Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
Sama Jashnani is the Co-founder and CEO at DownToDash (DTD). She has been a speaker at TEDx, New York Advertising Week and other events. She has previously Co-Founded an e-commerce company and has worked with global marketing firm Lowe Lintas and Partners. Sama also received a full scholarship to study her masters in Marketing & Strategy at Warwick Business School. While at college, Sama also co-founded a social enterprise that helped rural women in India provide home salon services that enabled them to become financially secure.
What exactly does your company do?
DownToDash is a millennial-focused app that connects people in the same location based on what they are down to do, whether it’s workouts, sports, movies or other activities. Users can post specific plans, for example, play Tennis on Thursday at 5 pm at McCarren Park and other users can join. Apple Store: https://apple.co/2HnLuw4 Google Play Store: https://bit.ly/2FrQSSl
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Lack of Funding – In the venture capital space, it is essential to have product-market fit and sufficient traction. However, it is hard to get that product-market fit without funding and it creates a chicken and egg situation. Therefore we thought of innovative ways of generating revenue through advertisers and events to sustain the business and reach a level of product-market fit. 2. Marketing with a minimal budget – It is extremely challenging to get users without a massive marketing budget. Therefore I found non-traditional ways to do marketing for DownToDash. I created partnerships with other startups, events and other companies to do cross-promotions with them. I also created a fun and valuable campus ambassador program for students to promote the app at college campuses. Lastly, I always leverage social media by using Twitter search, Facebook groups and LinkedIn to do marketing.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
It’s alright to fail and get rejected: We are bound to make mistakes. Failure is actually an opportunity to learn and makes you stronger. When you fail, you just have to reflect, reinvent your strategy and find the courage to try again.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
The entrepreneurs around me and I work with in New York. The startup ecosystem in New York always inspires me to work harder and be more focused. I love learning from the founders around me and am amazed by how dedicated and passionate they are.
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?
Yes, my parents are people I am most grateful towards who helped me to get where I am. They always believed in me and supported me, even when I did not believe in myself. My Mom has always been an example of a strong woman who never gives up, which inspired me to do the same.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
When I was in college I co-founded a social enterprise where we empowered rural women to deliver salon services at people’s houses. These women could afford their son’s education because of something that I created.
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