Salone Sehgal

Tell us your story.

I have always been fascinated with the sheer pace and dynamism of the tech industry and am proud to be part of something that is disrupting the world as we know it, in every facet of our life. It’s fascinating to know I belong to the last generation who will remember what the world looked like pre-internet!

My journey to the tech world wasn't straightforward. I began my career in finance which commenced in India and then took me all over Europe, including an MBA in Spain and finally culminating in investment banking in London. I was exposed to the world of tech + everything digital and mobile, first as an M+A banker and later as a Vice President of Strategy, working with the global COO office of a large bank. Most people who knew me had me pegged as a career banker so, when I decided to take the proverbial foot off the pedal from a rising career to re-evaluate what I really wanted, it took a lot of people by surprise. I realised I wanted to be part of something more fulfilling than being a cog in the large corporate machinery.

I soon got that opportunity. My tryst with tech entrepreneurship started when my current co-founder, Sebastian Coman, approached me to help him build his business. It was a fledgling games development studio called TrulySocial. The ambition: to compete with large, well established gaming giants by carving its own niche by building "Flirtual Reality" - a brand new casual game genre. The task at hand was not easy. Inspired by Sebastian's creative vision and bolstered by his faith that I should lead the business, we embarked on this journey together.

To build a venture from scratch is challenging but, to build something totally new and innovative is formidable. It's been a rocky road - from just the two of us, we are now a team of 9. Our game has a 75% female demographic and is showing solid early traction. We are mentored and advised by some of world's best gaming minds. The games industry has given us a warm reception and I have been invited to speak at some the best tech and games conferences from all over the world.

Despite the sceptics and nay-sayers, to be part of something bigger ... to be part of something potentially disruptive is hugely enriching. I am still early in my entrepreneurial journey but fortunate to be surrounded by people smarter and cleverer than myself and every day is a learning experience.

As your company grows, the nature of challenges you face change and offer immense opportunity for self-growth, both professionally and personally. Also, the definition of success changes. For the outside world, entrepreneurial success comes in the form of an exit or an IPO. Personally, my definition of success is acknowledging the small victories - waking up every day inspired, making your first big hire, the product launch, a positive product review, even checking things off your ever growing to-do list deserves to be celebrated!

What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our digital culture?

Having started my career in investment banking I am used to working in male dominated environments. The one tip I have for all women is that they should be bold and to realise that glass ceilings are meant to be shattered. Too often women hold back from expressing their opinions in a boardroom or with work colleagues for fear of being labelled as bossy or coming across as aggressive. Worst is societal conditioning that dictates how women should behave and the roles they need to play, in order to be valued. I have had investors tell me that women do better in less technical or "soft" sectors (what does that even mean?!). They would probably be shocked to know that I could do an IRR calculation in my head!

It's not just the tech sector that faces this gender bias. Women face these biases in professional and personal life everywhere. My advice is - don't take it personally. Move ahead with even greater fierceness. The worst thing that you can do is to conform to those very notions.

A lot has been spoken about how women should find female mentors and seek their advice. Sure, if that works for you. All my professional life I have been helped by fantastic male colleagues, bosses and now, business partner. I feel it's more important to be receptive to help from every avenue, learning to dismiss the prejudices and building that internal self-confidence and fortitude that your true potential lies within you and it is always within reach. For every minute of self-doubt, spend two minutes being proud of who you are and how far you have come.

Pass it on! Who has inspired you, and who do you hope to inspire?

I think inspiration starts very close to home. My parents gave me the strength to believe that I could be/do anything I wanted to as long as I set my mind to it. My mother is re-inventing herself and learning new skills at the age of 60! Professionally - I do respect Sheryl Sandberg for her career trajectory, her earnest campaign for women and the way she is coping with her current personal tragedy.

I firmly believe that the world is now ready for more strong, independent female leaders and we are the generation with the most opportunities to make that a reality.

The Women in Tech campaign exists to help redefine what women in technology means in the 21st century. Started independently by a group of professional women who, after many impassioned discussions about women in tech knew we wanted to expand this definition beyond 'traditional' technology skills. To us, it includes most every current, emerging or evolving role within an organization. By featuring leaders and emerging leaders across industries who embody this we hope to collectively 'stand up', be proud of our place in the digital world and inspire young women or those new to the 'tech space' to get involved.