Exclusive Interview With TechStars NY's Sonia Sahney Nagar

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Pickie co-founder Sonia Sahney Nagar talks about her digital-meets-retail startup Pickie in NY TechStars. By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

Women 2.0 talked to TechStars participant Sonia Sahney Nagar, a co-founder and CEO of a personalized shopping magazine for the iPad called Pickie. A former Amazon, Goldman Sachs and Booz & Co employee, Sonia pursued her passion for innovating at the intersection of digital and retail with Pickie in TechStars New York.

Women 2.0: Congrats on demoing your startup Pickie at TechStars demo day last week! How did you hear about TechStars? Sonia Sahney Nagar: One of my co-founders, Ryan, knew more about TechStars than I did. He educated me about what the program was and sold me on the benefits. As a team, we wanted the mentorship that TechStars has to offer, so we could Do More Faster, a great book on what TechStars is all about.

Women 2.0: How was the TechStars application process? Why do you think you were chosen? Sonia Sahney Nagar: The application process is very thorough. David Tisch and Adam Rothenberg spend a lot of time getting to know the applicants over an extended period of time. We submitted our application fairly early, and once a week we would send Adam and David updates on what we accomplished each week. At some point in the process, Adam and David pick 30 finalists to interview.

The interview was fairly straightforward. It was similar to meeting with any investor - we had to pitch our vision, explain why we were the best team to go after our vision, and demonstrate that we understood the competitive landscape and that we were differentiated. We had two tricks up our sleeve that went over pretty well during the interview.

Ryan had been messing around in HTML5 and built an awesome page flip animation (which demonstrated our technical excellence) and I had built a competitive landscape map that we used during the interview to quickly explain we understood our space and had an approach that was different.

We felt pretty good coming out of the interview, but had to wait a day or two to get the call that we had been picked to join the program!

Women 2.0: Great prep for the interview process! How did the TechStars program help Pickie? Sonia Sahney Nagar: The networks and mentorship are insanely valuable. Through the program, we gained access to seasoned entrepreneurs and senior business leaders who are helping us with everything from product development (helping us get access to data and services we might not have known about otherwise) to business development (helping us network to the right people at companies to build partnerships) and hiring (helping refer candidates our way).

Past TechStars companies and our peers in our TechStars class are also amazing resources. The alumni companies have been through everything before, so they are great advice-givers.

Our TechStars cohort is a valuable support network as well.

I'm a huge believer in networks. In fact, I wrote a blog post for Women 2.0 a few months back about not being shy about building your own 'clubs' outside of incubator programs - Why You Should Build Your Own CEO Club.

You're building lasting relationships at TechStars. So though the program has ended, the relationships we've built will benefit us for a lifetime. Many of the people we've met I now count as friends.

Women 2.0: Aside from the great network you gained at TechStars, how was TechStars demo day? Sonia Sahney Nagar: It's a huge opportunity to be able to tell your story to an audience of 500 influential people, thought leaders and investors. I felt very good about my presentation. And the response has been phenomenal, it's keeping my team very busy!

There was a lot of tech press on demo day, here is one of my favorite blog posts recapping the feel of the day. To quote the blogger, "You get the sense that these are serious people trying to build durable companies that make money and change markets." I think all of my peers did a fantastic job creating a really inspiring day. Now I'm looking forward to building my team and creating a really big business.

Editor's note: Congratulations to Sonia Sahney Nagary and her team at Pickie for graduating from the TechStars NY class! Photo credit: Andrew Hyde on Flickr. Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the "+1" for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.