Reetu Gupta is the CEO and co-founder of a market-disrupting startup, Cirkled In. After personally experiencing the painful admission process into middle school, as a parent, she started thinking about the ways of alleviating this process for both students and colleges. This passion of hers turned into an award-winning application, and is boosting students’ chances of getting into their dream college.
How and why did you become an entrepreneur?
Actually it’s so funny, I think the idea for Cirkled In was planted in my head when I was 8 years old, growing up in India. At that time, India had 70% illiteracy rate. One thing in my favor was teacher mom who started a school in our home when I was 8. My mother and I would go door to door asking people to send their children to school. So without me knowing, power of education went deep into my DNA.
CEO of Cirkled In
I went to engineering college, earned my Bachelors and Masters in Engineering. After that, I spent 20 years in the corporate world. Mid career, I went for MBA at University of Washington Foster School of Business. I have 2 kids, and when one of them was 10, we had to go through a painful application process for middle school. That’s when the concept of Cirkled In was born. I thought you and I have LinkedIn, shouldn’t there be something for students? I didn’t find any, so decided to make one. I’d always been wanting to do something big, so this will be my legacy for the universe.
What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting or are just launching a startup? What pitfalls should they be aware of?
It’s a long list, but know that you have to work 10 times harder, be 10 times smarter than your male peers. During initial part of my career, I didn’t feel much gender bias. But with Cirkled In as a startup, it started on day one. it’s an uphill battle every day. Less than 3% of venture capital funds go to women startups. Be ready for bullshit. Know what you are getting into and be ready to hustle.
As a woman entrepreneur, do you think it was easier or harder for you to get funding and/or buy in?
All the bias towards women entrepreneurs, implicit or explicit, is not going away anytime soon. Men do not see tough female CEOs – they see mothers, daughters, and sisters.
Are there any other organizations or networking groups that have been your cheerleaders?
Networking started to grow after Trump was elected. It brought women together, including the Female Founder Alliance and the F-Bomb Breakfast Club.
How did you encourage people to sign up forCirkled In?
Cirkled In is an award-winning, secure, holistic profile and portfolio platform that helps students showcase themselves in the best possible way and get discovered by colleges and universities. Students compile all their accomplishments, both inside and outside school, and upload their media files, awards, certificates. They can securely share their profile with any application and increase their success rate. With Cirkled In, we bring the whole ecosystem together, including K-12 schools, youth organizations and colleges and universities. Colleges use Cirkled In to find the best-fit candidates for their institution, creating win-win. K-12 schools and youth organizations become more successful by helping their students succeed.
How do you plan on keeping Cirkled In sustainable?
Cirkled In is hoping to be profitable by end of this year. We have raised a seed round from local angels. We will also raise venture capital fund later this year for faster growth. Our main priority right now is growth.