Shubhi Bhonsle-Rao, Uplevyl’s founder and CEO, is a former senior executive with Alphabet, Tesco, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ford Motor Company, among others. She also sits on the board of directors of Open Lending, Center for Global Development, International Center for Research on Women and is an honorary advisory council member of the Federal Reserve San Francisco.
On Silicon Hills News’ Ideas to Invoices podcast, Rao said she wanted to build a digital product for women that used technology and data for good.
“I was in Silicon Valley and the technologist in me just came to life,” Rao said. “I was in an ecosystem where it was all about building products and data and the whole startup world.”
At this point in her career, Rao had received her MBA and spent 20 plus years working for large organizations and she wanted to use her skill sets to build something in her adopted city of Austin.
Rao also saw a huge need for uplevyl.
“Because there was something In the back of my mind that was really bothering me and what was really bothering me was being in Silicon Valley and how male-dominated that space is,” Rao said. “And moreover, how our data is used.”
“For me, being a working mother and having navigated my life through so many different milestones, I really thought about why is it that we don’t really have a lot of digital technology being built by women. And so, in that moment in my life, I thought I could complain about it. But I’m also one of those STEM women who could actually go out and build the product. And so that’s what really inspired me.”
Uplevyl offers ad-free original content including videos, podcasts, columns and topic-driven virtual rooms where members can learn from each other and global industry experts, leaders and mentors. The content is specially tailored based on a member’s needs.
Uplevyl held its launch event Tuesday night at the Hotel Van Zandt in downtown Austin. Attendees included Colette Burnett, president and CEO of Huston Tillotson University and Texas State Representative Sheryl Cole. The event also featured Patricia Greene, former director for the women’s bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, Jill Shackleford, founder and president of the Association of Women and Minority Contractors of Texas, and Sophia “Puff” Story, co-founder of 3 Sided Cube USA.
“It was a really engaging evening, not just because we had lots of wine and food, but because people were genuinely interested in what we are doing,” she said.
On the Ideas to Invoices podcast, Rao talked about how uplevyl is focused on a global audience.
“We need to have the global conversations if we are really going to think about being these global citizens,” Rao said.
When women do well, families do well and societies do well, Rao said. The definition of society must be global in nature, she said.
Rao has also had a much richer life because of her global connections.
Uplevyl also has several men who work with the organization and that is key, Rao said. Uplevyl is about diversity, she said.
“These power allies, whether they are a man or woman are incredibly beneficial and useful to uplevyl,” Rao said.
Uplevyl is also producing high-quality content geared to professional women such as videos, podcasts, and more, Rao said. There is a lot of content already but it is difficult to find and not tailored to the specific needs of women, she said. Uplevyl seeks to fill that void, she said.
For more, listen to the entire podcast, pasted below, or wherever you get your podcasts – available on Google play store, Apple iTunes, Spotify, PlayerFM, Libsyn, and more.