[quote style=”boxed”]At times, I have put too much faith in someone or something even though it goes against my gut, and regretted it when things did not work out. Trust your gut more than anyone or anything. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.[/quote]
Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata. Pawan is responsible for the company’s vision, management and product strategy, and leads the firm’s advanced development initiatives. Pawan has held software engineering positions at Microsoft and Google and was awarded patents in social networking and natural language processing areas. Pawan earned his S.B. and M. Eng. in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What are you working on right now?
At Curata, we are working to enable busy B2B marketers to easily find, organize and share content on a specific topic with an audience.
There is tons of content online. As consumers, we all struggle to keep up with our inboxes, Twitter feeds and social media streams. Yet at the same time, marketers don’t have enough content in today’s content marketing world. We are passionate at Curata about bridging that gap for consumers and marketers alike.
Where did the idea for Curata come from?
My personal background is in technology and software, specifically natural language processing (NLP), which is using machine learning on text content. I started Curata because recognized that there is an enormous amount of content online that will only continue to grow. Using NLP is a great way to help understand and distill content online. Not everyone has access or the know-how for that type of technology, so I thought Curata was a great way to put that technology under the hood. Marketers, publishers and agencies can leverage this technology for whatever content they’re passionate about.
How do you make money?
We are a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model, and our customers subscribe to use our technology.
What does your typical day look like?
I have lots of meetings! When I started the company, I played every role in the lifecycle of the company. I’ve been a developer, a sales person, a customer service representative, and have worn the marketing hat when we needed to publish. Now, I’m a coach and I work among different teams. I get things done through other people.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I think of an idea, or someone else thinks of an idea, the next step is to socialize the idea among the company. We determine if other people understand and appreciate the idea, then validate it to see if it makes sense and adds value to our customers. The final step is determining an execution plan.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
All this talk about Google Glasses. I want a pair!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Newspaper delivery. I delivered single newspapers, 50 at a time for the whole campus. I learned to delegate; I hired subcontractors who helped with the heavy lifting (literally) and took a cut from it.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Since I started the company, a lot of software as a service best practices around customer discovery and validation have matured. If I were to start over, I would have used those resources.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am obsessive about maintaining my to-do list. I would highly recommend starting your day by setting goals for what you want to do, building a to-do list, and then working against it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At times, I have put too much faith in someone or something even though it goes against my gut, and regretted it when things did not work out. Trust your gut more than anyone or anything. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Go into curation online – it’s like a land grab! Find a topic on which no one is curating content, yet has a lot of content in disperse locations. Bring it together in one location, curate it, and then find sponsors and advertisers that want to reach your target audience. Build a business out of it.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I’d get rid of humans. It would solve world peace, world hunger and global warming all at once. I would not actually go about this!
Tell us a secret.
Secrets are best kept as secrets.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1. IFTT.com because it connects anything with anything. Set up a rule, for example if it’s sunny outside, you can have this site Tweet that it’s sunny outside. As another example, if I get an email that mentions a subject line, call me at this line immediately.
2. Readability because it let’s your get the text of an article and send it to your Kindle. It’s an easy way to read articles away from your computer.
3. Pomodoro Chrome Plugin because it helps me focus and get things done without being distracted by emails, social media, news, or anything else online.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Teamwork is very important, and having an open and honest culture is important to functioning.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
1. David Pogue: He keeps you on top of tech and science while being funny about it.
2. Electronic Frontier Foundation: If it wasn’t for their work, the Internet would look very different (and depressing) right now.
3. Slashdot: News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud when I watch the “Gangnam Style” video.
Who is your hero, and why?
Malcolm X – he is someone who stood up for something, but realized his own flaws and failures, and changed as a result.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be?
If you were not an entrepreneur, I’d be a developer at a company like Google. I very much enjoy building things. If not building a company, I’d love contributing and working with a team and building a product.
What is the one thing you miss most about life before running a start-up?
I started the company directly after graduate school. In graduate school, I would spend 6 months thinking about a single problem. Now I spend about 6 seconds thinking about each problem. I miss have a long attention span and deep thinking.