“Entrepreneurship to me is the spirit of grit and perseverance in order to move the world forward with a novel idea.” -- Anjali Menon,Sextant
Anjali Menon is the founder of Sextant, a travel planning app and platform that allows individuals to plan the details of their next trip, through beautifully shot, geo-tagged photos. The Sextant platform makes it easy to discover amazing destinations, plan trips and create itineraries, all from a smartphone. The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center sat down with her to check in on her startup’s journey so far.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Entrepreneurship to me is the spirit of grit and perseverance in order to move the world forward with a novel idea.
So how did your business come to be?
My story is a very personal one. My grandfather used to take me on drives around India every night to see some place new, and he’d gift me stories of British explorers to fill my imagination and dreams at night. From a very early age, I was taught that a good life was one in which we pushed our boundaries (both from a physical and emotional perspective) to explore the world. Fast forward many years later and I myself started to travel the world. But I hated the process of trying to figure out what to do, how to navigate which cities to visit in what succession, etc. Today, every day on facebook you see someone crowdsourcing for suggestions and ideas on their next trip to Japan or France. The reality is, trip planning is a huge pain point and we’re in the game to solve this.
What is the biggest experience or lesson gained on your journey so far?
When you’re building a consumer product, it’s actually vital to get user feedback upfront. I think this is something folks in tech intuitively know, but it’s very easy to built the cart before the horse and end up with a lot of work that really didn’t address what your core users want.
How is your company changing the landscape?
We’re building a user-friendly interface through photos that allows an individual to plan their trips easily, based on the recommendations of the people they trust the most.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
We’re often afraid to share ideas because we think something isn’t good enough, or we’re embarrassed to show our V1 product. But being an entrepreneur means learning to rid yourself of those insecurities. It means being bold about your vision and being bold about sharing that vision because that’s the only way you can grow the company you are trying to build.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business?
My personal statement is a riff on the quote “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” I believe the price of building a great company is eternal persistence. The tortoise really does win the race.
What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to choose wisely. You want someone who has complementary skills and who can balance the things you can’t do.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
Books! The next best thing to exploring worlds in real life through travel is to explore them through the eyes of a character in a novel. Exploration has many mediums.
What does “success” look like to you?
Success to me is the ability to look at yourself in the mirror and say with full honesty that the work you are doing aligns with the goals you have set for yourself and that at this moment in time, you can truly say you are grateful to be doing what you are doing.
What’s the vision for your business?
The dream for the business is that we solve the pain point of trip planning once and for all - and that ultimately more individuals go out and see the world. Too often, folks don’t have enough time to plan a trip, end up getting a recommendation for a few highlights and miss the true essence of a culture because they only had time to see the touristy spots. My hope is that we help people see the real gems of a destination.
What’s your proudest and darkest moment so far?
I would say the darkest moments were in the realization that the product we thought was solving our users’ problem really wasn’t. In turn, the proudest moment has been the reaction to our darkest moment - by launching our V2 version of the app. We changed our product roadmap quite a bit to solve for the fundamentals of the problem. I personally used the app on my last trip, and to know that you have something that is solving your own problem - that’s an incredible feeling.
Nasdaq's Education Foundation helped launch The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in the fall of 2015. Located in San Francisco, it has quickly become the go to destination for the next generation of risk takers and idea makers who take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.