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INSIGHTS Podcast Series

INSIGHTS Podcast Series

Author: INSIGHTS Podcast Series, Anand Daniel

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The Insights podcast is about tech, markets, startups, and stories which helps you to learn how to go about building your startup. We feature Industry Experts, Founders, VC's, Authors and Leaders of various sectors.

This podcast is hosted by Anand Daniel, a partner at Accel India. Click on get notified button above to get all updates of Accel directly to your Mail & Whatsapp.
58 Episodes
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Most of our other podcasts are targeted towards early-stage founders looking to build and scale their companies. But now we are also launching a new podcast mini series keeping in mind the founders of fast-growth companies. The Scale Playbook, as the name suggests, will help unravel the playbook of large startups for founders to understand how to solve scale challenges across different business functions like engineering, product, sales and strategy through candid conversations with specialists from some of the most successful startups in the ecosystem. For our first episode we have two industry stalwarts from Flipkart — one of India’s largest ecommerce platforms. Jeyandran Venugopal is the Chief Product and Technology Officer at Flipkart. He has previously led several engineering and product teams at Myntra, Yahoo and Amazon. Naren Ravula is the Vice President and Head of Strategy at Flipkart. He was leading product strategy and operations at Salesforce and NetApp previously. Today’s episode is focused on building a strong engineering team and strategy. We will also touch upon Flipkart’s Leap Accelerator program which is targeted towards early-stage founders.
Thiru is a serial entrepreneur in its truest sense. He founded six startups including a coaching academy and a Biryani cloud kitchen before he landed on Ninjacart - which, interestingly, isn’t the same business as it was initially perceived. Though the first six companies failed to take off, he did not give up and kept charging ahead with one idea after another. His attempt at building these companies came with its set of learnings but his biggest learning of building a large, fast-growing company was from his stint at TaxiForSure. “This is where I learnt how to build a culturally strong startup,” says Thiru about TaxiForSure. After the Ola acquisition, Thiru decided to revisit his last startup, Shout, which was initially a location-based social network app. He decided to convert it into a location-based e-commerce app which eventually became Ninjacart.
The 56th episode of the INSIGHTS podcast features Sairee Chahal, Founder and CEO of SHEROES- a social networking platform with over 20M women. Sairee is also an Aspen Fellow and serves on the board of Paytm Payments Bank. She has been an entrepreneur for 15+ years. In this episode, Sairee shares insights on building successful products around communitiesTo learn more about Sairee’s inspiring journey, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by Accel.
In this episode, we hear from Vetri on what OKRs are, how they are different from other goal-setting frameworks, how businesses can go about adopting them, and some common challenges and pitfalls to be careful about.To learn more about how you can adopt OKRs as a powerful tool in your organization to increase alignment and engagement around achieving goals, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by Accel.Listen hereSpotify                                             Soundcloud                                         Apple Podcasts
In today’s special episode of the INSIGHTS podcast on ‘student entrepreneurship’, we cover the journeys of two well-known founders in the startup community whose entrepreneurial journeys started right from their college days: Shashank Murali from Tapchief and Farid Ahsan from Sharechat.We hear from Shashank and Farid on their early life and college days, how they decided to take up entrepreneurship, how they arrived on the idea they went after, how they worked progressively to build their companies, and finally how they would do it differently if they were to do it all over again. Listen hereSpotify                Apple                                     
In this episode of the INSIGHTS podcast, we have with us Neeraj Arora, who played a pivotal role at WhatsApp as an early employee and then as the Chief Business Officer.  We hear from Neeraj on his early career days, non-obvious career moves, learnings from the WhatsApp journey, the multi-billion dollar Facebook- Whatsapp deal, his experiences from investing in India, and finally some advice for startup founders.Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            Soundcloud
Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudAnand and Sudheer give a glimpse into their respective startup journeys - skillsets they brought from their previous experiences, new challenges that they were not prepared for, and milestones that marked their journey. The podcast covers all the different phases of their journeys: from identifying the problem to go after and building the MVP to scaling the product, figuring out monetization, and solving for Sales GTM and funding.To learn more about what it takes to build scalable global SaaS companies out of India, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by Accel Notes:04:24 – Early days of startup journey11:22 – Picking the right mountain and validating it (Vertical vs Horizontal SaaS)20:40 – Finding the first set of customers29:55 – Business model and monetizing34:55 – Funding the early phase: bootstrapping vs fundraising39:20 – Scaling up phase, expanding geographies48:30 – Advise for early-stage SaaS founders50:30 – Rapid Fire Round
Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudAlex throws light on how the entrepreneurs from frontier markets are reinventing startup best practices and offering a brand new playbook for innovation that looks different from that of startups in the valley.The podcast centres around the shift of innovation from the silicon valley to the global playground. Alex talks about the incredible stories of entrepreneurs in emerging markets who maneuver challenging environments to build resilient sustainable businesses that create large social impact.To hear more from Alex on global innovation trends, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by Accel Notes:02:31 – Genesis of ‘Out-Innovate’, the book04:44 – Future is at the frontier: Innovation increasingly coming from emerging markets08:49 – Social impact of creators16:59 – The camel approach: Building sustainability from Day 120:50 – Going global from the Get-go23:55 – Frontier innovators = Ecosystem builders
Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudMukesh shares how his journey as a leader has evolved over the last decade and in times of COVID, what got him to write a book, and how he manages to carve out time to give back to the community.The podcast deals with some of the most relevant topics in today’s times: focusing on holistic health, improving performance, and giving back.Notes:02:10 – Productivity in COVID times03:39 – Settling into the new rhythm of running the company05:36 – Executing fast through decentralized decision making09:36 – Hacks for managing personal physical & mental fitness13:04 – Cracking the performance code: No Limits18:09 – Importance of introspecting about purpose20:39 – Long term strategic thinking and daily healthy habits24:00 – Supporting the Olympic Gold Quest initiative 26:14 – ACT Grants and Bharat Health Stack27:50 – Rapid Fire Round
Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudSubrata and Prashanth share an on the ground view of the state of the VC ecosystem in India amidst the COVID situation and what to expect for the road ahead. They share advice for founders as they plan for the tough times ahead along with learnings and observations from previous economic downturns including some of the positive outcomes.The podcast clears the air around what founders can expect the fundraising situation to look like in the next near future.01:27 – Comparing COVID-19 times with dot-com bubble burst and 2008 recession06:23 – Efforts going on in the startup- VC ecosystem around helping fight COVID09:50 – Current state of Indian VC ecosystem amidst COVID13:00 – Assessing risk at a portfolio level16:08 – Actionable advice to startup founders20:20 – Planning for cash runway- time frame and approach21:55 – Advice for founders looking to startup or in pre-PMF stage24:30 – Fast forward: view of 24 months ahead28:43 – Reinventing yourself in crisis times (INSIGHTS #13: 1999 to 2018 — Ashish Hemranjani recaps the BookMyShow journey)30:25 – Fundamental transformation of some sectors31:13 – Dealing with anxiety33:25 – Rapid Fire Round 
Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudThis is a continuation to podcast #46 on SaaS. In this podcast, Shekhar and Krish dive deeper into the best practices for building a SaaS company out of India.Shekhar and Krish share learnings on the important tips to keep in mind for founders looking to build a large SaaS company: spending time on market research to identify the right opportunity in your area of interest, validating the problem through multiple customer interviews, building strong context on the problem before building the MVP and having the willingness to pay conversation early on. The podcast is filled with analogies and examples from Shekhar and Krish’s more than decade-long experience in SaaS. To learn more about things you need to get right to be successful in building a large SaaS company, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by AccelListen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudNotes:01:47 – Climbing the mountain analogy05:18 – The advantage of having a strong industrial experience09:08 – First mover advantage13:32 – India advantage for SaaS startups19:00 – Picking a good founding team21:57 – Co-creating product with initial customers23:30 – Understanding go to market29:28 – Building MVP32:15 – Testing for willingness to pay from early on35:00 – Rapid Fire Round
Listen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            SoundcloudHow are Indian Startups dealing with the COVID-19 situation?This is a special podcast episode that deals with the tough situation that the world is facing today amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and features how the startup ecosystem in India is responding to it.We have 4 guests on the podcast this time around:  Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO & Co-founder of Bounce (two-wheeler scooter sharing solution operating in Bangalore & Hyderabad)  Abhiraj Bhal, Founder and CEO of Urban Company (managed market place for all kinds of home services) Suman Gopalan, Chief HR Officer of Freshworks (Software-as-a-Service company focused on customer engagement) Girish Menon, Head of HR, Swiggy (online food ordering and delivery platform)Podcast SummaryOur guests today represent startups employing over ten thousand employees and take out time from their schedule to share some of the best practices for dealing with the disruption to business operations. Vivek, Abhiraj, Suman, and Girish cover some of the most critical themes for business owners which include communicating within the organization and with the customers, prioritizing the health and safety of all stakeholders, planning for business continuity and dealing with challenges that come along the way. To learn more about how these leading startups are dealing with the COVID-19 situation, tune in to the latest episode of the Insights Podcast by AccelListen hereSpotify                                                        Apple                                            Soundcloud Notes -02:04 – Vivek on dealing with business continuity challenges at Bounce05:48 – Abhiraj on steps taken to continue Urban Company’s business line10:24 – Suman on the steps they’re taking at Freshworks globally15:12 – Limiting exposure vs. extreme measure at the cost of losing business20:45 – Best practices on communicating to customers21:58 – Girish on educating customers and 2 lakh + delivery executives at scale27:30 – Dealing with challenges in rolling out Business Continuity Plans for work from home35:24 – Keeping employee productivity in check38:40 – Impact of COVID-19 on business plan and runway
Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/1YQdnQ50mmenzWVA2MBsQy Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/insights-podcast-series/id1364412685The several success stories of Zoho, Freshworks, Browserstack, Icertis who have all reached several hundred million dollars in ARR with most of their product built in India give proof points for the possibility to build large scale SaaS companies coming out of India.Unlike the 90s when software was a one-time sale, the subscription nature of SaaS pricing ensures that the interests of the customer and the software vendor are well aligned. Today, there are over a hundred thousand software companies serving over two thousand categories with over five hundred billion dollars spent on software purchases. The SaaS industry is just one hundred fifty to two hundred billion dollars, so there’s another three hundred billion dollars of traditional on-prem software that needs to be replaced. Another opportunity exists in creating a product for the customers currently being served by custom software solutions built by the large IT services companies. At the same time, new industries are seeing digitization, creating more opportunities for building software. In terms of liquidity as well, SaaS as a sector offers significant options- from an active M&A market and active interest from venture capital and private equity to fund growth to several examples of companies going public. Krish ends by quoting Jason Lemkin, “In a SaaS business, once you cross $10M with good momentum, you basically become unkillable because of the recurring nature of the business”
In the first episode of 2020's #InsightsPodcast series, we take a look back to round up the learnings that 2019’s series left us with.We kick-start 2020’s #InsightsPodcast series with a special episode that offers a quick roundup of our 2019 podcasts and presents the top 12 highly recommended insights for entrepreneurs. Finding the right opportunity The bare essential task of identifying the right opportunity is something that every founding team must go through. 1.Farid Ahsan of Sharechat shares how he and his co-founders went about discovering the idea. “We started observing why people were making WhatsApp groups and sharing content on them.” 2.Ritesh Arora of Browserstack shares the importance of thinking global from early on, helping expand the opportunity set for the startup. 3.Kunal Shah of Cred shares his framework on how startups can validate whether their idea is creating a delta change in consumer behaviour and emphasises the importance of picking a market opportunity with good tailwinds. “Great product-market fits even with mediocre founders create a lot of value while terrible product-market fits with great founders can never create value. Fighting headwinds only burns fuel.” Building a team and culture to go after that idea The team forms the building block of any organisation and is an integral contributor to the success of a startup. A good culture keeps the team motivated to keep going after the problem. 4.Naveen Tewari of Inmobi talks about the importance of having a co-founder in the roller-coaster of a journey that entrepreneurship comprises. “Most of the moments in the journey are low moments. The co-founder’s role is to bring you out of these low moments that you’re in and vice versa.” 5.Binny Bansal of Flipkart shares about the importance of being willing to ‘let go’ and empowering your team. “We realised that only way to scale the company was to hire people like us, to do the things that we do - there were going to be hundreds of things to do and we would need hundreds of people would need to work like we work, every day.” 6.Girish Mathrubootham of Freshworks talks about focusing about culture and building a work environment that motivates and inspires the team. “Anybody can create a happy work environment, but the real happiness is when people really feel that they’re playing to their strengths, the job is tapping their potential and giving them an opportunity to learn, and that they have managers who they see as role models.” Raising money and building a sustainable company With a boundless vision comes the need to find the right support, and finding the right investor can really help a startup. 7.Harsh Jain of Dream11 talks about the advantage of meeting investors ahead of fundraising. “Meet VCs six months or a year before raising money and get honest, open feedback. When the journey and progress is shared with VCs, they’re much more vested.” 8. Deep Kalra of Makemytrip talks about the importance of unit economics and scaling sustainably. “Irrespective of the kind of business, you should not be losing money on a variable cost basis.” Key lessons for founders’ growth In the greater scheme of the startup journey, the founder’s individual self often gets ignored. Here are some key insights on keeping a founder’s growth on track. 9. Shradha Sharma of YourStory talks about the founder’s growth journey being more internal and how entrepreneurship is a journey of patience and perseverance. “You have to internally reflect very deeply on what you want.” 10. Nandan Nilekani of Infosys and the man behind the Aadhaar programme talks about the importance of being execution-focused. 11. Ritesh Agarwal of Oyo talks about the importance of perseverance. 12. Dheeraj Pandey of Nutanix shares his valuable insights on balancing family life along with running a startup.
In this edition of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, we have with us Aditya Agarwal and Ruchi Sanghvi, both of whom were early members of Facebook's engineering team. Aditya was the first Director of Product Engineering at Facebook. He also co-founded Cove, a modern collaboration software company that was acquired by Dropbox, where he went on to join as the VP of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer. He was also on the board of Flipkart. Ruchi was the first female engineer at Facebook, and went on to co-found Cove along with Aditya and Akhil Wable. Cove was a collaboration, coordination and communication product for organisations and communities. On acquisition by Dropbox, she joined in as the VP of Operations. She also established South Park Commons, a residential and professional tech space that functions similarly to a hackerspace. Ruchi graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in electrical computer engineering in 2004, a time when it was tough for international students to find a job in the US. While extending her stay at the university so she could interview with more companies, Ruchi became a power user of Facebook, was fascinated about what they were building and went on to join them as their first female engineer. Growing up in Southeast Asia, Aditya graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in computer science and joined Facebook as one of its first five engineers. Facebook's hacker culture Aditya and Ruchi share their Facebook experience, including being part of some of the earliest architecture - the Facebook search engine and the News Feed. Giving a glimpse into Facebook's hacker culture from the early days, Ruchi and Aditya share how the engineers were always into building something- a minimum usable version- much before the concept of MVP was talked about. Aditya talks about the importance of focusing on tooling and infrastructure to be able to deploy faster even at scale with a conscious effort to improve iteration speed and tracking it just as closely as the business metrics. Ruchi speaks about the importance of adding light-weight processes that are built for the work environment of your company, and updating these processes every four months to make the product management practice in the organisation stronger. After Facebook, Ruchi and Aditya decided to start up on their own to change the way organisations communicate and collaborate with Cove. The startup went on to become Dropbox's first acquisition. Culture of original thinking Discussing the pros and cons of starting a company with your partner, Ruchi highlights the importance of being cognizant of each other's strengths and weaknesses, making sure that one partner isn't dragging the other along and that both want to participate, and finally having a clear understanding from the start on who's taking the lead. On the hiring front, Ruchi says, "When companies find product-market fit, everything feels like it is falling apart. You need to hire enough people to keep things going. At that point, most people are often looking for the unicorn hire - someone who is perfect when the company is just 50 people but can also scale with the company when it gets to 100 people, is an individual contributor, and an excellent manager. It becomes impossible to find this unicorn hire at that stage. People need to reset expectations on how this person can help your company today and in the next one to two years, and be comfortable that their roles might evolve over the next few years." Aditya and Ruchi end by sharing tips on how they manage their personal lives and their excitement for the way the Indian startup ecosystem is shaping up.
In this episode of the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and MD of Biocon, talks about starting up and her strategic shift to the biopharma industry, and gives young entrepreneurs advice on innovation, problem-solving, and mentorship. We continue with the #INSIGHTSPodcast series and on this episode, we have with us Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon. A pioneer of the biotech industry in India and the head of the country’s leading biotechnology enterprise, Kiran is a highly respected business leader and has been named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. She’s a recognised global thought leader in biotechnology and has been awarded the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, two of India’s highest civilian honours. Today, Biocon is one of Asia’s largest biopharmaceutical companies — 12,000-people strong with 30 percent women, most of whom are scientists. It focuses on diabetes and cancer as thrust areas and has a vision of making global impact on healthcare by providing affordable access to life-saving drugs. On this podcast, Kiran talks about her journey, building Biocon, how she started out, built a great team, and went on to take the company to IPO. She also shares insights on how founders can find a good work-life balance by prioritising what matters most to them. An accidental entrepreneur Kiran calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur”, starting Biocon when she was discriminated against as a woman while applying for the job of a brewmaster. She set up Biocon in 1978, initially focusing on the enzyme industry, and made a strategic shift to the biopharmaceutical industry as it was a much bigger opportunity — riding the shift in cancer care from chemotherapy to immunotherapy. Starting up at the age of 25, in a field that was not understood by many, raising capital was not an easy task. Especially at a time when a woman entrepreneur without collateral was considered a high financial and business risk. Hiring talent was another challenge. As Kiran started building her company, she aggressively pursued building the team, hiring people with complementary skills to form the core team, and incentivised them with rich stock options. A bottomline-driven business In 2004, Kiran did a lot of roadshows and went IPO, to raise capital for the business. She wasn’t concerned about raising the value of the company, but made sure it was profitable in the last four quarters before going public and had clear visibility on profits in the foreseeable future. She says today’s companies are topline-driven in contrast to her business that is “bottomline-driven”. Opportunities to learn On her personal growth, Kiran says she used her team as a think-tank and used her mentors to draw inspiration and for brainstorming. “Mentors in an entrepreneur’s journey should only help stay focused. I don’t think any entrepreneur should keep going back to a mentor asking ‘what should I do next’? That is not entrepreneurship,” she says. “Entrepreneurs need to script their own journey, figure out their own things, and solve problems. If you keep running back to your mentor at the drop of your hat, you’re not an entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur is a risk-taker, problem-solver, a person who’s willing to face challenges and failure.” Kiran says she encourages young entrepreneurs to not worry about making mistakes and see them as opportunities to learn. Adding to her advice, she urges them not to wait to develop the perfect product and to instead go to market first. Continuing to reiterate how AI can help transform healthcare, she also gives her take on work-life balance. Kiran believes the answer to this question is only one: “Prioritisation”. Tune in to the podcast to hear more interesting insights from Kiran’s journey of launching and growing Biocon.
INSIGHTS #42 Madhavan Ramanujam of Simon-Kucher gives his take on monetising innovation by Accel
In this episode of #InsightsPodcast series, we have Dheeraj Pandey, Chairman and CEO of Nutanix, taking us through his journey of building a generational company, its IPO story, and how he built a culture of reading and learning at his organisation. As we continue with the #InsightsPodcast series, we head to Silicon Valley to meet Dheeraj Pandey, Chairman and CEO, Nutanix. The company helps customers modernise their data centres and run applications of any scale on the cloud. Dheeraj co-founded Nutanix a decade ago and took the company public on NASDAQ in 2017. Today, the company trades at a $5 billion+ market cap. Dheeraj’s entrepreneurial spirit has been recognised with several prestigious awards including Dell’s Founders 50 and E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year, Silicon Valley. On this podcast, Dheeraj takes us through his journey of building a generational company, his vision of making computing invisible, and the Nutanix IPO journey. Dheeraj grew up in Patna, finished his undergrad as a Computer Science major at IIT Kanpur, and then decided to pursue a PhD at UT Austin. He completed his master’s and dropped out of the PhD programme to pursue a career in the computer science industry. Before starting Nutanix, Dheeraj spent a decade working in the industry with stints at a couple of startups and one large company (Oracle) building software for data servers. Read to grow Talking about his transition from engineering roles to that of a CEO to build a business, Dheeraj gives an analogy of how the product and the go-to-market strategy are like the heart and brain of the business and over time he learnt to straddle both ends of the spectrum driven by his passion for building the bridge between technology and business. Dheeraj has always believed in learning from the experiences shared by his advisors and is an avid reader. Learning from other entrepreneurial journeys, he believes, gives one precedence and courage to deal with the highs and lows of the roller coaster ride that building a business can be. He explains that as a company, Nutanix has built an organisation culture that cares about reading. “It gives you courage, parallels, frameworks, and principles to think about. It’s a great de-stressor,” he says. Disrupt to stay relevant Switching gears and sharing lessons for entrepreneurs, Dheeraj starts by talking about the importance of disrupting yourself with a long-term view versus becoming irrelevant. He says, “You should act as a competitor to yourself because if you don’t, someone else will, and it will be a lot more uncomfortable to deal with the unknowns of a competitor.” This was realised at Nutanix when they decided to give away their software to their hardware partners allowing them to compete with Nutanix (shaving of 26 percent of top line) and again when Nutanix made the shift from software to subscription. Both the times involved a complete change in business model at the scale of a publicly traded company. These bold moves allowed Nutanix to disrupt themselves and extend their reach, stay more relevant as the customer’s tastes changed. Dheeraj talks about how businesses/entrepreneurs who postpone gratification and think about long-term gains mostly constitute large outcomes. The largest companies have taken long-term bets, something that the mob doesn’t have the courage or fortitude to do. That said, long-term goals must be check-pointed with short-term ones, without losing sight of the larger picture. This for Nutanix came out in the form of the 5Hs- Hungry, Humble, Honest, Heart, and Humour. On a closing note, Dheeraj shares how at the end of the day, family is as much a partner in the entrepreneurial journey as you are. “You are at war out there and when you go home you don’t want to be at war. Hence it is so important to reduce that friction. You have to believe that your professional goal is something that you share with your spouse.”
As we continue with the #INSIGHTSPodcast series, on this edition we have with us Hans Tung, Managing Partner at GGV Capital. Hans, who is a seven-time Forbes Midas Lister and has invested in 15 unicorns over the last decade-and-a-half, leads the US operations of GGV Capital. Some of his investments include shopping app Wish, second-hand marketplace OfferUp, Chinese social commerce company Xiaohongshu, workplace tool Slack, electronics maker Xiaomi, Chinese super app Meituan-Dianping, scooter sharing company Lime, among others. On this podcast, Hans shares his journey of witnessing first-hand the three phases of the Chinese startup ecosystem: from PC to mobile phones to high speed internet powered smartphones. Born in Taiwan and having immigrated to the US at 13, Hans went to college at Stanford and took up a career in finance. After stints in banking and growth investing, and spending a few years as an entrepreneur, Hans saw the value in moving to China where he could make use of his understanding of both the East and the West. He joined Bessemer Venture Partners marking the start of his career in venture capital. He went on to spend a few years with QiMing Venture Partners before moving back to the Bay Area with GGV Capital. Recalling his China days, Hans talks about how the time he went to China (mid-2000s) was seen as being either five years too late - as the PC internet era started in 1999 - or five years too early - as the iPhone was yet to be announced. He did learn though that the Chinese startup ecosystem was fiercer in terms of competition than the Silicon Valley, contrary to the popular belief that the discrimination against US companies made China a protective turf for starting up. The Chinese ecosystem grew hand in hand with the consumption pattern of the emerging middle class, urbanisation, and government initiatives focused on improving the infrastructure. By working with internet companies across both the PC era (the likes of Baidu and Tencent) and the smartphone era (the likes of Xiaomi), Hans learnt the importance of providing solutions that are cheap in terms of cost but high quality in terms of customer satisfaction and serving the mass market. While those forming the mass market have lower disposable incomes, they bring in the advantage of having more time on their hands, hence spend more time on a company's services. This was true in the case of Alibaba as well. Jack Ma's belief was that offline marketplaces existed because everyone didn't have everything. He focused hard on getting more suppliers than anyone on his platform so that over time consumers came to his shop not for cheaper prices but for higher choice of selection. Having worked with several successful founders, a common thread that Hans has seen across them is that they are all extremely driven, passionate about things they do, and have a vision that is transformational and inspiring for others to be willing to join the journey.  "They tend to be extremely thoughtful and analytical, are level-headed, and open-minded to try a lot of different things and iterate quickly," he says. On his thoughts on India, Hans shares his excitement for the Indian ecosystem, expecting to see many more companies from India that go global following the lead of OYO. On a closing note, Hans has a movie recommendation for Indian founders in People's Republic of Desire, and quotes Kobe Bryant:  "A lot of people think like 'if I have to choose between vegetables and ice cream'. I love eating vegetables. I don't mind getting up four o'clock in the morning to train for 20 years in a row. That's the fun part and always being in the heat of the NBA championship year after year. That's what makes me happy." The best founder has that characteristic in them.
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.
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Comments (5)

Amar Patel

Loved this. Girish inspires all commoners. Amazing lessons in integrating life and Business vision and purpose Request to include a short summary of the the company, achievements etc for benefit of those who may not be aware of the same. Special thanks to Anand. You get the best from the best.

Aug 9th
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sayinath karuppanan

Great content, but I wish mic quality would have been better

Apr 2nd
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deepak maheshwari

great interviews. if possible, try to interview failed entrepreneurs too.

May 17th
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ABHIRUP BOSE (IPM 2016-21 Batch)

great initiative

May 9th
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Prudhvi Bellamkonda

Great episode and the lessons on product management,setting up processes upfront were on point

Mar 24th
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