Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani

7: Building virtual communities with guest founder - Venki Mandapati

August 08, 2020 Venki Mandapati
Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani
7: Building virtual communities with guest founder - Venki Mandapati
Chapters
Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani
7: Building virtual communities with guest founder - Venki Mandapati
Aug 08, 2020
Venki Mandapati

In this episode I have a conversation with Venki Mandapati the CEO and Co-founder of CareerQuo.
Venki shares his journey from being an international student to building a startup in 🇺🇸 Memphis, USA

He also share his passion for education and helping students, immigrants and other underprivileged communities. 

Some other key takeaways from this episode are:-

  • How to build a team
  • How to bootstrap your idea
  • How your passion for the problem can make you better at sales
  • and much more...

Share this episode with other founders who you think will benefit from this episode.

Here are some of the links mentioned in the podcast

careerquo.com

Venki's Podcast - https://anchor.fm/driven-by-doing

https://veva.ai/

If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe, I will be interviewing other successful founders and investors to provide you a shortcut to success.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I have a conversation with Venki Mandapati the CEO and Co-founder of CareerQuo.
Venki shares his journey from being an international student to building a startup in 🇺🇸 Memphis, USA

He also share his passion for education and helping students, immigrants and other underprivileged communities. 

Some other key takeaways from this episode are:-

  • How to build a team
  • How to bootstrap your idea
  • How your passion for the problem can make you better at sales
  • and much more...

Share this episode with other founders who you think will benefit from this episode.

Here are some of the links mentioned in the podcast

careerquo.com

Venki's Podcast - https://anchor.fm/driven-by-doing

https://veva.ai/

If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe, I will be interviewing other successful founders and investors to provide you a shortcut to success.

WMGM podcast with guest Venki Mandapati

Venki M: [00:00:00] At that time is when my, one of my cofounder, he just called me one day when it was you're working at my company and said, you don't want, I want to quit my job. And I was like, just blown away. I was listening to him saying that, Hey, you know what? I really think that this can really help a lot of people. let's really invest a lot of time and effort into this. When he quit his job back then in 20, 2018 August, we didn't have any external funding. Just imagine how that could look like at the same time, we are a little bit scared and there are a lot of emotions going on, but I knew back then that this guy has really came out, thinking that we could.

[00:00:40] Really help people by building the solution. But I know back then that now I have an obligation to make sure right. To make it even big. And I cannot quit just because I need to support my team. So immediately, like in the next one month, it was just a of that. We were able to raise another a hundred thousand dollars out of no nowhere.

[00:01:01] So how did we raise that?

[00:01:03] Sam Kamani: [00:01:03] hello, and welcome to another episode of want money got money with Sam Kamani. This is a podcast where I interview and talk with guests from all around the world who shared about their journey of either raising funding for their own startups, or I talk with investors who fund these sort of startups. So today I have it's me.

[00:01:26] Venki Mandapati, who is co founder and CEO of CareerQuo. 

[00:01:33] So without further ado, let's get into it. 

[00:01:36] Welcome to the show. Banky. 

[00:01:38] Venki M: [00:01:38] Thank you so much for having me, Sam. 

[00:01:41] Sam Kamani: [00:01:41] Yep. That's great. so yeah. How would, love to know a bit more about what you're working on these days, what's the current project that you're excited about?

[00:01:51] Venki M: [00:01:51] Sure. so I'm the founder and, currently I'm working on couple of ethic tech startups. So basically just to give you a little bit background about myself, I'm actually currently now in the United States and Memphis, Tennessee. so I did my masters in information systems and an MBA from university of Memphis.

[00:02:09] And during, while I was actually doing my MBA, that's when I started my first startup career, as in started school r.com. To help students connect with mentors. So that was the initial product. And right now I'm actually working on my second startup called viva.ai. Again, it's another tech startup where I'm trying to help students to help them get skills that they want growing their career.

[00:02:36] Sam Kamani: [00:02:36] That's great. Thank you. It seems like both the startups that you are working on, they're both in the education or career space. is this something that you've always been interested in or is this something that you got interested in after moving to us from India? 

[00:02:54] Venki M: [00:02:54] Yeah. So I have a bachelor's in engineering.

[00:02:57] That's what my education that I did while I was in India. And then I worked as a software engineer for a couple of years, and then I asked myself, what do I want to do in my career? And again, the best option that. that I chose back then back in 2015 is to come to the United States and get my higher education.

[00:03:15] And after coming to the United States, and I really saw the potential and there are lots of great opportunities here in the United States. And I started to realize some of the ideas that I have been thinking about for quite some time. And back then back, it was in India. I didn't really know how to get started,  I didn't have any experience in entrepreneurship.

[00:03:38] And, while I was studying at the university of Memphis, that's when I got the first opportunity to pitch my idea. So after my idea for the first time, I actually heard the first place in that competition at the university of Utah boosted my confidence. So that's how it all got started. And education is something that I'm very passionate about.

[00:03:59] in fact, one of the things that my friends always tell me, it's not just your passion and you're obsessed with education. That's exactly why you're able to dedicate a lot of your time and energy into this. After going through a lot of struggles, we were at the stage today. 

[00:04:14] Sam Kamani: [00:04:14] that is really inspiring.

[00:04:17] Yeah. I would love to know, more about your journey with career coach, because, from what I know you have been working on it for the last few years, from the time you won the competition or the hackathon from there on to now. how did you go about it? Did you first form a team? How did you find your co-founders.

[00:04:38] Everything. Yeah, 

[00:04:40] Venki M: [00:04:40] absolutely. about, how we got about, building courier. Cool. So back in 2018 spring, when I came back to do my MBA at the university of Memphis, there was a, again, a hackathon which started over a weekend and, I just wanted to like, build something like really quick and show it to the judges.

[00:04:59] So I built. Oh very quickly. And then just a couple of days. Yeah. Prototype and just showed how we can build a platform that can help students connect with mentors, whoever they wanted to reach out to get help in their career who are willing to help them based upon their expertise. So after that a hackathon or a week, and again, after a couple of months, I got another opportunity to pitch, on the, in the early pitch competition at the university.

[00:05:24] So that's when I was able to like, again, get the first place that again, boosted my confidence and coming back to Hawaii, found my cofounder. So I got two cofounders along with me. both are one is my mentor, from where I worked, here in the Memphis area. And then the other one is friend is a friend from college.

[00:05:43]  , I think both are really passionate about education as well. And when I shared this idea that I really wanted to work on it, they actually said, you know what? This is a great idea. And we felt the same pain in our own journey and our own carrier, and let's do something about it. And it's a very small idea, but, looking at their, confidence that.

[00:06:05] Really boosted me to pursue this idea too. And then after that we took every opportunity that came our way. And, having a team is super important while you're working on your first idea, because it can be a very stressful at some times, because if you are working as a single founder and it's is your first time a building trying to build a company, there are a lot of things that you need to go through, but having a team have really helped me.

[00:06:35]in the long run, if I look back right now. 

[00:06:37] Sam Kamani: [00:06:37] and also that's probably because you had the right team, the people who build you up and not tear you down 

[00:06:43] Venki M: [00:06:43] yes. I think you raised a very good point because like more than 50% of the startups actually fail within the first year because of that, they do not have the, yeah.

[00:06:53] The team dynamics is super important. Because as I, as a, if I look back, the journey for the last two, two and a half years, I think it's all the credit actually goes to the entire team. I think, one, one member cannot do it all in all just because I have the right support. And I think, it's just that once I have an idea, I was able to share with a lot of people.

[00:07:13] And sometimes as founders, we are scared of sharing our ideas. And a lot of times what I tell founders is that don't be afraid to tell your idea. Because you have the passion that nobody else will have, and they might try to copy your ideas there. Questions  that might be going through your mind. But what I always tell people is share with friends and family and as much as possible that's actually what gave me the initial insight.

[00:07:41] If I look back three years ago when I had this idea for the first time. So I used to share to everybody who just listened to me and give their five minutes of valuable time. 

[00:07:50] Sam Kamani: [00:07:50] yes, that is such an important point that you shared your idea without being afraid. And that's what gave you the insights, because that is something that would help you down the road in getting a product market fit.

[00:08:06] If you are always keeping your idea, just close to yourself, it is not going to go anywhere. You're not going to able to enroll team members. Co-founders.  and get funding and get feedback and get customers. So I'm sure you, or did you also go and, or did you get people to sign an NDA before telling anyone about career quo?

[00:08:31] Venki M: [00:08:31] I didn't have any NDAs. 

[00:08:34] Sam Kamani: [00:08:34] That is the way to go. 

[00:08:36] Venki M: [00:08:36] Absolutely. And if I look back, cause I'm like where we got started and where we are the mission hasn't changed and the idea has changed like 10 different times. Yes. So if you look back two years ago, and now people would not realize that, like the idea that I told them is completely different than what we are trying to do.

[00:08:56] Ultimately, the mission, the core goal of the platform to help students and any professionals who are looking for a right opportunities in their career, hasn't changed. But we have pivoted our idea to actually effectively impact all the target audience that we are trying to serve. 

[00:09:12] Sam Kamani: [00:09:12] That is such a good point that, you are just innovate, changing the tactics, but the goal is still the same.

[00:09:19] The end result that you want is still the same. And you can achieve that only if you build things. If you share things, if you tell people about your things for me, I know that when someone comes to us, And if they want us to sign an NDA, that person is, they have never built anything before, or they're really new that an inexperienced tech founder, because, it's just it doesn't matter, whatever social network, whatever you're building, there's going to be thousand copies of it.

[00:09:48] Anyway, that does nothing. It doesn't mean anything. So it's like, why are you wasting your time? Are you going to get. All your customers to sign an NDA. It's not going to happen. No, one's going to do that. So yeah, that is such a good point for all, founders. Yeah, I would, for some of our audience, I have known Maggie for, for, I think probably a few months now and I have heard a lot more history and I found it super inspirational.

[00:10:16] So I'd love to hear, and I'd love for you to share. About , have you fueled this idea? how did you get funding? all the, sort of all the challenges you faced and how you have you guys as a team coped with them. 

[00:10:31] Venki M: [00:10:31] Absolutely. I think I would definitely love to share, especially this podcast is all about getting like ideas of how to get investment.

[00:10:38] And so starting from day one, let's imagine it's February 28th, 18. I went through this hackathon over a weekend in our university and. Pitched my idea and got first place got $500. And then that really boosted my confidence and you know what, Hey, this is cool. Like somebody like really believed in the idea and they actually appreciated me and gave me a first place.

[00:10:59] And that took me for like the next couple of months. And again, I went for another competition. Where I won the first place again, and one out of the $2,500. That again, boosted my confidence a little more. And I started to look at opportunities because I'm a student. I think that really helped me a lot back then.

[00:11:18] I think a lot of students might not realize the resources that they have while in college, because we are almost like every time we are only looking at our classes or assignments and. know how to get a job. Sometimes we tend to forget all the other resources and opportunities that are really 

[00:11:36] Sam Kamani: [00:11:36] around us in a 

[00:11:37] Venki M: [00:11:37] veteran to take advantage of.

[00:11:40] So that's what I really realized because I think it's really important to understand. Again, I went back to do my MBA while I was actually working. I think again, there is a lot of nuances that I also wanted to share so that the people who are listening to, because I'm actually working as a product manager at a company here in Memphis.

[00:12:00] So while I was doing that, I got this opportunity to go back to school and get my MBA, but also work on an idea that I'm super passionate about because I'm passionate about education and mentoring others. Yeah, I think you have to be a giver too, to like really help people who are in need. That's exactly what I wanted to like really scale.

[00:12:19] Like how can I enable people to really give back I in whatever way that they can either watch will be. So that's how it got started. And after those couple of competitions and I started applying for a lot of, accelerator programs. so there is a very good accelerator program here in the U S especially in the mid South, it's called Delta iPhone.

[00:12:40] So this is for anybody, any entrepreneurial who has an idea and just wanting to do customer discovery again, customer discovery is about how you understand the real problem that you're trying to solve through a three month training. So we were able to get selected for that program. And the good thing is.

[00:13:00] They actually give non diapers, Newton, a non deletion funding of five grant. which is $5,000. again, a very big boost for us where it helped us to build a prototype. in that three months, and now we're almost talking about August and that's when, like we, we are seeing some prototype. We have a small team.

[00:13:22] Now we have got some training. We did our customer discovery, trying to understand the real pain point at that time is when my, one of my cofounder, he just called me one day when it was you're working at my company and said, you don't want, I want to quit my job. And I was like, just blown away. I was listening to him saying that, Hey, you know what? I really think that this can really help a lot of people. let's really invest a lot of time and effort into this. When he quit his job back then in 20, 2018 August, we didn't have any external funding. Just imagine how that could look like at the same time, we are a little bit scared and there are a lot of emotions going on, but I knew back then that this guy has really came out, thinking that we could.

[00:14:07] Really help people by building the solution. But I know back then that now I have an obligation to make sure right. To make it even big. And I cannot quit just because I need to support my team. So immediately, like in the next one month, it was just a of that. We were able to raise another a hundred thousand dollars out of no nowhere.

[00:14:29] So how did we raise that? Because I'm a student and because we have a full time employee who is working full time on the product. And now at that time, we have a very small prototype that we were able to build with a small grant, with a small, funding that we got from the university that really inspired all three of us to really take that leap of faith, which is super important.

[00:14:50] And for the listeners to explain it a little bit more, two of our co-founders. Are actually working professionals. So we are working for fortune a hundred companies here in the U S and while we are bootstrapping this application that we wanted to build for ourselves and for universities. So career coach is a product.

[00:15:07] Initially we started to sell it to you. Once is a yearly subscription to help the students connect with alumni. For mentoring. And so that was the initial concept. So we were able to raise that hundred thousand dollars with our own alumni at the university of Memphis, which is a super boost for us, because for first time entrepreneurs, it is super difficult to raise that level of capital.

[00:15:32] It's just an idea with the justice 

[00:15:35] Sam Kamani: [00:15:35] is the hottest. 

[00:15:36] Venki M: [00:15:36] Absolutely. It is. 

[00:15:38] Sam Kamani: [00:15:38] Yeah. so no, that is. Yeah, that is super inspirational for I'm sure. For really early stage founders just starting out. but, what happened after that, after you raised that and then, once the 

[00:15:55] Venki M: [00:15:55] door. Yeah. So once we were able to raise that funding, and again, we had a list of functionality that we wanted to build, so we built.

[00:16:04] A roadmap for lack of six to eight months with the a hundred thousand dollars that we were able to raise. And immediately we were able to get a small development team who are able to build the application for us. And since one of our co-founder also is working full time. We started, building on the site as well as talking to more customers to really identify the customer base that we wanted to target.

[00:16:29]as I mentioned earlier, we initially started to sell it to the universities, but being in education, technology companies being first time entrepreneurs, one thing that we haven't realized back then is how hard it is to sell it to the universities and colleges. 

[00:16:44] Sam Kamani: [00:16:44] So it takes the sales cycle is super long.

[00:16:49] Venki M: [00:16:49] Absolutely. And that really didn't help us. And again, on the side, I'm actually going to all the different competitions. I went to Lake, no national and international competitions, trying to pitch my idea at different stages. We were able to go to semifinals and finals like that. On the side, I was able to do all those things to keep our team motivated.

[00:17:10]HEDA is we were getting selected here, where we are getting valuable mentoring. But, from these investors, from these judges, from these professors who are guiding us through that way, but at the end of the day, we are the ones who need to find out the real product market fit. And at that point of time, we identified that universities and it's a long sales cycle and to sell it to one university, dude almost take three to four months, which is not going to work and help.

[00:17:39]and we are building a source of video platform and that can help people collect works really. back in 20, 19 April is when we were able to create a small prototype and start piloting at two or three universities here in, in the U S and we got those results and it's a nice to have for people to have a tool like that.

[00:17:59] And we are also going to several conferences. To really connect with a lot of different universities. And what we realized in one of the contents is that a person from diversity equity and inclusion came to our booth and asked us, Hey, can we use this tool? And the diversity equity and inclusion department, where we wanted to help students who are first generation students, who are from underprivileged communities.

[00:18:25] Then the idea spark, Hey, you know what? This is exactly what these departments, because the universities, they work in silos. Every department has their own solutions and their own ways of doing things and sell it to universities. It is super difficult to bring everybody on board, but now we realized, Hey, diversity, equity and inclusion department.

[00:18:47] And especially here in the United States, it is super important. And there is lot of, effort that is being put in to provide the equal opportunity for everybody. And only 40 students out of every hundred students, especially from those underrepresented communities are actually graduating every year.

[00:19:03]which is a huge opportunity for universities and colleges. So when we realized that opportunity and we started talking with colleges only to the diversity equity and inclusion departments, and almost like three or four colleges directly, one after another, everybody started saying yes, on the spot that really sparked something for the whole team.

[00:19:24] Guys. We do not have to know, sell it to career services and alumni associations, and it's so difficult to sell it to them. But now we are starting to realize that there is this huge potential. Now at that point of time, Again, going back actually to a little, to last year in April, 2019, we ran out of that first hundred K at that point of time is we are thinking to raise another capital, another round of capital, but it is very hard to raise capital without having to prove your concept.

[00:19:54] Without no, you have got the a hundred K, but again, the amount isn't sufficient down, then we decided to actually survive just based upon our own personal funds. So just because we are having the privilege of having a full time job as well. We were able to boot step for another one year, trying to make it one more month, every single month.

[00:20:18] So that is super hard. And sometimes a lot of founders may not have that flexibility. So we were just fortunate to have the flexibility back then. 

[00:20:27] Sam Kamani: [00:20:27] Yeah. The bootstrapping people don't realize the idea is very romantic, but then the reality is bootstrapping is very hard. I mean in my view anyway, but everyone has a different experience.

[00:20:45] Of course. so yeah, so you, did bootstrap it for another year after that and you worked for diamond, did innovate two jobs and supplemented it. I supplemented the income. What happened after that? 

[00:20:59] Venki M: [00:20:59] no, as we all know, it is February, 2019. Now we have what, one or two colleges that wanted to sign the contract.

[00:21:06] And now the pandemic happens now, again, that's again a different story that we all know. And now again, all the schools and colleges, their main focus is to come on words, right? Mentoring is again, a goes back. in the list of priority items for them. And now we are, again, back to ground zero. so it is again, a lot of struggle, right?

[00:21:30] So once your focus has been shifted now, during this time, what I haven't already shared is we also talked with one or two nonprofit organizations who has these mentoring opportunities, but every nonprofit actually, the way they work is face to face. So many nonprofit organizations have mentoring solutions, but they work face to face pre COVID-19, but after COVID-19, everybody is going virtual and there is no way for them.

[00:22:01] Of course they are using tools like zoom and Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube, like the plethora of tools that they're trying to help their members to come onboard. But we became that unified solution. That their members can build a community because zoom, you can connect and talk. And then after the connection, there is no way for you to connect back if you don't have that information.

[00:22:24] So we built a tour like we have pivoted our idea and build these additional features that are and capabilities that are easy. For any kind of organization. So we started to focus on nonprofits, which again, started to say us yes. On the spot nine out of 10 nonprofits started saying yes. Now again, our contents has raised Rose to like, no, really get that funding to help us sustain.

[00:22:51] Sam Kamani: [00:22:51] Yes. from what I understand about your product, so you don't need a, for those who don't know about critical, you don't need zoom and Calendly and. Facebook group and lots of other things, everything to be used as ones you can just use career coach, and it will do everything. And also you white label career coach, is that right?

[00:23:14] And so they can have their own logo. They can have the zoom, you have to have it. Named zoom, but there you go. You can name it to your own brand, your own corporate or non, not for profit. You're 

[00:23:25] Venki M: [00:23:25] right. So any kind of organization we are starting off with nonprofits and ultimately we wanted to give the same kind of, technology for any kind of organization.

[00:23:34]which wants to leverage our technology to be able to build their communities because premier, think of it as going to be used to have brick and mortar. And then once the internet came to all become the websites and e-commerce, and no, after COVID-19, it's all yeah. Virtual communities. So you, so we have that virtual community, in our infrastructure that we built in order to create those virtual communities for any kind of organization.

[00:24:00] So that is our value proposition. So any kind of organization who wants to build that virtual community can actually set up the virtual community in just less than one day without technology. So once we pivoted that idea, now we are getting lot of calls from nonprofits that want to be off the communities on our platform.

[00:24:21] So that's the beauty of our product. And then, yeah, you were able to raise another one 20 K in the last three, four months. Just within friends and family who really appreciate what we are doing and how we are helping nonprofits and underprivileged communities. So that was another, and the big thing that happened against our friends, our families, when they said you know what you guys are doing great.

[00:24:45] And I think we just need to support you as much as we can. And right now we are talking with actively talking with investors to raise another, at least a million dollars of seed capital in the next one month. 

[00:24:57] Sam Kamani: [00:24:57] Oh, that's yeah. That's that would really put rocket fuel for you. It would be like rocket fuel for you guys.

[00:25:05] Venki M: [00:25:05] Absolutely. 

[00:25:06] Sam Kamani: [00:25:06] So I have another question around, I, from what you're saying that, it all started with pitching at hackathons and pitching it. Competitions and pitching to investors and, so it seems like you're really good at, at selling your concept, selling your idea, and everyone has to do that.

[00:25:23] How did it all start? What was the first thing that you ever sold? 

[00:25:28] Venki M: [00:25:28] I think the first, the thing that I ever sold is the idea maybe to my parents to come to the United States. So I think from a, not from a money, a monetary standpoint, but just faith. that I can really come here and know, really do good 

[00:25:45]

[00:25:45] in the life.

[00:25:46] And I think if I just look at it in the last couple of years, just selling career, I haven't sold anything, anything before Korea who, and it's just fascinating that we were able to learn so much by just working on this, this project, because I always tell to my team, like my corporate career has never taught me lessons that I.

[00:26:06] I was able to get in the last couple of years just by working on it. And sometimes people say, and even a couple of customers has said to my team, you know what? Wink is a better seller. You need to make sure that like you, you will actually put him in front of customers is just a joke from customers. And I used to feel that I cannot sell anything in this world.

[00:26:27] Like I'm not a sales guy, but I think what is starting to realize Sam in the last. Six months or so, as I talked with more customers and I think I was just sharing my passion, like, why are you wanting to do this lately? At the end of the day, I'm starting to realize that it's not about money. any more for me, it's all about helping people and making lives better.

[00:26:49] And especially after code 19, my eyes have opened up. there is so much that we can do to help people and with technology. I think if I can just do a little bit with 0.00, zero, zero 1%. Okay. I think I'll feel happy at the end of the day. 

[00:27:04] Sam Kamani: [00:27:04] Yeah, I was going to say that you just stole the words by mud that, it is just that passion, people see that.

[00:27:10] Yeah. Passionate about it and people see that you are genuine. And that's why it is so easy that when you are sharing, you are not asking for people to fund you and they ended up funding you. So that is. and the same, they end up buying career or subscribing to it. It's partly to do with your passion for what you want to achieve and what you want to do now.

[00:27:34]just, one more thing I wanted to ask you to say, if you are going to start, if you are, I know, three years ago, three and a half years ago. what would you do differently if you are studying career coach? What advice would you give to the Venky of three and a half years ago? 

[00:27:51] Venki M: [00:27:51] So I think a, yeah, that's a very good question.

[00:27:53] I think, what I would tell myself back then is to leverage your networks and personal connections more to can really, help them understand like the, your idea. And I think one thing that, I might have. Done it like no from the beginning is to like really leverage my network even more to leverage those resources that I have.

[00:28:16] And most importantly, especially in the education space, there are a lot of grants that I can apply to, which I never knew of back then. which is again great. A great resource or great resource for funding. Because there are a lot of great opportunities. You sometimes also, especially in the tech space or being an entrepreneur, there are so many business plan competitions that you can just apply with your idea, because sometimes you just need to understand whether it is a word there, right?

[00:28:46] So sometimes you're going to get valuable feedback, from, from judges when you go for this competition and imagine there are. Plenty of opportunities out there and we just need to pick the right opportunities. And sometimes it is stressful investment raising capital itself is a full time job.

[00:29:02] That's what 

[00:29:02] Sam Kamani: [00:29:02] it is a hundred dollars 

[00:29:04] Venki M: [00:29:04] people say. And sometime that I have learned it very, the hard way, It itself like take six to nine months. We just raise capital. So once we raised that first hundred thousand dollars, we were not knowing that hay Lake, no two ways, either a hundred thousand or $50,000.

[00:29:20] Boy, we need to start early. Right again. I think having the pressure, I think constant pressure, and maybe we, you were a little bit flexible. Hey, let's do this, let's do this. Let's because we have a little bit more money in the bank. We were able to like, not test this several things, but.

[00:29:38] We lost focus on, Hey, we are running out of runway. We just need to start talking with more people and looking to sell the idea and getting more money. And one thing that I also realized is sometimes you do not even have to raise funds at the very beginning stages of your idea. You can use lot of tools that are out there, especially if you're in the software, or if your idea is a tech product.

[00:30:02] There are plenty of ways that you can leverage existing technologies and. Lot of times we forget the value of our MVPs, right? A MEP is nothing but a minimum viable product or a simple prototype. You do not have even have to need funding, even though if you are not a technical guy, don't even keep that as a barrier of getting started.

[00:30:26] That is the most important thing that I would tell for anybody who listen, even though if you're not technical or don't know how to call the builder an idea, you haven't yet. Yeah. Just talk with people, go to LinkedIn, connect with people and said, Hey, you know what? This is an idea that I wanted to do and just connect with other founders because they love helping other founders who have just an idea.

[00:30:48] Just connect with me on LinkedIn. I would share a lot of resources that I can. how I can be of help. I think don't F don't be afraid of asking for help, because it is just an idea that people might think that it might not work. Don't ever neglect the ideas that you get. Always write them in a piece of paper.

[00:31:08] So then you don't forget about them and always get the help from others. Those who have done it before, because the mentoring that is going to help is. Is so much valuable 

[00:31:19] Sam Kamani: [00:31:19] because valuable than money. 

[00:31:21] Venki M: [00:31:21] Absolutely. And Sam is doing a great job of like really connecting entrepreneurs with venture capital or investors who are trying to help, entrepreneurs as well.

[00:31:31] I think it's a great thing. 

[00:31:33] Sam Kamani: [00:31:33] Yup. So something around that, it's I meant I maintain a Trello board and I have of all the ideas, any ideas, I guess I ride them in there because I lose, same thing around, write it down on a piece of paper or a diary or some very few got any good ideas and then you can come back to it.

[00:31:51] But it is so important that you say that, if you have an idea, Shed. It fits people. Talk to people about it. Don't hold it close to your chest. You don't have to go and rush off and, register a bait and then spend 20, $30,000 in registering a patient. It's unnecessary. You don't even know if anyone even wants it if there's even need for it.

[00:32:10] So yeah, until you talk to people, you don't know though. The value and until people use it, you don't know the value, you have your idea and your execution. so very true. Lots of really good lessons for founders right there. Now I have this thing, right? Call like the top three sort of a thing. first one is what is.

[00:32:33] Your favorite book or a book that you're reading right now? 

[00:32:38]Venki M: [00:32:38] I think, my favorite book that I would say I have a couple here,

[00:32:47] one on start with why I think, yeah. So that's a great book that I would definitely recommend the listeners to read and zero to one. Yeah. Bye. It's very great book for any entrepreneurs that to start reading. I think I'm going to have a list of books I actually maintain. so I think these are great resources for people who are getting started.

[00:33:12] I think there's a couple of books. 

[00:33:14] Sam Kamani: [00:33:14] What about, what costs do you listen to on a regular basis? Or which fund do you recommend? 

[00:33:21] Venki M: [00:33:21] Podcasts. And I have my own podcast driven by doing as well. I also into yeah, where I interview entrepreneurs, professionals, and students to share their stories as well.

[00:33:32] And one of my favorite podcasts are how I build this, by guy's garage. And, I also listen to indie hackers, podcast and humans too dot. Oh yeah, that's another good one. So I think there are a ton of podcasts that I normally listen to. And I think, I think that's a great resource for entrepreneurs because back in 2018, I actually started listening to podcasts every day.

[00:34:00] While I commute to work, I used to listen to at least one shirt. back and forth. And I think if I look back, I think, yeah, those really made a lot of difference and shifted my mindset. And I think, yeah, every entrepreneur who's just thinking about building your own startup or an idea, I think it's a great way to learn.

[00:34:18] You do not have even how to, how mentors, I it's almost I believe that it's a mentor in your pocket. You would actually see that everybody is just normal, like you and me, all they did was they just kept on going no matter what. 

[00:34:34] Sam Kamani: [00:34:34] Yup. A hundred percent. That is such good insight. I would say that you've got from listening to all that and that, and also I can see that from your life that you kept going so many dimes, you guys have just knowing from your sort of.

[00:34:52] Personal story and building career goals have been near to running out of the funding, but you guys kept going. Sometimes you bootstrap, sometimes you manage to raise funding, but that none of that stopped you from moving. And that's what the lesson is. 

[00:35:09] Venki M: [00:35:09] Absolutely. No. So I think, one thing I wanted to add there is, yeah, so it's super important to keep going and sometimes you'll be amazed with the resources that you would come across.

[00:35:23] Sometimes if you just keep going. And if I look back. Back then if I get few, a few more funds to actually is working on the product, we would have failed because again, we would have felt comfortable having money in the bank. I think everybody has to go through the, go through this phase. I think it's the process that is going to make you strong and stronger.

[00:35:44] I think when I talk to my team, that's what I always tell them. Yeah. You know what guys? Yes. We struggled one year without having funds, but if we look back, if we get the funding back, then you'd have failed. Yes because we didn't hundred percent enough, or we didn't have the customers, or we didn't find a product market fit because we didn't have a lot of money.

[00:36:07] We had to use our limited resources to make every bit of it count. I think a lot of us forget sometimes because we get funding or we have the resources because you are flexible enough to try a bunch of things. And sometimes we lose our focus and I was actually listening to a class in the last couple of days.

[00:36:29] Focus is something. Seeing no 200 good ideas. yeah, so that, I think that's, I just wanted to share that and now we have found a product market fit. Now we feel more comfortable in raising that funds because we know our focus. I think that is super important for especially first time entrepreneurs.

[00:36:49] Sam Kamani: [00:36:49] That is so similar also with sales, because over the last year or two, I have. Washington, listen a lot about sales and read books on sales and all sorts of things. and is it the same thing that you want to say no to the wrong lead early on so that you don't waste time with someone who's never going to be a customer.

[00:37:12] So you want to early on in the process, determine if. Is the right person. and that's something that I see you guys have done really well. You guys have found a niche and that has helped define your product as you go more than a niche, because then you can fulfill their needs even more.

[00:37:29] So yeah. very true focus is okay. Like 99 out of a hundred times saying no to all the other unnecessarily ideas that you should not. dilute your attention. last one, if you had unlimited dime money to sources, what would you build? 

[00:37:48] Venki M: [00:37:48] I think, I would build something I was actually thinking about is to actually help entrepreneurs.

[00:37:55]I think, I'm so passionate about helping other entrepreneurs. What it would actually do is I would actually create an end to end solution that like, if you have an idea and you come to this platform that can teach you from a to Z, all you need to do is follow that process because sometimes scaling that kind of an idea is so super difficult.

[00:38:17] Because you have to have a one-on-one mentor. Like I'm thinking about ways, like how can I create, an automated way that can help people like irrespective of where you are in the world. Especially in no small communities, small villages, underrepresented communities, especially women entrepreneurs.

[00:38:36] Like I'm thinking about all these ideas, like how can I build a machine that can help people build companies? Because a lot of times we are moving at such a rapid pace that like every company can get disrupted. in no time and to continuously innovate, we need to have a special force within us who get whom, who we think Hey, you know what?

[00:39:01] I can learn this. I can build this. There is nothing that we cannot do. I think enabling anybody to do anything is my biggest passion. And I think I'm going to build somehow in my lifetime to help entrepreneurs around the world. 

[00:39:16] Sam Kamani: [00:39:16] Oh, that is a fantastic point. Yep. On this note. yeah, I don't think I've, I can, you can top that anyone can, but, on this note, where do people find you?

[00:39:26] How do they get connected with you? Is it just your LinkedIn? I can put the link to your LinkedIn. Is there any other way you'd like people to get in touch with you? Yeah. 

[00:39:35] Venki M: [00:39:35] So I think that are, there are so many different ways. One mainly on LinkedIn, I'm super active on LinkedIn. I think that's the best way to connect, to reach out to me.

[00:39:43] And my email address is Rankie V E N K I at career quo. It is Q U o.com. I think you can also send, reach out to me on my email and I'm also present on Twitter and Instagram. So feel free to reach out to me and happy to share any resources to you all. 

[00:40:03] Sam Kamani: [00:40:03] Fantastic. That is great. Thank you so much, Frankie, for your time and yeah.

[00:40:09] Best of luck for career coach and for your journey on helping all these non-for-profit and underprivileged communities and educational institutes and everything that you are doing. Thank 

[00:40:21] Venki M: [00:40:21] you. And thanks so much for actually bringing on to the show. Sam, I think you're doing such a fabulous job and bringing entrepreneurs and investors because this is a great initiative.

[00:40:33] And I thank you so much for having this great podcast. 

[00:40:36]