A 1-on-1 with Sapta founder: Vimi Rao  

In honor of Women’s History Month, I sat down with Vimi Rao, the founder, Chief Executive, and Product Officer of Sapta, to discuss her inspiration, experiences as a woman entrepreneur, and her support for other women in business.

Vimi Rao, Sapta founder

Hello Vimi, to get us started can you tell us a bit about your background and career journey so far? 

Of course! Coming from the Pacific islands, I grew up in a multi-cultural environment so have been strongly influenced by Indo-western and pacific culture. I spent my youth in Australia, where I completed my university education and started a career in management consulting that etched the foundation of my professional journey. There, I learned how important standardized processes, people, and technology are to creating a foundation for sustainable organizational growth. 

One of the first larger companies I worked for was Sybase, a relational database company. My tenure at Sybase sparked my passion for being in the forefront of innovation and having the ability to positively impact customers across the Asia Pacific Region. Following my time in Australia, I move to the US as an expatriate to work in mergers and acquisitions—from PWC to ABN AMRO. These corporate transformations fueled my passion for digital transformation, steering organizations through the labyrinth of organizational change and even the crucible of Chapter 11 restructuring. 

Making the jump from employee to entrepreneur is a big one. What inspired you to take that leap?  

Over the past decades, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with executives and navigate the challenges that many companies face: untimely data decisions and siloed teams and data. This has a ripple effect beyond the business— it not only affects the entire workforce but external performance and profitability as well. It is solving these challenges during organization transformation that ignited my entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring me to develop a solution with a unified vantage point—a single pane of glass—for executives to make date-driven decisions across an organization. Capital efficiency, adaptive strategy, and alignment are pivotal in today’s business climate.  

This drives my entrepreneurial journey — a mission to build a platform to fortify businesses, making them resilient in any climate. It is through this lens; we enhance capital efficiency and forge a path toward sustainable growth. 

With every great journey there are always obstacles. What are the main challenges you’ve faced as an entrepreneur and how have you overcome them? 

As a female founder, my path has been both resilient and transformative. The foremost challenge lies in accessing capital, particularly during the early stages of a startup. This scarcity of resources has made it even more difficult to assemble the right pieces for Sapta’s first voyage. 

However, there are three essential factors that have helped me tackle obstacles along the way. Firstly, the Sapta team — it was important to me to meticulously curate a roster of visionaries who align with our journey. Secondly, the infusion of capital from Microsoft — this partnership has been an empowering force that fuels our innovation. Lastly, my affiliation with Women in Cloud – being part of a supportive cohort and a dynamic alliance that ignites momentum in women-owned businesses and helps propel us toward our goals. 

Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to other women who aspire to start their own companies? 

Well, firstly, believe unwaveringly in your own capabilities. Second, surround yourself with individuals who not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Weed out underperformers and cultivate a robust team—one that shares your vision and has the stamina to turn dreams into reality. Remember, your entrepreneurial voyage thrives on this resilience and collaboration. 

You mentioned you are affiliated with Women in Cloud; can you tell us more about what it is and your involvement?  

Women in Cloud (WIC) is a network of women entrepreneurs and professionals who support and empower each other to reach our individual goals while also collectively aspiring to generate $1B in new economic access for women.  

I’m a passionate advocate for WIC and female founders within the Microsoft ecosystem, I find purpose in our collective mission. As one of the founders from WIC Microsoft Cloud Accelerator cohort 7.0, we are there to support WIC initiatives that advance founders in GTM strategies and the ability to Cosell with hyperscalers, specifically Microsoft as our go-to model. As founders, we share insights and support one another to overcome obstacles and propel our collective journey forward. Not only has this been a propeller for individuals that are actively involved, but it has also given us access to Microsoft resources that would have been a longer journey otherwise.  

Are there any other initiatives you are engaged with that empower and uplift women entrepreneurs?  

Yes, last year, the Microsoft Founders Hub  piloted a mentorship program which I took part in as a mentee. Following this brief mentorship experience, I naturally transitioned into a mentor role for several other Microsoft global founders. What I’ve observed is that there are truly exceptional founders who possess deep expertise in their field and subject matter, yet they may lack business operations acumen. This is where I contribute by helping them strategically build the foundation of their startups. I encourage them to foster accountability and transparency in their organizations from the outsetto hone essential business skills and ultimately leading to stronger and more resilient businesses. 

The theme of Women’s History Month this year is: Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. How do you promote equity, diversity and inclusion within Sapta? 

In our pursuit of exceptional talent, we embrace a vision that sees color and gender dissolving into insignificance. We seek individuals who resonate with our company’s culture and values, and whose brilliance illuminates every endeavour. 

Mentors are incredibly important in providing inspiration and support while navigating life. Who have you looked up to and how have they supported your journey? 

My parents have been my guiding stars, shaping my mindset without gender distinctions and encouraging boundless thinking. Professionally, their influence has empowered me to believe that the sky is the limit—so long as I stride forward with purpose and determination. 

Lastly, what would you say your key values are in life and in business? 

In the tapestry of life, honesty weaves the threads of trust, and our ability to uplift one another becomes the cornerstone of both personal growth and business success. 

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