Today’s interview is with one of the cofounders of Patheer, Akash Savdharia. Patheer allows recent graduates and working professionals to analyze career outcomes and paths, and provides users with recommendations to help improve chances of reaching their goals.
How did the idea for Patheer originate?
My co-founders and I first developed College Miner, and from there Patheer naturally progressed. College Miner aimed to show high school students their return on investment when deciding between colleges. While working on College Miner, we received consistent feedback from recent graduates asking for the next step. They wanted to know how to put a strategy in place to achieve their career goals after college, so we decided to create Patheer.
Do you have any competition?
There are several companies that exhibit some of the same features that we do. Our intelligent dashboard, which shows research components for jobs and schools, is comparable to features on sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Salary.com. What differentiates us from our competitors is our career-pathing tool and our ability to provide career recommendations. Specifically, our career-pathing tool allows users to select a desired career with which Patheer can find the optimal path to land the job they want. This idea of a distinct career path being recommended to consumers is unique to our company.
What stage of startup development are you in at the moment?
We just had our beta launch in Boston on November 8th, which was really exciting. Right now our focus is mainly on analyzing feedback from early adopters and improving the product.
I work with an amazing team that is helping Patheer move forward. While I focus on business strategy and partnerships, our other co-founder, Matthew Harris, is our chief architect and stays involved in all technological operations. Overseeing all financial decisions of Patheer is our third co-founder, Dennis Harris. We also recently hired our first employee, which is a big milestone for us.
How would you define your target audience?
Our goal when launching the site was to target recent college graduates. That being said, we have noticed there are also many people today in their 30s and 40s who are seeking a career change. Right now we are hoping to market the site toward both audiences, decide who finds it most valuable, and then make changes if needed.
Which marketing tactics have been the most beneficial to your startup thus far?
We have not yet jumped into a serious marketing campaign. Thus far, everything has been internally driven. For new features and other announcements we update our Twitter and Facebook pages. We are also actively blogging on our website.
Are you seeking funding or hoping to bootstrap?
Seeking angel funding has been a top priority for us, and we are actively pitching our ideas to date. An important decision for us right now is to decide if we want to stay in Boston or potentially move to the West Coast. Boston has been great, but if California offers a better opportunity, we are open to moving.
What have been your biggest challenges throughout your time working on Patheer?
We have always viewed Patheer as a consumer-oriented platform, but we’ve recently played with the idea that becoming an enterprise platform and selling to large employers might be a better route for us. We are considering the enterprise option currently, but it is definitely difficult to picture Patheer in such a different light, as we created it with the consumer in mind.
A second challenge we currently face is understanding how to market our product to our customers. My co-workers and I have backgrounds in business strategy, finance, technology operations, and engineering. Figuring out which online marketing campaigns to prioritize, how to communicate with our users, and discover what resonates with them is more challenging than we anticipated.
Do you have advice for anyone interested in starting his or her own company?
I think the slogan of our company sums up my advice pretty perfectly: “Live your passion. Discover your path.” As cliché as it may sound, you have to be passionate about your work in order to succeed at a startup. There are so many challenges to tackle when starting a company, and the lifestyle can be grueling at times. Having the passion and the drive for your product to succeed will make all of your hard work worth your time and energy.
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