How Movie Nights During Lockdown Inspired Jayesh Parmar’s Second Startup After Picatic
June 14, 2022 | Stefan Palios
Jayesh Parmar successfully built Picatic from the ground up, sold it to Eventbrite, then watched his acquirer go public from the inside. But it’s the more subtle lessons of entrepreneurship that are helping him now as he builds his tongue-scraper startup Gunkii. Speaking with TechExit.io, Jayesh shared how movie nights during COVID-19 lockdown inspired his second startup.
- Spend time thinking about what type of business you want to build on top of the problem you want to solve.
- Resilience is about always being ready to face the next problem.
- Failure is a forcing function of success and a data point, but nothing more.
After Jayesh Parmar sold his event-ticketing company Picatic to Eventbrite in 2018, he stayed on at the new company to help transition his team over.
Then Eventbrite furloughed all former Picatic employees in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic and Jayesh left the company. During lockdown, he finally got to spend time with his wife and children, something he didn’t have much of during Picatic’s growth days. In those quiet family moments, Jayesh got the inspiration for his second startup.
Speaking with TechExit, Jayesh shared more about overcoming skepticism in Picatic’s early days, how he frames resilience, and how lockdown movie nights made him care about tongue cleaning.
From event tickets to tongue cleaners
Before founding Picatic, Jayesh was an event organizer with two pain points. He wanted a more seamless online-based guest experience for event attendees that embedded commerce into the transaction.
Realizing he wasn’t the only event planner with those two specific concerns, he built a platform called Picatic to solve the problem. But that uncovered a new problem: people thought he was scamming them. The internet was so new at the time that no one had any concept of using it to buy event tickets.
“It now seems second nature to use the internet for event tickets, but a concept like Picatic was more obscure in 2008,” said Jayesh. “People thought I was scamming them by saying you can input your credit card information online to buy a digital ticket rather than a physical piece of paper.”
Public consciousness eventually caught up with Picatic’s platform and it began to explode. Jayesh moved to Silicon Valley and New York City from his native Saskatchewan to learn the ropes of fundraising and scaling a business globally. Over the years, Picatic did just that, growing to millions in revenue before successfully exiting to Eventbrite in 2018.
While Jayesh enjoyed his time at Eventbrite, even watching the company go public, it would all come crashing down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventbrite furloughed the entire Picatic team during the depths of the pandemic and Jayesh left the company, preferring to help his former employees find new jobs to sticking around.
Lessons from the first startup carry to the next
After the initial fervor of the pandemic calmed down and all former Picatic employees found new jobs, Jayesh found himself with a lot of time on his hands. He hadn’t been able to spend much time with his wife and kid before the pandemic owing to his work, so he took lockdown as an opportunity to have movie nights with the family.
This family time experience got him thinking about what he truly wanted to build in his next company:
- He wanted to work alongside his wife, who had previously run a performance marketing agency.
- He wanted a mission-driven company.
- He wanted to build a business that could be run from his cell phone (if need be).
Eventually, he thought about a cultural passion of his: tongue scraping. Jayesh said it’s common in Indian culture to scrape one’s tongue rather than brushing it, alongside brushing your teeth, as a form of oral hygiene. However, most tongue scrapers were utilitarian in nature, not particularly fun or engaging. So he thought about what it might take to build the “world’s sexiest tongue scraper.” He called it Gunkii.
Before building the business though, Jayesh leveraged all the hard-learned lessons from building Picatic, namely:
Pre-marketing and idea validation: Instead of going right into production, he pre-sold with a few paid advertisements to validate demand.
Make it work for talent: He learned of a huge community of talented women who wanted to re-enter the workforce after having children. The traditional 9-5 no longer worked for them, so Jayesh wanted to build Gunkii to be a results-focused work environment that allowed moms (and all working parents) to manage their own schedules.
“Moms have a PhD in time management,” said Jayesh. “Those are the types of people you want working for your startup.”
Resilience: Through building Picatic, Jayesh came to define resilience not as grit or toughness but a simple resolve to always face the next problem. You know more problems will come as an entrepreneur, so it’s about not being afraid to find a solution.
Letting global trends inform how you build: For Picatic, it was broader ecommerce and digitization with people on the internet, so it was about product. For Gunkii, it’s about how Jayesh plans to run the business via distributed work and distributed fulfillment, so it’s about operations.
Bleeding edge of tech: For Picatic, it was about ecommerce and Web 2.0 technologies. For Gunkii, it’s automation to allow for remote customer experiences, a result-focused work environment, and empowering humans to focus on mission rather than operational nuance.
A changing relationship with failure
In both Picatic and with Gunkii so far, Jayesh has experienced multiple failures. This isn’t something he celebrates, but it doesn’t hurt him either. He describes failure as a forcing function of success to be taken as a data point rather than anything else. In this way, it fits into his understanding of resilience, since a failure is simply another problem popping up that you need to solve.
Over the years, Jayesh has solved quite a few problems that have helped him succeed with Picatic and grow Gunkii from the ground up. But it’s knowing that many more are on the way—indeed, he hopes to create many of his own problems by growing to new heights—that keeps him on his toes as an entrepreneur.
“I don’t know what’s coming next, but I know I have to solve it,” said Jayesh. “To do that, I have to be resilient to find the piece of the puzzle I need to help me.”