Nov 20, 2019·5 min read
TiE Boston Charter Member: Ameeta Soni
How did you get your start? How did your career evolve?
I grew up in New Delhi and spent part of my childhood in Bangkok, where my father worked for the United Nations. I received my BSc in Chemistry (Honors) from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. I had planned to do my MBA in the US right after. However, I was only 18 and the business schools to which I applied wanted me to either work or to get an advanced degree. I decided to get my MS in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which was ranked in the top three schools worldwide for polymer science. After my MS, I obtained my MBA from the University of Chicago.
I am incredibly passionate about the intersection of technology and business, and how we can commercialize innovative technologies, whether for startups or large companies. After working with a large multinational corporation, I was recruited to my very first startup. This startup went on to have two very successful public offerings, and I was sold on startups! I later became VP of Product Marketing/Marketing at Channelwave, a provider of partner relationship management software. The company raised over $60M in venture capital and was later acquired.
I subsequently started Aanza, a provider of product lifecycle management software and consulting services. I also founded Aanza AutoID Group, a technology services company focused on RFID. A few years later, I had an opportunity to work with real estate technology and services company VFA. VFA had a tremendous value proposition, and there was plenty of white space for the company’s offering. I jumped on the opportunity, and as their SVP and CMO grew the company over 300%. A PE-backed company acquired VFA.
I also became a member of the Edison (Ventures) Director Network and served on the boards of its portfolio company PlumChoice, the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge (Chair), and the Technology Capital Network. I also co-founded Fit Trace, which provides an app that measures body composition for high-performance athletes. Moreover, I have enjoyed mentoring startups at accelerators such as Techstars and Springboard, and helping them grow.
Today I work with tech startups in a few different ways — as an interim CMO and consultant, investor, board member, and mentor.
TiE Boston 2018 Gala Dinner. Neeraj Chandra (Left), Zenobia Moochhala (Middle), Ameeta Soni (Right).
What advice do you have for people who are looking to be a founder?
Startups are inherently risky. Strive to mitigate risk through market intimacy, high-performing teams, compelling offerings, and focused execution.
Continually understanding the market is a crucial aspect of starting your company. Anything and everything you can do to understand your customers, their needs, and the competition is a big plus. Be open to change and modify your initial vision in response to the market.
When I started my first company, the hardest thing was making sure that I had the right team. Just because a person’s skill set matches your needs, doesn’t mean they are the right person. A can-do attitude and chemistry with the other team members are critical.
Focus on execution and be sales driven. Sales are the best validation of your concept.
Finally, always be networking; you never know what you might gain from one small interaction. Talk, listen, and learn from everyone.
How did you move to Boston, and then how did you find TiE?
My first job after I received my MBA was in the Boston area. Once I got settled, I quickly fell in love with the environment. Socially it is a great city, but more importantly, the business opportunities are incredible. It is a very vibrant environment for technology companies allowing me to work with several technology startups as a founder, CEO, CMO, investor, board director, and consultant. Working with so many startups snowballed into my becoming the chair of the MITEF Cambridge. Through my heavy involvement with the startup ecosystem, TiE Boston invited me to become a Charter Member. I agreed, and the rest is history.
Ameeta Soni networking at a TiE Boston CM Social
Why TiE Boston?
I have used TiE to add to my network, which has certainly helped generate business. TiE has also provided a forum for me to explore new tech ideas. I have enjoyed organizing and hosting discussions for TiE Boston on a wide variety of technologies, including AI, digital health, and IoT. I really appreciate receiving the CM of the Year award in 2016. There is a significant social aspect to TiE as well. Thanks to TiE, I have developed both close business relationships and personal friendships.
At this time, my focus is on AI and how it can help improve the world around us. I was recently the interim CRO for a company that is using AI to accomplish energy savings at scale. Another client is using AI to revolutionize healthcare operations. While working with them, it was incredible to see the power of AI.
I serve on the investment committee and board of the Maroon Venture Partners Fund, a seed VC fund targeting startups linked with UMass Amherst, along with the advisory boards of its portfolio companies Ompractice and HomeBinder. I see a very diverse set of technologies through the investor lens.
Non-profit organizations and their causes mean a lot to me. I give my time to help them with strategy, fundraising, and governance. I am on the Chancellor’s Campus Council and the Advisory Board for the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst. I am also a member of the Patron Committee at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and was previously an Overseer at the Museum of Science, Boston. I also served on the board of MAB Community Services and Vision Foundation.
I want to continue helping early-stage companies grow by leveraging my knowledge and experience. I am where I am today because of good mentors, and I want to pay it forward.
Thank you to Ameeta Soni for sharing her story and to Hugh Rossi for capturing it. To learn more about TiE Boston and how to get involved, check out boston.tie.org or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.