By @. Latest great interview with another dynamic, successful female founder Salone Sehgal CEO, TrulySocial | Top 100 Asian Stars in UK , TechTop 30 Women in Mobile | Tech startups, M&A Banker, Strategy, Games
Brief background about you?
I started my career in finance, however my career has now taken me across 4 different countries starting in India, Switzerland, Spain & eventually the UK , over the last decade. From being an investment banker to co-founding a gaming start-up, it has been an unusual career trajectory. I started my career as an Analyst, went on to do an MBA from IESE, Spain, then did investment banking at Morgan Stanley London. I bid adieu to the banking world as a VP, Global COO office at Barclays. I reached a point in my career where I realised that I wanted to do something more meaningful. I call myself an accidental entrepreneur because I never imagined myself running a tech start-up let alone one in the gaming industry. The last 2 years as CEO of TrulySocial have been the most challenging, stressful, frightening and exhilarating time of my life.
Looking back does it all seem a logical progression to what you do now?
I am not sure if it was a logical progression but I picked up a lot of skills over the years that have come in handy as an entrepreneur. No matter how grueling investment banking was – I feel it served as a great grooming ground for providing me with a tool kit for success – it taught me discipline, structure, time-management, ability to work under immense pressure, analytical capabilities and self-motivation. The MBA equipped me further with soft-skills and ability to work with diverse groups of people. Ultimately, it’s the rigours of running a company which have been my biggest teacher – no matter how many books you read, podcasts you listen to and Ted talks you watch on entrepreneurship – no one can prepare you for the monumental effort and mental strength that is required to run a company.
— Salone Sehgal (@SaloneSehgal) November 24, 2015
Truly Social, what is the 1 min elevator pitch?
TrulySocial is reinventing casual mobile games for female audiences by building Contemporary lifestyle themed games. Our first game, leverages the best of high-fashion, celebrity content and narrative around building relationships – all within one “Social World”
What tips would you give to companies starting out ?
I heard someone say that entrepreneurship is like free-falling off a cliff and figuring out how to open up a parachute before you land. This is exactly what 90% of your days will feel like. As a young company – capital, talent and time will always be scarce and the pace is relentless. Feelings of rejection & dejection will become familiar. What you will have is ample self-doubt and limited resources.
My first tip is – “develop a thick skin”. My second tip would be – “take every No as a “Not Yet””, third tip ” Watch your cash burn like a hawk”
What’s next for you & Truly Social?
World domination seems like a good place to start! Mobile gaming is a highly competitive and crowded industry. Our biggest competition is boredom and we compete with everyone and everything! It is no longer enough to build a great game (unless you have Pokemon as an IP)! To distinguish yourself you need a superior and engaging product, a distinct identity & unique proposition for your players, a solid user acquisition model and a long-term retention plan – we are systematically tackling these in our product and business model. We have exciting plans with a beautiful product, amazing talent, celebrity & influencer tie-ups, the right investors, strategic partners for UA and a differentiated game play for a previously under-served audience, thus the right ingredients to take this to the next level.
Who has inspired you, and / or do you follow on social media / or read their blogs?
Elon Musk, Mark Suster, James Altucher and Ben Horowitz – his book “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” is one of the best books I have read on entrepreneurship and he paints a very accurate picture of what it truly means to be the CEO of a company. I also greatly admire Sheryl Sandberg. For inspiration – it’s the unsung heroes whose stories you don’t get to hear enough about – Yusra Mardini, the Syrian refugee who is now participating in the Olympics, Srikanth Bolla, a 23 year old blind man who he runs a highly profitable company employing disabled people, or Nick Vujicic – a motivational speaker & evangelist born without arms and legs. Every time I think I am going through a bad day – I look around and realise there are people in the world who have truly battled some seriously difficult odds to get where they are by sheer determination & persistence, that is quite a reality check.
— Salone Sehgal (@SaloneSehgal) April 9, 2015
Things can be very 24/7 these days, how do you manage to have a good life / work, online / offline balance?
Great question and something I struggle with! I do try and discipline myself by trying to not work on weekends & making sure I switch off my phone at night an hour before I go to bed. However, to switch off from work completely is a constant struggle. The mental noise never seems to die down. I am a yoga fan and do try and meditate regularly – but I am hardly the epitome of calm and equilibrium! I do need a constant reminder – whether it’s from my team or my family to remind myself there is a world outside of work.
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked you?
Question: Is all the hard work worth it? Answer: Yes!