With more than 17 years of experience as an entrepreneur, Jonathan Ramaci is a mobile product and innovation visionary entrepreneur. He resides in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Jonathan Ramaci is the CEO of Wellnest, a company that uses voice technology to better the lives of seniors receiving healthcare. After graduating from the Citadel, Jonathan served in the army for four years.
After leaving the service, Jonathan Ramaci worked in research and development for Duracell. While working for Duracell, Jonathan was among the first to use the then-new database system, Oracle. After being recruited by Oracle, he managed the technology consulting practice for Oracle in their northeast region.
Jonathan Ramaci took his leap into being an entrepreneur when he saw the ability for companies to use the Cloud as an all-new model to host their information. His first company, Pangea Database Systems, was later bought by Rackspace. Such early and amazing success gave Jonathan the bug to commit to being an entrepreneur and it has defined his life ever since. Wellnest, which he has been involved with now for five years and counting, is the seventh company Jonathan has guided in his still-expanding career.
Where did the idea for Wellnest come from?
The genesis of Wellnest was started when my family was dealing with healthcare issues surrounding our mother. She had become very sick with cancer. My siblings and I wanted to be involved in her health care but we were geographically dispersed across the U.S., and we never found an app that really helped to bring everyone together in what we’ve now coined as a “circle of care,” a group of family and loved ones all dealing with doctors to know what’s going on and to help provide for her needs. It inspired me to start a company to try to solve the problem of supporting our aging parents. Through my work with Wellnest, I have found that seniors are the largest growing demographic worldwide. Often, the folks that are trying to provide help for their elderly parents are also taking care of their own families at the same time. There is a great need for tools to support that type of care and ease the burden for everyone involved.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day actually begins the previous day, when I fill out my calendar with tasks and take notes on what I want to accomplish. So, I start my day by reviewing all that material, then I get busy on it. I normally have some standing meetings with staff and coworkers to help orient them and keep things on track, as well as start in on my own individual goals for the day. Since everyone is working from home these days, we accomplish our meetings online.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My ideas begin to formulate when I analyze something and see it as broken or inefficient. That’s my premise: How can I fix something and make it better? I tend to look at what the user experience is like for the average consumer in an empathetic, design-approach way. I ask, “What could make this task easier for someone to achieve to reach a better outcome?” And then after coming up with the big idea, I’ll do a bit of a sanity check on myself and see what’s going on in the market and see if there’s an opportunity there, if my idea has legs. Then I’ll start to involve other folks to see if it’s possible.
Wellnest is heavily involved with voice technologies. We’ve actually invented our own voice engine. It’s really unique because it’s connected to an artificial intelligence backend. It can detect the emotions of the speaker during the conversation and then the artificial intelligence informs automatic responses that are enabled by the system depending on the emotions it is translating. We’ve been coming up with ideas to take this application into other areas like voice commerce. For example, we just signed with a major global insurance company to enable them to have more customized, meaningful dialogues with their consumers instead of just canned responses.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend towards connectivity excites me. It’s very easy to see it through the lens of COVID-19 right now, but I think connecting people and processes, whether it’s educational or transactional commerce or any number of other things, I think there’s a lot of opportunity in that sphere. There’s a technical backbone out there that people are getting used to using. It’s becoming a part of their lives, creating experiences that are being embraced and making lives better.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think keeping lists of things that need to be done and then accomplished during the day helps me to be more productive. You can reflect at the end of the day to see what you’ve accomplished and understand what you need to do tomorrow in order to further whatever big goal you have in mind.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t get lost in the details of things. Don’t take the little challenges that are routine so seriously.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That is a hard question! I think sometimes taking a nap is good.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Talk to your coworkers every day and make sure you have touchpoints around your project every single day. Don’t leave it to weekly meetings. Keep up with things on a granular level.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My best strategy is prioritizing relationships with people so that you can be flexible with your clients and customers and really understand their needs.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve been very lucky to say that out of the seven companies I’ve started, only one has failed. Start-ups have a high rate of failure — it’s something like 80% — so my experience is the inverse of what most people understand.
But I did have one company fail, and after putting so much blood, sweat, and tears into it and watching it fail was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat. But, you can’t let that get you down. In my case, I took some time to reflect, looked back on all the things I’ve accomplished while analyzing why this one failed and why the others didn’t. I tried to be as fair as possible to myself and not let it get me down too much. I reminded myself that I’m doing what I love and there are many famous entrepreneurs who have had setbacks during their career.
When things get rough, I think about Colonel Sanders having to knock on the doors of a thousand restaurants trying to sell his fried chicken recipe and getting a thousand doors slammed in his face before he knocked on one that said yes and all it took was that one yes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I can’t claim full ownership of the creation of this idea, but I’ve read a bit about it going on in the Netherlands, but if I were to do my “Company #8” it would be to find a way to connect younger people — specifically college age students — with senior citizens. I think one of the greatest problems for seniors is loneliness, but I think they have a lot to offer younger people in wisdom.
In the Netherlands, they have a very successful program connecting college age students who are trying to earn a little extra money or need a room while they’re in university with older senior citizens. The benefits to both sides of the ecosystem are incredible. They often end up developing lifelong friendships; the younger people teach the seniors about Facebook and other confusing new tech things and also provide a level of companionship. Meanwhile, the young college students are having a great time and there’s a lot of personal satisfaction in improving the lives of senior citizens. Even before COVID-19, I thought it was something that would be really great in the U.S. It’s something we could probably use in our culture. I think that the marriage of those two groups of people that are really in need could be very successful and rewarding. That’s kind of where my focus is at this point in my career: Doing entrepreneurial things but also looking for something beyond monetary benefit.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a panini machine. I like to cook for my kids and they love these sandwiches, so recently that’s the best $100 I’ve spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
It’s a lesser-known program called MindNode. It’s a free-form way of putting ideas down in a mind map, to make lists and organize thoughts. I’ve been using it for about eight months now. It helps me get more organized and track ideas.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Bible, because there are so many life lessons in it. I think it encapsulates so much that’s important about human wisdom.
What is your favorite quote?
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”
• Prioritize relationships with people.
• It is important to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.