Colin Powell once quoted, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” This quote precisely reflects the intrapreneurial journey of a seasoned veteran, Sreedevi Devireddy, CEO of SR Innovation Exchange (SRiX) – Warangal, which promotes entrepreneurship by facilitating technology innovators with knowledge, ecosystem, financial support, and mentoring support to create products and services. Close to two decades of experience in varied roles such as Partnership Management, Corporate Relations, P&L Operations, Sales and Marketing helped Sreedevi in developing skills of a rare chief executive. Apart from her senior role at SRiX, she also holds prominent positions as Branch Committee Member – Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (A.P & Telangana), Mentor – Cherie Blair Foundation, Academic Council member-Ni-MSME, Governing Body member – SR Engineering College, and Advisory board member for many startups.
Despite being married at an early age, her story is an inspiration for many aspiring home-makers. Over the past decade and a half, she has juggled study, work and family effectively, she has completed her post-graduation in Human Resource Management (HRM) from Kakatiya University and a post-graduate program in Strategic Management from IIM-Kozhikode and is now pursuing doctoral research on Leadership, where she intends to study leadership styles of Inspiring Leaders closely. Such passion and grit have enabled her to rise through the ranks and become the CEO she is today. From home-maker to a thought leader, Sreedevi is a home-grown ‘Intrapreneur’. Over the years she has gained global recognition as a thought leader. A Chevening Research & Innovation fellow from Oxford University, Sreedevi is a dynamic businesswoman and plays a key role in the startup ecosystem of India.
Sreedevi has led multiple men-only teams in her career. She was the only woman in the leadership team of an organization a few years ago and still the only woman in many boardroom meetings. She believes that men and women are UNEQUAL. Both have different strengths and different responses to situations/behaviour’s. She is cognitive of this fact and so embraces both genders. She firmly believes that hard work, grit and determination are strong to shatter any glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry. Sreedevi strongly endorses the thought – ‘For others to trust you, you need to have an unshakable faith in yourself, all else will follow.’
Strengthening the Indian Startup Ecosystem
India, with its sheer volume of 5,200 startups in 2017, has become one of the most vibrant landscapes for innovation. With a projected startup valuation growth at 7.4 percent in 2018 vs 3.9 percent for the rest of the world (World Economic Outlook update, released in Davos), India is poised to foster vibrant entrepreneurial cultures. With the widespread stimulus of innovation and entrepreneurship, Sreedevi believes that there is a need for thought leaders to create supportive environments to help startups. Tier II and III cities have the most opportunity since they have more problems to be solved at a grass root level. Her vision is to build local entrepreneurs, since they are context-aware and understand the local problems better. “I am of the strong conviction that this bottoms-up approach is the right way to strengthen the ecosystem. Moreover, metros have an abundance of mentors, but such mentor network rarely exists in Tier II and III cities. All these factors coupled with my passion to build sustainable micro-economies have motivated me to take up this challenge,” she adds.
About SR Innovation Exchange – Warangal
SRiX- SR Innovation Exchange is the brainchild of A.Varada Reddy and A.Madhukar Reddy of SR Engineering College, Warangal. Being visionaries, from a very early time, the duo understood the dire need to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Thus, the idea to start an in-campus Technology Business Incubator took shape and SRiX was born. SRiX helps startups build innovative products using hardware and software technologies such as IoT, AI, VR/AR, and Data Analytics in the strategic areas of Agriculture, Healthcare, Environment, and Education by providing Makerspaces, Technology Innovation Labs, Business Incubation, and market access with a go-to-market strategy.
Sreedevi, in her last stint as the Executive Director of TiE Hyderabad, saw up-close as to how founders, especially those of hardware & IoT startups struggled in their research and development process. This is because of the lack of infrastructure to help facilitate the process of design, fabrication, and finishing. As a mentor, this was very painful to experience. Many products who were technically sound could not see the light of the day, just because there was no ecosystem of Fab labs or catapult zones. Therefore, at SRiX she and the team decided to provide all facilities for any hardware/product-based startups to tinker and experiment. The center has designed and developed a fully equipped MakerSpace, Prototyping Zone and ESDM Centre of Excellence which are open for anyone. Through such facilities, it aims to create an ecosystem for every aspiring entrepreneur and student alike, all they need to do is walk in with a dream and walk out with a prototype.
SRiX’s sole mission is to bring an entrepreneur’s dream to reality. Along with Makerspace, Prototyping Zone and ESDM CoE, the center also provides access to sector-specific mentors, access to strategists, and funds.