Startup Interview with Raghul Ethiraj, CEO of deetz by@deetz

Startup Interview with Raghul Ethiraj, CEO of deetz will feature iReporter photos in a weekly Travel Snapshots gallery. Please submit your best shots of our featured destinations for next week. Visit CNN next Wednesday for a new gallery of snapshots. Visit for a gallery next week for snapshots of places to go next week in the Submit photos of your favorite destinations to see next week's gallery next Wednesday. Submit your gallery next Tuesday for next next week. Submit your next destination.

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I worked as a software developer at Amazon, and a Program Manager for Microsoft before starting deetz.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

We are deetz (short for details) and we show people what’s happening in their city right now! Everything on the app expires in 24hrs so you can get “right now” information on daily happy hours, live events, food specials, and more!

What is the origin story?

We launched during COVID and all our favorite restaurants were shutting down left and right. We wanted to support local businesses but didn’t have a good way to find the latest information on if they’re open, doing curbside pickup, or have their patio open without having to follow 100s of Facebook pages, Instagram, and outdated city websites.

Google was just a list of “10 places near you” but people wanted to know “what are they offering today!”. So we built deetz to bridge that gap. Basically your Netflix for live events, happy hours, and more! We generated about $10,000 in economic activity each week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa alone!

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

Each and every one of us faced the exact same problem and feeling like our “city sucked because there is nothing to do” or always finding awesome things after the fact like a cool concert or art exhibit.

We are basically building deetz for our own selfish need to live our best life in the city we live in! I have a strong technical background from my experience working at Microsoft and we have an amazing growth hacker, Grace Rigdon, who worked in Meredith Corporation and Hearst Corporation and helped scale the app from Cedar Rapids to all across Iowa and strategizing a national expansion!

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

I’d be learning how to bake, knit, and surf! Or just about anything a hipster like me does these days.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

We measure success through our “4-week comeback” metric. It defines what percentage of users in a given 4 week period using the at least 2 weeks. We chose this metric because that’s the cycle we notice people have when they go out for a happy hour, brunch, live events, etc. Like they do it at least once every 2 weeks.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

The most exciting thing is that people have been traveling to over 100+ cities across the U.S. and still got on deetz to see what’s happening in their new place! This unlocked a completely new market for us to focus on. Tourist destinations and travelers associate deetz as “not just where I live” but “It’s that one friend in the group who knows what’s going on no matter where we travel”.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

I am extremely excited about the growing adoption of AR with everyday use. We believe that’s the future, if the future is to help people live their best life. We want people to pull out their deetz app, scan around, and see what’s happening inside each businesses without having to go in!

I worry about the dark patterns in the UI/UX these days. VCs seem to focus more on “who can keep the consumer’s attention the most” which leads to the perils of Instagram and TikTok, when it’ll be beneficial to look at it from the lens of “How productive and happy with their life can you keep a consumer?” because helping people live a more fulfilling life leads to long term retention vs short term highs. We shouldn’t strive to create “addicts”, but to help with how engaged people are with each other in real life.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

I’ve been following HackerNoon from the Medium days, transitioning to its own platform, and never stopped rooting for you guys. The stories are thorough and different from similar tech publishers out there and I feel like I walk away with some learning each time vs. feeling like I just read an article that was more of an FYI.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Breathe. Live. Experience. 4 years of college will fly by. Doing 20 things at the same time isn’t the measure of success but taking a moment to appreciate all the experience you had that day, past week, month, is crucial. Also, don’t get too drunk!

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

I learned that if you’re a first-time founder, everything is stacked against you. You might have the best traction and story but still get turned down. You’ll also read stories about second-time founders raising millions in seed rounds while their idea is still on a napkin. Don’t take it personally. Those who are raising millions pre-seed as second-time founder struggled their first time. It’s okay and doesn’t reflect in your idea or capability as a person. It’s a numbers game and takes talking to 200 Angels/VC to get 1 yes.

Vote for deetz as the best startup in Cedar Rapids.

react to story with heart
react to story with light
react to story with boat
react to story with money
. . . comments & more!