How I Became A Founder: WorkClout’s Arjun Patel

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WorkClout is enabling deskless workers to perform to their highest potential while on the job. WorkClout is a mobile and web application designed to help industrial companies build and execute safety/quality inspections, incidents, corrective actions, and visual work instructions. WorkClout is a Y Combinator company and ventured backed by the top VCs and Angels in the world.

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Frederick Daso: When did you first gain interest in being a founder?

Arjun Patel: My dad has never had a job in his life and always started businesses since he was a kid. Growing up in India, he had aspirations to move to the US, which he eventually did when he was 24 or 25. When he made it to America, he was able to work some odd jobs and found out ways to make money to get enough capital to his own business. He eventually started a few businesses owning car washes, liquor stores, an immigration business, a winery, and his manufacturing company.

I saw my dad build multiple companies throughout his life, and I was always was inspired by his drive and energy. Even at 60, he’s still working on more projects while running three successful businesses simultaneously. So I first gained interest in becoming a founder when I was a kid, the moment I comprehended what my dad did for a living.

Daso: What were the key experiences that helped you be in the position you are today?

Patel: I can reflect on a lot of pivotal moments, but If I had to boil it down to 3 experiences, it would be:

  1. Working at my father’s manufacturing company. When I was a teenager, I asked my dad to work as an operator on the factory floor as an after school and summer job. This was when I discovered the magic in what my dad does in making a company run successfully. It also taught me the value of working hard for your goal and how it doesn’t come easy.
  2. Meeting my cofounders and starting our first app in 2015. Right after college, I decided I wanted to start a company — whether it failed or succeeded, I knew it would be like a mini-MBA, and I would obtain invaluable skills. I also didn’t want to do it alone, so I reached out to one of my closest friends from college and one of my current cofounders, Bryan Trang. We were completely green, we knew we wanted to build a company that revolved around a personal problem we felt and wanted to see how software could solve it, but the funny thing was none of us were software engineers. I remember us two building high-fidelity wireframes on photoshop (the worst way to create devs) designs. We eventually were introduced to our third cofounder, Richard Girges, our CTO and cofounder at WorkClout. He taught Bryan and me a lot about the tech industry when we were first entering the working world. All three of us have been teaching each other many things and have helped each other reach our personal and professional goals. Even though our first app ended up failing, it was still an invaluable experience, and all 3 of us have been inseparable since we decided to work together in 2015.
  3. I enrolled in Brian Balfour’s Growth Program. Growth is such a buzz word, and when I first heard the word in 2014, I just associated it with marketing, but it’s more product than anything. I wouldn’t learn that until I went through Brian Balfour’s Reforge program. When I first took enrolled in 2017, it started a genuinely transformative journey of personal growth. It opened my mind to how experts in the industry think about growing software companies. I will always appreciate Brian Balfour and Andrew Chen for all the great things I learned from that program.

Daso: Who were the important individuals or groups that contributed to your professional success, and why?

Patel: My dad, my cofounders Richard and Bryan, YC, our investors, Brian Balfour/Andrew Chen — I mentioned why my dad, my cofounders, and Brian Balfour/Andrew Chen. I say YC and our current investors because they essentially gave us our break. They gave us a vote of confidence in both advice and capital that has helped us grow as individuals and as a company.

Daso: How did you prepare for yourself to become a founder?

Patel: I feel like their’s prerequisite traits that come with being a founder: First — this is a long game, no quick returns, so you have to be ok with risk naturally, Second — you have to be ok with uncertainty, every blueprint to success is different. The best way to prepare yourself to become a founder is to make sure you have some relationship to the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s a lot easier this way. Don’t go out wanting to start a company. Look for a problem to be solved.

Daso: Were there any particular clubs at school that were useful resources for breaking into your current field?

Patel: I don’t think any particular school group had resources to help break into my current field. However, I was in a professional business fraternity in college called Delta Sigma Pi, which helped me meet people from various schools organized that helped and advised me to break into tech in general.

What do you think stops most people from becoming a founder?

I think the biggest thing would be a fear of failure and the risk of not making money, so leaving a comfortable job to pursue something uncertain.

Daso: Looking back, would you change anything about your professional path?

Patel: I think the only thing I would change is the beginning of my path in 2014. I wish I moved to SF and at least experienced right after college. I think I would have been more experienced earlier on. Still, then again, I don’t know if I would change my path because of all the great learning lessons I’ve gone through and all the fantastic people I’ve met on this journey so far.

Daso: Who are three other people I should interview next?

Patel: Here are three founders you should check out next!

  • Kevin Phung — CEO of Fora,
  • Johnny Chen — CEO of Sail
  • Lyn Chen — COO of Layer CI

Looking for a job with the hottest startups delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to my newsletter, Founder to Founder (F2F): f2f.substack.com. Check out my latest F2F story: Startup Spotlight #41: Motion.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my other work on LinkedIn and my personal website, frederickdaso.com. Follow me on Twitter @fredsoda, on Medium @fredsoda, and on Instagram @fred_soda.

Written by

Forbes Under 30 Contributor, 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice, Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures

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