In our new series celebrating local businesses, we interview business owners to learn about their business and also what makes them tick. Every business’s story is different, as are their goals and plans for the future. We’ll delve into the story of how the business came about – from it’s humble beginnings to today. We’ll also find out what words of advice these businesses have for new business owners. In this edition, we’re talking to Vijeesh Sathyanesan, the Co-Founder, CEO and CTO of ConnectOne Club.
Interview with Vijeesh Sathyanesan from ConnectOne Club
1. To start, what does your business do and what does your role at ConnectOne Club involve?
We developed ConnectOne Club as a way of connecting local businesses, vendors, employees and customers. We have a focus on the agricultural industries, particularly farmer communities. Our platform helps to fill the gap between these industries and their communities by providing them with a technological platform. We have three Co-Founders. I am one of the Co-Founders, as well as the CEO and CTO. I head our technology development. Our other two Co-Founders head our sales department and project management department.
2. What was the motivation behind you starting your business?
We are community building people. We found that the way people were interacting with local businesses has changed significantly because of technology. Instead of interacting with their local community and local economy, people are using technology platforms to interact with the global economy. So, we work to give technology capabilities back to our local communities so they can start economically performing how they used to. Our platform has a focus on farming communities, particularly agricultural community associations and cooperatives, because their objective is to bring great things into the community. However, what they lack is a technical framework. So, we give them that technical framework to enable them to perform at their best.
3. What does an average day look like at your business?
Right now, we have a lot happening with our platform. We have around 300 agricultural associations listed with us, so on a day-to-day basis we conduct a lot of research sessions and meetings. In Australia, we are working to find solutions for Australian farmers, so our research meetings help us understand what problems these producers are facing and what technological solutions we can provide them with to help grow their industry. We communicate with these associations on a daily basis, not only to showcase the capabilities and achievements they could enjoy by using our platform, but also to help them reach their full potential.
4. What is your biggest achievement/ what are you most proud of?
We have just launched our pilot solution for cardamom farming communities in India. We have helped auction $5 million worth of cardamom, in one month. It’s pretty amazing. In Australia, we have began communicating with FOMENT, an Australian Wine association, because they need a platform to communicate with their producers and buyers. They have given our platform a really positive response. Also, by February 2022, the Queensland mango association will be using our platform in their operations, so thats a very good breakthrough.
5. What are you most proud of so far?
We are giving more control back to the community. That is one thing we are proud of. We make use of the power of technology to build each particular community. We have done a lot in a short amount of time, we started with 10 families working for us, now we have 70. So, when you use technology correctly, you can build some amazing relationships. That’s the power of technology. When you use it wisely, you can make a lot of goods things happen within a community.
6. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
I’m not really a book guy, but I watch a lot of Netflix series. Ozark and Fargo are great. They talk about businesses before the age of technology and the clash between family businesses and big enterprises. I also watch a lot of TED Talks. Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ is great. He really focuses on thinking about the ‘why, how and what’ in business, because without these three levels of thinking, we cannot implement new and great things.
7. Which business leader(s) do you seek inspiration from and why?
Ever since my childhood, I have looked up to Bill Gates. He is a great business man. I like that he is a straight forward thinker and does not sugar coating anything. He just comes up with a product and says something like ‘use my product and you will see the benefits’. He is always confident about his products and it shows.
8. What’s next for your business?
So, we have been talking with a lot of associations and hopefully by the end of September 2021 we will be able to implement ConnectOne in all major agricultural sectors. We have also been thinking of expanding our basis from farming communities out to industrial estates, because they have got a lot of shops. We may be able to use our technical framework to help them transition into big operational units. So thats one area that we may try to tap into.
9. What words of advice do you have for budding business owners?
Have a concrete concept, do your market research, then build a supporting framework. That is our secret sauce. When we started ConnectOne Club, I did a lot of research on our concept, the market and business risks. In terms of building your businesses framework, your concept will only take you about 30% of the way. The remaining 70% comes from market research and seeing whether your concepts fits a market need. Understanding these things have helped us.