Ashima Sharma, CEO of Dreami, is promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion for workplaces, universities, and communities through scalable mentorship programs.
Ashima had the idea for Dreami after she navigated a difficult career pivot where she felt alone. She quickly noticed that underrepresented individuals—especially BIPOC and women—often struggled to access mentors to support their journeys and career aspirations. Ashima founded Dreami with the aspiration to challenge and disrupt the status quo of mentorship and democratize career guidance for all.
We asked Ashima about why she started working on her , her struggles with mental health as a founder, and why she views founding Dreami as her biggest achievement to date.
Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Dreami?
A: I was fortunate to have my parents be my mentors for a good chunk of my life. I sought their advice on which college to go to, what major to study and which job offer to take after I graduated. Yet, I found very quickly that I could no longer solicit their advice as I got further on into my career, as they did not have the right experience to guide me. In fact, I found that I had no one to consult as I struggled with the decision to pivot from engineering to product. I just had to “figure it out,” while it felt like my peers had it all planned. My LinkedIn messages to potential mentors were left unread. At work, I usually was one of the only women on a team or project, and it was difficult to find someone relatable I could confide my career goals in. The worst feeling was knowing that I had spent several years of my career figuring out how to pivot.
I started Dreami during Covid-19, when, racial injustice and record-breaking layoffs pummeled the globe. On a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada, the idea struck me: I want to disrupt the status quo of mentorship and democratize career guidance. It took a few strategy sessions with my wonderful partner, a chunk of my own savings, and weekends spent working to breathe life into my vision.
My name, Ashima, means “limitless” in Sanskrit. My goal in life was always to prove to myself that I truly am limitless. However, I have adjusted my goal now that I’ve started Dreami—I am on a mission to prove that together, we are limitless.
Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: Interestingly enough, I never wanted to become an entrepreneur. Both my parents are entrepreneurs, and I saw how unstable that can be for your health, finances, and happiness. However, there was a point in my career where I realized that I haven’t had as much impact on other people in a meaningful way as I wanted to. I believe that when you come across a problem you can’t stop obsessing about, it’s a sign to go for it.
Q: Have you struggled with self doubt as an entrepreneur? How do you navigate this?
A: Focusing on my mental health is my biggest obstacle in entrepreneurship. I have anxiety and have had depression in the past. I never prepared myself for how low the lows can get. I also deal with a lot of self doubt. I’ve learned how to reframe failures into lessons, missed opportunities into future opportunities, and self-doubt into realizing I need to ask for help.
Q: We dare you to brag. What achievements are you most proud of?
A: I’m very proud that Dreami became a real company with real impact. This company started as a passion project and could have easily stayed that way. I am very, very proud that I trusted myself, trusted my intuition and made the leap. We are also very proud that we have been able to achieve thousands of hours of mentorship via our platform. We are impacting those who are under-estimated and under-represented directly: working moms, women in tech, immigrants, first-generation college students, career pivoters, military veterans, and refugees. It has been so powerful to see that impact come to life.
Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?
A: I am so grateful that I had the opportunity, health, and resilience to pursue this journey. I think you need quite a few factors to all work out simultaneously to take the leap, and I feel so thankful I was granted that. I would tell myself that the things that I thought would end the company back when I first began were not real problems. We tend to stress out about the smallest issues when it’s our company. But looking back now, I could have saved myself so much time and effort not worrying as much. Easier said than done, though.
Ashima is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.