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INSIGHTS Podcast Series

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INSIGHTS Podcast Series
INSIGHTS Podcast Series

INSIGHTS Podcast Series

Accel

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Followers
3
Plays
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We bring just the insights for founders from startup experts, founders, investors, and industry insiders.

Latest Episodes

INSIGHTS #39 - Hari Menon on scaling Bigbasket and disrupting the grocery industry

We continue with the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, and on this edition we have Hari Menon, Co-founder and CEO of BigBasket, India’s largest online food and grocery store, which serves 10 million customers in 30 cities today. In this podcast, Hari takes us through the journey of starting and scaling BigBasket and gives a behind-the-curtain glimpse of the years of grocery business experience that led to building an expertise in grocery supply chain and culminated in building India's leading online grocer. Starting up in the 90s: too early to market Born and brought up in Mumbai, Hari graduated from BITS Pilani and chose to start working right away. A few jobs old, and exposed to the internet boom during his stint at Wipro, Hari decided to start Fabmart in 1999, an ecommerce company that started by selling cassettes online, and quickly diversified to books, jewellery, toys, and groceries. This was at a time when the Indian consumer was still wary of transacting online, there were no payment gateways, and deliveries were difficult. The business model was too early for the market and the dot com bust made it difficult to raise more capital from investors. The team decided to leverage the platform developed and the existing warehouse set up to pivot into a physical grocery chain built on a franchisee model that they scaled from 15 stores in Bangalore to 200+ stores in South India before getting acquired by Aditya Birla Group. Bigbasket: timing it right the second time The founding team went on to do different things before coming together again half a decade later, when the market had caught up with their initial vision- broadband had picked up, payment gateways were there and Flipkart was demonstrating serious traction in terms of online transactions- the time was right for ‘BigBasket’. Calling upon the supply chain expertise in the complex grocery business from Fabmart days and with a focus on setting up a robust backend technology, the team’s second bid at making Indians shop for groceries online picked steam very quickly. “We expanded fast because one thing we told ourselves was that if we did get into a city, we would do the entire city. Secondly, we would start with fruits and vegetables because that was the toughest one to solve for in terms of supply chain (due to the highly perishable nature).” Today Bigbasket is the fifth largest grocer in the country after offline giants D-Mart, Reliance, Big Bazaar, and More. Hari’s near term vision is to take it to top three. Talking about personal growth as CEO, Hari talks about how valuing trust and attitude over skills and knowledge while getting people to join, obsessing about process (BigBasket’s head of HR has authored a book called ‘Say No to Jugaad’) and being passionate about the grocery business has helped take Bigbasket to where it is today. He says that knowing when to pivot and when not to pivot is something every entrepreneur must learn- instead of being emotional about the original idea which at times goes against the company's interests. Last but not the least, he emphasizes the importance of having an unshakable conviction on the business, something that helped BigBasket survive the test of time and emerge as a successful business today. “It's all about getting that emotion out and saying, you know let's pivot ​but you won't get it because you're so emotionally attached to the idea that you're not even thinking right. Then it's important to believe in your model in spite of giants and large investors coming in and pumping money. The whole world was talking about SoftBank, Tiger backing asset-light models but we stuck our ground on the need for inventory control. Since then, there really has been no looking back.” On a closing note, Hari shares his fondness for cricket and music, something that is well known in the startup ecosystem. Tune in to the podcast to learn more about Hari’s roller coaster journey.

65 MIN2 w ago
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INSIGHTS #39 - Hari Menon on scaling Bigbasket and disrupting the grocery industry

INSIGHTS #38 — Manu Kumar Jain on scaling Xiaomi and disrupting the India electronics space

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have with us Manu Kumar Jain, Managing Director of Xiaomi India- a leader in smartphones, televisions, and many other products. Manu walks us through the journey of setting up Xiaomi in India and scaling it to become one of the best mobile phone brands in India in a very capital efficient way. Starting by talking about his childhood days, Manu remembers growing up in Meerut in a large family with a business background, where the ultimate aspiration was to set up shop- the larger the shop the more successful one was. Unlike most of his cousins, Manu decided to pursue engineering from IIT Delhi and then did his MBA from IIM Calcutta, post which he worked with Mckinsey for five years before co-founding Jabong. He ran Jabong for 2 years before moving out and then joined Xiaomi to start their India business. Talking about Early days at Jabong, Manu gets candid about how his first thoughts on selling fashion online was that “it was a stupid idea”, but after some persuasion from his co-founders he was able to take the leap of faith, only to get pleasantly surprised that a lot of people were willing to buy shoes and clothes online. Riding on the wave of mobile first online consumers, Jabong grew from thousand orders a day to ten thousand orders a day, to become a top two player in the online fashion space. Hugely fascinated about mobile as a category and having heard about a Chinese company trying to do things differently by online as the primary channel for sales, Manu connected with the founders through his network out of pure interest to learn more about the company’s journey. After multiple exchanges between Manu and the founders, sharing learnings with each other on the China and India landscape, Lin Bin, Co-Founder & President of Xiaomi, offered Manu to join them to start their India business. At a time when India had more than 300 smartphone brands, Xiaomi went ahead with an online only sales strategy when everyone else was spending huge marketing dollars on advertising and sponsorships. From very early on, the expectation from the board was to be profitable and not burn at a day-to-day operations level. This led Xiaomi to take a product focused approach and leverage social media to take its consumer delight story to the masses. What others spent on marketing, Xiaomi spent on quality of the phone giving the customer a better hardware and a better camera. “We can’t make more than five percent margin from any of our hardware products by board resolution. We believe in a concept called as honest price. We cut down all possible costs like marketing, distribution, working capital, inventory cost and pass on that benefit to the user without keeping a profit margin for ourselves.” The social media angle that bolstered Xiaomi’s rise to the top continues to be a core part of today’s focus. Mi community today has more than 70 million MAUs and physical fan clubs in more than 25 cities. Finally, sharing learnings for young entrepreneurs, Manu talks about the importance of having mentors who do not have a vested interest in your company or you, so that the conversations are brutal and honest. Last but not the least, Manu stresses about the importance of investing in the team and ensuring that good performers grow within the company, from both and equity and cash perspective. Spending time with the team has always been in the top three priorities for Manu. “One-on-one or group sessions are not only meant for year-end appraisals but should be a part of your weekly and monthly schedule time. And these are not performance reviews but to ask how they're feeling, how they're growing and for discussing about stuff informally too, within work and outside work.” Tune in to the podcast to hear more interesting bits and insights from Manu’s journey of scaling Xiaomi to its today’s scale.

56 MINSEP 20
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INSIGHTS #38 — Manu Kumar Jain on scaling Xiaomi and disrupting the India electronics space

INSIGHTS #37 – Deep Kalra on building India’s first consumer internet success- MakeMyTrip

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have Deep Kalra, Founder and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip, India’s leading online travel company. Today, the company has become the go-to-site for majority of Indians looking to book flight tickets, hotel reservations, rail and bus tickets. In this podcast, Deep takes us through his journey of building MakeMyTrip at a time when internet adoption was still early. He talks about how he helped sail through challenging times to eventually list MMT on NASDAQ in 2010 and finally grow it to today’s scale of $2.4 billion market cap. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug Born in Hyderabad and grown up in Delhi, Deep graduated from St. Stephen’s College and completed his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Later, he took up a career in banking where he spent three years before taking the bite on his first entrepreneurial pursuit- setting up bowling alleys in India to tap into the expected boom in family entertainment. Not tasting much success, Deep decided to go back to the corporate life, joining GE Capital as VP of Business Development, when he was introduced formally to the internet and the enormous potential it had to significantly impact our everyday lives. Deep decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship again, and in April 2000,- MakeMyTrip (MMT) was born. Convinced that his internet venture was bound for success, Deep looked for business verticals that were ripe for internet disruption. He arrived at travel as the industry that was poised for an upstart to take over using the power of internet and because- “travel is fun”. Lessons from the dotcom bust Early into the journey, the dotcom bust happened, making it extremely challenging to raise external funding for a business model that was purely built around the internet. At MMT, the team was constantly working with two to three months of runway in terms of expenses, salaries, rent etc. However, this tough phase turned out to be a blessing in disguise in retrospect, as it forced the team to focus on unit economics from very early on. Another learning from that phase was the importance of patience. “No great company has been built very quickly. It takes time to set up a decent company in India, and probably 10 years to become something. So be patient. Don’t look back for the first 4-5 years. Once you are onto something tweak, pivot, keep your ears to the ground, pick up messages, do the right thing but at the first sign of winter do not back up. It takes a lot of courage to do it all over again. You probably won’t do it all over again”, Deep says. Through the tough phase, MMT focussed on the NRI segment who were early adopters due to previous experience of transacting online, but in 2005, thanks to IRCTC, the Indian consumer became more comfortable with the idea of purchasing online, which combined with the advent of Low Cost Carriers in India offered MMT a unique opportunity to revolutionize the travel booking industry. Going public in the US Having raised four rounds of institutional funding from 2005 to 2009, Deep decided to take MMT to IPO in the US market, where it was a huge hit, appreciating 90 percent on the first day taking MMT to almost a $1B valuation. The listing enabled MMT to enter the hallowed league of Booking.com, Expedia, and the others. More details on the IPO journey in the podcast. On a closing note, Deep shares his views on how the Indian markets are opening up making it easier for companies to go public, but that companies need to fundamentally focus on building for scale and not look at IPO as an end goal. “So, I would encourage all entrepreneurs, when they are deliberating an IPO to ask themselves a very odd sounding question- Why do you want to IPO?”, Deep ends with a question for scaled founders to ponder on.

51 MINSEP 6
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INSIGHTS #37 – Deep Kalra on building India’s first consumer internet success- MakeMyTrip

INSIGHTS #36 Naveen Tewari on building InMobi as a global leader in mobile advertising

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series with a path-setter: Naveen Tewari, Co-Founder and CEO of Inmobi, India’s first unicorn. Naveen started a product company at a time when most people weren’t thinking about it, went global and cracked the China market, and is now starting a group of companies under Mobi. In this podcast, he shares a number of great lessons for first-time founders, from how to go through pivots successfully and the role that co-founders play in maintaining morale in an organisation, to scaling internationally and building a culture that is deeply enriching for the employees who’re part of your startup journey. Naveen kicks things off by talking about the three businesses under InMobi Group: InMobi Marketing Cloud, Glance, and TruFactor. InMobi Marketing Cloud, the group’s business that everyone associates the brand with and that has been built over the last decade, has a strong presence across the US, China, and the rest of the world. The second business, Glance, is an AI-led content discovery platform at screen zero (ie the lock screen) that hopes to change the way content is consumed on mobile platforms. The third business, TruFactor, is a platform for data scientists, a bet on a future where data will drive business strategy, oftentimes requiring data scientists to solve complex decision-making problems for the company. The outlier Rewinding back to the early days, Naveen talks about being born in an intense academic environment with many family members taking up teaching roles at IIT, and how he took a whole different path of joining management consulting instead of the expected PHD or exploring further studies. Post three years at McKinsey, Naveen did his MBA at Harvard Business School, which he calls “the most pivotal two years” of his life, enabling him to go beyond the restrictive thinking of a middle-class boy by establishing belief in his own abilities and that anyone can do big things in life. After business school, Naveen dabbled in the startup world for a couple of years before starting a venture in the SMS-based search business only to realise that the world was headed towards internet usage with mobiles becoming more prevalent. The beginning He speaks about how this phase, before hitting upon the final idea that led to success, was a very tough one — beset with societal pressure and self-doubt. The failures brought in lots of personal learning, but the phase was nevertheless a painful one, especially in the first two years when Naveen didn’t have co-founders. He adds, “Always have a co-founder because you know in these journeys there are a lot of low moments. Actually, most of them are low moments and the co-founder’s job is not to really go ahead and hit you on strategy. It’s far more important for a co-founder to bring you out of these moments that you are constantly in, and vice-versa.” On the early days of InMobi, Naveen talks about how he saw the need for businesses to invest in advertising systems once internet became prevalent, and this is the use case that they went after. They quickly realised that India was a small market at the time and expanded to Asia, before going global. The first markets that they entered were ones where they garnered contacts in, expanding from one new market to another, solving for the immediate next step that was planned out for the next 6–12 months.

56 MINAUG 23
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INSIGHTS #36 Naveen Tewari on building InMobi as a global leader in mobile advertising

INSIGHTS #35 - Nandan Nilekani shares his journey from building Infosys to rolling out Aadhaar

In this episode of the #InsightsPodcast series, we have Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys and the man who put in place India’s Aadhaar identification system. He tells us about how his time at IIT-Bombay honed his skills, growing Infosys, working on the UIDAI project, and why the ‘thinker-doer’ approach works. We continue with our #InsightsPodcast, and on this edition have with us one of India’s biggest business legends, Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys, its current Non-Executive Chairman and the brain behind Aadhaar while serving as the Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India. He is a Padma Bhushan awardee and was listed by TIME magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2009. In this episode, Nandan shares experiences from both, his business days and from his more recent journey of public service. Nandan starts by giving a glimpse into his formative years - of growing up in Bengaluru and then Dharwad, and making it to IIT-Bombay without access to any coaching classes. He credits his IIT days with the social skills and confidence that helped him take risk and build a large company like Infosys. While at the college, he dabbled in the many social activities and played a key role in organising IIT-Bombay’s cultural fest, ‘Mood Indigo’. Talking about his early days, from meeting Narayan Murthy while interviewing for Patni Computer Systems to co-founding Infosys in 1981, building India’s first software campus in Bangalore in 1992 and going public in 1993, Nandan says the vision to build a globally competitive technology company out of India and the planning for scale by focusing on building an aspirational brand for employees and setting audacious goals for growth helped scale the way Infosys did. “When we were a $3-5 million company, we talked about becoming a $100 million company. When we were approaching $100 million in revenue, we asked what it takes to reach a billion dollars in revenue.” Nandan talks about how having a five-year blue sky plan, three-year strategic plan and one-year operating plan helped ensure the right mix of nimbleness of a startup and the professionalism of a large corporate. More on the entrepreneurial journey at Infosys, and reimagining it as a cloud service, in the podcast. Thinking and doing Talking about his next entrepreneurial stint as employee #1 at UIDAI, Nandan elaborates on the unique experience of building a team that was an amalgamation of stalwart bureaucrats from the public sector and top tech talent from the private sector, working together to successfully roll out Aadhaar. Citing the famous “thinker-doer” approach, Nandan mentions how his experience in thinking and executing roles in both public and private work settings made him uniquely positioned to achieve UIDAI’s mandate. Opening up on the personal front, Nandan says that his curiosity to learn new things, being open to learning from others in an attempt to constantly stay relevant, desire to do something new, and willingness to live with uncertainty are all part of the core beliefs that define his value system. Be frugal with time Nandan talks about how the dual approach of being execution- obsessed while being able to step back and think big picture is something that’s helpful for founders to think clearly. On scaling as a founder, Nandan has a simple tip: “Being frugal with your time is important. I am generous with my money, but frugal with my time. Money, you can give it away and make it again. Time is a perishable resource.” Talking about the present-day startup ecosystem, Nandan is excited and hopes to see the next generation of Kotak, HDFC, TCS, and Infosys emerge to create jobs for millions, and leverage India’s growing $2 trillion economy. He hopes to see leaders spread their power, by delegating, empowering, and sharing the glory. Tune in to listen to Nandan Nilekani as he speaks about the startup ecosystem, leadership, and the future for India.

42 MINAUG 9
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INSIGHTS #35 - Nandan Nilekani shares his journey from building Infosys to rolling out Aadhaar

INSIGHTS#34 Ritesh Agarwal on building OYO – decacorn in the hotel industry

In this edition of the #InsightsPodcast series, we have the man of the hour, Ritesh Agarwal, founder of OYO, largest hotel chain of India that is now operational in more than 60 countries. Ritesh talks about the early days of OYO, how he always had grand plans for OYO and was able to execute them with his able colleagues to scale his company to today’s levels. Ritesh remembers his childhood self as being the kid who always wanted to do different things. At the age of 13, he was selling sim cards just for the heck of it; at 18, he dropped out of college to start his first company Oravel, and got selected for the Thiel Fellowship, receiving a $100,000 grant from Peter Thiel, Founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. Spending time staying at friends’ places for a few months opened Ritesh to an exciting opportunity in the hotel industry. On the supply side, most hotels were passive investments for owners and had a fundamental problem of yield generation, with the asset owner wanting to get away from the daily headache of managing the asset. On the consumer side, there was a clear gap in availability of clean, well-organised, and well-designed hotel rooms at an affordable price. Ritesh saw absolutely no reason to not invest himself into solving this problem, and there has been no looking back since then. “Whenever I have two opportunities, risking it versus regretting it, I would always invariably choose risking it, because I never want to regret that I did not pursue something that I really wanted to do. So that’s sort of what inspired me to start the first OYO hotel”, he says. Building the right team OYO today has expanded to beyond just budget hotels, with its offerings featuring upmarket luxury resorts, a chic mid-market accommodation brand (Townhouse), and others. The core principle though has remained the same: “bringing beautiful living spaces to middle income persons world-wide”. Leveraging technology to scale Ritesh has always had a focus on leveraging technology in his business. His 700 engineers in China and 700 engineers in rest of the world are constantly building new products and features that help OYO break the boundaries of language and culture through a superior experience. This, along with access to large capital and resources that come along with it, helped Ritesh understand the challenges and opportunities while entering new markets. Local talent has been a game changer, he says. One of the most distinctive thing about the OYO story is the fact that Ritesh is all of just 25 years old today, which makes his feat seem even more incredible. He credits much of his personal growth to the management team he spends most of his time with who bring in years of experience across venture capital, consulting and operations. Always curious to learn Continuing to be field-oriented by learning from people who’re on-ground has helped Ritesh stay true to his entrepreneurial self and bring value to the table. Having a common mission that everyone was working towards, a transparent work environment that held each one accountable, and empowering his team members helped Ritesh keep age out of the picture when it came to team management and decision making. On a closing note, the OYO founder talks about how he considers perseverance as the most valuable learning from his journey so far. “I feel that perseverance has no replacement. Remembering that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and continuously investing in the same direction for a long period of time is the most important.”

34 MINJUL 26
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INSIGHTS#34 Ritesh Agarwal on building OYO – decacorn in the hotel industry

INSIGHTS#33 Harsh Jain on building Dream11- India’s biggest fantasy sports platform

In this edition of the #InsightsPodcast series, we have Harsh Jain, founder of Dream11, India’s largest fantasy sports platform with 70 million registered users and 10 million paid users. Harsh talks about how he achieved product market fit after multiple pivots while persistently following his passion. After answering a quick round of rapid-fire questions that reveal his loyalty for Manchester United and Mumbai Indians, Harsh gives a preview of the scale Dream11 has grown to today and the journey that led up to this. He reminisces his high school days in London when he first picked up fantasy football and how it helped him keep in touch with his group of friends in Mumbai over the course of 2 years in London and 4 years of college in Philadelphia. Unwilling to join family business in real estate, Harsh’s itch to do something different and the hype around IPL at the time led to starting Dream11 in 2008, not the version we see today but more of a cricinfo++ with too many features a...

53 MINJUL 11
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INSIGHTS#33 Harsh Jain on building Dream11- India’s biggest fantasy sports platform

INSIGHTS #32 — Divyank Turakhia on building one of the largest online advertising business

In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Divyank Turakhia, Founder of online advertising business Media.net, speaks about why entrepreneurs should focus on the right things, keep risks in mind, and must always be nimble. We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have with us Divyank Turakhia, Founder of Media.net, one of the largest online advertising businesses worldwide, which he bootstrapped till he eventually sold it in 2016 for $900 million. Divyank starts off by talking about his early days growing up in a small apartment in Mumbai, and how he started reading his dad’s collection of books at the age of five. This love for reading is something he attributes his success to.“I spend somewhere between 800 to 1,000 hours a year reading, and I’ve done that for the last 20–30 years of my life”, he says. The learning goals became more specific as he progressed along his entrepreneurial journey, but even today, you’ll find him trying to get every bit of information possible on a topic that is relevant to a business problem he’s solving. On being asked how he went about picking ideas for his startups, Divyank stresses on how it was never about coming up with a truly original ideafor him, but about coming up with a large space to focus on. Being a techie, Divyank was looking for a large industry that had something to do with the internet: ecommerce and online advertisingwere the most obvious businesses that came to mind. He went ahead with online advertising as it was closer to his domain experience (the fact that he didn’t know much about logistics, which was at the heart of ecommerce also influenced the decision). He started with the niche space of domain advertising, leveraging his knowledge on domain names from his previous startup, as well as the relationships he had built. As he expanded from domain advertising to mainstream online advertisingat Media.net, he made sure he used the same strategy: owning a nichebefore moving to the mainstream part of the online advertising industry. “If I directly started competing with the giants on day one, I would obviously fail because I don’t have the same resources in any form. The idea was to pick a nichethat some of the giants were not paying as much attention to, so that once you grow in it, you know enough,” Divyank says. Sharing tips for young entrepreneurs, Divyank talks about the importance of keeping an eye out for the risks that the business faces. “As you build a business, you need to keep thinking about what are the top 10–20 risks that exist in your businessthat could wipe you out entirely and have a very rough plan to tackle them.” He adds that having success metrics and measuring them on an ongoing basishelps prioritise efforts and resources on the most important problems. Talking about dealing with failures, Divyank mentions how he keeps working on the problemuntil he’s solved it. That said, he urges entrepreneurs to reprioritise when needed. “Whenever you come across something that is more meaningful and that deserves your time and the time of your team a lot more because it’s a larger opportunity, you need to have that nimblenessand you need to be okay to let go off certain things that you’ve been working on. The industry changes all the time, events happen all the time, the marketplace changes all the time, needs change all the time, newer tech comes in. You need to benimble to change and constantly change.” Towards the end of the podcast, Divyank urges entrepreneurs not to fuss about market timing. “There’s no such thing as perfect timing. All timing is perfect. The more important thing is to get started.” Tune in to listen to Divyank share his views about startups, growing them, and the need to be willing to change.

48 MINJUN 21
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INSIGHTS #32 — Divyank Turakhia on building one of the largest online advertising business

INSIGHTS #31 Ashwin Damera of Emeritus on why the founder-startup fit is vital

In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Ashwin Damera, Co-founder of EdTech company Eruditus, speaks about the effect the 'founder-startup fit' has on scaling a company and the importance of a mentor. The #INSIGHTSPodcast series continues with Ashwin Damera, Co-founder of Eruditus, an EdTech company that makes Ivy League education affordable and accessible to the world. Eruditus offers a wide portfolio of customized and open programs delivered in India, Singapore, Dubai, and other global locations. It also runs Emeritus Institute of Management, which provides short-duration online courses. The company currently has 30,000 students across 85+ countries pursuing certificate courses, diplomas, or online degrees. In the podcast, Ashwin, who belongs to a South Indian family and was 'expected' to work for an MNC, talks about his journey into the world of startups. He recaps his college journey at Harvard Business School and how studying in Boston in an Ivy League institute changed his perspective about education and life. He also talks about the origin of Travelguru, his first startup, and the risks he endured to start the company and run it for five years before it was acquired by Travelocity. While every founder talks about product-market fit, Ashwin speaks about the 'founder-startup fit' and the radical importance it holds when it comes to scaling a company. "Somebody maybe very good at starting a company and taking it to $10 million in revenue, but from $10 million to $100 million, is that founder still a good fit for that company, at that stage?" Ashwin envisioned Eruditus as he firmly believes education is transformational. He credits it for teaching him to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur. With Eruditus and Emeritus, they decided to solve the problem of lack of high-quality education. "How many people from India, Southeast Asia, China, or Mexico can pack up their bags for two years, spend more than a crore, and get that education. In most cases, even though people want to, the schools only accept five-10 percent. Accessibility is a huge challenge. So, one of the things we set to do was solve this challenge," he says. As Eruditus scaled, Ashwin speaks about the launch of online programs through Emeritus and providing education that is completely opposite to the massive open online course (MOOC) model. He emphasizes on learning from their mistakes and understanding that classroom audience and online audience may not always demand the same product - in their case, courses. The path Eruditus took, in 2016, by accepting capital was completely different from the one they had previously travelled for five years as a bootstrapped startup. Ashwin tells us why capital was essential to grow and scale. As a founder, he also speaks about doing something you are passionate about, while also trying to find a big business space which allows you to launch a new S-curve every two years. Comparing travel to education, he explains why it is crucial to building a sustainable enterprise over the years. The team that builds a startup and the team that is helping it scale is extremely important, Ashwin says. He also emphasizes the importance of a mentor and the guiding angel they can be through this journey. On finding work-life balance, he says: "If you are running your startup as a marathon you will cover 24 km, but if you sprint you will cover 100 meters. To run it as a marathon, you need to have work-life balance." Tune in to listen to Ashwin share his knowledge about the startup culture and the exceptional growth of Emeritus in eight years.

43 MINJUN 7
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INSIGHTS #31 Ashwin Damera of Emeritus on why the founder-startup fit is vital

INSIGHTS #30 — Ritesh Arora on thinking global and scaling up

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition, we have Ritesh Arora, Co-Founder and CEO of Browser Stack, a mobile and web testing platform. In this podcast you will hear about Ritesh’s journey as a young engineer how he pivoted through a few startup ideas before landing on the BrowserStack idea. And how he bootstrapped the startup to more than $20M in revenue - a humongous achievement for any founder. Ritesh comes from a family background in business, and always had an eye for venturing on the entrepreneurial journey. Teaming up with his roommate from IIT Bombay, Ritesh started his first startup in final year of college: building a product for sentiment analysis in 2005, which involved him picking up machine learning and natural language processing way before AI/ML became fashionable. “I read probably about every research paper published on the topic at that time, about 76 of them. Went through them multiple times and came up with our own algorithm.” Unable to come up with a go-to-market for the product, Ritesh and Nakul decided to take up jobs, but the desire to build something consumer-facing got them started soon on their second venture, in the space of information aggregation on the internet. This time around they were even able to gain traction, but monetization and identifying the right business model proved to be a challenge. Ritesh and Nakul spent a year brainstorming before stumbling on the problem that BrowserStack solves today, while consulting with companies that were seeking their help in building machine learning solutions. ‘Testing website on internet browsers’ was a challenge for thousands of developers globally and something that Ritesh and Nakul experienced first hand as developers . Ritesh and Nakul, set out to simplify the journey of developers by helping them test and debug their website on different browsers (mainly Internet Explorer at that time). The traction they got this time around was explosive, starting with 10K beta users in three weeks (thanks to John Resig’s tweet), moving to a paid offering soon that grew to $20K monthly revenues in about 4-5 months and $1M annual recurring revenue at the end of year one- all this when they were just a team of two, working out of a coffee shop in Mumbai! The focus on global market from day one helped them scale to $20M annual recurring revenue in a span of four years with just a 50 member team. They realised the need to scale up the organization to be able to sustain the growth and decided to get advisors on board who can help mentor the team in the right direction. The fund-raise for BrowserStack was more about finding the right partner than about raising money. Ritesh speaks about the value that a good investor brings on board especially in the scaling phase, because the founder is always doing it for the first time while the VCs have helped many such companies scale. Apart from talking about the journey of choosing the right investor, Ritesh shares learnings for younger entrepreneurs, from the early days and emphasizes on focussing towards solving large problems, getting feedback from customers, not solving for monetizing in early days and building a great product that makes the customer’s journey frictionless. “When your customers use your product, they should feel that it has changed their life” he says. Tune in to the podcast to hear Ritesh’s phenomenal journey which has become an epitome of bootstrapping your way to success.

45 MINMAY 24
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INSIGHTS #30 — Ritesh Arora on thinking global and scaling up

Latest Episodes

INSIGHTS #39 - Hari Menon on scaling Bigbasket and disrupting the grocery industry

We continue with the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, and on this edition we have Hari Menon, Co-founder and CEO of BigBasket, India’s largest online food and grocery store, which serves 10 million customers in 30 cities today. In this podcast, Hari takes us through the journey of starting and scaling BigBasket and gives a behind-the-curtain glimpse of the years of grocery business experience that led to building an expertise in grocery supply chain and culminated in building India's leading online grocer. Starting up in the 90s: too early to market Born and brought up in Mumbai, Hari graduated from BITS Pilani and chose to start working right away. A few jobs old, and exposed to the internet boom during his stint at Wipro, Hari decided to start Fabmart in 1999, an ecommerce company that started by selling cassettes online, and quickly diversified to books, jewellery, toys, and groceries. This was at a time when the Indian consumer was still wary of transacting online, there were no payment gateways, and deliveries were difficult. The business model was too early for the market and the dot com bust made it difficult to raise more capital from investors. The team decided to leverage the platform developed and the existing warehouse set up to pivot into a physical grocery chain built on a franchisee model that they scaled from 15 stores in Bangalore to 200+ stores in South India before getting acquired by Aditya Birla Group. Bigbasket: timing it right the second time The founding team went on to do different things before coming together again half a decade later, when the market had caught up with their initial vision- broadband had picked up, payment gateways were there and Flipkart was demonstrating serious traction in terms of online transactions- the time was right for ‘BigBasket’. Calling upon the supply chain expertise in the complex grocery business from Fabmart days and with a focus on setting up a robust backend technology, the team’s second bid at making Indians shop for groceries online picked steam very quickly. “We expanded fast because one thing we told ourselves was that if we did get into a city, we would do the entire city. Secondly, we would start with fruits and vegetables because that was the toughest one to solve for in terms of supply chain (due to the highly perishable nature).” Today Bigbasket is the fifth largest grocer in the country after offline giants D-Mart, Reliance, Big Bazaar, and More. Hari’s near term vision is to take it to top three. Talking about personal growth as CEO, Hari talks about how valuing trust and attitude over skills and knowledge while getting people to join, obsessing about process (BigBasket’s head of HR has authored a book called ‘Say No to Jugaad’) and being passionate about the grocery business has helped take Bigbasket to where it is today. He says that knowing when to pivot and when not to pivot is something every entrepreneur must learn- instead of being emotional about the original idea which at times goes against the company's interests. Last but not the least, he emphasizes the importance of having an unshakable conviction on the business, something that helped BigBasket survive the test of time and emerge as a successful business today. “It's all about getting that emotion out and saying, you know let's pivot ​but you won't get it because you're so emotionally attached to the idea that you're not even thinking right. Then it's important to believe in your model in spite of giants and large investors coming in and pumping money. The whole world was talking about SoftBank, Tiger backing asset-light models but we stuck our ground on the need for inventory control. Since then, there really has been no looking back.” On a closing note, Hari shares his fondness for cricket and music, something that is well known in the startup ecosystem. Tune in to the podcast to learn more about Hari’s roller coaster journey.

65 MIN2 w ago
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INSIGHTS #39 - Hari Menon on scaling Bigbasket and disrupting the grocery industry

INSIGHTS #38 — Manu Kumar Jain on scaling Xiaomi and disrupting the India electronics space

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have with us Manu Kumar Jain, Managing Director of Xiaomi India- a leader in smartphones, televisions, and many other products. Manu walks us through the journey of setting up Xiaomi in India and scaling it to become one of the best mobile phone brands in India in a very capital efficient way. Starting by talking about his childhood days, Manu remembers growing up in Meerut in a large family with a business background, where the ultimate aspiration was to set up shop- the larger the shop the more successful one was. Unlike most of his cousins, Manu decided to pursue engineering from IIT Delhi and then did his MBA from IIM Calcutta, post which he worked with Mckinsey for five years before co-founding Jabong. He ran Jabong for 2 years before moving out and then joined Xiaomi to start their India business. Talking about Early days at Jabong, Manu gets candid about how his first thoughts on selling fashion online was that “it was a stupid idea”, but after some persuasion from his co-founders he was able to take the leap of faith, only to get pleasantly surprised that a lot of people were willing to buy shoes and clothes online. Riding on the wave of mobile first online consumers, Jabong grew from thousand orders a day to ten thousand orders a day, to become a top two player in the online fashion space. Hugely fascinated about mobile as a category and having heard about a Chinese company trying to do things differently by online as the primary channel for sales, Manu connected with the founders through his network out of pure interest to learn more about the company’s journey. After multiple exchanges between Manu and the founders, sharing learnings with each other on the China and India landscape, Lin Bin, Co-Founder & President of Xiaomi, offered Manu to join them to start their India business. At a time when India had more than 300 smartphone brands, Xiaomi went ahead with an online only sales strategy when everyone else was spending huge marketing dollars on advertising and sponsorships. From very early on, the expectation from the board was to be profitable and not burn at a day-to-day operations level. This led Xiaomi to take a product focused approach and leverage social media to take its consumer delight story to the masses. What others spent on marketing, Xiaomi spent on quality of the phone giving the customer a better hardware and a better camera. “We can’t make more than five percent margin from any of our hardware products by board resolution. We believe in a concept called as honest price. We cut down all possible costs like marketing, distribution, working capital, inventory cost and pass on that benefit to the user without keeping a profit margin for ourselves.” The social media angle that bolstered Xiaomi’s rise to the top continues to be a core part of today’s focus. Mi community today has more than 70 million MAUs and physical fan clubs in more than 25 cities. Finally, sharing learnings for young entrepreneurs, Manu talks about the importance of having mentors who do not have a vested interest in your company or you, so that the conversations are brutal and honest. Last but not the least, Manu stresses about the importance of investing in the team and ensuring that good performers grow within the company, from both and equity and cash perspective. Spending time with the team has always been in the top three priorities for Manu. “One-on-one or group sessions are not only meant for year-end appraisals but should be a part of your weekly and monthly schedule time. And these are not performance reviews but to ask how they're feeling, how they're growing and for discussing about stuff informally too, within work and outside work.” Tune in to the podcast to hear more interesting bits and insights from Manu’s journey of scaling Xiaomi to its today’s scale.

56 MINSEP 20
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INSIGHTS #38 — Manu Kumar Jain on scaling Xiaomi and disrupting the India electronics space

INSIGHTS #37 – Deep Kalra on building India’s first consumer internet success- MakeMyTrip

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have Deep Kalra, Founder and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip, India’s leading online travel company. Today, the company has become the go-to-site for majority of Indians looking to book flight tickets, hotel reservations, rail and bus tickets. In this podcast, Deep takes us through his journey of building MakeMyTrip at a time when internet adoption was still early. He talks about how he helped sail through challenging times to eventually list MMT on NASDAQ in 2010 and finally grow it to today’s scale of $2.4 billion market cap. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug Born in Hyderabad and grown up in Delhi, Deep graduated from St. Stephen’s College and completed his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Later, he took up a career in banking where he spent three years before taking the bite on his first entrepreneurial pursuit- setting up bowling alleys in India to tap into the expected boom in family entertainment. Not tasting much success, Deep decided to go back to the corporate life, joining GE Capital as VP of Business Development, when he was introduced formally to the internet and the enormous potential it had to significantly impact our everyday lives. Deep decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship again, and in April 2000,- MakeMyTrip (MMT) was born. Convinced that his internet venture was bound for success, Deep looked for business verticals that were ripe for internet disruption. He arrived at travel as the industry that was poised for an upstart to take over using the power of internet and because- “travel is fun”. Lessons from the dotcom bust Early into the journey, the dotcom bust happened, making it extremely challenging to raise external funding for a business model that was purely built around the internet. At MMT, the team was constantly working with two to three months of runway in terms of expenses, salaries, rent etc. However, this tough phase turned out to be a blessing in disguise in retrospect, as it forced the team to focus on unit economics from very early on. Another learning from that phase was the importance of patience. “No great company has been built very quickly. It takes time to set up a decent company in India, and probably 10 years to become something. So be patient. Don’t look back for the first 4-5 years. Once you are onto something tweak, pivot, keep your ears to the ground, pick up messages, do the right thing but at the first sign of winter do not back up. It takes a lot of courage to do it all over again. You probably won’t do it all over again”, Deep says. Through the tough phase, MMT focussed on the NRI segment who were early adopters due to previous experience of transacting online, but in 2005, thanks to IRCTC, the Indian consumer became more comfortable with the idea of purchasing online, which combined with the advent of Low Cost Carriers in India offered MMT a unique opportunity to revolutionize the travel booking industry. Going public in the US Having raised four rounds of institutional funding from 2005 to 2009, Deep decided to take MMT to IPO in the US market, where it was a huge hit, appreciating 90 percent on the first day taking MMT to almost a $1B valuation. The listing enabled MMT to enter the hallowed league of Booking.com, Expedia, and the others. More details on the IPO journey in the podcast. On a closing note, Deep shares his views on how the Indian markets are opening up making it easier for companies to go public, but that companies need to fundamentally focus on building for scale and not look at IPO as an end goal. “So, I would encourage all entrepreneurs, when they are deliberating an IPO to ask themselves a very odd sounding question- Why do you want to IPO?”, Deep ends with a question for scaled founders to ponder on.

51 MINSEP 6
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INSIGHTS #37 – Deep Kalra on building India’s first consumer internet success- MakeMyTrip

INSIGHTS #36 Naveen Tewari on building InMobi as a global leader in mobile advertising

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series with a path-setter: Naveen Tewari, Co-Founder and CEO of Inmobi, India’s first unicorn. Naveen started a product company at a time when most people weren’t thinking about it, went global and cracked the China market, and is now starting a group of companies under Mobi. In this podcast, he shares a number of great lessons for first-time founders, from how to go through pivots successfully and the role that co-founders play in maintaining morale in an organisation, to scaling internationally and building a culture that is deeply enriching for the employees who’re part of your startup journey. Naveen kicks things off by talking about the three businesses under InMobi Group: InMobi Marketing Cloud, Glance, and TruFactor. InMobi Marketing Cloud, the group’s business that everyone associates the brand with and that has been built over the last decade, has a strong presence across the US, China, and the rest of the world. The second business, Glance, is an AI-led content discovery platform at screen zero (ie the lock screen) that hopes to change the way content is consumed on mobile platforms. The third business, TruFactor, is a platform for data scientists, a bet on a future where data will drive business strategy, oftentimes requiring data scientists to solve complex decision-making problems for the company. The outlier Rewinding back to the early days, Naveen talks about being born in an intense academic environment with many family members taking up teaching roles at IIT, and how he took a whole different path of joining management consulting instead of the expected PHD or exploring further studies. Post three years at McKinsey, Naveen did his MBA at Harvard Business School, which he calls “the most pivotal two years” of his life, enabling him to go beyond the restrictive thinking of a middle-class boy by establishing belief in his own abilities and that anyone can do big things in life. After business school, Naveen dabbled in the startup world for a couple of years before starting a venture in the SMS-based search business only to realise that the world was headed towards internet usage with mobiles becoming more prevalent. The beginning He speaks about how this phase, before hitting upon the final idea that led to success, was a very tough one — beset with societal pressure and self-doubt. The failures brought in lots of personal learning, but the phase was nevertheless a painful one, especially in the first two years when Naveen didn’t have co-founders. He adds, “Always have a co-founder because you know in these journeys there are a lot of low moments. Actually, most of them are low moments and the co-founder’s job is not to really go ahead and hit you on strategy. It’s far more important for a co-founder to bring you out of these moments that you are constantly in, and vice-versa.” On the early days of InMobi, Naveen talks about how he saw the need for businesses to invest in advertising systems once internet became prevalent, and this is the use case that they went after. They quickly realised that India was a small market at the time and expanded to Asia, before going global. The first markets that they entered were ones where they garnered contacts in, expanding from one new market to another, solving for the immediate next step that was planned out for the next 6–12 months.

56 MINAUG 23
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INSIGHTS #36 Naveen Tewari on building InMobi as a global leader in mobile advertising

INSIGHTS #35 - Nandan Nilekani shares his journey from building Infosys to rolling out Aadhaar

In this episode of the #InsightsPodcast series, we have Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys and the man who put in place India’s Aadhaar identification system. He tells us about how his time at IIT-Bombay honed his skills, growing Infosys, working on the UIDAI project, and why the ‘thinker-doer’ approach works. We continue with our #InsightsPodcast, and on this edition have with us one of India’s biggest business legends, Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys, its current Non-Executive Chairman and the brain behind Aadhaar while serving as the Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India. He is a Padma Bhushan awardee and was listed by TIME magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2009. In this episode, Nandan shares experiences from both, his business days and from his more recent journey of public service. Nandan starts by giving a glimpse into his formative years - of growing up in Bengaluru and then Dharwad, and making it to IIT-Bombay without access to any coaching classes. He credits his IIT days with the social skills and confidence that helped him take risk and build a large company like Infosys. While at the college, he dabbled in the many social activities and played a key role in organising IIT-Bombay’s cultural fest, ‘Mood Indigo’. Talking about his early days, from meeting Narayan Murthy while interviewing for Patni Computer Systems to co-founding Infosys in 1981, building India’s first software campus in Bangalore in 1992 and going public in 1993, Nandan says the vision to build a globally competitive technology company out of India and the planning for scale by focusing on building an aspirational brand for employees and setting audacious goals for growth helped scale the way Infosys did. “When we were a $3-5 million company, we talked about becoming a $100 million company. When we were approaching $100 million in revenue, we asked what it takes to reach a billion dollars in revenue.” Nandan talks about how having a five-year blue sky plan, three-year strategic plan and one-year operating plan helped ensure the right mix of nimbleness of a startup and the professionalism of a large corporate. More on the entrepreneurial journey at Infosys, and reimagining it as a cloud service, in the podcast. Thinking and doing Talking about his next entrepreneurial stint as employee #1 at UIDAI, Nandan elaborates on the unique experience of building a team that was an amalgamation of stalwart bureaucrats from the public sector and top tech talent from the private sector, working together to successfully roll out Aadhaar. Citing the famous “thinker-doer” approach, Nandan mentions how his experience in thinking and executing roles in both public and private work settings made him uniquely positioned to achieve UIDAI’s mandate. Opening up on the personal front, Nandan says that his curiosity to learn new things, being open to learning from others in an attempt to constantly stay relevant, desire to do something new, and willingness to live with uncertainty are all part of the core beliefs that define his value system. Be frugal with time Nandan talks about how the dual approach of being execution- obsessed while being able to step back and think big picture is something that’s helpful for founders to think clearly. On scaling as a founder, Nandan has a simple tip: “Being frugal with your time is important. I am generous with my money, but frugal with my time. Money, you can give it away and make it again. Time is a perishable resource.” Talking about the present-day startup ecosystem, Nandan is excited and hopes to see the next generation of Kotak, HDFC, TCS, and Infosys emerge to create jobs for millions, and leverage India’s growing $2 trillion economy. He hopes to see leaders spread their power, by delegating, empowering, and sharing the glory. Tune in to listen to Nandan Nilekani as he speaks about the startup ecosystem, leadership, and the future for India.

42 MINAUG 9
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INSIGHTS #35 - Nandan Nilekani shares his journey from building Infosys to rolling out Aadhaar

INSIGHTS#34 Ritesh Agarwal on building OYO – decacorn in the hotel industry

In this edition of the #InsightsPodcast series, we have the man of the hour, Ritesh Agarwal, founder of OYO, largest hotel chain of India that is now operational in more than 60 countries. Ritesh talks about the early days of OYO, how he always had grand plans for OYO and was able to execute them with his able colleagues to scale his company to today’s levels. Ritesh remembers his childhood self as being the kid who always wanted to do different things. At the age of 13, he was selling sim cards just for the heck of it; at 18, he dropped out of college to start his first company Oravel, and got selected for the Thiel Fellowship, receiving a $100,000 grant from Peter Thiel, Founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. Spending time staying at friends’ places for a few months opened Ritesh to an exciting opportunity in the hotel industry. On the supply side, most hotels were passive investments for owners and had a fundamental problem of yield generation, with the asset owner wanting to get away from the daily headache of managing the asset. On the consumer side, there was a clear gap in availability of clean, well-organised, and well-designed hotel rooms at an affordable price. Ritesh saw absolutely no reason to not invest himself into solving this problem, and there has been no looking back since then. “Whenever I have two opportunities, risking it versus regretting it, I would always invariably choose risking it, because I never want to regret that I did not pursue something that I really wanted to do. So that’s sort of what inspired me to start the first OYO hotel”, he says. Building the right team OYO today has expanded to beyond just budget hotels, with its offerings featuring upmarket luxury resorts, a chic mid-market accommodation brand (Townhouse), and others. The core principle though has remained the same: “bringing beautiful living spaces to middle income persons world-wide”. Leveraging technology to scale Ritesh has always had a focus on leveraging technology in his business. His 700 engineers in China and 700 engineers in rest of the world are constantly building new products and features that help OYO break the boundaries of language and culture through a superior experience. This, along with access to large capital and resources that come along with it, helped Ritesh understand the challenges and opportunities while entering new markets. Local talent has been a game changer, he says. One of the most distinctive thing about the OYO story is the fact that Ritesh is all of just 25 years old today, which makes his feat seem even more incredible. He credits much of his personal growth to the management team he spends most of his time with who bring in years of experience across venture capital, consulting and operations. Always curious to learn Continuing to be field-oriented by learning from people who’re on-ground has helped Ritesh stay true to his entrepreneurial self and bring value to the table. Having a common mission that everyone was working towards, a transparent work environment that held each one accountable, and empowering his team members helped Ritesh keep age out of the picture when it came to team management and decision making. On a closing note, the OYO founder talks about how he considers perseverance as the most valuable learning from his journey so far. “I feel that perseverance has no replacement. Remembering that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and continuously investing in the same direction for a long period of time is the most important.”

34 MINJUL 26
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INSIGHTS#34 Ritesh Agarwal on building OYO – decacorn in the hotel industry

INSIGHTS#33 Harsh Jain on building Dream11- India’s biggest fantasy sports platform

In this edition of the #InsightsPodcast series, we have Harsh Jain, founder of Dream11, India’s largest fantasy sports platform with 70 million registered users and 10 million paid users. Harsh talks about how he achieved product market fit after multiple pivots while persistently following his passion. After answering a quick round of rapid-fire questions that reveal his loyalty for Manchester United and Mumbai Indians, Harsh gives a preview of the scale Dream11 has grown to today and the journey that led up to this. He reminisces his high school days in London when he first picked up fantasy football and how it helped him keep in touch with his group of friends in Mumbai over the course of 2 years in London and 4 years of college in Philadelphia. Unwilling to join family business in real estate, Harsh’s itch to do something different and the hype around IPL at the time led to starting Dream11 in 2008, not the version we see today but more of a cricinfo++ with too many features a...

53 MINJUL 11
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INSIGHTS#33 Harsh Jain on building Dream11- India’s biggest fantasy sports platform

INSIGHTS #32 — Divyank Turakhia on building one of the largest online advertising business

In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Divyank Turakhia, Founder of online advertising business Media.net, speaks about why entrepreneurs should focus on the right things, keep risks in mind, and must always be nimble. We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition we have with us Divyank Turakhia, Founder of Media.net, one of the largest online advertising businesses worldwide, which he bootstrapped till he eventually sold it in 2016 for $900 million. Divyank starts off by talking about his early days growing up in a small apartment in Mumbai, and how he started reading his dad’s collection of books at the age of five. This love for reading is something he attributes his success to.“I spend somewhere between 800 to 1,000 hours a year reading, and I’ve done that for the last 20–30 years of my life”, he says. The learning goals became more specific as he progressed along his entrepreneurial journey, but even today, you’ll find him trying to get every bit of information possible on a topic that is relevant to a business problem he’s solving. On being asked how he went about picking ideas for his startups, Divyank stresses on how it was never about coming up with a truly original ideafor him, but about coming up with a large space to focus on. Being a techie, Divyank was looking for a large industry that had something to do with the internet: ecommerce and online advertisingwere the most obvious businesses that came to mind. He went ahead with online advertising as it was closer to his domain experience (the fact that he didn’t know much about logistics, which was at the heart of ecommerce also influenced the decision). He started with the niche space of domain advertising, leveraging his knowledge on domain names from his previous startup, as well as the relationships he had built. As he expanded from domain advertising to mainstream online advertisingat Media.net, he made sure he used the same strategy: owning a nichebefore moving to the mainstream part of the online advertising industry. “If I directly started competing with the giants on day one, I would obviously fail because I don’t have the same resources in any form. The idea was to pick a nichethat some of the giants were not paying as much attention to, so that once you grow in it, you know enough,” Divyank says. Sharing tips for young entrepreneurs, Divyank talks about the importance of keeping an eye out for the risks that the business faces. “As you build a business, you need to keep thinking about what are the top 10–20 risks that exist in your businessthat could wipe you out entirely and have a very rough plan to tackle them.” He adds that having success metrics and measuring them on an ongoing basishelps prioritise efforts and resources on the most important problems. Talking about dealing with failures, Divyank mentions how he keeps working on the problemuntil he’s solved it. That said, he urges entrepreneurs to reprioritise when needed. “Whenever you come across something that is more meaningful and that deserves your time and the time of your team a lot more because it’s a larger opportunity, you need to have that nimblenessand you need to be okay to let go off certain things that you’ve been working on. The industry changes all the time, events happen all the time, the marketplace changes all the time, needs change all the time, newer tech comes in. You need to benimble to change and constantly change.” Towards the end of the podcast, Divyank urges entrepreneurs not to fuss about market timing. “There’s no such thing as perfect timing. All timing is perfect. The more important thing is to get started.” Tune in to listen to Divyank share his views about startups, growing them, and the need to be willing to change.

48 MINJUN 21
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INSIGHTS #32 — Divyank Turakhia on building one of the largest online advertising business

INSIGHTS #31 Ashwin Damera of Emeritus on why the founder-startup fit is vital

In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Ashwin Damera, Co-founder of EdTech company Eruditus, speaks about the effect the 'founder-startup fit' has on scaling a company and the importance of a mentor. The #INSIGHTSPodcast series continues with Ashwin Damera, Co-founder of Eruditus, an EdTech company that makes Ivy League education affordable and accessible to the world. Eruditus offers a wide portfolio of customized and open programs delivered in India, Singapore, Dubai, and other global locations. It also runs Emeritus Institute of Management, which provides short-duration online courses. The company currently has 30,000 students across 85+ countries pursuing certificate courses, diplomas, or online degrees. In the podcast, Ashwin, who belongs to a South Indian family and was 'expected' to work for an MNC, talks about his journey into the world of startups. He recaps his college journey at Harvard Business School and how studying in Boston in an Ivy League institute changed his perspective about education and life. He also talks about the origin of Travelguru, his first startup, and the risks he endured to start the company and run it for five years before it was acquired by Travelocity. While every founder talks about product-market fit, Ashwin speaks about the 'founder-startup fit' and the radical importance it holds when it comes to scaling a company. "Somebody maybe very good at starting a company and taking it to $10 million in revenue, but from $10 million to $100 million, is that founder still a good fit for that company, at that stage?" Ashwin envisioned Eruditus as he firmly believes education is transformational. He credits it for teaching him to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur. With Eruditus and Emeritus, they decided to solve the problem of lack of high-quality education. "How many people from India, Southeast Asia, China, or Mexico can pack up their bags for two years, spend more than a crore, and get that education. In most cases, even though people want to, the schools only accept five-10 percent. Accessibility is a huge challenge. So, one of the things we set to do was solve this challenge," he says. As Eruditus scaled, Ashwin speaks about the launch of online programs through Emeritus and providing education that is completely opposite to the massive open online course (MOOC) model. He emphasizes on learning from their mistakes and understanding that classroom audience and online audience may not always demand the same product - in their case, courses. The path Eruditus took, in 2016, by accepting capital was completely different from the one they had previously travelled for five years as a bootstrapped startup. Ashwin tells us why capital was essential to grow and scale. As a founder, he also speaks about doing something you are passionate about, while also trying to find a big business space which allows you to launch a new S-curve every two years. Comparing travel to education, he explains why it is crucial to building a sustainable enterprise over the years. The team that builds a startup and the team that is helping it scale is extremely important, Ashwin says. He also emphasizes the importance of a mentor and the guiding angel they can be through this journey. On finding work-life balance, he says: "If you are running your startup as a marathon you will cover 24 km, but if you sprint you will cover 100 meters. To run it as a marathon, you need to have work-life balance." Tune in to listen to Ashwin share his knowledge about the startup culture and the exceptional growth of Emeritus in eight years.

43 MINJUN 7
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INSIGHTS #31 Ashwin Damera of Emeritus on why the founder-startup fit is vital

INSIGHTS #30 — Ritesh Arora on thinking global and scaling up

We continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, and on this edition, we have Ritesh Arora, Co-Founder and CEO of Browser Stack, a mobile and web testing platform. In this podcast you will hear about Ritesh’s journey as a young engineer how he pivoted through a few startup ideas before landing on the BrowserStack idea. And how he bootstrapped the startup to more than $20M in revenue - a humongous achievement for any founder. Ritesh comes from a family background in business, and always had an eye for venturing on the entrepreneurial journey. Teaming up with his roommate from IIT Bombay, Ritesh started his first startup in final year of college: building a product for sentiment analysis in 2005, which involved him picking up machine learning and natural language processing way before AI/ML became fashionable. “I read probably about every research paper published on the topic at that time, about 76 of them. Went through them multiple times and came up with our own algorithm.” Unable to come up with a go-to-market for the product, Ritesh and Nakul decided to take up jobs, but the desire to build something consumer-facing got them started soon on their second venture, in the space of information aggregation on the internet. This time around they were even able to gain traction, but monetization and identifying the right business model proved to be a challenge. Ritesh and Nakul spent a year brainstorming before stumbling on the problem that BrowserStack solves today, while consulting with companies that were seeking their help in building machine learning solutions. ‘Testing website on internet browsers’ was a challenge for thousands of developers globally and something that Ritesh and Nakul experienced first hand as developers . Ritesh and Nakul, set out to simplify the journey of developers by helping them test and debug their website on different browsers (mainly Internet Explorer at that time). The traction they got this time around was explosive, starting with 10K beta users in three weeks (thanks to John Resig’s tweet), moving to a paid offering soon that grew to $20K monthly revenues in about 4-5 months and $1M annual recurring revenue at the end of year one- all this when they were just a team of two, working out of a coffee shop in Mumbai! The focus on global market from day one helped them scale to $20M annual recurring revenue in a span of four years with just a 50 member team. They realised the need to scale up the organization to be able to sustain the growth and decided to get advisors on board who can help mentor the team in the right direction. The fund-raise for BrowserStack was more about finding the right partner than about raising money. Ritesh speaks about the value that a good investor brings on board especially in the scaling phase, because the founder is always doing it for the first time while the VCs have helped many such companies scale. Apart from talking about the journey of choosing the right investor, Ritesh shares learnings for younger entrepreneurs, from the early days and emphasizes on focussing towards solving large problems, getting feedback from customers, not solving for monetizing in early days and building a great product that makes the customer’s journey frictionless. “When your customers use your product, they should feel that it has changed their life” he says. Tune in to the podcast to hear Ritesh’s phenomenal journey which has become an epitome of bootstrapping your way to success.

45 MINMAY 24
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INSIGHTS #30 — Ritesh Arora on thinking global and scaling up