An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Plan before but be reactive and flexible to which way your business is heading.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”,I had the pleasure of interviewing Rav Panesar.
Rav Panesar is the founder and CEO of social-tech company Rymindr, a service which works through an app that automates and alerts users about important dates and events such as doctor’s appointments and deadlines for bills and payments, with the aim of helping people and businesses save money and time. He founded the company five years ago after researching how damaging forgetting dates can be financially. It has since gained hundreds of thousands of users.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I developed a big interest in tech from a young age. This led me to study computer science at the University of Greenwich, and since then I haven’t looked back, working in the computer industry for 21 years now. In my early years working in digital technology, I founded Web Genies, a company that builds websites and web applications for businesses, which I later sold. I’ve worked for various corporate, bank and financial institutions, including the Financial Times and Thompson Reuters, on the design and implementation of apps and web technology, as well as specialising in blockchain. I also gained a certified scrum master qualification along the way, a methodology which I believe in and I continue to use with my team today.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
In June 2016, I was involved in a car accident, suffering a spinal fracture and slipped discs that left me in excruciating pain. The recovery process was slow. For the first six months I saw osteopaths, chiropractors and physios but I could find no long-term relief. I was in constant pain, I struggled to even walk. It was eventually decided that I should have surgery on my spine, with the risk it could leave me paralysed. Thankfully I came out ok, but it took me about a year in total to recover, and my back still isn’t as strong as it used to be. This was such a challenging period for me but I was determined to turn it into something positive, to use the time I spent recovering productively, to use it to make a difference. And I did. It was during this time that the idea for Rymindr was formed and took shape.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Running and building a business is hard, you will fall and fail, many times! Building up Rymindr to where it is now has not been plain sailing, but two things have really pushed me forward and empowered me not to give up. The first is validation from people, including our users, about how Rymindr helps them and what they get out of it. The second is the amazing feedback we get from people about the vision behind Rymindr.
It has been said that our mistakes are our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Let’s call this one, ‘right place, right time, maybe God’s listening?’ This is going back to when I first started. The vision behind Rymindr was to remind people, however at the start I wasn’t using Rymindr for myself as I really should have. One day, I was attending and helping at an event at our local Gurudwara (temple), but it turned out I had a meeting with a client on that same day. They called me on my mobile ‘reminding’ me of our meeting at the precise time I was helping to cook some food to serve people. Thankfully, the client saw the irony and funny side of it and was very understanding. I had my handsfree on and continued with the meeting while frying samosas.
This was when the automation of Rymindr started. I questioned myself, why did I not have a ‘Rymindr’ setup? Turns out people have too many things to keep track of in their lives and data entry or keeping diaries up to date and accurate can be tricky, time consuming and sometimes annoying. What was my takeaway? Lightbulb moments can manifest in the strangest ways, the trick is to spot them and realise this could be something special.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We define ourselves as a social technology business with a heart. I always wanted to create a business that would give back to society, and our aim is to develop services using the latest technology which benefit people. ‘Tech for good.’ The vision behind Rymindr is to create a win-win ecosystem that benefits anyone who uses it and make positive impacts on people’s lives.
Rymindr is used by people every day to keep track of important dates and events, and to save money. It offers services to help households save thousands of pounds every year. We work for our members to maximize those benefits and continue to grow to offer more useful services to help save more time and money.
My original idea when I started Rymindr was also to allocate a percentage of its revenue to good causes. The cause I have homed in on is school meals. I’m passionate about this. Hundreds and thousands of children in the UK are going hungry because they do not qualify for free school meals under government rules. Through my work with schools, I’ve heard too many stories of children being unable to pay for food. I’ve witnessed parents counting change on head teachers’ desks to ensure their child got a school meal. No child should go hungry. Without sounding too cliche, children are the future and while the government is doing what it can, I know through Rymindr we can have amazing impacts using innovative ways to create long term sustainable support. With each member of Rymindr Rewards we can fund two meals and we have plans to extend this to four soon. As more and more people use Rymindr every year, our mission to end child hunger gets closer and closer to being achieved.
We are helping schools in two ways. Most schools in this country are really struggling and underfunded. They lack adequate facilities and opportunities, and it’s a significant problem. To help, each Rymindr user can nominate a school. Once a certain threshold of nominations is reached, we fund services for that school and for staff members in addition to helping fund school meals.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Having breathing space away from the business is just as important as working on the business. As the saying goes, time is one commodity which is not replaceable. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s something I learned a little later into my business life and although I do not regret working hard, I now realise I have missed out on some very important things in my life, including spending time with the kids or meeting friends and family at events. Work hard, but use your time wisely, it’s not coming back.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Absolutely! For me, support has come from close family and friends. There’s a saying which I read that has really stuck in my mind: ‘show me some of your closest family and friends and I’ll show you your future’. It’s so important to have the right people around you. In the early days of Rymindr, at the pre-concept stages, two people really got behind me. One is my amazing wife and the other is my friend Banty Singh. When I was at the stage where I still was 50/50 about progressing with Rymindr, it was Banty who gave me the push to get on the road, so to speak. In fact, his exact words were: ‘so what you waiting for, get going.’ I also draw inspiration from other people who have life and business experience. I’m constantly learning, and I thrive from listening and taking on board information from successful people who are humble and down to earth.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
We have hundreds of thousands of people using Rymindr every day, sharing and receiving millions of Rymindrs. Three steps,
- Listen to your users.
- Implement change that will benefit them or solve a problem for them.
- Create moments where your users can’t help but tell other people about how they have benefitted.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
Our revenue comes from our subscription model, Rymindr Rewards. It’s a £60 annual subscription that has the benefit of pulling in the cheapest options and discounts for everything from MOTs to retail and services. The objective is to save our users hundreds if not thousands of pounds per year, especially beneficial given the cost-of-living crisis.
Thank you. Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Know your audience.
- Listen to your users.
- Know your product or service
- Plan before but be reactive and flexible to which way your business is heading.
- Know your tech or get expert advice from someone who does. It’s too easy and expensive to fall into a trap where you limit yourself with how your business can scale or develop.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Rymindr! Simple, that’s who we are and that’s what we’re doing.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow me on Twitter @RymindrRav
Follow facebook on www.facebook.com/rymindr
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Rav Panesar Of Rymindr: 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.