Talking Small Biz: A rising star in Philly's tech scene

Anita Garimella Andrews recently sold her start-up, Sepiida.

ANITA GARIMELLA Andrews, 36, of Spring Garden, recently sold her start-up, Sepiida, to Delphic Sage, a Manayunk web-development and online-marketing firm. She is now part of their senior management team.

In 2011, she won Philadelphia Business Journal's Women of Distinction Rising Star Award and also serves on the boards of The Enterprise Center and Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs. Her civic projects include TechGirlz, a nonprofit that introduces technology to young girls.

Q: Your start-up began in 2009. What was the idea behind it?

A: I had management roles in venture-backed start-ups in San Francisco but never actually got to run things. Sepiida helps Internet businesses use data to make their marketing more efficient.

There's a local company that sells custom artwork online. They wanted to drive people to their website and get them to place an order. There are different points where you can measure how many people are likely to place orders and how you can get more people to do it.

Q: And the name Sepiida?

A: I wanted something that when you Googled it, it wouldn't have competition, a name that said we could adapt like a chameleon. That was taken. I thought about different species and googled Sepiida. They happen to be among the smartest invertebrates and we said, well, we're kinda smart.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced?

A: When I started it, I was the only employee and used a lot of independent contractors. So my first challenge was deciding when to hire employees. I hired my first person in April 2011. The thing that made me look forward to work every day was my team. At our peak, we had 10 people and about $1 million in revenue.

Q: Why did you sell Sepiida?

A: I became pregnant with my first child last year. My daughter was born in March, and as I got reengaged in the business over the summer, I realized that to go to that next level I had to do big things or take a different path.

Q: Was it hard to sell Sepiida?

A: Yeah, it was my baby. It was a very difficult [decision] because I had not run out of ideas, but I really like the two principals of [Delphic Sage]. I liked the fact that they saw value in Sepiida and that basically I was going to get to work with data on a bigger stage.

Q: The Kaufman Foundation says 3 percent of tech start-ups are run by women. Why so few?

A: You need to play the game. I didn't go out for beers after work. You need to build ladders to higher roles and they are less traditional than in a Fortune 500 company. As a woman and a person of color, I think it's still the case you just have to do better. There's less serendipity in our career paths.



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