Navya is the VP of Product at Peek and is responsible for continually elevating the experience that partners & customers have with our product. Navya studied Engineering at the University of Sheffield in the UK, going on to obtain a Master of Science at Stanford University and an MBA at NYU. Prior to Peek, she ran product at StyleSeat, the world’s largest marketplace for beauty services that has fueled over $3 billion in beauty services. She has also built large-scale products at Uber, Disney and Goldman Sachs.
In this post, we ask Navya about her time working at Peek, and what exciting things she is working on this year with our product team.
How did you get involved in Engineering and Product Management? Was it always something you were interested in, or was there a catalyst that encouraged you into the industry?
Growing up, I always had an innate desire to help improve the lives of people – a service before self mentality. This stems, in part, from growing up in a community of doctors in India- actually both of my parents and my sister are doctors!
I started programming when I was 15, after my dad bought us our first computer – and the rest is history. It was obvious to me that technology could improve our lives. I was intrigued with the hardware and software aspects of engineering. So, I pursued a degree in Electronic Engineering in the U.K. and then a Masters in Computer Science at Stanford University.
Pursuing a technical career satisfied my intellectual curiosity, but I’m also very much a people person. I wanted a career that could combine those two different worlds – technical and anthropological. I realized that as an engineer, I missed the interactions with the customers who were using the products I was building. That desire to talk with customers and dig deeper into their pain points led me to the world of Product Management.
What do you like about working with the Tours and Activities industry?
I’ve spent the better part of a decade working for startups and have a tremendous amount of respect for entrepreneurs who work day in, day out to turn their company’s vision into a reality. The Tours and Activities industry is filled with thousands of entrepreneurs who are in this exact same boat, undergoing a similar journey.
I get excited about solving problems for tours & activities operators through product innovations. I am passionate about driving product development at Peek. We play a part in helping operators achieve their visions and ambitions! By putting smarter technology in the hands of our operators, we are able to change their lives for the better. That brings immense joy to my work.
Finally, learning has always been a big part of my life. Having been fortunate enough to have lived in Asia, Europe & North America, I love to learn more about new cultures. The Tours & Activities industry embraces people from different cultures every day by creating memorable experiences for everybody, all over the world!
What are your 3 favorite features that Peek Pro will launch in 2019?
I can’t play favorites, but I love to talk about the problems I’m really excited for the Peek team to solve this year for our operators.
Our engineers have been working super hard on massive infrastructure upgrades over the last few months that will be all coming together in 2019. This means that we’re stronger than we have ever been to drive Peek Pro to the next level.
We identified three core challenges that tours & activity operators face today that we are best positioned to address with our upgraded infrastructure.
1) Grow Revenue: We know from talking to operators that big or small, whether you’re a bike rental shop, run comedy tours, or a cat cafe: growing revenue is always a top priority. Which means it’s ours too.
In 2019, we’ll be introducing new product innovations to our booking flow to further drive online conversions through partner websites. We’ll also be launching integrations with partners such as Groupon to drive more bookings at full-price for our partners. This will add to a large existing network that includes Peek.com, Reserve with Google, Yelp and more.
2) Save time: Time is money. Our operators save an average of 10 hours/week with our software: managing on-the-go with our mobile apps, getting fewer calls because of self-rescheduling options, and automating business systems through connections to 750+ online business tools.
Over the last year, we’ve used direct operator feedback to completely rethink & further streamline our booking & payments flow on Peek Pro. The first release will allow operators to easily split payments among different customer payment options! This is just the beginning of other exciting improvements that will follow this year.
3) Provide a great customer experience: We’re more than a booking software. Our philosophy is to holistically look at customer experience.
We obsess about all the steps involved for customers: from researching the options on your website, to booking an activity, to having a great experience, and leaving with great memories to share with friends.
Technology can empower operators to effortlessly deliver a 5-star experience to each customer, and I can’t wait for our new product innovations in 2019 that take this end-to-end experience to the next level.
What does it take to make a great product? How do you find ways to improve the Peek Pro software?
A great product is the result of a clear vision and a team that obsesses about solving real problems for customers. Peek Pro’s vision is to be the software of choice for Tour & Activity operators. We want to be the technology backbone of these operators so they can provide amazing experiences for their customers.
Everyone at Peek gets excited about helping operators grow and change their lives for the better. Our product team regularly sit down with our customers to see how the product is used, and to better understand the problems that operators face on a daily basis. We are fortunate to have an operator base that provides valuable input to help shape the future of the product.
I also read every single request that comes to improve the product from current and prospective customers. We then prioritize features that solve the biggest problems and create the highest positive impact for our customers.
2018 was a big year for Peek Pro with over 600 updates to the software! We’re super excited about all the new ways we’ll improve Peek Pro for our operators in 2019.
Partner visits are vital to improving our product and seeing it in action!
What do you enjoy most about working at Peek?
So many things! Here are my top three:
The Mission: Our mission to connect the world through experiences inspires me. I’m passionate about building products that customers love. Being able to directly contribute to this mission by improving the Peek Pro software gets me excited to bring my best self to work every day!
The Challenge: As the businesses of our operators grow, new opportunities come up to improve their lives. I get excited about solving new problems every day that directly help our operators. Never a dull moment!
The Team: I am lucky to work with Peek’s team that is passionate, collaborative, hard-working, intellectually curious, caring and loves to have fun!
Peek Company Offsite 2018
Both the Tours and Activity space and the Tech Industry are male dominated. What has your experience been like as a female leader in your industry?
My mom started her career as a dentist in 1970s in India, at a time when dentistry was highly male-dominated. Seeing her thrive in the environment by focusing on her career aspirations and bring herself has always been a source of inspiration for me.
When I started my career in engineering, I received this advice from my mom that still helps me to date: Be yourself and command respect. I genuinely believe that being authentic makes you a good leader.
Not feeling the pressure to fit in means I can bring my whole self to work every day. I am not shy about my feminine interests. I openly talk about my lack of interest in male professional sports (!), and actively focus on self-reflection to stay authentic.
It’s important to pick a work environment where authenticity is encouraged and you can fairly compete to rise in your career. As a female leader and a mom to my 2 year old daughter, I consider it my responsibility to help younger women in the industry. I am lucky to work at Peek, which is not only female founded but has a culture that promotes great workplace equality.
Peek ladies across our Utah, San Francisco, New York and Santiago offices!
Any words of motivation to end on?
“Do what you love, love what you do”
Thanks Navya! Check out more content from our SheTalks series by clicking here!