CEO at Contentstack™ – a leading Content Management System and Content Experience Platform, Neha has been the founder of three startups – including Raw Engineering – a digital transformation consultancy.
A proponent of diversity and an outspoken advocate for women in leadership, Neha was named in “San Francisco Business Times Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” in 2017, is a “San Francisco Business Times 40 under 40” honoree and one of “50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley” in 2015. Neha was most recently honored as “CEO of the Year” by Aragon Research in December 2018.
During her personal time – she hosts the Dreammakers podcast, featuring women who balance profit and purpose. She also sits on the advisory board of BEAM (formerly Women@Austin) and is a mentor for the Springboard network – both organizations that provide support systems for female entrepreneurs.
M.R. Rangaswami: You have been the founder and CEO of 3 companies – what are you doing differently at Contentstack than with your other companies?
Neha Sampat: With every company you do things a little differently. Because you learn as you go — by doing and by collaborating with others, by succeeding and failing, by growing. I’d say the biggest difference with Contentstack is that we decided to raise money to be able to grow faster. So that meant increasing stakeholder value, finding the right investors, bringing them in as strategic partners on decisions and on our board.
We understood that scaling quickly brings with it different people and culture challenges so our first hire after financing was our Global Head of People Renee Holland. We prioritized it because we knew we were going to be hiring fast and needed to be deliberate about growing the company in a way that retained values and culture.
M.R.: You have a big operation in India – what are the 3 uncommon things entrepreneurs should know about making operations in India successful?
Neha: The overarching point is you have to recognize it’s a different culture, and all the ways that manifests itself. And then lead with empathy as you plan your incentives, communications, benefits, and more. Here are some examples:
People in India take a lot of pride in their festivals and special occasions. Celebrating them is important and motivating to employees. So, we find ways to share those moments with our employees across the globe like incorporating authentic dances and music into company celebrations.
In India, multiple generations share homes. The family has a much bigger presence in the workplace. For example, we offer healthcare for employees’ parents in India and we’ve met many more extended family members as part of everyday work.
While the U.S. is a two-weeks-notice culture, India is a two-months-notice one. And, typically, employees will shop around the offer during that time. We keep new hires engaged during the period between offer-accepted and onboarding with ongoing communications, get togethers, meet and greets, and more.
M.R.: Contentstack has won awards for diversity, leadership, women, diversity, etc. What are your insights/strategies/objectives in these areas?
Neha: We understand that a diverse workforce, in representation, background, and thought, creates an environment where curiosity, innovation, and excellence can flourish. My objective is to achieve equity at Contentstack and within the industry.
At Contentstack, we tackle this in many ways. In recruiting, we implement strategies that get us a more diverse pool of candidates — like using blind resumes, partnering with organizations to train and bring underrepresented talent our way, and looking for talent in untapped places. For example, we’ve partnered with an organization called Second Shift that identifies skilled moms looking for more flexible work, and we’ve hosted Zoom recruitment events with women engineers in India. We also work with employees to identify their strengths and pave their most successful path forward taking those strengths into account. The work doesn’t stop when employees are in the door. Leaders must lead. One of the most effective tools I’ve seen to increase diversity is celebrating successes and possibilities. When younger generations see someone that looks like them or talks like them succeeding, they believe they can do the same.
Outside of Contentstack, we focus on making larger-scale group commitments. Through the Scale Up Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Pledge, we joined other Insight Partners portfolio companies in pledging to report, recruit, and retain in ways that lead to a more diverse software ecosystem. Through Pledge 1%, our companies pledge a combination of 1% Time (Raw Engineering), 1%+ Product (Contentstack), and 1% Revenues (Surfboard) on behalf of diversity-focused nonprofits in the startup community.
During my personal time, I also host the Dreammakers podcast, featuring women who balance profit and purpose. Again, this shows women possibilities — ways to build up their careers and the communities around them in sustainable ways. I also sit on the advisory board of BEAM (formerly Women@Austin) and am a mentor for the Springboard network. Both organizations aim to provide support systems for female entrepreneurs.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com