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Vika Kovalchuk Zamparelli: I Have Taken the Perspective That I Will Play Whatever Role Is Necessary To Enable the People and the Products I Support

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Vika Kovalchuk Zamparelli

Vika Kovalchuk Zamparelli of Super.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m the co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Super, a software startup building the operating system for buildings.

I’m a hybrid product designer and product manager with 13+ experience at companies like Facebook and Johnson & Johnson, and with clients like Aetna, TripAdvisor, Bloomberg and JP Morgan.

Prior to founding Super, I spent close to the last decade at Facebook working on some of the company’s most influential products for both business and consumer audiences—like Pages, Stories, and Live Video—in both the IC and manager capacities.

At Super, I lead our product team and as a result oversee the macro and the micro: from setting the vision and roadmap to executing on our product design and supporting implementation.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

That lean and scrappy means process and structure is the enemy. I’ve found it can actually be the opposite.

Having a defined point of view on how you run your business, how your teams operate, and a set of agreed-upon norms can help you move faster and more sustainably.

My co-founder, Lindsay Liu, and myself have been very intentional in leveraging our wealth of past experiences towards establishing processes and norms that allowed us to stand up a company that operates with more maturity and speed.

These norms absolutely should continue to evolve over time, but in my opinion, you don’t have to start from scratch if you have learned experiences to build on.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

Learn to trust your instincts and your gut. There were moments throughout my career journey where I struggled with confidence and trusting my judgment.

The reality is that no one has all of the answers. You have to balance being honest and open to learning with being confident in forging a path forward.

When there’s proficiency to draw from, you can both foster a growth mindset as well as leverage your strengths.

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Do I get one more tip? It’s critical to set the right metrics and incentives for the company, the product and for the way people are compensated; at Super for example, we want to ensure we’re driving innovation but also rewarding the important efforts of maintaining a product so it’s sustainable for the long term.

We want to remain focused on building a product rooted in solving people’s needs; this alignment and perspective has to come from the top in order for people to be empowered to prioritize customers and what’s best for the product, and have that not be at odds with their personal opportunities at the company.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

Throughout my career, I have taken the perspective that I will play whatever role is necessary to enable the people and the products I support; whatever hat needs to be worn – I’m happy to wear it.

This mindset translates well in our venture with Super; we have to be resilient for the ups and downs that will inevitably come, be adaptive to changes and be flexible in our approach.

I want to be a steadying force for our team and for them to know that I am also there to help support them through whatever may come.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

I’ve done my best work when I’ve had a good work/life balance; I strongly believe that you don’t have to burn people out to get good work (actually quite the opposite).

In order to create a flexible work environment, a company has to establish norms and expectations and actively maintain those.

For example, at Super we have implemented a four-day work week, and we’re intentional on monitoring ways we can work smarter, not longer.

We’re doing this early on so that we can provide a balanced work environment that focuses on productivity, not hours, and be in a position to build a team of people at different stages of their lives or career trajectory.

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Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Real estate is one of the biggest investments and expenses people have. Super is a software platform to help make property ownership and management more of a financially sustainable and transparent endeavor, so that people can feel more secure and confident in their investments.

I also want to build software so good it becomes an invisible part of our customer’s lives; it just works.

I believe the best software is so useful and integrated into your life such that you don’t realize you’re using it—like texting or email.

Super should improve (and eliminate) a lot of the manual processes that go into maintaining a property today, while also building more confidence in the experience.

Where do you see your business in five years?

There’s so much to get excited about as I look ahead—including the unknowns.

What I do know is that we’re building a product that we can be proud of; when I look 5 years out, I want the Super name to be synonymous with transparency, efficiency, and a well-run building.

It should be a positive signal to a prospective resident if a building is using Super.

My co-founder and I have some ambitious ideas that will not only make our product powerful at a global scale, but that can fundamentally change building maintenance and community operations; I’m excited for the opportunity to execute on those initiatives in the years to come after we’ve established a good foundation.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

Success is going to require ruthless prioritization; we’re a small team building a complex set of products that have to be performant and high quality.

We have to ensure we’re always focusing on the highest-value products for our customers.

Prioritizing is hard, and it’s not prioritization unless it hurts, especially when you’re trading off things that are all important and impactful—but I’m confident in how we are managing it and in our trajectory.

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Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

I have to say that it is the amazing team we’ve built.

I’m so proud of the strong foundations we have set and how we practice our company values.

It’s allowed us to attract top tier talent and build a passionate, caring, and values-aligned team.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

An early indicator of our product-market fit is how we’ve been able to convert organic connections and leads into prospects and customers.

We get inbound leads and have a team, headed up by my co-founder, Lindsay Liu, responsible for Growth.

It’s been really crucial to have those capabilities from day 1; this ensures a stronger feedback loops based on what we’re seeing and hearing in the market to inform our roadmap and product prioritization.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

Think about your business and monetization model up-front.

That’s been one of the most successful aspects of my partnership with Lindsay from day one.

We brought together our strengths in product and sales to develop those requirements collectively.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

I hope to build a new model for tech companies; we are building a profitable business while also promoting a sustainable way of working.

Doing so allows us to more effectively grow our offering and deliver on our mission at scale while taking care of our team.

I want to see more examples like ours emerge in the tech world.

Personally, I look forward to seeing our team grow, and to be the type of company that can provide opportunities to folks at different stages of their careers or switching into tech.

There’s also so much to work on from an organizational perspective as we grow, and I’m looking forward to supporting ours through those changes as we scale both the team and the business up.

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