Good morning Reigners! This Thursday meet Nikita Parikh, a woman who I found out quickly is a superconnector. Read more about her company Anansi, why she believes in the power of 3s, her methods of staying organized and her advice to not wait.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Tell us a little about yourself along with a fun fact.
I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Anansi, a personal safety company that is creating an automatic emergency notification and detection wearable armband. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Microsoft, my team and I are part of the Business Incubator at the Chicago Innovation Exchange through March 2016. I was previously a Computer Engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I enjoy watching old movies and documentaries in movie theaters, I build bicycles in my spare time, and listen to podcasts incessantly. Fun fact: I’m training for my first powerlifting competition this January and am both excited and nervous about the prospect of competing (!!!).
What # would define your life journey?
I see the number 3 and small multiples of it in most areas of my life, some of which are fairly common: a family of three, three best friends growing up and in college, a Microsoft sponsorship that’s going to last six months…I could go on and on. Three’s a beautiful number and the truth is that it is, in fact, everywhere — even in the Declaration of Independence (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)!
Favorite website / app:
Workflowy, because it seems like the most natural way to make lists and keep track of to-dos, and is minimalistic in its design, Sunrise, because I think it’s the most beautiful calendar app I’ve EVER used, and f.lux, because it warms my computer’s display as the sun sets allowing me to go to bed at a reasonable hour (blue light makes you more alert and suppresses melatonin).
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Perhaps cliche, but as much as I admire people like Ira Glass or Elon Musk, my grandmother’s always got the top spot. She’s a tiny woman with what seems to be the strength of a hundred oxen packed inside of her. Having overcome several difficulties in her life, what really inspires me is that she’s still incredibly happy, kind, loving, and generous. That’s exactly the kind of person I aspire to be. At 85, she reads, exercises, and keeps herself busy. The best advice she’s ever given me is to always keep learning.
Song that makes you want to dance:
DJ Khaled’s All I Do Is Win is on my running playlist and always gets me moving. 🙂
A technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
The biggest challenge I faced recently was in the creation of Anansi’s first lab-bench prototype. The end goal was to prove that our proposition of automatically detecting emergencies was feasible. In getting there, we incorporated several sensors and components on which we as a team possessed good subject-matter knowledge, but in order to improve our detection we decided to also incorporate automatic scream detection. Building a scream detector is a challenging problem on its own, compounded by the fact that we didn’t possess signal processing expertise. So my team and I did what we had learnt in our training as engineers: spent countless hours devouring information on the subject from experts, both in person and through journals. With a fast-approaching demo deadline, in the end, what seemed most reasonable for us to do was to eliminate the scream detection feature from our prototype, to revisit it in the future. We still had a functional proof-of-concept, just without a scream detector. This was a great exercise in learning how to set goals for ourselves, and how to embrace and find ways to deal with the challenges we face.
I feel extremely fortunate that I get to work on something that I truly believe is going to improve people’s lives. I don’t know what the future holds for Anansi, but my hope is that my work at Anansi, or anywhere else, will always allow me to make an impact on society by using a combination of my people and tech skills to bring growth to the company and constantly challenge me to do better work than I did the day before.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN in their lives:
I would ask them to just go out there and do things, things that make them happy. Never been to a hackathon, run a marathon, written a short story, or tried to build your own company? Don’t wait for someone to invite you to do these things, don’t wait for more experience, don’t wait for a sign. If these things are what you want, just do them. Yes, you may not know what you’re doing initially and you might even suck, but you’ll ask for help or learn from your mistakes, and the only thing you can do from then onwards is to get better. You don’t want to be a 90yo looking back at this time in your life wondering, “What if…?”. If there is something that you want to do, do it now.