Startup Skool Interviews: Jayesh Parmar
- June 6, 2016
- Posted by: Kim
- Category: Interviews
We recently sat down with Jayesh Parmar, an accomplished tech entrepreneur, father, and former teacher. He’s one of the world’s top 10 Tech Entrepreneurs Disrupting The Event Industry and has a wealth of knowledge to share. He sat down with us to chat all things startups, education, leadership, and the power of events!
1. You started your career as a teacher and you transitioned into the startup world. What was that transition like?
My parents had a real focus on making sure I got educated in the system. So naturally, I went to school to become a teacher. However, the entrepreneur spirit was always inside of me. In high school, I did Junior Achievement. In university, I ran little businesses here and there. I knew the business aspect was something I was just going to learn as I went along. I wanted to do multiple things – I’m a lifelong learner and I love to go out there and provide value, provide change. For a couple of years, I had this burning desire to bring people together through events and build a product that serviced the entire world. With teaching as my career, I knew I could only learn so much and teaching plateaued for me. Tomorrow’s problems should be bigger than today’s. I wanted higher growth and new experiences. Teaching was a great starting point and I’ve taken much of what I learned doing that into my day to day at Picatic.
2. You are the Founder and CEO of Picatic. What sparked your idea for helping people create and manage events? And what is it about events?
With events you get to take everything away. You take away your fancy car, your fancy watch. Instead, you get to focus on what’s really important. Events are where people gather. It’s where you will spend quality time with old friends and connect with new friends. Where you might meet the love of your life. I feel so lucky to get to go out and help an environment like this!
3. In one or two sentences, can you tell us what specific problem Picatic solves?
With Picatic, we solve a platitude of problems. We go out there and diagnose our user. Everyone is different with what their needs are, so consequently we solve a bunch of different problems. At a high level, we aim for: a beautiful user experience for end users. We want their experience to be so uneventful that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. Service fees at competing platforms in the past few decades have skyrocketed. Our solution is beautiful and powerful, and we offer it for free. The end user doesn’t have to absorb a cost and neither does the company. That’s the big problem we’re solving.
4. Can you give us a snapshot of a “day in your life” as CEO of Picatic?
I wake up, I play with my kid, I check emails, I check slack, I check my calendar, and then at work every day is a different day. My job is to go out there and empower the powerful people that work around me, and then get out of their way. Strategy, tactics, tools, review – I go through that cycle. And an important part of the day is taking out the garbage and doing whatever needs to be done.
5. You’ve been entrenched in the startup world in cities like San Francisco, New York City, Silicon Valley, and Toronto. How does Vancouver compare?
Great question. As an example, San Francisco is faster when it comes to the startup world – it is the epicenter. Access to capital is right there. Everything you need is right there. When you build a business in that world, impossible is nothing. Everyone lives in a perpetual state helping each other succeed. “How can I help you? What can I do?” Because maybe those people they help might one day be their next business partners. Vancouver is a lot more brick and mortar in a sense. Yes it’s slowly changing, but it’s going to take years. The foundation of knowledge is a little bit more difficult to find in Vancouver. By virtue of proximity, in those other cities you will find the mentor and experts you need for pretty much anything. It’s going to take about 20 years for us in Vancouver to get there. We still have some room to go, but it’s getting better. We’ve got people like you going out and shaping the future of what we’re doing!
6. Where do you see Vancouver’s startup community in 5 years?
We have a lot of great startups in the seed stage but there’s a lack of experience and skill to get startups to the next stages. There are a lot of serendipitous moments propelling entrepreneurs forward, but in the next few years that will change. We’re seeing it with Ryan Holmes right now – what ends up happening with these investors is that when they choose to exit their company, they will have the expertise AND dough to fund the next big startup companies. Past entrepreneurs will be more likely to finance a startup than banks. They’ve seen it, they know how it’s done. It will then become a ripple effect. Money, expertise, mentorship and an appetite for early adoption. We’re going to get more angel investors here – that will all come into play over the next few years. And it’s moving fast. Kelowna is a really good measure of this. They’ve created an ecosystem inside an ecosystem for education tech startups.
7. You received exceptional mentoring from the Canadian Technology Accelerators. How important is mentorship to a budding entrepreneur? Do we need more of it?
Mentorship is extremely important when you’re first starting out. A mentor saved our company in 5 minutes. When starting Picatic, we had to go out there and decide “where do we move to kick this thing off?” A mentor came in and asked “have you guys talked to your partners? No? Then go home and talk to them.” Turns out everyone wanted to come to Vancouver, so we had the strong foundation of support that we needed to get us through the rough early stages. At the end of the day, you’re building something that doesn’t exist so there really is no roadmap for it. You have to be a little bit crazy. The best founders are not always coachable, but mentorship is always valuable. They shrink time. For example, if you’re looking to hire a VP for an important role, where do you start? A good mentor will break it all down for you in 5 minutes. They are puzzle fitters. Mentors will come at you from all different experiences and they will connect you with who you need to meet with. As an entrepreneur, you’re trying to solve the problem. What’s the next problem to solve? Mentors will save you half the time to solve those problems by helping fit pieces of the puzzle together.
8. The society of today and tomorrow are driven by technology. How important is it that we teach our children tech at a young age?
Technology is the new literacy. It is as important as learning how to read and write. Another point I’d like to touch on – financial literacy still isn’t taught in schools and that boggles my mind. Hello compound interest. Hello taxes. These are the kinds of things that practical life experiences will bring you. We’re missing a lot of these core pieces in our schools. Financial literacy is the foundation of business, and technology is the foundation of the future of business! So yes, teaching our children technology at a young age is very important.