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We had the pleasure of meeting Rama Katkar, co-founder of Hipiti at the Women 2.0 Pitch Competition in February. Hipiti, the new site that strives to be the most dependable source for sale and promotion code information from all your favorite retailers (hello awesomeness!), had not yet launched when we met Rama but we were stoked about the concept. Now, Hipiti is in its Beta and the dynamo duo has offered our community the opportunity to be some of the first users. To check out what Hipiti has to offer, you can use code Chic-CEO at http://hipiti.com/betaLogin. Read on to learn more about how Hipiti co-founders, Rama Katkar and Kristin Flink Kranias, formed their partnership and successfully built the super fabulous shopping tool!
1. Tell us a bit about both of your backgrounds and your journeys to entrepreneurship.
Rama is a proud New Jersey native. After college, she spent many years in finance in New York and San Francisco. She was an investor in retail and technology companies and loves data and analytics. She enjoys the challenge of sifting through the retail emails and finding the best offers so that you don’t have to.
Kristin is from the great state of Michigan. She moved to SF after college and loves the West Coast attitude but is still Midwestern at heart. The only thing she likes more than great fashion is finding a great deal - which is why she loves what she’s doing now on a daily basis! Her background is 10 years in strategy consulting specialized on retail and ecommerce clients.
2. Which came first, the idea for Hipiti or the partnership?
We met in business school at Stanford a few years ago. We had always talked about starting a company together, but after school we both went back to more traditional careers. About a year ago, we were chatting about our professional goals and realized that it was the right time to take the leap into entrepreneurship! Rama had been kicking around an idea in the online shopping space, and over drinks one night, we discussed what kind of company we’d want to build. We were excited about Hipiti because it was the first problem we’d discussed that we could see from both the consumer and the retailer perspective. Given our shared love for online shopping, we were both frustrated by email overload from retailers and flash sale sites. And, given our backgrounds in retail consulting and investing, we knew about the lack of effective digital marketing options available to retailers today. That discussion (and the liquid courage) was all it took! A few months later, we formed a partnership and started to build Hipiti.
3. What were some critical conversations that you had to have before you both agreed to go into business together?
Working with a partner is not always easy, and we were both aware of the potential pitfalls of working with a good friend. Before we agreed to leave our jobs and jump into entrepreneurship, we discussed our short and long term career goals, as well as our personal goals over the next few years. We talked about how we preferred to be equal partners and that we each wanted the other to be fully committed to one project. That meant we both had to agree to leave our full-time jobs and commit equal time and capital to Hipiti. In addition, we had candid discussions about what would happen if one person decided to leave the company in the future. We developed a founder’s vest plan, and drafted partnership agreements that reflected much of what we had discussed.
4. What is a major benefit of having a co-founder?
Starting a business is a huge risk and a lot of work. But the experience becomes a lot more fun and less intimidating when you have a partner, especially someone you can trust. Many people warned us against co-founding the business with a good friend, but neither of us could really imagine doing it with anyone we didn’t know and couldn’t fully rely upon. Of course, we can get on each other’s nerves at times, but you can’t replace the underlying trust and confidence in one another that we share. In addition, we each bring different strengths, perspectives and external networks to the business, which is always valuable in decision-making. Finally, being an entrepreneur can be a rollercoaster of emotions, so it’s nice to be able to vent and go through the experience with a friend.
5. Why should women utilize Hipiti?
Hipiti is a shopping tool designed by women for women to make your shopping more organized and hopefully more fun! We built Hipiti because we were personally frustrated by email overload from stores and flash sale sites – but we were afraid to unsubscribe and potentially miss out on something big! We talked to our girlfriends who also love to shop and broadly surveyed potential customers; we learned what women like and don’t like about the shopping tools out there today. Then, we created Hipiti to address those specific concerns and desires that we heard. We’re in process of our beta launch and would love to share Hipiti with the Chic CEO community! (We’d love your feedback on our beta – for access you can use code Chic-CEO at http://hipiti.com/betaLogin)
6. What was your favorite mistake you've made so far?
Oh, there have been so many! We make mistakes all the time, but learn from them and try not to repeat. If we had to pick a favorite (and one that others can avoid!), we’d say trying to do too much too fast at the beginning. We were so excited and passionate about our idea, but we forgot that there were only two of us and we couldn’t do it all! Right from the start, we’ve had a vision to build a really easy to use and great looking consumer product with a really robust data platform supporting it. And, now that we have made progress on both, we’re really excited with what is developing. But, we probably took on more than we should have at the beginning and we didn’t ask for help fast enough! We wasted time (and energy) trying to learn stuff on our own (like researching email providers or trademark law); we should have narrowed our scope and expanded our list of advisors in the very beginning.
We could not be more excited for Rama and Kristin! We not only read the Hipiti emails (probably too much), we love their attitude towards their business and their partnership. You go girls!
Do you have a co-founder situation? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!