Twins Sugandh (right) and Surabhi (left) Gupta, ’16, planned to study finance at Richmond, but majored in the classics, then opted for a completely different professional route. After some post-graduation travel — including to South Africa, above — they started SpiderTwin Solutions, a technology company based in their hometown of Mumbai, India.

Surabhi: The idea of liberal arts is always to train your mind to behave like a sponge, absorb whatever is thrown at you, and become comfortable in unfamiliar environments. We did that while traveling to different countries, learning new languages, and participating in extracurricular activities at Richmond.
Sugandh: We were bitten by the liberal arts bug at Richmond and realized that we didn’t want to be told what to learn; we wanted to learn how to learn. To give you ambition and daring is rarely something that any curriculum or school is able to impart, but Richmond subtly gives it to you.

Sugandh: Our initial exposure to technology was using our iPhones and our MacBooks. We didn’t know much about computer science and had little idea about trends in emerging markets. Nevertheless, it piqued our interest after graduation. We took online courses, completed international certifications, and competed in hackathons.
Surabhi: The anxiety and fear that comes with pursuing a new field of study was nonexistent because being immersed in Richmond’s liberal arts curriculum for four years challenged us to be critical thinkers and confident decision-makers.We didn’t have any big ambitions at first and thought, “Let’s just see how it goes.” So we started with coding, and slowly we realized that it was not as hard as we thought.

Surabhi: It showed us that you don’t have to be a genius. You just need a logical thought process that is clearly aligned to quickly examine and evaluate solutions in complex situations. And because we were doing that so much at Richmond with the variety of papers in foreign languages, debate research, and the diverse fields of study, assimilating new information had become second nature.
Sugandh: We were traveling for eight months — Berlin, Cape Town, and Tel Aviv — and working at high-tech startups in machine learning and blockchain to gain practical experience. One of our early successes was landing our first client three days after deciding to start the company.

Sugandh: It’s exciting to say, “I work in tech,” but it can be quite messy. Things break when you least expect them to, and you have to problem-solve spontaneously. While there are many little things that come up every day, it’s a part of the thrill of running a startup.
Surabhi: There might be a week when it’s quiet, and you have to be patient, whereas the next week can be full of new project ideas and meetings. The ebbs and the flows of doing business are quite unpredictable. It trains you to be in a perpetual state of preparedness.