From biotech student to COO & Co-Founder of an EdTech Startup. I'm Sheenam Gautam, an Elpha Ambassador.Featured
What’s your name and your current role?My name is Sheenam Gautam and I am the co-founder and chief operating officer of CoCampus, Inc. CoCampus is an online campus where students meet industry experts, work on their sponsored projects, and get hired. I am also the co-founder and Partner at Engyin Labs. Engyin Labs connect student entrepreneurs with mentors and potential investors. Where’s the place of your origin?Chandigarh, India. How many years have you been in tech?I graduated in the spring of 2017, so professionally I’d say it’s only been 2.5 years. Academically, I was in Biotech for 6 years. Over the past 14-15 months, I have been transitioning my career into tech, product development, and service design.What’s something that you’ve done that you’re proud of?I was the first student from my university in India to travel to Germany on a scholarship to complete the second half of my MS degree. There was a 40-year-old rule against finishing the degree off campus, but I convinced the head of the university to allow me to pursue the opportunity. I was persistent enough to break the rule and got it done. I am proud of how it has now paved the way for other students too to explore better and diverse career options abroad. What’s your “aha” moment in deciding what do you want to do professionally?I always wanted to do something in the education sector but was unsure of the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘when’. During my time in Germany, I was exposed to their brilliant education system, which focuses on building shippable products and, in a way, bridges the gap between academia and industry. Such a huge contrast made me realize why the co-op system is so significant for Indian students as well. And that was it: my “aha” moment. I had found my ‘what’! During my job in Germany, I did extensive research on my startup idea, talked to the students, saved some funds, quit my well-paying job, and moved back to India to pursue my ‘how’ and ‘when’. One year and 2 bootstrapped-companies later, I know where my passion lies and what I want to do professionally. Being an entrepreneur comes with daily obstacles, but those obstacles make me feel alive! What’s your definition of success in life or in your career?This question makes me pensive. The definitions have evolved over time. At the age of 17, the motivation to get good grades used to get me out of bed every morning. Now, at the age of 24, instead of “defining”metrics, I determine success using qualitative measures. I want to change the traditional education system. I want to create a sustainable business that empowers community, education, and economy in equal measures. I want to travel more and more to broaden my perspective of the world. I wish to support girls and women in crisis and help them discover their own path to empowerment. I came across this quote by Wil Rose a couple of years ago and since then I swear by it: “Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you.”What’s something that you’re working on to improve about yourself?Quite a few things, honestly! I have been eating clean for a month now to get in better shape. I am making progress on my listening and negotiation skills as well. I try to take out at least 15 minutes a day to read a book. Since self-development doesn’t happen overnight, I strive to be consistent in whatever I am working on and aim to make measurable progress.Tell us about someone who has inspired you a great deal. Who was it and how did they inspire you?I am a huge fan of Indra Nooyi, an Indian American business executive and inspiration to millions of girls out there. She is the ex-president and chief financial officer of PepsiCo and currently on the board of directors at Amazon. Despite coming from an uber conservative Indian family, she shattered the glass ceiling by being her authentic self in a country so foreign. She just never gives up and gives me immense inspiration. Additionally, I try to find inspiration from my everyday life and the people around me. I was really overwhelmed the other day with all my tasks and meetings when I met this new mother, magically balancing both her professional and personal life. Within a few minutes, she taught me that some of the most worthy things in life are not easy but also not impossible to achieve. It uplifts me immensely when I see entrepreneurs younger than me hustling hard to make their idea a success. My co-founder also inspires me daily to put my best foot forward in every task I do.How do you celebrate your wins?As we grow up, we find it difficult to get excited about things that do not qualify as big and significant. The first thing I do is I notice my wins, no matter how small. I bask in the victory and communicate it to my close ones. I reward myself by shopping, going out with my closest friends, celebrating it with a good beer, or just watching my favourite show/movie. But I don’t pile pressure upon myself after I achieve something. I relax my deadlines, which keeps me grounded and motivated. What do you do when you aren't working or studying?I read books/blogs on subjects such as history, entrepreneurship, and cosmic science. I LOVE to travel--I was in Europe when the travel bug bit me hard. I was there for a couple of years and just fell in love with the Alps, culture, food, and people! Watching Gordon Ramsay scream at his chefs on YouTube is my guilty pleasure and don’t even get me started on Elon Musk memes. Additionally, I like to blog and have recently started to share my experiences and views on diverse topics like feminism, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle on Medium. I am also involved with a local NGO to educate young girls about menstrual health and promote tree plantation drives.What is one piece of advice that you’d share with the Elpha community?Be less afraid to work for your own happiness. Your happiness is not something you should feel guilty about. Stop doing everything for everyone. Let go of other people’s expectations and establish your own identity. Ask yourself what you value, what you stand for, and what brings you joy, and work towards it. Take charge of your life with grace, strength, and confidence and embrace your unapologetic self. You owe it to yourself.Hi, my name is Sheenam, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of an EdTech venture called CoCampus. I am also Partner and co-founder at Engyin Labs. I’m building an unstoppable EdTech drive so that even if I no longer exist or lack the strength to continue to lead, the movement continues to live on. I am focussed on lean startup, company culture, and traditional education disruption. I advocate for feminism, environment issues, and free espresso refills. Additionally, my love for ice-skating, bouldering, writing, traveling, and blueberries is never-dying!
YAY! You are amazing -- LOVE LOVE LOVE your NGO involvement!!!
Thank you, Quinn! I am trying to follow you💜
Yay Sheenam! So happy to read your thoughts! I've learned a lot from you already and I can't wait to see where you'll go. Thanks for sharing!
Congrats!! Not surprised your an ambassador as your impact on Elpha is measurable. It's great to get to know you more through this and yaya bouldering!!
You sounds wise beyond your years. Thank you for your ambassadorship. I think you will accomplish great things!