Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Series - Manish Methai
Innovators are marked by their perseverance of progress, even when the odds seem insurmountable. They seek to create new methods and improve upon what is in the pursuit of what could be. After all, nothing great has been achieved by accepting things as they are. To be an innovator requires possessing a vision for change, but also having the strength of will in which to turn that vision into a reality.
While opportunities abound for those willing to take the risk and seize their chance at success, the ability to capitalize on those opportunities is not always available to every person in equal measure. Offleash’d seeks to champion diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business, starting with the hardworking team behind the scenes to create the best app for pet people. As we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we want to shine a special light on the man that brought us all together, Offleash’d Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Manish Methai.
When Manish first came up with the concept for Offleash’d, he was looking to serve a growing, untapped market. There had yet to be an app that successfully fostered the kinds of connections that he had experienced firsthand through the love and appreciation of animals, so he decided to create one. Offleash’d would serve people and pets of all walks of life, becoming an inclusive space where everyone could feel welcome to create new relationships. Join us for the next installment of our DEI series as we discuss the origin of Offleash’d, and how this innovative app seeks to change the very nature of social networking.
O: Your own love story was the inspiration for Offleash’d. Can you share with us that lightbulb moment when you knew this idea could make a difference in the lives of other people.
MM: Speaking from my personal experience, the moment I realized that our company was onto something truly remarkable was when I recognized the potential to positively impact people’s lives. There’s something incredibly rewarding about working on a project that touches people’s hearts and introduces solutions that genuinely make a difference. I strongly believe that with hard work, dedication, and passion, we can create something truly impactful and reach the pinnacle of success. Our customers are the driving force behind creating tailored solutions for them. Initially, we focused on the dating aspect of our app, but as we delved deeper into understanding the needs of pet owners, we realized the immense potential to make their lives easier through various solutions. While I can’t reveal much at this stage, I’m thrilled about the valuable insights we’ve gathered from our community, which has propelled us to take the next big step in our product journey.
O: As the Chief Innovation Officer for Offleash’d, what does “innovation” mean to you?
MM: For me, innovation is all about striking a balance between creating value for the company while designing a product that resonates with everyday pet owners, providing them with maximum value. I’m thrilled about the potential to introduce solutions that not only meet our users’ needs but also surpass their expectations. As the Chairman of the Board, my goal is to help bring in the best talent and support our CEO in creating an innovated and user-focused product. As the head of innovation, my primary focus is to understand the psychology of our users and utilize this knowledge to bring fresh and exciting ideas to our product offerings, enhancing the overall user experience.
O: May is recognized as Asian American Pacific Islander’s Heritage Month, and this year’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”. Can you describe a moment when you were given the opportunity to prove yourself and how that affected the trajectory of your life or career? How would you like facilitate those kinds of opportunities for other entrepreneurs of color?
MM: I must say, the most fulfilling experience in the past couple of years for me has been joining SAP. It’s been incredible to witness how they’ve taken the initiative to create a welcoming DEI department, with dedicated groups such as Veterans @SAP, Latinos @ SAP, and the Business Women’s Network @ SAP. However, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of representation for Asians and Indians @ SAP. So, along with a few of my colleagues, we pitched the idea of Pan-Asians @ SAP and we ecstatic to have it approved. Today, it's still thriving with over 3k members, and we’ve hosted several events and webinars for Asians across the board. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to be part of creating a more inclusive and diverse environment at SAP.
O: What is one piece of advice you have for those in the AAPI community that are trying to make their mark in their given field?
MM: My advice for young entrepreneurs would be to focus on creating something that solves a real problem for people. Understand your target audience, their needs and wants, and build a product or service that addresses those pain points. It’s also important to be resilient and adaptable. The road to success is often filled with obstacles and setbacks, so it’s essential to stay committed and to keep learning from your mistakes. Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, advisors, and peers who can provide guidance and offer constructive feedback. And last but not least, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks and explore new opportunities. Entrepreneurship is all about innovation and exploring uncharted territories, so embrace the journey and keep pushing forward.