By Nick Ferraro. Career Specialist, Career and Professional Development Services
Pooja Addla Hari is a Senior studying Technological Entrepreneurship & Management (TEM) and minoring in Statistics at ASU Polytechnic. She is working towards a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership while serving as the Student Director, of the Polytechnic Startup Village, an entrepreneurship focused residential community at the Polytechnic location, and an Entrepreneurship Catalyst with the Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at ASU. Pooja is in the early stages of her startup and discusses how being involved at ASU has helped advance her venture.
Q:Tell me about your background?
Born and raised in Chennai, India,but multi-cultural at heart,I landed in Phoenix with two pieces of luggage and two carry-ons, by myself, the day after I turned 18. A hustler and motivator by nature, I enjoy helping people reach their goals and succeed. Love, courage, creativity, resilience, and resourcefulness are the values that I live and work by. Being someone with interdisciplinary interests, what I do best is bringing people, ideas, and resources together to solve complex problems effectively.
One of my life’s biggest goals is to strategically combine the best of technology, the beauty of art & culture with the goodness of nature, to create a sustainable world. I'm currently working to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on Education, Economic Growth and Partnerships, with my co-founder, Jude Rayan, through entrepreneurship.
Q:Summarize your startup?
The goal of our startup, we’re currently reworking our title, is to help high school students make CLEAR, informed & impact-driven career decisions—and thereby, help high schools maximize engagement and retention—using Artificial Intelligence & Virtual Reality. We're an early stage company, currently prototyping and testing. Our achievements so far:
- Changemaker Challenge Fall 2018 Award recipient
- eSeed Challenge Fall 2018 (Venture Devils) Award recipient
- Seed Spot 2018 "Most Viable Business" award
- One of the 12 teams from ASU to be selected on an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley, this Spring Break.
Q:What is your definition of entrepreneurship and what interested you about entrepreneurship?
For me, entrepreneurship is about solving problems which may not be viable, feasible or effective through other means. As a founder, you have the unique freedom to maximize your and your team's creativity without any bureaucracy. I come from a developing country and although I had the privilege of living in a better part of India, received a good education and had a comfortable lifestyle, I saw the struggles of my fellow people first-hand. This made me think about all of the world and its problems and I knew that my way to solve these problems is through entrepreneurship.
Q:What are the ways that you are involved at ASU and/or entrepreneurship?
I started as an Entrepreneurship Catalyst (EC) during my freshman year and have hence served at the Downtown Phoenix, Tempe and Polytechnic campuses. I was also the University-wide Startup Committee's Chair (Currently known as E+I University Wide) at Changemaker Central - Tempe campus and then a Change Agent at Changemaker Central - Polytechnic campus. I'm currently the President of Startup Village in addition to being an EC. I've also served as a judge for the Changemaker Challenge Grant Funding Competition in Spring 2018, represented ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation at the Inside ASU Podcast, selected to represent ASU at the Ashoka U Commons Conference last year and will be presenting, as a speaker, at the same conference this year.
Q:What is your role as a student leader, and how does it benefit your startup?
I switch multiple hats in my role as a student leader here at ASU, however, some of my primary tasks are working to foster an inclusive and engaging experience within Startup Village that builds and advances community, working with other student leaders in planning events focused on advancing entrepreneurship at ASU Polytechnic. Not only have these provided me with invaluable work experience, but I've also enjoyed other perks such as opportunities to represent ASU at a national level. Most importantly, through my role, I've made many connections and this has helped my startup greatly.
Q:You mentioned Startup Village, could you describe what that community is?
Startup Village is ASU's Entrepreneurship residential community and is located at the Polytechnic location. It is a place for students to collaborate, innovate and connect with other entrepreneurial students while living on-campus. As a resident of Startup Village, students will enjoy unique resources, events and support to develop their ideas, explore what innovation means to them and even launch their own venture.
What are some tips that you would give to a student to be successful in entrepreneurship?
I have just started out, myself, and don't qualify to provide any "startup" advice except reiterate that you must work hard 24x7, make sacrifices and trade-offs, for example, you may miss out a bit on having a "social life", especially during the early stages. I strongly recommend students to make use of entrepreneurship resources on campus such as Venture Devils, Startup Village, Changemaker Central, etc. Everything a student needs to know is on entrepreneurship.asu.edu and if they need a person to talk to, I'm always available. Students can email to email@example.com and I will be more than happy to meet and help them to my best.