Founder Profile: Deepthi Uppala, WG’18
Deepthi Uppala has always loved new ideas — thinking about them, coming up with them, brainstorming around them. Creativity is her strength and being able to peer around the corner and map back to present is what she calls her Superpower.
Deepthi loves new ideas so much that she decided she was going to formally study, understand, perfect and practice the ideation process. After a BE in Computer Science from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, Deepthi got her masters in innovation management from Carnegie Mellon University. This experience was truly transformational — she learned how to leverage distinct points of view to build meaningful products which delight the user. Deepthi’s MBA from Wharton helped complete the other side of the equation — helping her to better understand the market and how to assess if timing and marketplace conditions are prime for innovation and scale.
Deepthi has extensive experience in consumer technology engineering at companies like Microsoft and Intel where she led ideation and new product development. When she got married, moved in with her husband, brought home a dog and had a baby — the number of things in her life that she had to manage exploded. After looking for advice from other successful professional women, she realized there actually was no good tool or calendar platform tool to manage a household. She figured if someone with her background/skills couldn’t create a family supertool, then honestly, who could?
So this very creative woman used a combo of AI plus community and developed a platform called Syndee — an AI-curated social shopping and productivity experience to simplify life for busy families.
Syndee’s specialized AI, powered by a novel household knowledge graph, carries families from discovery and inspiration, to task management and collaboration in order to help bring joy into everyday household moments.
Tell us about your company
Syndee is an AI-curated social shopping and productivity experience to simplify life for busy families. It organizes families around everyday tasks like cleaning and organizing and big projects like planning the summer break, bringing home a pet, or spring cleaning. See more here: https://linktr.ee/heysyndee
Syndee has project inspiration, shopping recommendations, expert consultations, personalized step-by-step plans, and collaboration. Out of the box, there are hundreds of plans and products that are AI-generated, expert-curated, and fully customizable by users, so they never have to start with a blank sheet of paper to create a magical moments at home. It releases the mental load of planning and provides the smartest way to manage the family calendar.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
Our users and team are moms and high-achieving professionals who just want a better way. Every professional woman that we pitched to understands the problem intuitively and is sold. What we have been working on is how to create a billion-dollar business as we make home management more intelligent and social, so we can offload some of the load.
Syndee plays at the intersection of huge parenting markets and we are here to reinvent the future of home supporting the future of work.
A key pain point in large market that is grossly underserved — millennial parents have $1.3tn in spending power and only 45% have children. 65% say online interactions are key purchase influencers. 90% share information about their purchases with other moms.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
The most gratifying experience has been hearing back from our users. Busy, high-achieving parents with demanding careers at Google, McKinsey, Apple, Microsoft, etc., love Syndee. They said, “Wow, this is everything”, “I love that one can select predefined tasks with checklists!”, “First, as a parent, new homeowner, and chronic procrastinator, I like the idea…helps me keep things more organized”. They say it takes a village and it’s true.
Companies often have trouble hiring, but not with Syndee. We’ve had SO many incredibly talented people volunteer to work on Syndee over the last year, even before we were incorporated because of the strong belief that a product like this needs to exist in the world and that the way things are done in the household needs to be rethought. Our first hire — Director of Marketing — was actually one of our early beta users and she convinced us that we needed her (totally true).
Finally, just in the last week, Syndee won ‘best execution award’ at CMU Build Sprint Demo Day and I ran an incredibly successful ideation workshop with over 100 participants at Mom 2.0, the premiere mommy creator conference and signed on over 20 new parenting brands and creators to Syndee!
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
My experience and expertise is in Smart Homes, Assistance, and NLP (Task Completion, Intent Detection, User Understanding) at Microsoft and Intel, and I have over 10 patents in the space.
I love new ideas — thinking about them and coming up with them. Creativity is my strength and being able to peer around the corner and map back to present is my superpower. My masters in innovation management from CMU was truly transformational — I learnt how to leverage distinct points of view to build meaningful products which delight the user. I think structured brainstorming is a wonderful thing. I enjoy sharing my creative process with others and infusing innovation methods into the teams I lead.
My MBA from the Wharton School helps me with the other half of story — the market. It helps me assess if the time and market are prime for the innovation and identify how to bring it to market and how to scale.
In my personal life, I first got married, moved in with my husband, brought home a dog, and we had a daughter. And the number of things I’ve had to manage exploded. I asked successful professional women how they did it all — and they said they used tools like Google Calendar and post-its on the fridge to manage their household. No wonder over 80% of the families experience at least one symptom of burnout and 97% said they would use a new tool if it simplified their household.
That was the impetus for Syndee — that if I with all my experience in productivity won’t build something truly intelligent for the modern household, no one will.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
For anyone contemplating the entrepreneurial journey, my advice would be —
a) You need to hold close the conviction that first led you on this path on the days when things don’t go your way. The highs are really high and lows are quite low. Definitely take a moment to celebrate the wins, even the little ones. Every step forward counts.
b) Network aggressively, like your life depended on it. Because it does. It is often a lonely path and building a community of founder friends, advisors and other hustlers is the only way to keep going.
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
Growth — both functional and personal. I am a builder and it’s what comes most naturally to me. But in the time I’ve been a founder, I’ve had to learn and master new disciplines practically overnight — digital marketing anyone?
Being founder also requires me to dig in to the reserves of faith and belief in my abilities and often push myself well beyond my comfort zone. I am better for it.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve recently started The Making of Me interview series about how ambitious moms design their life to have it all, which has helped other ambitious moms and has seen a tremendous response — https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/the-making-of-me-the-mom-6885790906746843136/
P.S. I am always looking for inspiring guests
How can the WAFFA community help you?
Syndee helps busy families learn from others who’ve done it before and simplify your home. Having you trailblaze this new category — social productivity — with us would be freaking incredible.
Install Syndee in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store at http://onelink.to/heysyndee and tell me what you think firstname.lastname@example.org