods you have used to foster it?
I love this question, thank you for asking it. It’s very simple for me, innovative culture is about people from different walks of life, sharing their experiences and visions openly. I am the type of leader that wants everyone on my team to speak up, share their ideas, share their input and help the company evolve. It’s important for me to have a team that cares about the direction of the project they are working on, and the company in general. This can only happen if we have open conversations and have team involvement. Collaboration is important and ego has no place in our world. If someone is out to prove something and undermines the ideas of others, they are not a good fit for our culture. Allowing people to express their creativity and ask questions along the way, allows my team to be invested on a deeper level ensuring success for both – us, and our clients. Innovative culture is simply taking everyone’s journey and knowledge then integrating it into our tasks.
What has been the proudest achievement of your career thus far?
The proudest moment is a daily thing for me. It is the freedom I have and choosing to do what I love. As cliché as it sounds, it is truly exciting to do what I like to do. We have won various awards, but I’m very proud of the moments in which I interact with young entrepreneurs, or young women who feel inspired by me. I am proud of achieving a state of mind where I am not moved by the impact of external things in business. For the most part of my business, I have worked hard to be solid in my core where nothing can derail me from the vision and ultimate goals I have. You are constantly being various different directions every day and on top of that we have the external world, the opinions, voices, the client yes’ and no’s- so working to build my strength internally where I am not affected by circumstances has been something I am proud of. It’s an achievement that solidifies the end goal and allows me to live as the possible best version of myself each day.
Getting started is always the hardest part, how did you go about winning your first client?
Communication is the greatest skill you can have. Knowing how to communicate your skillset and how it matches their requirements is how I get clients. From the very start, I have been focused on understanding the customers needs so we are able to give them what they want. I have a very organized mind and thinking process, that allows me to communicate in an organized manner which has always been my leverage. The other component is relationship building, even if someone doesn’t work with us, I assure you, every single client we pitched to, will remember me. I make sure of it. I always follow up and I don’t hold grudges. If people go with another agency, that’s totally fine and in their path to their vision. Competition is a great thing, it drives me to succeed and provide better pricing, tools or resources. I have seen a lot of people in business hold grudges, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. Business should never be emotional and personal, it’s about enjoying the process and work you do, and allowing that to build a beautiful life for you. It’s important to let potential clients know you exist and you care about their vision, because I feel that being genuine is something that goes a long way. I call it the rule of 5. Every genuine relationship you have, they will in their lifetime tell at least 5 people about you. Those 5 could very well become clients and tell another 5. This theory has helped me grow my clientele and rolodex rapidly.
What is the most rewarding thing about running your own agency? And on the flip side, what is the toughest?
The most rewarding thing is being a part of so many dreams! I get to see a lot of startups go from idea to market and it’s very fulfilling. Even the larger companies we work with, need innovation, so it’s exciting to bring paradigm shifts into set-in-stone processes. The hardest part is that you must balance all aspects of your life and it can be tiring to constantly be on your A-game. Taking me time is extremely important for me and it’s a boundary I am very clear on, no matter what, meditate and work out every day, then I am able to give myself to the directions I am pulled in. It can be challenging to constantly keep your sense of self strong and aligned when so many people need your attention. The best way to conquer that is to create strong boundaries and compartmentalize my day. But of course, the best part is, if I decide to, I can sleep in tomorrow.