Built By: Vinayak Ranade

Vinayak Ranade describes himself as a “path of least resistance kind of person,” which is not the kind of thing you expect to hear from a entrepreneur.

“Computers are going to be a thing, everywhere, and if I’m really good at computer stuff I’ll probably get a job,” he said, referring to his decision as a college freshman to pursue computer science. “It’s easier than other things on the table.”

However, starting with his dreams as a 5 year old to be an astronaut, to an MIT graduate, to his full time position at Kayak as the director of engineering, and his eventual founding of referral network, Drafted, one has every right to question this description.

“Okay, so I meant now the least resistance to high impact,” Ranade laughed. “That’s the number one thing you need to do to be fast, and the only thing that matters for your company to be successful. For it to have speed.”

A theme of a fast day to day has stuck since his childhood. Ranade was born in Buffalo, New York, before moving to Pune, India at the age of four. He lived there until he was 17.

“In my hometown in India, I was always “the American kid”. When I moved to Boston to attend MIT and study computer science, I was always “the Indian kid”, he wrote in an email. “It’s ironic — in India I’m American, and in America, I’m Indian. Forever the misfit.”

Now, at 29, Ranade has realized that being the misfit in culture doesn’t necessarily have to apply to work life. Instead, after working at Kayak for 4 years, Ranade understood the importance of culture and conversation in a workplace.

“Everything else just kind of melted away,” he said, in reference to his colleagues’ diverse backgrounds. “People’s perspectives would show up during conversations and debates, but for the most part we operated as a unit.”

Drafted, recently raised financing from Slack, an instant messaging company, works to make job referral systems more successful. Employees or hiring managers can go on Drafted and get introductions to people in their first- and second-degree networks. Ranade said his goals are to establish a good place to work and help others find good places to work. “People can go on to right company, right place right time,” he said. “Plus, it’s good karma.”

The CEO said that while Drafted is only working with U.S. and Europe markets right now, he is thinking a lot about how to adopt the model to other cultures: especially India.

“Referrals happen a lot in India for business, potentially more than they do in the United States. We are going to have to adapt Drafted, depending on the demographic for sure,” he said.

As him and his company continue to work toward these new goals, Ranade took a second to comment on one of most important lessons he learned from his dad.

“Something my dad told me when I was really young, is that a lot of us get caught in the game of life. A lot of times people think that’s all important is what isn’t,” he said. “It is about what is.”

Written by: Natasha Mascarenhas

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