Startup Interview with Stefan Opsal, RendezView Co-founderby@startupstef

Startup Interview with Stefan Opsal, RendezView Co-founder

by Stef OpsalAugust 19th, 2021
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HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

My background is on the investment side of startups, having previously worked as a VC in Hawaii. As you might expect, the Hawaii tech community is still nascent and trying to figure itself out, so I focused on growing and supporting the budding tech communities in Hawaii in addition to my traditional roles as an investor.

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

RendezView gets it’s name from the French term ‘rendezvous’, which is a place designated for a meeting. The app itself helps remote teams meet and work together online by allowing teams to create permanent rooms for all of their projects, where they can collaborate together on real documents and spreadsheets in real-time. It’s like having your own virtual conference room where no one erases the whiteboard.

What is the origin story?

In Hawaii, remote work has always been the norm. Living on a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific forced me to experienced first-hand the pains of online collaboration, and it ultimately inspired me to team up with a group of computer science PhDs to build a better way for distributed organizations to collaborate.

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

The real brains behind RendezView is my co-founder is Alberto Gonzalez. We were good friends while he was finishing his doctorate research on human-steerable A.I. black box models, and so it was natural for us to team up and collaborate on this project.

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

Whether we’re helping remote teams during the pandemic or helping startups get off the ground, both Alberto and I are huge supporters of innovation and would find a way to contribute to entrepreneurs and startups.

What has been your secret to success?

We’ve been successful with our organic grassroots growth and we owe most of that to our impeccable timing. We started building the first prototype of RendezView right before the pandemic, and when the world went into lockdown we were immediately able to help hundreds of users collaborate from home. The app was very raw back then and it barely worked, but it provided a glimpse into the future of what we were building and it all led up to our amazing Product Hunt launch in 2021. RendezView is still in the early stages of its life as a product, but we’re glad to have been able to help people during a time of need and know that the future is only getting better from here.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

We’re currently doing pilot programs with two universities to help expand RendezView into distributed classrooms. We’re so excited to help out educational institutions at a time where many students and teachers are struggling with remote learning. As a team we prioritize impact over bottom line, and being able to help educators and students has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

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

What makes RendezView so exciting for our users is that we integrate with the leading collaboration and productivity tools on the market, and allow teams to bring their favorite apps into their workspaces. This means we get to play around with everything from WebRTC apps, 3rd party productivity tools like Google Docs, Trello, Figma, and so much more.

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

I was originally drawn to HackerNoon after hearing Linh Dao and David Smooke speak at a Mozilla event. They were so passionate about building a community and platform for real unfettered tech stories, and it drew me in. I’ve been a daily reader ever since.

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

Drop out and start building.

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

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Launching a startup is no small task, and doing it without a well-aligned team is impossible. I’ve learned that the key to getting everyone together on the same page and working towards a common goal is to create an environment of transparency and open communication from day one.

RendezView was nominated as one of the best startups in Honolulu in Startups of the Year hosted by HackerNoon