Updated: Aug 7, 2018
My name is Deepti and I'm a first generation Indian American. I was born and brought up in New York City. Yes, I'm a native and apparently there are not a lot of us.
We all have versions of the same story. Our parents came to a new country. Didn’t know anyone or speak the language and honestly we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the sacrifices they all made.
My grandfather was a freedom fighter who carried Mahatma Gandhi after he was shot. He probably completed about 6 degrees by the time he was 30 and had 2 successful businesses that he was running in Madras. His eldest son (my uncle) came to the United in Sates in the 60’s with his wife to pursue a masters in engineering. After years my grandfather decided it was time to bring the rest of the family.
My Dad (1/9) came to the US in 1976 and my Mom (1/4) came after their arranged marriage in 1981.
One of the first sacrifices they all made was coming to this country in the first place. They left everything they knew to help provide better opportunities for their families.
My parents came because they believed in what this country promised- you work hard and with a little luck you could achieve whatever you wanted.
My dad worked 2 jobs while getting his business degree at Baruch. Not only was he contributing to pay for his own degree but also to help pay for his siblings who were attending medical school back in India.
All at the same time his mother was dealing with a sickness. He worked day in and day out.
Coming to this country as a 19 year old one normally has hopes and dreams of their own. it's only normal to want to explore and discover who you are, especially when you're in a new environment. but he dedicated everything he had to his family.
My mom too is a great example about what can be achieved with enough dedication and know-how. One thing we always talk about today is “having the right experience” for a job we want – she didn’t have any experience in the travel or hospitality industries at all, and yet in her time here she’s built a successful travel agency and a New York Time’s 2-star rated restaurant.
Both parents set an example of the value of hard work but what it means to actually build something and make your mark here I still feel the impact today. My husband and I each run our own companies, and we also have a 2 year old – and raising a child is a lot of work!
I’m still standing on the shoulders of giants because my parents help me raise my son. They continue to set an example for both me and my son.
That’s what sticks with me most - the constant dedication /attitude to ensuring that next generation is more successful than the previous one. They did it with me and my brother, and are now extending that to my son.
I try every day to emulate that mentality – to work hard to open up new opportunities for myself and ensure that the next generation can be better than the previous one.
Deepti Sharma is the CEO and Founder of FoodtoEat, a service where companies can order team meals from the best local restaurants, food trucks and caterers. A lifelong community servant, Deepti started FoodtoEat to help small, immigrant-owned food vendors use technology to build sustainable businesses. FoodtoEat helps businesses feed employees great food and build stronger work cultures.
She was a Forbes 30 Under 30 alumnae, and serves on the Board for the Business Center for New Americans, a non-profit that encourages immigrant entrepreneurship by providing micro-loans and financial education.
Ultimately, one of Deepti's core principles concerns "paying it forward," or passing on her knowledge to others. She fulfills this passion as part of NYC Mayor’s WE NYC initiative, where she mentors advises other female entrepreneurs on starting their own businesses. She was recently named as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, where she meets with other young business leaders to drive positive change in their community.