November 4, 2019
Over the past year and a half since we officially launched our employee turnover solution, we have grown considerably—adding new staff members, clients, and investors at a breakneck pace.
Today, we are taking a step back to check in with Vivek Kumar and John Goldschmidt—two of Qlicket’s three co-founders.
John and Vivek, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Could you talk about your backgrounds? How did you start your careers?
Vivek Kumar: During my time at Penn, I got the chance to participate in some financial services internships. I passed my Series 7 and Series 63 exams before I finished school, which opened a lot of doors. After graduating, I worked at Deutsche Bank for a few years, then at Katzenbach Partners in management consulting for a few more. That eventually led me to Blackstone, where I worked in client and investor relations for four years.
Eventually, I ended up in the Bay Area for a short stint, where I worked for a startup that dealt with getting people online for free. This inspired me to launch the first iteration of Qlicket with Deependra Tewari; we were curious to see if we could get people online for free in the developing world. This led us down the road of collecting customer feedback through hotel WiFi and analyzing employee feedback in high turnover work environments.
John Goldschmidt: After graduating from Penn, I worked for a few years on Capitol Hill—definitely not the typical route for an engineer, but it still fit with my love of problem-solving and figuring out how things work. Then, I went to work in finance for a few years, and I eventually got to apply my banking experience at Dealogic—a fintech firm.
I would say that I caught the startup bug in my early thirties. I launched my own startup, then joined one in Denver. In 2017, I started looking into startup opportunities in the Pittsburgh area, where I met Vivek through a mutual connection.
Did you ever think that you would be entrepreneurs?
JG: People have different things that make them tick. Some people need to build something and bring novel ideas to the world, no matter the risk. Others don’t need adventure as much as day-to-day security. I am definitely in the former category; I can be tolerant of risk to build, because building is part of my DNA.
VK: Not really. I just thought that the challenge of getting people online for free was interesting to try in the developing world. From there, I gradually learned what it took to build a scalable business, and I wanted to see Qlicket through to the end—wherever that may take us. I’m also comfortable with high risk tolerance. John, Deependra, and I all had good career opportunities, yet we chose to be entrepreneurs. We traded financial security to actually build something novel—a decision with a high, yet worthwhile, opportunity cost.
What makes you excited about Qlicket?
JG: Definitely building something and bringing a new idea to market. I thrive on bringing an idea to the real world and figuring out how to scale it. And, I get to impact thousands of people in a positive way. We’re not building a B2C product that carries little to no value outside of the product itself. We’re helping companies retain their frontline workers, and we’re helping those workers—who have traditionally been ignored—find satisfaction in their jobs.
VK: After several years of Qlicket, it’s nice to have a product offering that is experiencing high demand. It’s cool to see the product out “in the wild,” and it’s cool to see the reactions of workers and administrators alike. This is probably the most exciting time in Qlicket’s history, since we are on a good trajectory for growth.
JG: Plus, I love that each month is more exciting than the last. I’ve learned that “making it” is not only when you raise money; you “make it” when you get to the next level. It’s great to keep the momentum going.
What was your best day at Qlicket? Your worst day?
VK: The first couple of customers and the first few contracts were great days. It’s always exciting to see validation and to see that we have been able to attract interest. So, I would say that there was no one “best day” at Qlicket. This is a journey; we’re climbing up a mountain. The “roller coaster” of startup growth gets less volatile as we expand and become a more stable business.
JG: I also don’t have one particular moment that could count as my “best day.” But, whenever a customer tells me that they are deriving value from the product, it is both important from the product development perspective and extremely gratifying personally. For example, it was great to hear that one of the general managers that we work with recently began sharing Qlicket’s insights with his superior.
Where would you like to see Qlicket one year from now? Five years? Ten years?
VK: We want to see more and more lives impacted. We want to find product-market fit to the extent that we not only serve many organizations, but also see workers demand Qlicket’s offerings in their workplace. We want to become the go-to solution for frontline employee satisfaction, and we want to eventually see grassroots movements among employees to get Qlicket into their workplaces. We want firms that use Qlicket to have tangible advantages—such as higher-than-average Glassdoor ratings, which is a trend that we’re already noticing.
JG: Agreed. It’s great to see validation through employees and the market. We want to see that we are building something valuable.
VK: And, it would be fantastic to become the default in the employee satisfaction market, in the same way that Amazon and Google are the defaults in their markets.
When you’re not Qlicketing, how do you spend your time?
VK: Well, I mostly spend time with family. I’m in the process of planning a wedding, which takes up most of my time.
JG: I’ve been practicing my Spanish and learning a lot about UX/UI design—both of which are very interesting to me. I’m planning on getting my SCUBA certification in the next month. Also, is there a moment that we’re not Qlicketing?!
Learn more about Qlicket and our talent retention offerings here.