CEO INTERVIEW - Fitbots : Execute Strategy effortlessly with OKRs
New Success Stories - Fitbots
VIDYA SANTHANAM- CEO
Please share with us briefly what you do.
I am the CEO of Fitbots. At Fitbots, we help CXOs align and engage teams with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Being a total OKR partner, our differentiator is our intuitive OKR SaaS platform, and network of OKR Coaches who make onboarding to OKRs super simple. We are based in Singapore and co-located in Bengaluru India.
As the CEO of Fitbots, my role is to manage growth and customer success. It is interesting to manage customer acquisition and retention, as it gives a great spectrum of insights on what makes us win and most importantly, for customers to stay with Fitbots.
What were you doing before this?
Before starting Fitbots, I was leading Organizational Development, Performance, and Leadership building for a billion-dollar company, Mindtree. The experience got me to observe how teams are structured, and how companies globally focus more on reviews and rating of individual performance rather than focus on executing strategy, by aligning teams towards business outcomes.
This curiosity made me move away from the warmth of the herd, and I went on to set up Fitbots in 2018, along with my co-founder and CTO Kashi, who was my colleague in Mindtree.
Describe your product. How does it work?
Fitbots OKR SaaS platform addresses the biggest pain points of transitioning teams to OKRs. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal/ critical thinking framework that enables all teams to move towards outcomes.
From the time of sign up, our Customer success experts run OKR learn sessions to onboard teams to OKRs.
The platform being intuitive enables teams to write high-quality OKRs, using our writing assistant. There is also an option to book an OKR Coach for additional hand-holding.
Teams who come together to set OKRs, connect and align their progress to Company OKRs, visually viewing how they impact Company progress.
Using many of the best practices from agile, OKRs foster week on week check-ins, which are updated on the platform , and viola real time insights make it super easy for all in the company to keep track of progress.
OKRs are celebrated with Friday win meetings, and exchanging appreciation badges and calling out wins, keeps that awesome feeling going within teams.
What are the key benefits?
The biggest benefit we see is an increase in engagement and transparency towards the achievement of business goals. Clients we have worked with see a 100% increase in transparency and alignment, and an 80% increase in engagement towards organizational direction! This is very important especially with teams gone remote.
Who are your closest competitors?
We compete with other global OKR players and sometimes with Spreadsheets
Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
One of our early customers on OKRs, was one of the Social Media / Internet companies in India. The need for alignment of all teams was the biggest driver. Before Fitbots, teams were using spreadsheets and it was very difficult to track and manage OKRs.
What motivated you to start this business?
Prior to Fitbots, I was in leading Organizational Development. The need to connect and align teams to company strategy, and drive performance through outcomes inspired me to explore the idea further.
The calling to start this also stemmed from taking a risk and really walking into space where the category was fairly new.I also had the purpose of setting up a tech start-up and found the right co-founder Kashi, who joined hands in fulfilling this dream.
Over 2 years, we have built an ecosystem for OKRs which I am super proud of achieving.
What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
Being a Founder is a roller coaster ride, and a huge responsibility. This requires the juggling of work and home and spending time with my kid when I get the time. The trade-off of time with my kid is the biggest sacrifice to make Fitbots work!
How did you get funded?
We were Bootstrapped for more than a year. Received a Government grant in 2019. We recently raised a pre-seed from amazing investors who offer great mentorship.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
We constantly work towards publishing our thought leadership on OKRs, be it our ebooks, webinars or blog posts.
Describe a typical workday
I start my workday with a catch up with my co-founder on priorities and user feedback. This is followed by a call with the team, to enable them to prioritize tasks to impact OKRs. Usually, I speak to a client or present in demos with a prospective buyer. There are clients who are new to OKRs, coaching them on how to roll out OKRs is a conversation I love having.
Reading is very key, so I spend time on LinkedIn to check on the latest updates.
Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?
We have a strategic partnership with OKRs Training US, the global best in OKRs, mentored by Paul Niven, Kevin Baum, and Zach Ross. Kevin has been a great influence with his dedicated time and support on ensuring we together take OKRs to APAC.
What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
We have spent 2 years creating an ecosystem for OKRs in our region. This is through our Software, Coaching, and certifications. The proudest moment is when we got selected as part of the Workplace Accelerator Singapore, and also awarded the Top 100 high potential Startups by the Government of Karnataka, India.
What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
We faced a customer churn, which was very disappointing as we had worked very hard on customer success. The learning was to improve the quality of touchpoints from our customer success perspective.
If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
Have a career track in Business and set up a start-up sooner!
What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
Double dip on my workout time, by listening to YouTube videos on startup hacks
More about Vidya:
- First job: I started my career with a company named iGate, in Talent Acquisition/ Sourcing
- Someone you admire: My sister who is a working mom with twins and a teenager and balances home and work life by being so organized!
- Favorite book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (great book for Startup founders) and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Favorite Film: The Last Samurai and Forrest Gump
- Favorite Music: Pop rock and Classic Rock
- Favorite author: My all-time Charlotte Bronte (The author of Jane Eyre)
- Favorite Gadget: My Phone! where I get to play youtube videos during my workout
- Last holiday: Was to Goa, India
- When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you? With a book
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