LEADER SPOTLIGHT: Rucha Mehendale
Age / Grade / School
16/Rising senior/Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA)
Tell us about your organization, its mission, and your role.
Sloth is a smart time management and productivity-focused tool, and a budding start-up that is focused on helping users set realistic goals, alleviate procrastination, develop good study habits, and be organized + plan ahead. Throughout the world, students are constantly struggling with motivation, focus, and time management when it comes to school. As high school students, my partners and I identified deeply with these issues as well and we wanted to provide an organized, compelling, and useful solution to help students stay accountable.
In my role as co-founder, CFO, and CMO, I lead and manage the Sloth marketing and finance departments and oversee all financial aspects, including the revenue streams, 5 year income statement, and ROI calculations. In addition, I have developed the 5 year go-to-market strategy and student ambassador program as well as contributed to the market analysis and TAM calculations. I have created content for, refined, and formatted the Sloth business plan, pitch deck, and executive summary. As of now, I am working with my team to develop the Sloth website and expand our outreach through our social media platforms.
What are some of the biggest challenges your organization faces in its operations, and how did you overcome them?
One big challenge our team faced was having team members who were not as motivated to finish their tasks on time. It is so important, especially in major projects, that all team members contribute equally to the team, communicate effectively with other members, are flexible to differing schedules, and are pro-active. In order to combat this, our team got together and discussed what issues we were seeing within our team, why these problems were coming up, and what are the steps we could take to resolve them quickly and efficiently. Discussion really helped us understand each other better and get us back on track to working on Sloth.
Is there anything you would have done differently when starting up or running your organization?
Not really. Through our mistakes and failures, our team learned and grew so much. We would not be at this point without going through the entire process.
What does leadership mean to you? Describe how you lead.
Leadership is incredibly important to me. It means taking initiative, inspiring and motivating others, having empathy and respect for others, and knowing what to do in tough situations. I am an enthusiastic and driven leader. I am encouraging and supportive of my team members because I want to bring others around me up. I am also very perseverant and try my very best to achieve the goal that I am working towards.
What would you say to girls or young women who are interested in making a difference or considering leadership?
Just go for it! I know it might seem daunting at first, but I would really encourage them to try it out and see how it is. If you never try, you’ll never know. Also, make sure to surround yourself with people who support, encourage, and motivate you because they can also help push you towards reaching your goals. Finally, we really need more female representation in leadership!
Who inspires you?
My parents really inspire me. Both are immigrants and when they came to America, they practically had nothing. However, they worked immensely hard to give my brother and I better opportunities and experiences growing up. They never gave up on their dreams and they always pursued their passions, which inspires me to do the same.
Female entrepreneurs and business leaders, such as Elizabeth Douglas, CEO of WikiHow, also definitely inspire me as I dream to be a successful business leader one day. When I attended the 2019 Young Women's Leadership Summit hosted by Stanford Women in Business, I actually got the opportunity to hear from Elizabeth Douglas as well as other female leaders. Douglas’ story especially resonated with and motivated me to pursue my passions and never back down from a challenge.
Where can we learn more about Sloth?
More about you (bio):
I’m currently a rising senior at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA and I’m really interested in business management, entrepreneurship, non-profit work, tennis, and helping out in my community :) Aside from my involvement with Sloth, I am the Outreach Director in Girls Play Global, a non-profit initiative that focuses on empowering girls in India and educating them about the UN Sustainable Development Goals through sports. I am also a Marketing Officer and the Student Ambassador Director for The Amal Foundation, a non-profit initiative that aims to educate youth in Lebanon about design, entrepreneurship, and engineering. At school, I am the Captain of the Varsity Tennis Team, President of UNICEF Club, a Club Officer of DECA, and part of two other clubs. From co-founding a start-up to being part of non-profit organizations focused on youth empowerment, I am dedicated to finding innovative solutions to problems faced in daily lives of people from around the world.