In today’s’ world, there is an urgent need for us to bring back positive interactions online via social platforms. We, as a human race, have come so far and have created a way in which we can engage with each other across oceans and without barriers. We cannot afford to lose this ability to communicate, to negativity, and must bring back social communication to its simplest form.
The world needs a social platform that takes us back to the fundamentals: where members can interact privately and positively, where we can build each other up instead of tearing each other down, where we can prevent interactions with the anonymous masked troller, and where we can get back to the basics in communication.
ChekMarc is a free global social platform where people connect one on one to help each other achieve goals. Connections are positive and more safe; and are private, without the worry of negative comments or responses. Anyone, anywhere in the world (over the age of 18) who is looking for guidance or would like to help others can use ChekMarc.
We are publishing an interview with Vrinda Johnson – Co-Founder and Chief of Strategy & Operations, ChekMarc.
Q.: Please tell us about the founders
Ans: ChekMarc was founded by myself and Marc Kaplan. Marc and I met during our prior careers and immediately connected given our common passion for mentorship.
I was at a point in my career where I was contemplating how I could focus on leadership and mentorship coaching, and Marc had this idea about enabling guidance conversations in a more positive way. The stars aligned right away, and we started the journey to build ChekMarc in mid-summer 2020.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
Ans: We have a small but mighty team right now within ChekMarc, besides myself and Marc. Rebecca Garfinkel, our Marketing and Social Media Lead, is a powerhouse of a marketer. Although early in her career, she has reams of wisdom and insights that are helping drive powerful brand positioning and marketing for us. Amulya Pamidimukkala, our Lead Software Engineer, has been able to take our ideas and help form them, shape them and bring them to life. She is working with and managing a large development team and despite her being early career as well, she has been voice of reason helping find technical solutions to make ChekMarc the most efficient platform possible. Austin Alcala, our Technology and Security Lead, has worked tirelessly to create a more safe and secure environment for our members. Kay Quach, our Member Experience Lead, has taken on the responsibility of engaging with our members and solve issues as they come in.
Although in customer experience now, her strong technical background is only helping us improve ways to serve our members. Our team is located across the US, and ironically has never even met in person! We have built this business in a virtual world and in-spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions/lockdowns. Our core team includes formidable partner teams in development/engineering, marketing/PR, and technology solutions, and are located globally across India, Europe and the US. We have built a powerful virtual machine of an organization.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Digitization of communication is such a powerful development and has broken down barriers to communication – even major barriers like geography and language. Unfortunately, it has also created this ability for unsolicited and unwanted negative commentary and has taken away the basic power of digital communication to connect people. On the other hand, social platforms have the incredible ability to allow people to not only communicate but also do good and help each other. This, too, has been lost in the current landscape. This was our inspiration for ChekMarc – to create a platform where people can truly help each other, without barriers and biases; and to bring back the power of digital communication and connection. We recognized the dire need for this in the market, combined it with our passion for mentorship and connecting people, and created a platform that brings the best of it all to people globally without barriers or bias.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: As I mentioned before, we are fundamentally different. Our value proposition is simple: to provide a platform where people can connect in a private, positive and safer way, to help each other achieve something. Not only are we prepared, but we are confident that this value, although simple, is strong and will continue to resonate with people in the powerful way we have already seen it resonate.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
Ans: We built ChekMarc with one single minded focus – to build a social platform that was available for anyone, anywhere (over the age of 18) without biases and without barriers. Our platform is where members, not users, will have a purposeful interaction. We will be successful when we see that members opt to go back often because they find value in helping others and/or receiving guidance on something they are trying to accomplish. We are not attempting to create an addiction – and therefore do not see our members are users. We are creating a purposeful interaction with the platform, and that purpose is created by achievement. Every member we have today, is our ideal member because no one type of person defines us, and we are a platform where you can be free from judgement about what is meaningful and impactful to you.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: I am a big believer in opportunity, not failures or challenges. Every challenge we face is an opportunity for us to come out stronger because it forces us to build a muscle we didn’t have before. We have seen plenty of these opportunities – be it in technology, selection of partners, implementation and timing, decisions on product features, strategy etc. – you name it, and we have been presented with it. Our biggest opportunity as a team has been to face these situations with all of our different perspectives in mind, and still come out with a decision in the best interest of ChekMarc. The opportunity itself was recognizing that even though we don’t all agree, we are all invested in this business and the value we bring, and we have to trust each other to get to the right decision.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? Explain your thought process.
Ans: ChekMarc is a FREE platform currently available globally, in 36 different languages. This was of critical importance to us – to be able to provide a platform that connects people in a private, more safe, and positive way where you can help each other achieve your goals. You cannot put a price on that. The value of having access to information and people that can help you is priceless, and creates a sense of community that is desperately needed in the world today. This is why we built ChekMarc, and will continue to focus onthe importance of continuing to bring this value to people across the world without bias and without barriers.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We are privately funded, and investors will continue to remain anonymous at this time. Our sole focus is building the platform and making connections in a way that has not been possible before.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: ChekMarcs’ success is based on the success of our members. Every connection we make is an example of success because it means we have brought someone closer to accomplishing a life goal, allowed someone else to feel the benefit of helping another, and enabled a connection between two people that may not have had connected before. With that backdrop in mind, each and every single one of our connections between members is success in our eyes.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail.
Ans: The Chekmarc platform has resonated with so many people, worldwide, in ways we could not have imagined. This is our value – bringing people together. Our value is not measured by the number of sign ups but simply by the quality of connection and the positive feedback on having a platform that is free from all the noise. This is what we deliver to our members every day.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Our primary focus right now is to listen to our members, and continue to enhance and improve what we can provide them via ChekMarc. We have been listening closely and intently, and have a large effort under way to bring even more value to the market. Stay tuned!!
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: ChekMarc is fundamentally different, we are a platform with a purpose – what we do is different, how we do it is different and why we do it is different. We are a social platform that connects people where we can help each other achieve something impactful in life, and are global. We enable this connection privately, one on one where members have to agree to connect, and conversations between members are private. We enforce heavy content moderation to ensure positivity of communication and have strict guidelines that guide our members. We do all of this, with the simplest goal in mind which is creating a platform that enables the power of human connection to help push each other forward – globally, without trolls, positively and sincerely.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: Many of us dream of getting back to positive online social networks, with more safe, private interaction where we can be open and vulnerable.Our goal is to change the way the world communicates, remove barriers when it comes to accessing help to achieve goals, and bring us back to connecting on a human level. We are laying the path to do just that – get back to the fundamentals, bring back the positivity, and give digital social interaction back its power to connect people globally. The journey will be tough and tedious, we will face many nay-sayers along the way and not everyone may agree with our approach – and that’s okay. Like the famous sayings go, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and ‘what got us here won’t get us there’ – we know the road that lies ahead, we need to rise to the challenge, and ‘Make it Happen’.
Unlike any other platform that exists today, we at the outset already have built-in features like content moderation (not allowing derogatory, harmful, hateful or any other form of toxic/inappropriate content), identity verification (where members can certify their identity if they choose) and strict data privacy. Meaning, these features are part of our value proposition and not something we are adding in as an afterthought like a lot of other platforms. Our Data and Privacy compliance is also built in such a way that members have the ultimate control over their own data, can manage/delete/request any of their activity at any time. We do not sell our members data – therefore there is no fear of data breaches or unwanted/unnecessary ads or promotions. Members decide which data and information is private and which is public – they have the ability to manage and control their information.
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: I recently read a book titled “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and it immediately made it to my top 5 list along with The Alchemist (Paoulo Coehlo), and The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell). “The One Thing” really struck me because of the way it challenges you to find your focus, find the one thing that you can and will control to drive results, whatever those intended results might be. It isn’t your typical self-improvement book but actually stirs up a fire in your belly in a way that really resonated with me. I would say this, to all those ambitious and committed entrepreneurs – Find your ‘One Thing’, ignite the fire and Power On!