Geeta Banda Also Talks About the Challenge of Raising Money While Pregnant
Every phone call you make, survey you take, or order you complete contributes to a vast, ever-growing repository of data. The ability to extract business value from all that data is a burgeoning industry, one IDC projects will grow to $275 Billion by 2022.
But Geeta Banda recently told me there is also a growing data disconnect within this industry because business leaders do not always possess the technical expertise necessary to unlock the insights hidden within these troves of data. Decision makers are provided with countless reports and dashboards, but that has only led them to what she calls “dashboard fatigue” that gets them no closer to the correct answers. Even for those that have access to or the ability to use modern data analysis tools, the time-intensive nature of the work limits the full potential of their efforts.
This is the reason she co-founded Diana AI, a novel approach to data analysis that moves away from legacy data analysis tools for non-technical users and instead leverages voice activation for natural language search and voice queries. Imagine a sales manager able to identify top sales performers, the best markets, or the reason for a recent decline in sales simply by asking her computer or smart device.
While this may sound like a scene out of Star Trek or Black Mirror, it’s a real example that Banda relayed as part of our conversation. She said applications in hospitality, retail, insurance, and consumer packaged goods have also helped to demonstrate Diana AI’s value proposition and contributed to growing demand from a wide range of enterprise customers.
Despite heavy investments of time and capital into data analysis, Bandy says only 20% of projects are successful. She believes organizations will continue to pour resources into this effort because of obvious business benefits, and the ease of new analytics tools like Diana AI will help improve results.
Banda actively pursued a career in the field. After studying Computer Science and Statistics, she worked as a data and strategy consultant at companies like McKinsey and Deloitte to gain experience. She knew that data was critical to decision-making in modern business and was passionate about being on the front lines of the industry.
With Diana AI, she leverages those past experiences working in an enterprise environment to solve the pain points of making decisions within large organizations. By helping non-technical employees harness the power of data using conversational UI, she hopes to push data analytics mainstream for all businesses.
Beyond building the product, Banda says she enjoys serving as the company’s CEO. It allows her to speak with customers regularly, lead the sales and product teams, and develop new leadership skills. Fail fast and fail often has quickly become her guiding principle.
One challenge that has shone an ugly light on the still male-dominated startup world has been Banda’s experience raising funds while being eight months pregnant. Inspired by the recent Inc.’s Female Founders Issue portraying the first visibly pregnant CEO to appear on the cover of a business magazine, she thought her pregnancy would be a non-issue.
However, she learned that while it’s difficult enough raising money from investors as a woman — studies show only 2% of funding goes to women-owned businesses every year — doing so while pregnant can be even more defeating. Banda said more than one has responded, “We love what you are doing, but let’s chat in January when you are more settled, and it is less risk for us.’’
Despite this, Banda still feels strongly that this is an important endeavor and that the sector is an important growth opportunity for women in technology. While she says that the data sector is considered more diverse than other tech fields, she believes there is still room for more.
It’s critical that more women assume these roles to build diverse teams that provide fresh perspectives when evaluating data and trends. Banda also points out that there is much more room at the top of the field for women to raise money and start their own ventures.