Name: Shaifali Chaudhury
Location: Mumbai, India
Industry: Technology & Telecommunications
Reason for starting? I am an engineer at heart but also a top-notch business school grad by passion. I pursued my engineering degree and MBA after qualifying for the toughest entrance exams in India and competing against the best brains in the world. I got a job at IBM, but had to leave my job after I had my first kid to raise her. Along with a 5-year-old, I now have a newborn at home too.
While being a stay at home mom with my first child, dropping her off at school and picking her up was my daily ritual. During this time I realized that there are many other kids from my neighborhood who go to the same school. We could have easily carpooled, but we didn’t all know each other. I realized that in our busy lives we don’t connect to the people who live close to us. I felt that carpooling is just one thing, there are actually many more things that we can do together if we knew each other. That’s how SameFence was born, a online platform to connect neighbors!
How do you define success? Success for me is to have the best possible plan to achieve my goals and follow the plan with full dedication and perseverance. As the saying goes, “It is the journey that matters.” The experiences and learning that we get during our journey makes us what we are. It defines our personality, our approach, our method of taking decisions and our attitude. All these can help us to achieve any goals, no matter how big or small they are.
Biggest success: My biggest success is SameFence. It’s my brainchild. I like it when people tell me that it’s a very nice and unique idea. I like it when they say how it’s helping them and how they look forward to seeing it grow more. SameFence is more than a social networking site for neighbors. It’s a medium to manage community resources and organize our community living. It connects us to our trusted neighbors. The neighbors whom we never had the time to know, as we were busy with our family and work. SameFence not only connects us virtually over the internet, but brings us closer in the real world too. Once we get to know each other online, we reach out to meet each other offline. Neighbors share a lot of resources knowingly and unknowingly. We can manage these resources in the best possible way once we know each other. One perfect example is carpooling with “trusted” neighbors. SameFence is not just an app or website. Its a lifestyle!
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? When the first spark of this idea came to my mind, I self brainstormed for many days. Discussed with my friends and family. Everyone liked the idea. But it had so many things to it. The big question was: How can these be logically implemented in software? Designing the framework for the idea and its various components in the most logical fashion was very challenging.
But we did it. Now if you see the website or the app, you will find it very self-explanatory. But a user who comes to the app or the website and doesn’t realize how much effort and brainpower has been put into it, that is a challenge. For the user, what matters is that he has registered and he wants to see what to do next. But for us as designers, it’s a huge project to design and connect the hundreds of elements in the best possible way to provide the easiest and smoothest function for the user. The challenge I feel was rightly addressed. Without it SameFence would not have been where it is now.
Who is your most important role model? I don’t have any role model as such. Given the patriarchal society of India, I was blessed to have been born in a very nice and supportive family. My parents have always treated me equal to my two brothers. I was always their favorite child. I am proud of the upbringing and values I got from them. Now, after marriage I am blessed to have a very supportive and understanding husband. He always helps and encourages me to follow my dreams. He is my best critic. My parents and my husband are the best people in my life. Without their love, help and support I would have never been where I am now.
Edited by The Story Exchange