Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nilay Parikh, Founder and CEO of Arvist, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Arvist is providing critical insights for supply chain operations. Seamlessly and simply connecting to existing on-site security cameras, Arvist's proprietary artificial intelligence system provides critical real-time insights that help operators identify ways to reduce costs, worker downtime and increase warehouse efficiencies. We mainly work with warehouses, 3PLs (third-party logistics), Distribution Centers, and Airport Cargo Facilities.
Tell us about yourself
I am a first-generation immigrant living in Chicago. My background was in Mechanical and Aerospace engineering, and I worked in the 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing space for over 7 years. While I always wanted to go down the entrepreneurship path, the inspiration for Arvist came during my previous job. I used to work for a global manufacturing firm. That job allowed me to travel around the world to different supply chain sites such as China, Europe, the United States, and India. Over the course of time, I visited over 50 factories and warehouses, and my job was to set up advanced manufacturing centers. It was disappointing to see that while we are talking about Industry 4.0 and the Digital Manufacturing revolution, our processes around human operations are still outdated and manual. The idea started as a safety-focused AI, seeing a great opportunity to take a reactive safety process and make it proactive and, in the process of doing so, collect data to prevent safety incidents from occurring in the future. Over time, the idea evolved into supply chain operational efficiencies, which could not only improve safety (as the original mission for the company) but overall drive up efficiency and reduce costs across the board.
What motivates me each day is simply the fact that we are creating something that does not exist and that we are building new technology which can really change the course of the supply chain (which, in turn, affects everyone). But I think most importantly, just like for any startup founder, it's the journey along the way, the customers, the people who decided to work with and for you, the investors, and everyone who trusts you to make a difference, that makes the founders motivated to work!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
While I can rattle off a list of things, I think are some big accomplishments in my mind, like finding some super smart people to believe in my mission and build the startup with me or being backed by a world-class organization like Techstars. If I had to name just one, it would definitely be getting the first paying customer. One of my mentors always said a business is real only when someone pays for your product or service. You can get all kinds of funding, loans, pilots, and trials, but when someone pays for your product, it means you are creating value for them, which is a massive accomplishment for a founder.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Dealing with defeats, rejection, and the constant 'No's. From investors to customers to potential hires to even potential suppliers, you have to be ready to receive the bad news. But more importantly, you have to always be in a state of mind to accept the rejection, try to understand why you were rejected, and be flexible and open to adapting. You might get rejected by a VC in one meeting, and you have to accept and digest that information, perk up, and be excited for the next customer meeting in 30 minutes. They say businesses come with exciting highs and depressing lows, and it is true. As a startup founder, you have to be extremely strong mentally to deal with these highs and lows, not through the year, but through each day!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do not start a company to make money. In 99% of the cases, it does not work out well in the end if that is the goal to start. Try to solve a problem, add value, and bring about a change in a field of work you would like to spend the next decade of your life in!
- Understand the problem you are solving as if your life depends on it. (Coz trust me, it does!). Spending significant time in customer discovery and understanding the problem is equivalent to sharpening the axe before trying to cut the tree analogy. Do not underestimate the value of this.
- Be flexible, stay calm, and seek advice - these are the 3 hardest things to do, and I would love to say that I have mastered them. Far from it, but I have started learning these three things, and I cannot emphasize how much it would make a difference if you start off with these three traits.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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