Innovator of the Week
CEO of Awato
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
Awato is a team who believes that people are happiest and most productive when they do what they love. We help young adults determine what that is for them and how they can successfully pursue their goals.
We do all of this through an online platform. It assesses people’s interests, aptitudes, education, experience, and personality; enables them to identify and explore various careers; and provides a customized roadmap for how to achieve their goals.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
The Alpha Loft has been an invaluable resource for mentorship, events, networking and office space. Also, Hollis McGuire of the Small Business Development Center has been instrumental in guiding us through the process of raising money and communicating value to customers.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge was entering a space that we didn’t have a lot of experience in and having to quickly learn everything we could. When we started we understood that there was a huge problem in the industry and we had some idea of how we could solve it, but we didn’t know if the idea was feasible, if the market wanted it, and if that market conformed to the vast body of research that existed in career counseling. So we spent months poring over textbooks, scouring journal articles, discussing the idea with potential customers and meeting with every Ph.D that would take a meeting. It was only after those few months that we felt confident pursuing our vision, augmented by all of the research we had done.
What’s the best advice you have received?
One of the best pieces of advice we got was from my Aunt who said “Make sure you listen, really listen, don’t just wait for your turn to talk.” In the startup world there seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on pitching your idea and selling it to other people. But, in our experience, the best and most productive conversations happen when the customer is able to express their ideas for the industry and how technology could strengthen it. And, with those insights, you can combine the team’s vision and the customer’s vision into something great.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
For all four of us, New Hampshire has always been home. When we began looking to start a company, it was readily apparent that New Hampshire would be a great place for it with tons of startup resources and support, some of the best universities in the world and a huge and talented pool of potential future employees to draw on. Add to that all of the innovation that is going on throughout the state, and you have an ideal startup locale.
What does the future look like for your company?
We are currently in Beta testing, you can try Awato at Awato.io right now. Once we get through Beta, we’ll be looking to introduce Awato as a career counseling product on a few select campuses as we build out additional functionality. By January, we would like to have our full career counseling product suite so that students are able to manage their entire career development process from discovery to planning, marketing to networking, and finally securing a job, all in one place.