How Global Upside Founder Gita Bhargava Overcame Obstacles to Pioneer Her Business

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series” comprises stories, Q&As and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.

Gita Bhargava is an entrepreneur, leader and innovator. She is the co-founder and COO of Global Upside and its three sister companies: Global PEO Services, Mihi and Gava Talent Solutions. Together, the companies provide a diverse range of global solutions that simplify complexity and help clients operate better and grow faster.

In this Q&A, Bhargava shares how her upbringing inspired her entrepreneurial journey, the obstacles she had to overcome throughout the journey, and insight and advice on navigating the corporate world as both a business founder and a female.

Gita Bhargava, Co-founder and COO of Global Upside
Gita Bhargava, Co-founder and COO of Global Upside

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve known since the age of 16. I grew up in India, where my grandfather started the first pharmacy store in the state and that is what my family came to be known for. My father followed in his footsteps and came into ownership of the pharmacy. When my grandfather passed away and my father got sick and passed away, we ended up taking a big hit to the business. With India being a male-dominated society, only males were allowed to run a business. My only brother was 6 years old at the time.

I got involved with my family’s business at the young age of 16 to help save it and had to fight for acceptance in the marketplace as a young woman. I was raised by a family of resilient entrepreneurs, which fostered an entrepreneurial spirit within myself. Helping revive and run this business early on truly opened my eyes to every aspect of running a business; the front and back-end needs, the diligence and resources that go into it, and the immense opportunities it provides for innovation and creativity. 


Q: Why did you choose to enter the accounting field?

I have always enjoyed working with numbers in general, so I knew I wanted to go into accounting. Helping run my family’s business allowed me to see the true complexities that come with running a business, and I saw there was a need for a solution that could simplify day-to-day operations and allow business owners to focus on their most important objectives. 


Q: What issues did you see within the industry before you started your company?

There were a few issues that I saw, which were big factors in prompting me to start the company. One was the perpetual long hours coupled with a lack of work-life balance that goes into daily operations in this field. It was not just impacting me, but my friends and colleagues as well. Another was the amount of time and resources companies were having to allocate to handling back-end needs. There was a need for a service offering a comprehensive solution to all the operational challenges that companies spent the bulk of their time dealing with.

Starting Global Upside allowed me to address both issues. I was able to establish a company where our employees’ mental health, physical health and well-being are prioritized over long, stressful hours at work every day. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to provide the best service to our clients and build genuinely strong relationships.


Q: What problems are you solving with your company?

The biggest problem that Global Upside is solving for companies is providing them the ability to allocate their time and resources more effectively. Today’s business environments are so complex that companies often spend the bulk of their time managing compliance and keeping pace with day-to-day accounting, tax, legal, HR, payroll and talent acquisition challenges. 

At Global Upside, we help to shift the balance for companies. Our integrated services, delivered via a single point of contact, help simplify day-to-day back-end business operations so that companies can free up time and resources and apply them to other growth-fueling needs. We are also helping companies more easily manage their global workforces through PEO/EOR services. Without having to set up legal entities in other countries, companies are empowered to hire fast, stay compliant and win globally. To date, we are helping clients in 170+ countries. 


Q: What is your advice for other female founders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys?

There are three main pieces of advice: Believe in yourself, continue moving forward and have passion in all that you do. The journey is a long and challenging one, but if you continue to stay focused and keep pushing through the obstacles it will be well worth it in the end. Staying resilient and putting your heart into your work will be one of the most rewarding aspects of your journey. Support one another as female entrepreneurs and try to establish an environment in which you are able to discuss your challenges in a safe place and share advice with one another.

I am humbled to be in this industry among so many accomplished leaders and try every day to use my position at Global Upside to empower women worldwide and make a difference in my community.


Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as the founder of your own company?

As a leader, it is so important to care about your people and to ensure that the compassion you feel for your employees and clients is felt by them. Coming into this industry as a founder, one of my main focuses was to build Global Upside to be a welcoming workplace with a focus on employee well-being for all. I deeply care about everyone I work with, and I always try to lead with a positive nature and to run the company from my heart. I have learned that in doing so, employees feel good coming to work, communications and collaborations improve tremendously, and clients are able to feel these positive improvements in the service they receive.


Q: Do you have a favorite quote or “personal mantra” you use to keep yourself motivated?

The personal mantra that I constantly reiterate to myself is to believe in yourself, think outside the box, and never take “no” for an answer. I believe in the power of positive thinking and live every day by the phrase “impossible is not in our vocabulary.”


Q: What challenges are you most proud of overcoming in your career?

One of the biggest challenges that I am very proud to have overcome was coming to the United States without knowing any English, with only $5 in my pocket, and successfully building my own company from the ground up. Despite the obstacles in front of me, I have been able to achieve the true American dream.

I came to this country with my husband in 1986 and had to quickly learn English in order to navigate this new environment. I worked several jobs while putting myself through school to expand my knowledge in finance and accounting while raising three children and caring for my older mother-in-law. I juggled school, work and motherhood to start this company with my husband’s support and he later joined me to successfully help grow the company. Alongside the incredible and committed group of people that make up the Global Upside team, we have expanded operations across 170+ countries and have established an internal team of barrier-breakers. 


Q: How have you integrated your values and mission into your own company structure?

I have always believed in giving people the chance to grow and take on new responsibilities and have incorporated this belief into the Global Upside culture. Our company is devoted to hiring people with potential and soft skills and giving them the tools and resources they need to excel. There is always an opportunity to advance internally, and we encourage our team to truly call onto the innovative and creative spirit they each possess and apply these traits to their work. 

Even after 22 years and 170+ countries, our passion for believing in people and thinking outside the box continues to drive Global Upside. We are not a conventional company and we do not intend on becoming one.


Q: What do you find most rewarding about your experience as a founder so far?

What I find most rewarding is being able to run the company from my heart. Being able to connect with employees and clients as you do with your own family is one of the greatest feelings a business owner will experience. Global Upside has established a community of people who can rely on one another, in both a professional and personal sense, and who truly care for one another as well as the clients and partners that we work with. It is so gratifying to have established a company with this foundation.

I also find it incredibly rewarding to see how the obstacles I have overcome throughout my journey have impacted my family. Thinking positively and refusing to take no for an answer has taught my children to be resourceful and to find ways to achieve the “unachievable.” 

  • Originally published October 19, 2021, updated April 26, 2023