Kashi Sehgal of Gigabark: “Human beings need to communicate”

Gigabark had this vision over a decade ago, when communication was still pretty basic: text, email, and voice. We saw a need to centralize these avenues of communication to enable people to better orchestrate their use. And then we gave people the opportunity to integrate these services with their existing tech stack. The telephone totally revolutionized […]

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Gigabark had this vision over a decade ago, when communication was still pretty basic: text, email, and voice. We saw a need to centralize these avenues of communication to enable people to better orchestrate their use. And then we gave people the opportunity to integrate these services with their existing tech stack.

The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kashi Sehgal, Co-Founder & CEO of Gigabark, a mobile solutions company focused on innovative and authentic relationship building with stakeholders through calls, text messages, emails, and custom solutions. She is also Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Forethica — an ethics consulting company creating a more actively ethical world. During the pandemic in 2020, she Co-Founded Retaaza — a social impact food solutions company rethinking the local supply chain.

Kashi has worked with several large global corporations running strategy and business development across digital, design, ecommerce, supply chain, and manufacturing. She was a consultant at Accenture where she worked with both government and Fortune 100 clients on organizational development and strategy. She has also done extensive work in strategic planning and growth strategy — especially with startups, early-stage companies, and non-profits. She has started several non-profits in the areas of music, education, technology, and homelessness. She founded and ran SuperNova South, the largest, most accessible, and most inclusive multi-disciplinary tech and innovation conference in the Southeast.

She is a Dialog Emerging Fellow and serves as a mentor, advisor, and investor to entrepreneurs and companies globally. Kashi founded and hosts SuperNova: Commencements — a livestreamed, interactive career advice show for students of all ages. Kashi also serves on the Board for 48in48 and Emory University’s Center for Ethics where she is developing their technology and ethics practice.

She is a native ATLien, hiker, musician, and dog mom to the cutest Rhodesian Ridgeback in the world. Kashi is driven by creating impact through compassionate and creative problem solving in the world around her.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I was in a PhD program at Georgia Tech and did 6 of 8 years before leaving and starting work at Accenture. I started my first company — a nonprofit — in 2005 while in grad school and my first for profit company as a side hustle while at Accenture. Once we had gotten through the development of the product and website, it was time to sell and I was having some good success with just a little bit of effort. Both my business partner and I made the decision to leave our day jobs and focus on the company full time — and we have never looked back!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There have been so many stories throughout the years that have been impactful. One that stands out as pivotal in my career is the first time I really stood up for myself professionally. My new company had an opportunity to land our first MRR client in an industry we were really excited to get into. During contract discussions, the potential client continued to push to drive the price of our services lower and lower — even after I had told him that the price I had given was as low as we could go. He said that he had found a similar service for cheaper elsewhere, which I knew to be untrue, so I told him very respectfully that it did not seem like this was the right fit for us to work together and I genuinely wished him luck with the vendor they had found and on the future of their business. I knew from other experiences and comments made over the course of our discussions that there were a few things working against me — I was young, I was a woman, and I was not white — and this was just the last straw. I agonized over the decision because as a new company we needed the revenue and the client, but I was not willing to be pushed around and was not willing to work with someone who was disrespectful. It was a scary decision but it was the right one. In the end, the client came back to me and agreed to my price — at which point I told him we needed a few days to discuss amongst our team. When I came back to him, we agreed to work with him but for a slightly higher price than we had quoted, and he agreed no questions asked. I was also nervous that my co-founder would be upset that I had basically “fired” this potential client, but he was nothing but supportive and said that no question it was the right move. This situation taught me to trust my gut, that standing up for myself was always the right decision, and to surround myself with quality people — employees, customers, investors, etc.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my mentors has always said, “If you are truly interested in getting something done, don’t worry about who gets the credit. And, don’t get mad, get smart. The spirit of these two pieces of advice drives all that I do. I am focused on impact, and, as a result, have not necessarily spent time building my personal brand. Perhaps I should be better at this, but I don’t tweet every win. And if someone else wants the limelight for the work that is done, I am happy to give it — not even share it. I am perfectly happy behind the scenes as long as we are achieving the desired result.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful for my parents who instilled in me the value of service. They taught me to give with no expectation — this goes for time, money, and talents. They also taught me to work hard and to not take no for an answer. Being successful is about persistence, and they are my best role models, mentors, advisors, and counselors.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am driven by creating positive impact through compassionate and creative problem solving in the world around me. It is also so important to pay forward all the invaluable advice and experiences I have been fortunate to have access to over the years through coaching and mentoring the next generation of (community) leaders. Helping others achieve their goals — whether it’s through mentoring or advising — is powerful as it lifts up both parties.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

People often equate innovation with opportunity and think that new technology is disruptive. Technology is only disruptive if the consumer uses it. In fact, some of the most important technology being worked on right now is the integration of “non-cutting edge” communication channels with existing systems and frameworks. Services like Zapier have built their entire business on integrating existing technologies with each other, and we often hear excited announcements from companies when they integrate existing services with theirs. WhatsApp is not new. In fact, it’s more than a decade old! Nevertheless, it has almost completely replaced text messaging in places like India, Brazil, and Mexico. If you are a U.S. company and are unphased by a quarter of the earth adopting WhatsApp over SMS, do you know how many of your customers are using the platform? Are you confident that you shouldn’t be there?

How do you think this might change the world?

There have been multiple massive global advancements in communication technologies over the last decade that have “changed the world:” Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal, Parler, Twitch, Discord, Skype, Slack, all the video services and virtual event platforms that boomed during COVID. I believe that we will continue to see an increased diversity of vehicles for communication in the next ten years. Change has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. It is inevitable. The only thing that will be “bigger” than the individual impact of these will be in the adoption and harnessing of their collective strength.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Yes. Privacy. It’s a tad cliche. But, we should be wise to remember, “If a product is “free” (or even super cheap), you are the product.”

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story

Gigabark had this vision over a decade ago, when communication was still pretty basic: text, email, and voice. We saw a need to centralize these avenues of communication to enable people to better orchestrate their use. And then we gave people the opportunity to integrate these services with their existing tech stack.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Human beings need to communicate. That desire is up there with love and companionship. It’s how we build relationships. Do any of you feel overwhelmed by the incredible volume and complexity of communication options you experience in your daily lives? Well, helping people communicate better — more empathetically and authentically — is something I truly believe makes us better as individuals and as a species. We need to challenge ourselves to find meaningful ways to declutter the chaotic cross-talk and over-use of our messaging and our platforms and attempt to create rhythm and harmony when we wish to convey something of value.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

For many, the pandemic reinforced what we already knew — people can work from anywhere. This is why off-shore contracting is such big business. For some, it was a reminder that human-to-human, non-structured, “face-time” is still incredibly valuable for building trust and strong relationships. Communicating and over-communicating in an effort to be transparent and to realistically set expectations has become a norm over the last 12 months. With the onset of chaotic work-from-home-while-also-school-from-home days, the pandemic has also made hugely apparent the necessity of straightforward, simplified, SHORT messaging. We are realizing that not everything needs to be a Zoom call.

During the pandemic we have seen growth in our business due to an increased number of clients in the elder care/nursing home/retirement community space because of their need to communicate important information quickly and in a highly accessible way to families, residents, and staff.

We need an increased focus on the right message to the right person at the right time. Part of this is finding the right place to deliver the message and the right delivery mechanism. Let’s not worry about new. Let’s worry about better.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Just do it. Just get started. Put your idea and yourself out into the world and take a risk. When you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, it is gratifying and you grow and learn new things about your capabilities. Failure that can result from taking chances is an opportunity to learn, build confidence, and grow!
  2. Don’t let perfectionism hold you back. Perfect is the enemy of great. Starting a company was the best lesson for me that good enough is enough.
  3. You don’t have to be the best or smartest at any given thing. Sure — I like to think that I’m always right. Being honest with yourself and being willing to acknowledge your weaknesses and not embarrassed by them is powerful. This is how you get to build a great team where everyone can contribute in a meaningful way. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your mentors and other supporters where they think you could improve.
  4. Give yourself a break and take breaks. Time away from the business — even if it’s something simple like going for a walk (without your phone) or a daily dinner routine with your spouse/family — will make you more creative and more valuable to your business. Also, the business should be able to survive without you there 24/7. This goes back to building a rockstar team and building trust.
  5. The last, and maybe the most important thing, remember that everyone’s journey is different. No two companies are exactly the same. What may work for someone else may not work for you. I was surrounded by entrepreneurs raising rounds and rounds of VC money, so I thought that perhaps we should also go that route. During my final conversation with our potential lead investor, he asked me if we really wanted to take the funds and gave me some advice about loans and other mechanisms that could be better for our business since we already had steady revenue. I was distracted by what I thought I should do looking at others around me. Some companies explode overnight and some are a slow burn. Some become global game changers and some allow you to lead the life you want to lead. There is no one path and no right answer.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If you approach every new situation that presents itself or person that you meet with an ethical lens and an empathetic mindset, you will be more prone to ask quality questions and listen respectfully. Asking, listening, learning — these are three things are the foundation of any great leader and entrepreneur and lead to truly impactful and disruptive technology.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find out more about me and my projects at kashisehgal.com. There I also have a video series and a blog. I would love to hear from you!

My social handles: 
Twitter: @kashisehgal
IG: @kashisehgal

LI: linkedin/in/kashisehgal

FB: facebook.com/kashigsehgal



Twitter: @gigabark
LI: linkedin.com/company/gigabark/

FB: facebook.com/gigabark

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

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