Tell us about yourself?
Sunil Chathaveetil is a technology entrepreneur based out of Michigan, USA with over 30 years of extensive experience in business and technology leadership roles with established names like DXC Technology, Schneider Electric among others.
An Electrical Engineer from National Institute of Technology (MNIT) Jaipur, Sunil also holds an MS in Software Engineering Administration from Central Michigan University and is a certified Executive Leader from Cornell.
He laid the building blocks of Mintmesh as a Lead Discovery Platform in 2015 inspired by a personal episode.
Sunil is currently the CEO of Mintmesh and is actively involved in building and nurturing the organization into a client centric, value driven software provider.
He is also an advisor on the board of Revenue Intelligence SAAS Software firm, ForecastEra.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
That is an interesting question. There are multiple misconceptions when it comes to start-ups and classifying any of them as the single biggest is subjective to the direct experience on the ground.
For me, the most popular misconception is that, if you have a great idea and build it, customers will come. It seldom happens.
Tons of demanding work go into making people aware that you have a product that adds value to their lives.
As a prelude to converting your idea into a business, you should really study the market, understand its potential, develop the contours of the marketing and sales strategy and establish your ability to execute the strategy.
Remember, at any point in time, there could be millions of ideas on people’s laptops.
However, it is only the ability to execute the idea well, that sets the true winner apart.
You do not even need a breakthrough idea to succeed, it could be simply an existing idea that you execute better than others to fetch your success.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
If I could go back in time, I would find the right mentor who has pursued a similar entrepreneurial journey.
I had my fair share of well-wishers, friends and advisors that counselled me and that I could bounce ideas off, but I sorely lacked the advice of a person who has travelled the same path as I was taking, giving me ruthless unvarnished advice and became a mentor of sorts.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I knew that I could always work hard and be quite tenacious in the pursuit of goals. However, my core strength is my emotional maturity that has helped me build a talented team and empathize with my client’s needs to build a valuable product.
When the going gets tough, like during periods of Capital drought and the Covid pandemic, this has helped in maintaining the required equanimity and balance to keep going.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I have learned the habit to set meaningful goals and to communicate these effectively to the team. Another habit that has helped me immensely is the habit of committing myself each day to some focussed thinking.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
My family has been a major source of strength as I set out on this entrepreneurial journey. My co-founders Ajay Rayaroth who is a technology guru and Anish Verma who is a sales and marketing whiz have been great influences behind the company.
Both Anish and Ajay come from strong engineering backgrounds and have previously worked at Fortune 500 companies in senior roles.
Their knowledge and experience have been extremely influential in setting the direction for our company.
Our network of friends in the engineering industry have been extremely helpful in validating use cases.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We are a bit of a unique phenomenon in the B2B market. We are the first and only provider of a software anywhere in the globe for engineers to evaluate technical bids.
Currently engineers use excel, email and other offline methods to do this very intense and time consuming task.
Our software automates this process and digitally transforms the experience for all stakeholders. Being the first and only product has its advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage is that the potential is unlimited and only constrained by the capital that we can throw at it. The challenge that we have is the classic problem of all pioneers.
Educating the market in a hitherto untouched sector that was not exactly enamoured by technology was difficult.
Given all this, we aim to see tremendous growth in the next 5 years , with 300% year on year growth and a potential IPO in 5 years.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Our biggest challenge will be to educate vast swathes of the market about the advantages of Digital Transformation in an industry that cannot truly see beyond their immediate projects.
However, things are changing as we speak. In a post COVID world, we see more acceptance of technology initiatives and digitization of cumbersome tasks in this industry.
We see some of our larger clients appoint dedicated digital transformation officers to spearhead such initiatives. This portends well for our future and the future of this industry as well.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
By far my biggest success story has been shepherding the company through the COVID era, including making a strategic pivot from HR (Human Resources) technology to Engineering Technology.
The pandemic added challenges unprecedented in recent times for companies in the HR technology business. Instead of caving in, we used the pandemic as an opportunity to transform ourselves and create a software solution that was never created before.
As there was none who had tried this before, we had to construct the market and product at the same time. With no capital other than our own pocketbooks, it was still a business idea that may have looked far-fetched when viewed by others.
Seeking out friendly experts that knew the processes, bootstrapping the development, and assembling a team, we created a go to market strategy that included reaching out to our networks for leads to generate the initial momentum.
Once we had the MVP in place and a reasonable understanding of the market, we sought and got seed funds to create our enterprise software called Rudy, an acronym for Reading and Understanding Documents for You.
Now, 24 months into the effort since beginning this journey, I can say that we have hit the right vein with top ten EPC (Engineering Procurement and Construction) (Engineering Procurement and Construction) (Engineering Procurement and Construction) companies for clients and a robust innovation centre that churns out new capabilities
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
We have invested heavily in marketing to get the word out. We also participate in industry events and collaborate with influencer communities to educate the market.
We have a unique qualification process to engage and nurture relationships with large enterprise clients.
Our biggest draw is that we will demonstrate value in a real project scenario through our comprehensive pilot program, so our clients know exactly what to expect when they begin using our product.
Having started my career out of college as a salesperson, I have come full circle as an entrepreneur to be a good advocate for my own product.
We have an accomplished sales leader to drive sales of our product where I pitch in as required.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Perseverance is key to building a successful business. You may come across situations where you may want to give up, but let it pass.
Even statistically, if you can stay focussed and energetic, it is more likely that you succeed in your entrepreneurial journey if you stay the course, adapt to changing circumstances and continue with relentless focus on your goals.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
The future looks bright both personally and businesswise. I hope this business becomes a valuable company known for its innovation and transformative capabilities in the industries that we operate in.
Personally, I hope to stay healthy and energetic to fulfil my objectives in philanthropy and eco-sustainability.
Besides generating enough wealth for all of us who have invested their time and money in this enterprise, I hope to share my wealth of experience in building and sustaining a business, with other start-up founders.