Q&A with Startup Grind Fremont Chapter Director Gaytri Khandelwal
Fremont’s Startup Grind Chapter has a new leader at the helm. Meet Gaytri Khandelwal, investor/advisor to early-stage startups and a Salesforce sales leader for cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Gaytri has spent 15+ years leading large-scale business transformations and driving customer success at companies like Cisco, General Electric, and Unilever. She is passionate about the latest technologies and how they are generating new revenue opportunities and business models. Gaytri is also a firm believer of giving back to the community and promoting technology startups. As we partner with Gaytri and welcome her to Startup Grind, we’d like to share her vision and goals for the Fremont Chapter.
Q: As the new Chapter Director for Startup Grind Fremont, what excites you most about the entrepreneurial community here?
I have been a Fremont resident for the last 12+ years and have been able to meet some very inspiring people, from local leaders to business owners. Fremont is a diverse demographic, and the community has always been welcoming and supportive of one another. That’s what makes Fremont so unique and exciting. I often connect with tech industry employees who are early on in their careers. They are risk takers and go-getters, fascinated about startup success and always thinking about how emerging technologies like cloud computing, AI, IoT, and blockchain are opening up new market opportunities. They want to take part in this industrial revolution and make a long-lasting impact. I also often meet seasoned employees who are in the middle of their careers. They bring a tremendous amount of corporate experience and are more grounded in reality. They are willing to take calculated risks and want to be involved in startups, but may not drop everything to start a venture of their own. Both of these demographics bring complementary skills and experience to bear, and when they work together, amazing work transpires. As they say, it takes a village to run a successful startup, and because Fremont’s village includes a diversified pool of talent, it’s the ideal place for startup cultivation.
Q: What is your vision for Startup Grind Fremont moving forward, and how will you make it happen?
Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, connect, inspire, and support entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an existing entrepreneur or thinking of starting or joining a startup, it’s a great platform for everyone to participate in and benefit from.
At Startup Grind, we want to remain relevant. Our research has shown that we have a varied audience with different expectations. At the Fremont Chapter, we strive to exceed the expectations of our audience through thoughtful event planning, unique speakers, and relevant discussion topics. Moving forward, we will encourage attendees to provide feedback. We want to ensure that they see the value in our sessions and become our champions to help us grow the Chapter. We will also perform extensive outreach campaigns to increase membership.
Q: What can local entrepreneurs gain by attending an event hosted by Startup Grind Fremont?
At Startup Grind Fremont, we host fireside chats every month. At every event, we present influential speakers who share their startup journey, including lessons learned and advice they have for fellow entrepreneurs. In addition, our events are structured to allow attendees ample opportunities to connect with speakers and seek advice on their specific situations. We encourage attendees to bring their tough questions, whether they are related to marketing strategy, raising funds, driving sales, or planning an exit strategy. The Startup Grind Fremont team is here to support, inspire, and help make introductions.
Startup Grind events are proven places to meet local like-minded professionals (perhaps find your next co-founder/team member!), brainstorm ideas, and generate early validation and recommendations. Anyone just curious about the industry can attend to learn the latest trends, build their professional network, and find ways to plan their next career move. Students who dream about starting their own startup but have more questions than answers are also welcome to attend (student discounts are available). There is no better way to advance your ideas and avoid mistakes than by learning from other people’s experiences.
Q: What advice do you have for up-and-coming startups and anyone interested in starting their own business?
It is a long and winding journey, so make sure you’re ready to make the needed personal sacrifices and time investment. Find your funding source upfront. Many companies fold because funds are depleted. The idea is the commodity, but the execution is the key. You need to have patience and know when/whom to ask for help. I’m a huge believer of the lean startup methodology and highly recommend early validation. Surround yourself with inspiring mentors, and avoid people who drain your energy.
Q: Any final thoughts?
I’m very excited for the opportunity to build this community of connected local entrepreneurs. I’m looking forward to our next event on Thursday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Peerbuds Innovation Lab in Fremont. Miten Mehta, a developer evangelist at Google, will talk all about blockchain and AI. Tickets are available now. Finally, we appreciate our sponsors for their generous support — the City of Fremont and Peerbuds. We will continue to evolve to stay relevant to our audience. Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.