I interviewed Ritu Raj, Objectiveli founder and CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and twenty fourth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Ritu!
Describe Objectiveli in under 50 words.
Objectiveli is the best way to manage all of your organizations or personal Goals and Objectives in one place, in real-time.
Objectiveli Drives Outcomes that matter, fulfilling your Goals and Objectives, instead of losing focus; managing day-to-day emergencies and “things to do”.
Describe yourself in one sentence.
Ritu is a serial entrepreneur dedicated to bringing innovative services and systems to market, which create new experience for people at the same time makes a difference in their lives.
Tell us a bit about your background, from founding pioneering computing company Avasta (acquired by Navisite) to founding Wag Hotels (the largest chain of dog hotels in the world!) and OrchestratorMail.
I was a senior executive with TMP WorldWide, and in the beginning of 1999, got a DSL at my house to access corporate data over VPN. That was the genesis of Avasta. There was an inordinate demand for sys admins and DBA’s – we figured if there was a way to bring economies of scale to manage the server operations, there was a business there, left my very well paying job to start Avasta.
Accenture was a large investor in Avasta, joined Accenture and was burnt out on technology. Wanted to create a company where you did not have to sell, and was closer to people. Discovered the huge market for dogs and cats services, completely fragmented, run by mom and pop shops. What if I could bring scale, design and engineering into it – that’s how Wag Hotels got started. OrchestratorMail was started as my own interest in coordination, and the language/philosophy of action – built an application which could streamline, create a taxonomy of action terms over email, for all people coordinating over email, specially globally, different cultures – bring closer the gap between intention and interpretation.
What made you decide to start working on Objectiveli?
Objectiveli was like a light bulb while talking to a senior executive who uses OrchestratorMail, and loved it. I realized at his level he was only interested in Managing and Tracking Outcomes, with his team of 10 executives. It was not that he did not look at things todo, but his job was to fulfill the goals and objectives of his company.
I had met him for dinner, and could not sleep, thinking about how outcomes get tarnished with things todo. They were two different things, all things you do, does not mean that it fulfills the outcome.
I had seen a similar thing when I was doing some work for Walmart Labs, my friend had 12 engineering teams under him, and it was really difficult for him to get the status the objective of every team. Somehow in our culture there is a tendency to talk about what we have done (todo’s) and not the outcome that we have produced. People build wiki’s while running large projects, and in 3-4 weeks no one uses them. Yammer, and other communication tools are about exchanging information. Not necessary about reporting and tracking outcomes.
Who uses Objectiveli?
Objectiveli is being used currently by a few companies to manage their Goals and Objectives, in an operating environment. Objectiveli manages, tracks and communicates all the changes, re-negotiations that take place while reaching the end goal.
The other constituent who use Objectiveli, to my surprise were regular people. Now they had a simple platform for setting, managing and tracking their Goals and Objectives. One of the communities that’s really taken it on is the Mommy Blogger Community.
I believe in the future Objectiveli would also play a big part in the schools and classrooms. Most teachers are trained in creating Outcomes for their lessons planning, and also are teaching goal setting in the classrooms.
Who is the team behind Objectiveli?
Objectiveli was built by several engineers, the main developer behind Objectiveli is Jonathan Yankovich, before I met him I was working with Steve Yancharas, to build the UI, and most of the UI I built. I had to learn Illustrator, but it was worth it.
What technologies have you used to build Objectiveli?
Objectiveli is still in its infancy but so far has it got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
I think we have more than 500 users, and at least 10% of them are still using it past a month, we would know about the rest soon. We are getting a lot of feedback, a lot of it is about how people love the interface, and some about how to navigate the interface. We have plans to rework the interface, as we realize that it’s not as smooth as we want it to be.
Where do you see Objectiveli in 3 years time?
I see Objectiveli firmly in place at Enterprises, disrupting some of the large vendors. The key is that we have an operating application driving outcomes, the 800 lb gorilla in the space, is more focussed as an HR application and for annual performance.
We see the Objectiveli apps used by regular people to fulfill the Goals and Objectives in their lives. A major growth in the upcoming but huge segment of coaching and self help.
And personally I want to see it in the classrooms, want to give the young adults a structure for fulfilling their dreams and vision.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I think to have a startup is to be a champion of eating dirt, getting up and going at it again. We have made small and large mistakes, working with developers who were not masters of the technology stack, not managing or reading the commitment of members of the team. The thing that I have learnt is to be really clear of the founding team’s commitment, pre-funding.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Key hurdle is to build the right team, learning from my previous mistake is that it’s really difficult to be a Product Manager and Sales & Marketing at the same time. I am actively looking for a CTO, an amazing UI/UX person who can really think outside the box and product management and marketing person.
With substantial experience in business and entrepreneurship, what piece of advice would you give to someone starting up?
#1 Initially it’s all about understanding customers for your service or product, beyond the people you know, and keep understanding them. It’s not just the “Customer Discovery Process” it’s a way of life.
#2 It’s all about the process of development, testing, customer acquisition, rinse and repeat.
#3 Know your customer, how would you find them, where do they hang out?
What key goals have you yet to achieve?
#1 Transform the UI
#2 Have a strong Team
#3 Raise Seed Capital
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Currently excited that we have traffic, without spending money, and now working on increasing conversion rate. Also excited how well the concept is being received in the marketplace.