Rising StarRising Stars: Co-Founders of DreamPath Offer a New Approach for Job Seekers

DreamPath Team
Balaji Vasudevan (left) and Balki Kodarapu (right), co-founders of DreamPath.

We all have a vision of our ‘dream job.’ And when you think about it, that job is as much, if not more, about a ‘dream company’ than it is about the position itself.

Yet nearly all job search engines focus on positions and skill sets—the company is secondary. Balki Kodarapu and Balaji Vasudevan, co-founders of DreamPath realized that this method of job searching is unlikely to lead you to a thriving career. Here’s why, and here’s what they’re doing about it:

The spark that inspired the birth of DreamPath: A little while ago, I was suffering in a job I didn’t enjoy much. I was so motivated to make a change that I paid a career coach $1,800 to find my next gig. That money was totally worth it… you know why? Because the coach taught me the most valuable career lesson: Focus, follow and “connect” with a small number of companies that I’d love to work for – don’t chase every job as it is posted on a job board!

That powerful idea stuck with me even after my corporate career search ended. My co-founder Balaji Vasudevan went through a similar experience. So when we wanted to start a company together, a software tool that focused on helping career-seekers find a career at their dream companies was the obvious choice.

Delivering measurable value to your customers is a top priority before anything else—and that includes raising outside capital.”

The problem that DreamPath solves: Career seekers, including young college graduates, are simply not aware of many of the great companies out there. Even when they are, they do not necessarily know how to go about getting a job there in today’s environment.

Career influencers, i.e., career coaches and recruiters, have an acute need to scale their business to be able to effectively help larger number of clients. Providing relevant guidance that makes use of the large volume of online and offline information available has become more urgent and more difficult.

The story behind the name: We brainstormed and came up with about 10 names before we went into the Startup Weekend competition where we pitched the idea for the first time.

A couple of them bubbled up to the top, including DreamPath. The name resonated with the entire team because for many career-seekers finding a company that matches their philosophies is a “dream come true.” And our mission is to provide a “path” to accomplish those dreams.

What differentiates DreamPath from its competition: DreamPath is the industry’s first fully automated career advice platform. We use a combination of user information and big data to craft a custom tailored action plan. Our sophisticated algorithms bring together various data sources and the knowledge of career coaches. No other company in the industry has such an ambitious agenda. Each of our competitors either focus on a niche within the career industry, like networking or applicant-tracking, or offer more manual ways of doing what DreamPath can automate.

How you make money: DreamPath is offered as a licensed, white-labeled product to career influencers. Our current target segments include college career offices, alumni centers, head-hunters, and professional associations.

As part of the offering, these organizations get a completely branded and customized version of DreamPath, which they can in turn offer to their members and students. The subscription pricing (monthly or annual) is based on the number of end-users and starts at $199 per month.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur: Most people spend a major portion of their waking hours at work. DreamPath provides us a way to make a truly meaningful difference in their lives. We love hearing stories of career-seekers finding a company they didn’t know about or following through with an action item that takes them a step closer to their ideal career.

The biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date: Entrepreneurship is hard work, with long hours and lots of highs and lows. In spite of that, we are having the best time of our lives since we are so very passionate about solving this problem. That has been the biggest surprise.

Your biggest success: Signing up our first client (a private university in Oregon). They were thrilled that there was a company out there that was making mission at the career office a little bit easier… and that the software tool was based on exactly the same principles that they teach all 2,000 students in their school.

Your most enlightening failure to date: Both of our founders have a deep technical background. So early on, when we went to sales meetings, we opened with pricing and how great our product was. That of course did not go well with our clients.

After we brought in some great advisors and learned the customer development/sales process, we started doing a much better job of first understanding our prospective clients’ needs, wants, challenges, and success metrics.

What keeps you up at night: We have lots and lots of fantastic things planned for DreamPath and our users. The worry of not being able to deliver extraordinary value to our customers each and every day keeps us up at night.

The best entrepreneurial advice you have received: “Launch as soon as you can and iterate based on customer feedback. If you are not embarrassed by the first iteration of your product, you waited too long!” We definitely took this advice to heart and launched our beta within six weeks of starting the company at Startup Weekend.

Your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur: Work every single moment toward reaching product-market fit as fast as you can. Delivering measurable value to the customers you want to sell your product/service to is a top priority before anything else—and that includes raising outside capital.

Favorite local business: Insomnia Coffee (Beaverton, Hillsboro) – best coffee ever!

Benefits of starting a business in Oregon: Oregon (Portland and Bend in particular) is a great place for us. We couldn’t imagine starting a business anywhere else. The entrepreneurial community is incredibly supportive, and we cannot overstate the importance of that. Knowledgeable and influential mentors, open-minded investors, awesome clients, great food and coffee, we could go on and on!

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