Rani Yadav-Ranjan, the third guest (and Founder) of the Conversations with Entrepreneurs Speaker Series visited campus on March 15, and encouraged students to never give up on their dreams.
Yadav-Ranjan told the audience her story, experiences, and the challenges she faced when starting up her early business pursuits in 1995. She stated that all of her ambitions had stemmed from major problems that she had encountered and wanted to solve.
“Entrepreneurs, [are] not born, we’re made and we [become] entrepreneurs because of a personal problem that we have,” said Yadav-Ranjan.
Yadav-Ranjan first spoke of how she wished to implement cameras into classrooms, because of how her own family was scattered across the U.S., and there was no way for them to participate in the lives of her three young children. Putting cameras in classrooms proved to be tremendously difficult to accomplish, because of limiting factors at the time, including poor technology, liabilities, and security issues. She put this project to the side as a new problem arose.
This problem presented itself in the form of a parking ticket that would hike up extra fees if it were not paid within the day. With that traffic ticket as her inspiration, Yadav-Ranjan created the technology needed to make a long distance payment from her home on the same day. Her ideas took shape through sketches, and eventually progressed into eCite.org, an ecommerce payments company.
“I worked on a patent for it. I started building a company around it, and in 1999 to 2000, I filed some papers that today represents the base [of] e-commerce, but back then it was a new idea. [It was] something nobody had thought of and I could not get any venture capitalist to look at me”, stated Yadav-Ranjan.
In expressing frustrations she has had with venture capitalists in the past, she stated that it is important to be persistent and never take no for an answer. “You just can’t give up. No doesn’t mean no. No never means no!” exclaimed Yadav-Ranjan.
In 2002, Yadav-Ranjan started a new project, which was to collect information from public databases. With persistence she found venture capitalists that would invest in her idea. With this source of financing, Navigator Technology received its first customer, and progressed forward. Yadav-Ranjan went on to create one of the first companies that connected every federal, state, and county database in the country, a collective 45,000 databases full of information. She built up a client base for her company, and Facebook eventually became one of the biggest purchasers of Navigator’s data.
Yadav-Ranjan currently holds the position of Co-Founder and CEO of Gray Cloud Technology, a company that helps advertisers and other media companies target specific customer groups. Gray Cloud caters to the likes and dislikes of customers based on collective data, giving them a customized entertainment experience.
As she began to close her inspirational talk on what it takes to build a business from the ground up, Yadav-Ranjan emphasized how important it is for an entrepreneur to always have an unbreakable support system who will be there every step of the way, just as her family has been with her.
Yadav-Ranjan parted, saying, “Don’t give up on your dream. If this is your dream and this is what you want to do, try it out, what have you got to lose? Nothing at all! There is no such thing as failure. There really [isn’t]. Failure, as long as you can turn it around [is] just a learning curve.”