Over the past four years, the number of startups with at least one female founding member grew by approximately 6 percent, from 22 percent in 2017 to 28 percent in 2020. Unfortunately, it’s still rare to come across a female founder, especially in the streaming industry.
Srividhya Srinivasan is changing the narrative in her role as co-founder at Amagi, the global leader in cloud-based streaming and broadcast tech. Starting her career as a software engineer for Texas Instruments, she has climbed the professional ladder and shattered the glass ceiling, inspiring women across the industry to follow their passion for streaming tech and empowering content creators.
MBE magazine recently spoke with Srividhya about her experiences and advice she has for other women entrepreneurs.
Her answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: What have been some of the rewards of being one of the few female founders in streaming technology?
Srividhya: The streaming world is exploding with opportunities, and to be the founder (female or otherwise) of a technology company working on innovative cloud solutions within this ecosystem is exhilarating. As one among the few female founders in the industry, you get to pave the way for future female founders, making it easier for them launch and scale their own ventures.
The rapidly evolving streaming industry is constantly necessitating the invention of new products/solutions to solve one or the other business challenges. The opportunities are endless.
Q: What have been some of the challenges and pitfalls you’ve faced along your entrepreneurial journey?
Srividhya: I started my entrepreneurial journey in 1998 when I quit my job at Texas Instruments to start my own software product company. I co-founded a Bluetooth technology company called Impulsesoft with my friends from college, which later went on to be acquired by NASDAQ-listed SiRF. The technology scene in India was at its nascent stage then. Female technologists, let alone founders, were few and far between. I enjoyed being a part of this evolving ecosystem.
I have always loved solving problems, meeting customers, and getting things to work. I did not attempt to see if anyone treated me differently from my male counterparts. I simply went ahead and did what I loved doing, and things worked out very well. There were a lot of happy moments and sad moments in this journey. Over time, one gets the maturity to take things as they come and move forward with it.
Q: Tell us more about Amagi.
Srividhya: Amagi is a cloud-led, media SaaS technology company. We provide end-to-end cloud-managed live and on-demand video infrastructure to content owners, broadcast and cable TV networks, and OTT platforms. Amagi works with 500+ content brands, managing 2000+ channel deliveries, with deployments in over 40 countries.
The company originally started in India providing targeted TV advertising solutions, but quickly pivoted to lead cloud adoption and evangelized cloud technologies for broadcast. Amagi successfully introduced flexible ‘pay-as-you-go’ model for launching and operating 24/7 linear channels by eliminating the need for traditional, hardware-driven, large expensive physical operations. The company essentially put the entire broadcast operations on the cloud.
Amagi’s clients include top-tier broadcast TV networks, digital first networks, content owners, Free Ad Supported Streaming TV (FAST) and OTT platforms in the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. The company has grown 100 percent over the last two years and is profitable.
Q: How you join Amagi?
Srividhya: After ImpulseSoft got acquired in 2007, my co-founders and I started brainstorming about our next venture. For the next company, we set three objectives––the technology should be disruptive and revolutionary, it should be a billion-dollar company, and the disruption should be through innovation. We identified 13 different opportunities.
After much discussion and debate and testing of models, we landed on targeted advertising for leading national broadcasters and advertisers. India was to be our testing ground. The first geo-targeted ad using Amagi’s technology was aired in 2009, and in span of two years Amagi expanded its base to more than 100 cities in India. Today, Amagi is one of the largest cloud playout and monetization platform in the world, with a global clientele and 800+ playout chains on its platform. Our biggest value proposition to our clients today is our global leadership in Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) platform partnerships – 50+ FAST platform and 100 other OTT platform partnerships globally.
Q: As a female founder, how difficult was it to break into the streaming technology industry?
Srividhya: Streaming is an extremely competitive business with more and more players entering the foray every day. As the founder of a front-running company in the media and entertainment industry, the progression to streaming was a natural one. We knew the trends, anticipated the challenges, and had ready solutions to resolve them when the streaming boom kicked in. As a female founder, the challenges I faced were no different from that of a male founder. It was all about staying on top of the game in a highly competitive high-stakes industry that was constantly evolving.
Q: What is your competitive advantage?
Srividhya: Amagi understands the cloud as well as the media. We have deep knowledge of video content creation, distribution, and monetization. We have created a platform that caters to large traditional broadcasters as well as smaller and medium-sized media companies and we provide a breadth and depth of service that is unmatched in the industry. Our competitive advantage is in our ability to quickly adapt to new technologies and be an agile partner for our customer.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Srividhya: We would take more aggressive bets, hire the team first and try to play big. We will start from the international market first, rather than starting in India.
Q: What is in the future for Amagi?
Srividhya: As we see it, streaming is becoming the future of television, with more and more viewers choosing to cut the cord. Amagi intends to emerge as the undisputed leader in providing technology solutions for streaming distribution, especially in the Connected TV and Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) ecosystem.
Q: You’ve previously stated, “engineering is [your] reason to be.” How did you discover that and why do you believe it to be true?
Srividhya: As a child, I was fascinated by science and mathematics, and knew that I’d find my calling in it. As I grew up, this interest transitioned into technology, hardware, and software. I enjoy learning new things, applying them and solving problems and building software products and platforms that will challenge the status quo.
Q: What advice would you give to other female founders?
Srividhya: If you have an idea, persist with it until it fructifies. Never bow to societal pressures and give up on what you want to do.
Surround yourself with passionate people who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Having the right kind of people on your team significantly increases the likelihood of your entrepreneurial venture becoming a success.
Create command-and-control structures that are needed for your business to scale, and never underestimate the importance of execution.