Interview the Founder: CANVS+
Known as the “Leaders in Visual Project Management”, canvs+ is the world’s first and foremost design focused SaaS company. canvs+ was founded by Arjun Rai while at the New York Institute of Technology in the Spring of 2013.
canvs+’s mission is to help businesses manage their workforce, tasks, projects, and files in a new way – designing a Visual Project Management application that is sleek, organized, and an overall joy to use.
We sat down with Arjun to learn more about the vision behind canvs+, and where they’re headed. Check out his thoughts, below!
What inspired you to found Canvs+?
Canvs+ was inspired out of working at a public relations agency and advertising agency where the best way to manage tasks or projects came down to walls with paper, marker, chalk etc. In fact, keeping those elements of the business organized came down to excel sheets or of course emails. So naturally, we had to find a project management application that would help us. But what we didn’t realize was that most apps out there weren’t visual or creative at all as we were (that’s basically the nature of the business to be creative). After using many apps, we came back to the wall and excel sheet however I said to myself I would make a solution that is similar to Prezi in its visual capabilities but for tasks, projects or collaborating. In fact, the movie Minority Report was also an influence and I set out to change the SaaS industry for visual and creative people. Given the latest developments in touch screens, other design focused startups (some acquired now) I think we are on the right track to recolutionize SaaS or the enterprise space for sure. Meet Canvs.co. :)
What’s your “secret sauce”? What makes you different from the similar technologies out there?
I always say we aim to build a design or art focused tech company in SaaS so from a philosophical standpoint, that’s unique. Think Tesla in the car industry, Method in the detergent space or NEST in the thermostat business. Second, having an emphasis on touch screens or gesture makes us create products for now as well as the future. Most larger companies or existing platforms can innovate fast enough or move swiftly when it comes to adopting new methodologies. Third, we are truly mobile-first which means everything we build or think of we are creating for people on the go (especially since remote work at enterprises is becoming the norm).
Which have been the most exciting parts of building Canvs? Which have been the most challenging?
Turning concept into reality and then letting people play with it has been the best part for sure. Giving demos in front of respected investors and entrepreneurs who give feedback on improving the product and also the pitch in general has been a better source of education than any book can teach you. In the flip side, raising funding while being in college (trying to attend as many classes as possible. haha) was a bit challenging but nothing a true entrepreneur couldn’t handle. In fact, we should all push our mental limits just as we do with exercise for physical workout. Convincing some of the most best entrepreneurs to sit down and possibly invest became easier over time but each meeting taught me something which in effect, helped me become better as a business person. Learn to live at the edge and keep a calm mind. Highly recommend an audiobook called The Secret to help entrepreneurs navigate through challenges etc. It’s on life in general but teaches many other lessons we can all find useful in life.
What makes you ripe for brand partnership? What kinds of brands have you partnered with in the past (if any)?
So we have tested our app in various enterprises over the past few months ranging from small businesses to large Fortune 500 brands. The reason we are ripe for engaging with brands is mainly due to trends in the market and where those companies want to be in the future too. For example, the millennial generation has grown up with touch screens on tablets, smartphones etc. So what that means is our software or technologies in the enterprise should also reflect that trend. Yet, companies despite wanting to be innovative still introduce the same old methodologies and software to new hires. Now is the time to change that with companies who truly want to think next generation and help their workforce become more productive and also efficient (as a result of visual software making their lives simpler, easier to manage etc.).
If you could “shout out” a brand you wish you could partner with, who would it be?
So when working at the two agencies I had watched two videos by Corning which inspired me every time I played it. It was called the, “A Day Made of Glass,” series which showcased how the future of retail, home automation, navigation, workflow, enterprise offices etc. may look like with touch screens. So, because I am always grateful for those videos for inspiring me, I would love to chat with the team at Corning for sure and share our vision for the future of glass, people, etc.
What’s your roadmap for Canvs? What will you be focusing on most in the next 6 months, as you take your tech to the next level?
Our focus will always be building beautifully designed products for our enterprise clients keep the same philosophy of art and design in tech coming first. As far as the development of our app is concerned, thanks to our seed funding which we are about to close on soon, we will be releasing our Canvs+ 2.0 version in 2 months or so to a wider group of enterprises on our long waiting list. The capital will allow us to hire a strong team with the right talent needed to build a strong visual platform that can handle the needs of our clients. At the same time, we may experiment with other Visual SaaS solutions as well but more on that later…stay tuned. :)
What’s your advice to founders who want to disrupt the productivity space?
Well, if any entrepreneur wants to disrupt any field, not just productivity, they should get to know the industry before diving in blind. I spent my first year as a freshman attending every event I could possibly attend related to startups, advertising, or investment (many gave me student passes, some discounts etc) while running a small social media marketing practice. After working at the two agencies I mentioned before, I had some contacts and real world experience to set out and solve a problem we needed a solution to. After raising funding, I spent more time networking with potential clients and attending more exclusive meetups or dinners to meet the people I needed to meet for raising the next round of funding. Each step I made sure to get to know the industry while building the app. It’s a good choice to scout the field, gather intelligence and then strategize on a plan to execute (I love video games specifically Age of Empires). So for any entrepreneur, learn a bit (not too much because that can cause hesitation) before jumping in. After that, run faster than anyone else and execute well. That’s what counts.
More questions for Arjun? Join us on our weekly hangout tomorrow (2/3) at 9AM to chat with him! (click here to join)
Camera shy? Tweet us @evol8tion and we’ll ask him.