Meet Arko Chattopadhyay, founder of Amigo. Amigo connects you with verified mental health care professionals at affordable rates, so you can live the life that you deserve.
They cater to people going through mental health problems and design tools for them to be able to cope with it by connecting them to verified professionals and making sure that the entire community benefits from it at large.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Arko Chattopadhyay: We all grew up watching the Gates and the Zuckerbergs of the world. However, back when we were kids, the Indian startup ecosystem wasn’t as booming as it is today, we could never think that we could just sit with friends and create something impactful. However as we came to college, companies like Ola, Zomato, Flipkart, and Paytm started coming up. I still distinctly remember, back in 2015/16 I was shortlisted for an aptitude competition that was sponsored by Byju’s. This was the time when Byju’s were selling their packages by shipping tablets to the homes of kids. There I happened to meet Mr. Byju Raveendran and his passion had sparked some kind of an urge in me to go back to my wishes of starting up.
Fast forward to college, I had been participating in various hackathons and connecting with new people all the time. I believe having several like-minded people around just allowed me to take that urge of starting up a bit more seriously and that’s when I decided to not just code or build random software products, but create a legitimate software product and build a company out of it.
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?
Arko Chattopadhyay: I guess the fact that most of the startups fail even before launching just vouches for the amount of motivation that you need to have to keep going when you startup. The hardships never stop, one day you need legal documents filed and posted, another day your database is all over the place. However, these hardships and challenges are something that has kept the journey exciting.
Did I ever consider giving up? On Amigo, yes. On starting up, no. We planned to pivot every second day until we found that validation and feedback from the ones who needed the product. About six months back we stopped work on Amigo and spent two weeks building a prototype for a food-tech product and when on to pitch it to about 30 odd restaurants and cafes in Manipal. We even got them to accept our offer. But every time we did something like this to pivot, we always found some reason to stick to Amigo and we are launched for over a month now with highly positive user feedback, repeat bookings, newspaper articles, and other things that we only wished to have happened to us.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Arko Chattopadhyay: “Sit for placements.”
I am hell-bent against placements in India. This is only due to the nature of the jobs. The companies in India and Asia as a whole are underpopulated and hence overwork their employees with the bare minimum salary.
Moreover, the fact that people lose all their motivation to learn new skills or develop themselves by getting stuck in this corporate loop just ends up leaving behind a huge chunk of stressed out, depressed, and exhausted youth in our population.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Arko Chattopadhyay: Adaptability. The ability to adapt to the current situation and treat it like the new normal is something that the majority of people aren’t able to do even if it’s been 2 years of living like this.
However, humans being social creatures do require that interaction with other humans and the world and even if everything is available virtually, it’s just not the same. You wouldn’t watch a Youtube playlist on Europe tours and claim to have had a vacation right? However, I feel the pandemic has been tougher for the older generations, like our parents, aunts, uncles, and others, who have spent the majority of their lives in the absence of the advanced solutions that have been developed in the last 10 to 15 years.
When you think of your company, 5 years from now, what do you see?
Arko Chattopadhyay: To be honest, we believe that 5 years from now Amigo will be the standard of mental health care all across the Asia Pacific and major parts of Europe. An individual will be getting everything, right from information on mental health to counseling to medication. We plan to even venture into offline markets and train therapists across all our markets so that the quality of mental health care as a whole, will go up with time.
What do you consider are your strengths when dealing with staff workers, colleagues, senior management, and customers?
Arko Chattopadhyay: So I will answer these in that order itself. When it comes to staff workers and colleagues, I believe trust and patience are all that they need in order to flourish. We have had several interns until now and the majority of them had a below-par quality of work, but by the time they finished the internship, their skills had improved 10 folds and the only reason was that we trusted them and were patient with them. Accepting the fact that everyone is learning is a must.
Since our founders are the only stakeholders, we don’t really have senior management at Amigo as of now. I myself interact with the customers. These are the initial stages of Amigo and getting proper user feedback is important. Apart from this, we have a feedback form and notification in place for feedbacks as well.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Arko Chattopadhyay: Yes, it does but not in the case of all brands.
You usually tend to look at a personal audience when you are starting out in order to get those initial users. In the longer term, it showcases trust towards the founder that only goes on to showcase trust towards the brand.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
Arko Chattopadhyay: Just interact with them and make them feel comfortable.
This allows the free flow of ideas because ideas can come from anyone. Moreover, if the people don’t interact with me, the hesitation to approach will only affect their quality of work when at Amigo,
However, I would like to add that amongst all the fun and interaction, we keep work first and professionalism is something we value highly at Amigo. Even if my team finds me friendly, they understand that the amount of responsibility I show in terms of making them feel comfortable at Amigo is proportional to the amount of responsibility they show towards Amigo.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Arko Chattopadhyay: Well, I am just 20 and already feel like I should have started a couple of years back. So I would only tell everyone to just start as early as they can. The risk involved is low because running a startup is tough and takes a toll on your mind and emotions. Hence, the earlier you start, the fewer things you will have to worry about.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Arko Chattopadhyay: “Fail fast!” This might sound like a generic one but believe me, the earlier you understand this, the easier the journey gets. Everyone in a startup, from the founders to the investors knows the risks involved and hence people would place their bets on you failing more often than on you succeeding. You will try things, fail and re-iterate. But if you aren’t able to understand this early on, every minor setback will only dent your motivation to startup.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Arko Chattopadhyay for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Arko Chattopadhyay or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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