Sapna Patel: Acquiring Success Through Alliances

Sapna Patel, Co-Founder & COO

Sapna Patel

Co-Founder & COO

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. But it is still a rare phenomenon in India to see a woman behind a startup’s success. Sapna Patel’s (Co-Founder & COO, Gray Routes Technology) story stands as an example to the latter. At her peak career point in Google, she left her cozy job to work on the ground level to bring change for little underprivileged children through Teach for India. But aware of her potential to break the barriers and create successful business propositions, her husband Soubhagya Sahoo walked along with her to incept their dream company Gray Routes in 2013 as a leading provider of location analytics and field automation software.

A UK-trained speaker and a Cambridge University felicitated entrepreneur, Sapna also holds a Master’s in English & Advertising from Bangalore University and had topped the university during her undergraduate & postgraduate examinations. Being a Leaders in Innovation Fellow (an initiative by Government of India & UK), she shares her thoughts and progress with the community on a regular basis.

First Step towards Success
Sapna had taken up different roles throughout her career; these experiences changed her entire perspective and inspired her to bring out immense amount of change in society for good. She believes technology with cutting edge innovation can absolutely change the way enterprises function and can be a game changer. Thus co-founding Gray Routes in 2013 was her first step towards realizing her dream. “Google created disruption in the way information was processed and consumed by organizing the world’s information and in TFI, I saw how adoption of advanced methodologies of teaching was leading to visible progress in kids’ understanding within few months,” asserts Sapna. She further added, “My experience at TFI was one of the most powerful experiences of my life and there I got an opportunity to work & leave an impact at the grassroots level”.

Her experience of working at the
grassroots level motivated Sapna to lead sales & marketing department of her venture and recognize the end user, adopt the right methodology, design the product road map and handle the training & customer relations for the clients. She focuses on devising new strategies for increasing awareness of the product and the brand that stands for trust, speed, and innovation. Moreover, her ability to understand people, their issues and then provide motivation & inspiration to do more, learn more, and grow more has led Gray Routes to reach new heights of success. Sapna not only deems that women bring humongous amount of EQ to the table, she is also proving this by ensuring that all women employees enjoy their work in her company. “We have grown from strength to strength, right from adding more reputed clientele to our list to being present across several geographical locations to getting talents from the most reputed colleges. We are a profitable high-tech scale-up now and on our path towards expanding strategic partnerships and geographic coverage,” claims Sapna.

Sapna just trusted these instincts, dropped her cushy-executive job and put her entire saving to begin her entrepreneurial journey

A Shining Star
Being a woman entrepreneur is a difficult task. But this exceptional woman has striven to build herself with a lot of challenges coming her way. She had a knack for cracking the toughest interviews with her tact, EQ and humility, which always led her into securing the most sought after job offers on campus. Sapna just trusted these instincts, dropped her cushy-executive job and put her entire saving to begin her entrepreneurial journey. She faced a lot of ups & downs during the initial Gray Routes days. But by paying no heed to such negative circumstances, she stayed focused towards her goals, and with her strong product, realistic vision, determination, hard work and immense sacrifices, Sapna has made herself today a shining star in the industry. According to Sapna, “Entrepreneurship requires a person to push her limit and in the process become the best version of her. At times, it becomes difficult to stand up to one’s own expectations. Every day brings with it a new set of challenges and struggles which
needs to be tackled with immense maturity and patience”. She further says,“I remember responding to sales queries while being wheeled out of the operation theatre after giving birth to my son”.

Managing professional and personal front are two major challenges that every woman entrepreneur faces. It is remarkable to see how Sapna has managed both her worlds, with a two years old kid and a family to take care of. Sapna has personally been lucky enough to have a family who completely believed in her abilities and supported every decision of her professional career. She in fact was instrumental in pushing her husband out from his comfortable corporate career path and inspired him to take up this challenging entrepreneurship journey.“I strongly feel that a husband & wife pair can make an awesome winning team as they can understand and complement each other’s strengths & weaknesses and there fore will create a harmonious balance whenever they work together,” says Sapna. But when the duo wore the entrepreneurship caps, they didn’t tell their family about this until their business reached a milestone of raising external seed capital. Since then, their company has been completing one milestone after another. Sapna and Soubhagya have successfully managed to grow the company profitably and steadily, and secured multiple strategic partnerships with Global market leaders in GIS, CRM, Technology space. “When the industry starts falling in line, in a queue behind you, you know that you have chosen the right path as an entrepreneur,” asserts Sapna.

Sapna likes to keep a balance between spirituality and alacrity in her personal life. Having deeply interpreted the literary body of work of bards and Renaissance authors and compared it to the spiritual teachings of Buddha and modern day Gurus, she has developed a decision making ability rooted in integrity and enterprise that gets her through the tougher times. An avid foodie, she loves to cook for her family, her employees, watch food tripping videos and try out different cuisines in restaurants. A quick leisure trip across India, listening to music or just catching a sitcom episode allow her to tune out, recharge and then get back to the challenging-yet-exciting journey of a scaleup. In the coming future, we can see Sapna getting involved in more women entrepreneurship forums in Odisha that would provide her a chance to propagate women entrepreneurship and provide support and mentorship wherever possible.