Deepti Chopra

Co-Founder of Adaface

Deepti Chopra is a co-founder at Adaface. Adaface helps companies automate screening interviews with a conversational bot, Ada. Companies prefer Adaface over traditional pre-employment testing tools because Adaface focuses on testing for on-the-job skills as opposed to theoretical knowledge. Previously, as engineer #2 at a Khosla Ventures funded startup, she built a WhatsApp chatbot for recruitment/ training of blue collar workers (used by Uber, Domino’s, Grab etc) before WhatsApp API was a thing. She completed her undergrad at IIT, and research at Caltech where she worked on improving the accuracy of machine learning algorithms used to predict earthquakes in California’s early warning systems.

Where did the idea for Adaface come from?

My co-founder and I are both software engineers (I stopped writing code to focus on the business side of things at Adaface). We’ve seen how hiring works, both from the perspective of candidates early in our careers and more recently as hiring managers for our respective teams. We agree that traditional assessment platforms are not a fair way for companies to evaluate candidates because they do not test for relevant skills and instead focus on theoretical knowledge. We started Adaface to help companies find great candidates by assessing on-the-job skills required for a role.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m not organized as a person, even if you use a loose definition of the term. I’m aware of that weakness and my way to compensate is to be focused on the long term and only work on stuff that moves the needle in a big way. Adaface is 4 years old now, so we have the base set up. The real question I need to ask myself everyday is how we’re going to 10x from here. I spend most of the day finding possible answers to that question & executing on those. I’m also trying to read more, so I try to read a book for 40 minutes or so before bed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. I try to keep this principle in mind, with anything I’m trying to create. My natural instinct falls towards perfection, which I believe is a double-edged sword. When trying to start something new, perfectionism can be the enemy that stops you from making any real progress. If on the other hand, you just start doing whatever needs to be done, you can always fix things or make it better later.

What’s one trend that excites you?

After a decade of multiple loops of the AI hype cycle, we’re now seeing large-scale, commercial use-cases that impact daily life. That’s exciting, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the decade unfolds.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

If something takes less than 5 minutes to do, I just do it instead of making a note to do it later.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t use being an introvert as an excuse to avoid making friends, you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Most founders shouldn’t raise money or should raise much later than they currently do.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs believe that they need to do something cool and game-changing to grow the company and shy away from the “boring work”. While such growth-hacks are great, they’re also far and few. When I know something has the potential to move the needle, I dive head first irrespective of how boring or monotonous it might be.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

For B2B SaaS products like ours in a well-understood market, customers do a lot of research online about the product, read reviews, compare with competitors before making a decision. So SEO works really well for us to help potential customers discover the product.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The first startup I started at 21 failed. I was building predictive analytics on top of millions of social profiles curated from across the web to find most relevant candidates for a job opening, and the idea was to use social cues to enable recruiters to reach out with a personalized pitch. The algorithm worked great, but I was a solo, introverted founder, unwilling to get out of my comfort zone to sell. In about a year and a half, I realized I was stuck. I knew I had to get out in the real world & shake things up. I took up a job as a Pizza Hut waiter for a couple of months, to get out of my comfort zone.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Shopify for SaaS- I think most B2B companies build similar base features for their customers- login flow, dashboard, user access management, billing flow, settings etc. A no-code/ low-code tool with multiple templates for each of these features can help startups save weeks/ months in engineering time.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My last purchase >100$ was $400 for a metabolism-tracking ring that I got a couple of weeks ago. I wouldn’t call myself a fitness enthusiast since it’s been over a year since I last went to the gym but I’m trying to get fitter in ways that suit me better. As I’m getting closer to 30, I’m beginning to realize that health really is wealth and no amount of money in the world can’t make you feel better when you’re sick.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Simplenote is great for jotting down ideas or saving links. I use it as a brain dump that I can search later. Whenever I come across an idea, article or link that I think might be useful later, I put it down. It works great because it is a super-light app that’s available on all platforms.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recently read “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. The author walks us through the journey he undertook to make his life a better story. He talks about how he went from staying home & sleeping all day to riding a bike across America, forming unlikely friendships & turning his life into a meaningful narrative. We can all learn to live a little more.

What is your favorite quote?

“Fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life” by Donald Miller is a current favorite.

Key Learnings:

  • Just start doing whatever needs to be done, you can always fix things or make it better later.
  • Most founders shouldn’t raise money or should raise much later than they currently do.
  • Fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.