5 Questions for Wonderpath
A Vision Lab Startup Makes Workplace Feedback Actionable
Wonderpath helps companies build high-performing teams with a collaborative, trusting culture. They’re building a next-generation feedback tool designed to make feedback continuous, actionable, and human. I spoke with Wonderpath’s Dafni Chontou and Tanya Sharma to hear about their entrepreneurial journey as one of the first startups in Earlybird’s Vision Lab.
1) Dafni, based on your Linkedin profile, you speak 5 languages! Can you tell us about your international road to Wonderpath?
I grew up in Athens, the middle child of 4. I started playing the piano when I was 5 years old and for the most part, I thought that would be my career. This is probably how I built my resilience: you practice, practice, and practice some more until you get it right.
I got my MBA from ESADE Business School in 2018. Before that, I was working as a consultant at PwC for 2.5 years and studied Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business. I was insanely curious how it would be to live abroad for a while and in 2013 I decided to study in Lille (France) for an Erasmus exchange semester. This was a huge turning point. I lived in Barcelona, 2016–2018, and then moved to Berlin, 2018; I’m still here. :)
In Berlin, I got to know the ins and outs of e-commerce while working at Wayfair for 1.5 years. Also, I got the unique opportunity to lead an amazing team of four that shaped how I think about leadership. At the end of 2019, I decided that it was time for my entrepreneurial chapter to begin.
The excitement around entrepreneurship started around 2013 when I joined an entrepreneurship association in Athens, Thinkbiz. The autonomy, steep learning curve, and variety of skills needed to thrive as a startup grows are some of the main reasons I was drawn to entrepreneurship.
2) Especially in a startup’s early stages, teams are essential. How did your team get started together?
Tanya Sharma and I met in 2016. We were flatmates during our MBA in Barcelona. Since then, we worked on more side projects, case competitions, and startup ideas than we can count. In 2020, the stars (and our motivations) aligned to start building Wonderpath.
We were also part of the Stealth Mode program at Factory Berlin. The program gave us space to grow our network in Berlin and learn from experts. The biggest gain was to be part of a trusted group of female founders and discuss openly the unique challenges we face on our journey to build our companies.
The best thing you can do if you also see entrepreneurship as a career path is start doing mini side projects with people in your network whom you find to be inspiring, smart, and energizing.
Ask yourself: What topics are you enthusiastic about? What challenges have you faced personally? Start from there.
Wonderpath came about from our shared personal pain point. Both of us experienced the challenge of personal development at work firsthand. As we grew in our careers, the feedback we received started to sound increasingly ambiguous and fluffy. We are building a feedback tool we wish we’d had earlier.
We are building a feedback tool we wish we’d had earlier.
The founding journey — very similar to any personal development journey — is a real roller coaster. At times, it feels overwhelming, unclear, messy. We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the team, our awesome mentors, and the programs we found along the way.
3) How is Earlybird’s Vision Lab supporting you so far? In what ways has it impacted your plans and development?
Our experience so far with Vision Lab has been incredible. What we love the most about Vision Lab is that the team supports us in the challenging and exciting journey of building something from scratch. We have access to functional experts (from all fields) and a huge network of founders who’ve been through the same process.
Our mentors from Bain & Company, who are partners with the Vision Lab, are our sounding board for strategic decisions and provide us with an external perspective. We also met our Strategic Advisor, CEO of Bitwala, one of Earlybird’s portfolio companies during one of the Vision Lab Founder sessions. We connect weekly with founders that are going through the journey of bringing their vision to life and discuss ways and resources to support each other. We’re glad to have an almost extended team and can’t wait to see how things unfold until we pitch at Demo Day in June!
4) What’s not working with current professional-setting approaches to feedback loops?
Feedback has gone all wrong. The current process of delivering feedback is a time-consuming yet infrequent activity. We’ve all been professionals that have received long feedback essays twice a year and wondered, “so what do I do next?” Moreover, meaningful feedback is only delivered verbally and is generally not recorded.
As the concept of the modern workplace evolves, with remote work and rare water-cooler chats, it’s time for feedback to be modernized.
5) What’s the biggest gain of using Wonderpath to deliver feedback in a workplace?
Wonderpath is the next-generation feedback software that makes giving and receiving feedback actionable, continuous, and human. It’s based on our belief that feedback is a driver for truly collaborative and high-performing teams in companies.
We envision a workplace where people can help each other grow, communicate openly, and are valued for their unique strengths. We define those aspects even further:
- Communicate openly means trust and no judgment
- Help each other grow means sharing helpful and constructive feedback in a genuine way
We want to build a human-centric product, which is why we talk to users every week and we also wear the hat of end-users of our product when prototyping. Giving and receiving feedback involves human interaction and we are taking an offline-first approach and bringing those elements into the digital world.
That sounds highly relevant to the future of work and it’s exciting to see how Wonderpath develops! Thanks for sharing your experience.
👉🏽 To keep up with the startups and Vision Lab developments, follow Earlybird on Twitter or Linkedin. Learn more about Wonderpath by signing up for their waiting list here or follow their journey on Instagram and Twitter!
🙌🏽 For more about Berlin startups, accessible VC, inclusion & leadership, just follow me, Elisheva Marcus. 🚀🦄 🦓 💥 💎