A Leap of Faith – Bringing Values-Based Leadership to Silicon Valley
I recently met a fascinating young Indian woman and CEO in the field of blockchain start-ups. Suruchi Gupta, Founder and CEO of GIANT Connect, is passionate about empowering people through values-driven leadership. Its mission is to provide internet access to people around the world, which it increasingly sees as a human right. In Silicon Valley, and particularly in the blockchain space, Gupta says values-driven leadership isn’t always a high priority.
Gupta’s values are a consistent guide for her, from defining the business mission to choosing partners to work with. She uses her faith as a source of guidance, comfort and confidence in business and in life. “It makes me, me,” she said, crediting her mother with instilling a never-give-up attitude in her.
During our conversation, Suruchi’s values really shined through. One of the founding promises of blockchain is that it can decentralize and democratize businesses and sectors where power has traditionally been consolidated by a handful of people. Suruchi is passionate about using blockchain to build a global connectivity economy that uses bandwidth to provide open and inclusive internet access and financial services owned and governed by its users.
His mission and vision is to build something that has never been seen before and to leave a lasting legacy long after he is gone. This entrepreneurial spirit is evident in Suruchi’s journey from Hackathon winner to CEO. Suruchi started his career, like most in Silicon Valley, as a software developer and technical manager after emigrating from India to pursue his master’s degree in computer science. However, unlike most, she was very determined to found a company that would impact the lives of billions of people. Now, Suruchi has started participating in weekend hackathons to validate her ideas and grow her network.
The victory that changed his life was a global hackathon organized by TATA Communications, a subsidiary of the TATA Group, which is headquartered over $100 billion in India. Suruchi’s winning idea, Wificoin (which was the first iteration of GIANT Connect), was incubated by TATA and within six months of launch was generating 7-figure Annual Recurring Revenues (ARR). Today, in addition to using her vast expertise in telecommunications, consumer software and blockchain to run GIANT Connect, she advises and mentors blockchain start-ups at Founders Space, as well as young girls to cultivate her passion for technology.
You must have faith
Suruchi is a firm believer in the power of faith and attributes his success to it. His startup, GIANT Protocol, debuted in November 2021 and in December raised $5 million in investment from top crypto investors, led by CoinFund. The Internet is a global network and our lives increasingly consist of using global networks, but until now our telecommunications networks have been largely local. GIANT Connect wants to change that. The vision is to enable anyone, anywhere in the world to have seamless access to the Internet without being locked in by a single provider. This stems from the idea that the Internet, in our time, is a basic human right and should extend to everyone.
Harness the power of connectivity
Consider how you access the Internet. You need different providers at home, on mobile devices, then when you travel there are multiple uncertain situations like on an airplane or in a boat cabin. On top of that, you have to navigate the nightmare of global roaming when traveling.
Gupta said, “For the first time in history, it is now possible to form a global connectivity economy owned and governed by its users. By creating a decentralized Internet access layer on the blockchain, we provide connectivity and financial services, accessible to all and belonging to all”.
While disruptive technologies have swept across many industries and business models over the past two decades, telecommunications has remained largely untouched. Thanks to start-ups like GIANT challenging our current access to the internet and demanding change, we are about to see revolutions in this industry. New technological advancements such as 5G and eSims are also enabling this change.
The current situation in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of connectivity as people try to stay in touch with each other inside and outside the country, with most telecommunications systems spotty or completely broken down. GIANT’s technology is the kind of solution that keeps Ukrainians in touch as they make their way to safety.
The telecommunications industry operates differently from others, and there are few incentive or competitive advantage strategies. Suruchi believes, however, that the telecommunications industry has more potential than we believe and that by applying the concept of competitive advantage strategies, namely differentiation, to connectivity, new opportunities will emerge.
In the tech hub that is Silicon Valley, values don’t always come first!
With the breakthrough of Web2 and the emergence of Web3 technologies, a vast space of endless opportunities exists. Blockchain technologies are new and exciting with multiple possibilities for various sectors until expanding to the opening of a metaverse… a virtual reality world where users can interact, play and experience things like they would in the real world. With that comes a train of new ideas and multiple companies and start-ups, eager to fund their latest developments in these areas. Thanks to Suruchi’s experience, it is the start-ups with leaders rooted in values that will endure and emerge from Silicon Valley. By relying on core values to establish organizations in terms of motivations and direction, Suruchi’s philosophy is that it contributes to the longevity and success of the organization.
Arguably, big companies driven by profit and market share exist and thrive in this space. However, in terms of competitive advantage strategies, first mover strategies, longevity, and consumer trust, a small organization with strong core values and beliefs has the underlying strengths to succeed. Suruchi believes this applies especially to new start-ups in the space.
Hailing from India and traveling to Silicon Valley with the goal of making a difference in people’s lives, Suruchi has gone from being a Hackathon winner to a startup founder and CEO. She truly believes in internet access for all, as well as the currently unlocked potential of bandwidth. She is also determined to leave a legacy to inspire young girls to enter the world of technology. She plans to inspire founders to focus on core values when starting their businesses because she believes that a company built on strong values has a much better chance of surviving the unpredictable journey of a startup.