Introduce Yourself and tell us about Qlicket?
My name is Vivek Kumar, and I am the CEO of Qlicket. I lead all of the investor-facing aspects of the business and provide input into the growth strategy. Before founding Qlicket, I worked at Blackstone in New York, where I marketed alternative credit funds to some of the world’s largest institutional investors from the company’s credit platform, GSO Capital Partners. I earned degrees in finance and management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Qlicket is an early-stage software startup devoted to bridging the communication gap between blue-collar employees and their managers. With kiosks mounted throughout the workplace, we help employees express concerns to their managers through fully anonymous pulse surveys. This helps managers to better understand workforce sentiments across the organization. The end result of our platform is higher satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and more meaningful engagement for workers. Management is also saved from the financial burden of constantly replacing frontline workers. We help managers listen and ensure that employees are heard.
What Led to Your Interest in Starting Qlicket?
Qlicket was previously engaged in the hospitality industry, in which we used technology to help customers express problems with their rooms to management in real-time. Although we were succeeding in the hospitality business, we knew that there were better applications for our feedback technology. We consulted with professionals from various industries and, after hearing that warehouse employee turnover was a billion-dollar annual problem for a certain Fortune 500 executive, eventually settled on solving issues in blue-collar workforces.
What is Your Startups Unique Selling Point?
Because of our national scope, we are able to comparatively benchmark a given facility’s workforce data. We benchmark in three ways: by geography, by site, and over time. In terms of geography, we average all of our data from several different facilities for a given city or region. Then, we compare a client’s site to that average, allowing them to view employee turnover, engagement, and other figures in the context of their local labor market.
In terms of sites, we can collect data from all of a given client’s facilities, show them which facilities are performing well, and indicate which facilities are falling behind. Finally, we are able to track workforce data over time, providing our customers with information about seasonal trends in satisfaction, turnover, and other data points.
What Sacrifices have you made to become a successful entrepreneur?
Wow, earnings and lifestyle come most to mind. The hope is that there is an eventual payoff with the lost opportunity cost in salary (earning at times no salary and at other times a below-market salary).
I’ve even had to fund the business to the tune of $100K of the $1m that we’ve raised, including having to liquidate my retirement accounts, during some of our most difficult times. From a lifestyle perspective, the constant flexibility to be anywhere at any time, and to put the business ahead of your personal life in most instances; having a spouse that understands these sacrifices has been hugely beneficial.
How are you marketing Qlicket?
In addition to managing a workplace management blog, we are currently experimenting with Google Ads and similar inbound marketing initiatives. In the past, we have utilized drip email services to engage leads.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Growth is the only thing that matters if you’re trying to build a high growth startup. Can you make something people want, which from a B2B perspective usually means revenue growth, and from a B2C perspective could either mean revenue growth or downloads/user engagement? It’s extremely hard to find tight product/market fit, but know what kind of business you want to build; do you want to build a high growth venture-backed startup or build a slower-growing sustainable lifestyle business? Nothing is wrong with either, just know what you’re looking to do.
What is your favorite business book? How has it helped in your business?
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares is an excellent guide for any business seeking to scale. The book walks readers through nineteen “traction channels” ranging from Google Ads to publicity stunts, weighing the costs and benefits of each channel in a highly methodical fashion. The authors encourage the reader to ignore previous biases about the efficacy of particular strategies, prompting honest consideration and a robust brainstorming process. Readers are encouraged to test, re-test, and eliminate strategies over time, eventually choosing a “bullseye” channel that consistently delivers provable results.
What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
I don’t know nowadays, haha. Maybe solving a real problem by delighting customers and users. Positively affecting the world. Hearing a worker say to me one day the decision to stay in their job because of our solution would be amazing.
What have been your most satisfying moments in business?
Building a team is both challenging and exciting. The journey has been awesome with some of my closest colleagues. Hitting certain revenue milestones. Having others believe in you and bet on you. Presenting in front of Ivanka Trump at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
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