Startups, Culture & Leadership – #thinQtalks Podcast Episode 2

Pranav : Hi guys and welcome to this episode
thinQtalks today we have a very interesting conversation lined up and a
whole host of interesting guests joining us as well
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce everybody on the panel we have
Anu from Indian Angel Network. Anu leads Deal initiatives and investor
relations across the western region for Indian Angel Network thank you so much
for being here today, Anu. After Anu, we have Devika Patel.
Devika is a lawyer turned entrepreneur and along side that we have Prerna. Prerna Bhutani, who’s a partner at India
quotient Prerna has been a successful experienced entrepreneur in her own
right and is on the other side of the table today and again thank you guys so
much for being here alongside them we have Ushma Ghatlia. Ushma – today now
part of team thinQbate, where she is moved over from the corporate world to
take over legal at thinQbate. Thank you so much guys for being here and joining
us today what we’d like to do right at the outset maybe set the tone just a
little bit is ask a perhaps contrarian left-field question to some extent and
I’d love to get a few thoughts from everyone what do you think is effective
leadership I’ll throw that out there who was to take that up first
is there a way to define effective leadership Anu : For me effective leadership
is where there’s a good free flow of information between the management and
the people below because only then can your goals be aligned if there is not
free flow of information sometimes the people below the management do not
understand why we are doing certain things and and how to go about it but if
the management is able to send a clear message to and fro and be open to that
discussion I think that leads to very effective leadership because everybody
falls in sync then, for me that is very important Prerna : I think it’s very very
personal and I am only talking from personal experience to me leadership is
setting an example for people I mean inherently that’s that’s the way
I look at it and that kind of just you know manifests itself in everything that
you do and for me for example training people helping them with even the basics
of their job and then empowering them and letting them carry forward with it
is what I would think in effect leadership but again no standard definition
just how you implement a particular thought in your head and how you you
know go ahead with it Devika : No, I actually agree with you a lot I think leadership
is a really personal concept although there are some very like classic ways of
looking at early doors, like you know like the captain of a ship you know who’s kind of
valuing everyone towards a specific destination I mean this is what we
understand traditional leadership to be about but I think right now also there
tends to be a lot of like leadership is considered a very egotistical concept
like I think there’s a lot of ego and leader but I think at this point in time
it’s one about really owning the chair it’s about really earning it every
single day so that’s kind of about you know setting that example every single
day that you deserve to be that leader and you have the respect of the people
in your crew or whatever and the way you’re taking them that vision way or
taking them towards something that you can rally them to only if they have your
respect and they see that you’re able to lead by example so I agree with that for
sure Pranav : How do you toe the line between being a leader and effective in
demanding respect versus commanding respect right how do you how do you find
that middle ground do you reckon between doing that Ushma : I think it’s I think it’s a
combination of things I think so see like Prerna said you need to lead by
example so it obviously you need to be good at your job you need to know what
you’re doing and I think you also need to care about the people you’re working
with and who are working for you when you need to care about building a
community and and actually having actually creating the kind of work also
that you want to create because I think these are kind of soft aspects that are often
overlooked I mean you can be great technically a what you do but you also
need to have the people who are doing it with you be as motivated as you are to
do it Prerna : I also think that I completely agree with what you’re saying and you
may not be the best at at everything you cannot be right so but the fact that
you recognize that and then you’re trying to help people be the best at
what they are they may definitely you know in this tiny startup world they
always say you should hire people who are smarter than me only then can you
build great teams and great companies and if you know if that’s what we’re
trying to do then effective leader means you just have to
make sure that everybody you care about people and everybody is
performing at their best and then nurturing them enough to come up with
the best way they can Anu : So in a start-up context I also feel that just a founder
is not the leader I think each of us are leaders in our own respective and we
got to be that so again decision-making and taking
ownership of that decision that is very important you know where leadership
skills are concerned and it doesn’t matter it doesn’t have to be the top
management all the time it’s got to be each of us in our own
roles Arjun : Yeah one thing that we also say is teamwork is dream work and I think no
single organization has ever been built on the successes of just one individual
but taking a lead from that I think each one of us over here I think we’re lucky
to have people who had multiple and pretty diverse backgrounds and I think the
roles that you play today in leading your own industry or leading your own
verticals what would you think is one thing that you learned
Prerna maybe yourself as an entrepreneur and today being on the other side of the
table that you now deploy back when you actually evaluate entrepreneurs Prerna : In terms,
of so it’s not just leadership that you look at because you know the kind of
companies that we valuate are very very early stage so usually with the team of
two or three is when they start out and then they reach out to us so difficult
to to judge whether you know which of the three founders or the co-founder is the right person to lead the team so that eventually evolves and you figure
that out but I think something that we really look forward to is look look for
in an entrepreneur is, ONE, the desire to really build something we really go into
reasons as to why they are in this because what’s happening now, off late in
the last couple of years especially is that a lot of people are getting into
into you know, the whole startup ecosystem because it’s probably fancy
and it’s yeah there is a glamour quotient as well Pranav : It is nice to have a card
that says CEO Prerna : CEO and then of course there are the large funds that are
pouring in money into India so the whole thing looks very rosy and you know so we
we try and find out what the real reasons for people are to get into this
and so that fire and the desire to build something and build you know that
something could could change over a period of time so it’s not something
that you’re starting out today with but that inherent trait needs to be there
and then of course you know you also look at
other things integrity and you do a lot of ref checks etc Arjun : How do you
identify this trait when you actually have a conversation with someone
something that we absolutely Prerna: That’s our trade secret I mean why would I say that. Arjun : Now that you have the owners and
responsibiltiy of finding people who have that burning desire to create value
and create product and build enterprises what is it that you look at
what is that sixth sense what is that missing so I’ll just give a little context to
that question right so one of the things that we did which we felt was a little
unorthodox to some extent when we were looking at our first for a first batch
of companies of portfolio we actually had one of the teams that played
football with them and actually interact with them very informally from a
understanding, hey you know what makes this team tick? Are there certain
leaders among the four co-founders also is there a certain balance of power that
you need to understand and that the small little intangible soft skills of
the individual more represented on a field where there was nobody watching
nothing happening you’re not sort of little conscious and presenting to
someone right so that was just something small that we for example felt was a
decent metric of the individual more than the organization so you’re just
putting a little context Prerna: I kind of agree because the more time you spend with
people so that’s why diligence I mean diligence not just legal
diligence it’s also got to do with everything around what they’re doing
what they’re building spending time with them understanding where they come from
understanding their networks etc all of that kind of you know helps you get
perspective and then of course you know you can’t have a formula especially at
this stage there we invest but the more you do it the better you get at it and
you know that’s what we realize there is an instinct that you develop I can’t
really pinpoint one thing but you do develop an instinct there will be
certain clues that you get during you know the immense interaction phase that
you which you go through any make sure we do that at least so if you really
bullish on on some company or some founder or maybe we end up spending a lot of
time with them Anu : Just to give you another example so what we also try and do a lot
of these entrepreneurs have worked a lot of time on the particular product and
they are very you know possessive about it and they think they’re doing all the
right things so you just have to see how they react to a little bit of negative
feedback many are times you know they become very defensive and
they get upset which is not good going forward because they need to be open to
feedback and things like that to be able to create a sustainable organization
they have to be very open to feedback be it from investors be it from your core
team or anybody so a little bit of poking holes along the way Devika : I think even
if you start like questioning their competitive landscape I think a lot of
people I said have a lot of this attitude that okay we’re the best
you know we’re the number one we have the largest marketer well that actually
even is something that they can quantify or not but if you are able to let’s say
challenge what they think of let’s say their competitors how do they view their
landscape can they you know with that clarity see somebody else’s pros and
where they you know what their shortcomings are I think that really
shows something about a person’s character and how grounded to reality be
and that’s really what ultimately you want like you know like eyes to the sky
no feet on the ground sort of thing Pranav :would you would you take a founder
talking about his come his or her competitive landscape in bad light and
when I say competitive landscape I talk of a direct competitor so if you ask
someone a question second you know what okay these guys the three guys three teams
that are competitors of yours what do you think of them and they sort of like tear
it apart not from a point of critique but from a point of oh they don’t know
what they’re doing how do you how do you perceive that? Anu : So many times that has
happened in some of the calls that we’ve had it doesn’t go well. You can come out
with your strengths without putting out the negatives talk about talking about
your strengths is better than talking about somebody’s negatives Devika : and I’m sure
there are negatives but also like what are those negatives like a lot of times
when you hear people even for us like when we talk to other entrepreneurs when
you you know you kind of tell them that oh I’ve heard of another company similar
to this or something there’s a lot of like oh but you know that person is like
this or that business is run like this or I’ve heard that their office is like
this and and that’s when you start realizing maybe you’re not really
looking at this the fact that you’re talking about in this defensive manner
but with the wrong kind of points that’s reflecting poorly on you that happens a
lot I think it’s human tendency when you are like so close to your own product
but it’s unfortunate I think everyone can really see through that it’s not so
great. Arjun : I think one of the most fundamental aspects of gluing together
I think organizations especially at an early stage is the fundamental value
system that you build as founding members of the team so when you,
you’re entrepreneur yourself Devika, so what is it that when you sit with
your team when you try and groom and develop your product and build a market
what are some of the things that you try and embody yourself that you feel is
going to set the culture for your organization Devika : So for us honestly at
Wedding Brigade this whole concept of you know figuring out your culture is
something very new it’s something that like articles in 2017 are
really talking about but we actually realize this being something important
like maybe two years ago which is actually great so it’s something that
Sanna spend time realizing when we were maybe dealing with a lot of people
coming into our team joining our team you realize how do you really find the
best fit for you know your team members how do you find the people who are who
are “wedding brigade” and that sounds a little like again egotistical to say
what are people like wedding brigade like what are we like Google like
googliness is actually a concept that Google hires based on right so suddenly
this small startup is making this concept called Wedding Brigadeness so
to speak and it sounds a little like egotistical but it’s actually genuinely
important to figure out what are the values you want everyone in your team to
uphold what you are definitely gonna uphold cause a lot of it is some we’re
gonna originate from you but like what you know what is something you
definitely know you represent and then that that’s a really good yardstick to
measure anyone else within the team Pranav : Does that change, as you scale so
when you guys raised when you guys raised? Did that change at all? Devika : No
actually that didn’t change so we actually had our four values which we
did last maybe a year and a half or two ago we came up with him at an off-site
of our own but we actually got the entire team to say what are the values
you think you know I wasn’t really much of like an off site, it was at a co-working
space we just got the team together to talk about what it really means to be a
part of it it’s not something every big like company our size really does but I
would encourage a company to do something like that because it gets the
team really thinking about what it means to be sitting here at this desk and to
be a part of this particular growth story so everyone had their
contributions we some of them are not even a part of the
team anymore but we know what they felt it meant to be a part of the team got
those options scult it down eventually came up with four values which are right
now like stuck on our wall like it sounds cheesy but it’s something that
today we talk about whether we are reviewing people in our meetings when
something goes wrong when something goes right like you need to start quoting
those words and it it helps and it’s super important that you got to put
those things out there to keep your team glued together and then when someone
comes into the office they know that this is really what’s expected of me and
this is what my what life over here is kind of all about Arjun : I actually agree with
you and I think that’s fundamentally the only I think single commonality that you
can enforce and embody for your team but do you think that that value system is
effectively valued by people sitting across the table perhaps say angel
investors or the potential investors. Do you think the element of culture is looked
at correctly when you sit across? Devika : Yeah I think um there’s definitely a lot more I
mean at the end of the day you’ll meet the founders and you’ll meet that you
know the tech team but you’ll really also meet the team because you’re want to realize is everyone really on the same page at least like your top management
right out you’ll be able to write everyone’s on the same page that means
this particular leader has been able to rally his team the sub leaders the top
management is going to be able to rally this because they are on the same page
and that’s that’s really important I’m not saying it’s it’s always perfect
I’m not saying everyone’s always aligned that’s not the case but at least you
have something to align yourself to and I think sometimes you’re setting it out
and honestly just sticking it on a wall is is important but like you said as a
founder you have to or as anybody in the team you have to uphold that you can’t
faulter on that and expect your team to you know take that on. Prerna : Very interesting
point that you brought that we as investors make sure that especially when
teams are scaling I mean you know once we’ve invested and they’re going to the
next stage which is A (Series A), usually post A is is that is the second level team groomed
well enough so one yardstick that we use sometimes
to measure that is can so we are the founders to set aside can those guys
make presentations to us on on just there is on just their metrics
so that’s you know it’s very important for people and then the founders will
realize that okay maybe this person is not good enough to be you know put a put
up in front of an investor to this month but then these guys the founders will
then put enough time to groom them or too hire new people so you know
eventually when larger investors come in and you know you are going to make a
professional company you want to make a you know next billion-dollar company out
of India you you need to have professional management and while we all
come from professional backgrounds and we kind of know that when you start out
when we scale I think a lot of time we forget that and we end up being in just
the entrepreneur mentality forgetting that there is a professional
organization that has to be made out of this and how do you execute that so you
know you will have to remember this at every stage that there is a b-level team
there is a c-level team at each level like what are you saying each person
needs to be aligned each person needs to be able to own you know their functions
like you own the company and everybody needs to work together in sync so
getting that is very very important Pranav : You know a podcast I was listening to recently I
heard this interesting thing of someone actually took the initiative they are
about a 10 12 20 member team and they made everybody CEO of something right so
every individual was the CEO of their verticals whatever that they were doing
what they noticed in a very short period of time was accountability was just off
the roof people sort of banding together to be able to execute was was changing
the way people are approached Ushma : I agree I think it helps if people it to make
people kind of take ownership of what they’re doing and take ownership of
their decisions and I think that’s really important to organizational
culture and the kind of creating a cultural coherence right because I mean
so I heard this a few months ago where someone said um culture eats strategy
for breakfast in you know culture is even more important than the strategy
you’re trying to implement I don’t know if I necessarily go that far but I just
think that it’s so important that you have cultural coherence because that’s
the only way you can implement the strategy it is that you want to do a achieve. Pranav : So do
you think that changes from the corporate world sort of the more sort of
structured world coming into the more unstructured world Ushma : In the corporate
world to an extent maybe these are older firms that are more
established so maybe their culture is either already established or they feel
like they’ve reached the point where they are old enough that they don’t
actually need to propagate a culture which isn’t necessarily true but I think like Devika said this this whole concept of culture is something that’s only
evolved in the last couple of years right so I feel like as a start-up if
you’re new and you’re evolving then you have the opportunity to actually build
your culture and build your narrative from the ground up and I think that’s
something you should really seize if you can. Prerna : One small point to that that I think
it’s very important to start doing that from day zero yeah at least be aware
that you have to do it because a lot of times people will wait til the teams
grow to a certain size then you think about I mean you know we ourselves don’t
like when people have just one person to manage the HR function or the culture
but you know it should come from from the founding team itself and they should
I think at some level implement it from day one because once your team is large
and by large I’m saying even 10 people large it gets difficult to implement a
lot of things and you know get them aligned to that so Pranav : Adding on to that
question of you know culture being a development over the last couple of
years in general there was an interesting fact that I read in a
LinkedIn report that had come out which was between 2008 and 2016, India in the
developing economies has actually had the largest percentage of increase in
female leadership and management across top and senior levels when you look at
our banking sector when you look at the corporate sector it’s growing every
single day and there are stall words to look up to do you feel like at a startup
level at an early stage level more female founders is resulting in more
focus on like things you’ve said vision things on you know what how I build a
more stable stable infrastructure to help scale a business is that more
intrinsically something that you feel is evident in today’s day and age anyone. Devika : I
don’t know if it’s actually a male-female thing to be very honest I
think it’s a lot about being just a good people person and have good people
management skills and having a good understanding and intuitive
understanding of people and that’s I think something very gender neutral it
could be it doesn’t matter it just it’s just a great trait to have that being
said like yes more people as a whole more startups as a whole are realizing
that culture is important they’re realizing the need for
you know prioritizing the people within their company besides just the product. Anu : I
agree with her I think qualities are not so gender specific now especially with
the younger generation I we see a lot of founders who are very very low on the EQ
part whereas you would expect them to be high the women to be higher on that
sometimes they they are just not you know built that way what is important is
to realize the skills that you are missing and kind of build that in your
co-founders or your top team and all that so so if you think you know time is
a constraint for you going forward or something it could be anything you know
or any particular scale if you of course you need to know your financials is
because you are the co-founder but if you think that’s something that you’re
little lacking on you need to kind of build that skill through a complimentary
co-founder or whatever or a team that you can put in place and same holds true
for male co-founders we we do come across male co-founders especially you
know the tech savvy guys, it could be doctors or it could be engineers who
really lack people skill right it just is the inherent nature of the kind of
person he is it doesn’t have to be gender specific he he needs to go all
out and find somebody who can be strong on the people scale part so it’s all
about recognizing your own skills and trying to build up complimentary skill
set. Ushma : I completely agree with you I don’t think it’s so much about having more
women or having a better balance of men and women I think it’s just about sort
of having cognitive diversity it doesn’t help if everybody on your team thinks
the same way right it’s just about sort of getting a synergy together so that
people like you said it’s just having complementary skill sets so everybody
can do something different and do it really well because there’s no point
having five people who all do the same thing really well if there’s 15 other
things that nobody else can can do. Arjun : So in the spirit of diversity and inclusion
then whilst I think I get the resounding fact that it’s all about the cognitive
abilities and less to do with gender specific skillsets but is there
something which is perhaps when you evaluate startups that you look for
maybe this skill set or this kind of a startup maybe better run by a female
entrepreneur is there something to look at
in your thesis building on visibly when you’re hiring perhaps as well
are there certain profiles of people that you feel you can attach to a
certain gender or is that completely agnostic? Devika : I mean see for example I’m in
the lifestyle and wedding space right so for me obviously maybe a guy has a great
understanding of the things that I have to put our in terms of content but to a
girl maybe it comes a lot more naturally because weddings are a lot more interest
to women but I can’t put it past you know the fact that there are a lot of
guys who can still execute really good work in that space like our CMO is a
guy you know he’s a head of marketing of wedding company but yeah it doesn’t
actually matter but at the same time if I want someone to let it right someone
in our team who’s gonna be writing captions may be about lehengas on a daily
basis I am you know honestly it’s gonna come easier to a girl and that’s where
it’s about being realistic about the interest like I could have a football
based startup and have a girl who do a phenomenal job at writing captions on
social media for that but that’s oh it’s an interest based thing it’s at least
for lifestyle based industry I think that’s what that’s where it comes into. Anu : But you look at careers like chefs and designers and you see a lot of male
people male yeah Prerna : I think I get that what you’re saying is right about whether so
when we look at startups it’s about does the founder or the founding team does do
they understand the product well or not so now if it’s so it’s a women oriented
product it helps as a woman in the team but then if the you know if they’re male
co-founder they’re doing an excellent job of getting the space right there’s
no harm in you know of them running it. Arjun : So when this thesis is built around empowering
women and you know women entrepreneurship and including very
timely when you have Ivanka Trump visiting India you know celebrating
the Global Entrepreneurship summit and women has a forefront of it in the
Government of India who has all these multiple schemes you have the Annapurna
scheme and the Yogini scheme and the Mahila Bharat Vigyan given all of these
schemes largely to again for everything else give a voice and give a platform
for budding perhaps female entrepreneurs as well do you think that’s relevant in
our ecosystem today or you think that’s just one more? Anu : I think it’s good any program that is focused just brings to light so just
recently I was part of a program where they are shortlisted 15 women
entrepreneurs it was really good to kind of seeing those 15
entrepreneurs meeting them face to face how on top of the game each one of them
were so I think when I sat across at the table it didn’t even hit me was it a
woman or a man it just comes to pure discussion numbers numbers but if a
woman had turned around and told me oh I don’t know my maths then it gets me
going all right you know you you’ve got to get your
skill sets right but but yes it is good because I think couple of some women may
have a preconceived idea maybe that maybe you know they may face challenges
and I’ve seen this question thrown to us many times where they ask all right as
an investor would you weigh as the same way if it’s a male found a team or a
female found a team we get that but these kind of programs just bring to
light that there is massive opportunity and the investor is is very gender
neutral all he’s saying can you talk can you tell me what it is all about please
don’t turn around and tell me because I’m a woman give me a leverage it
doesn’t work it just got to be black and white everything. Arjun : I think that is also
reflecting in mature ecosystem like Pranav was saying there’s be the banking
industry or the political circles or the corporates you’re seeing much more
participation not only participation but also leadership positions that are taken
on you see gender neutral. Prerna : Yeah I’m sure there’s no you know there’s no specific
mandate that they have that a woman has to be at the top or whatever so I think
it’s all very driven and that’s exactly Anu’s point of even investors look
at it that way we you know we’ve never really looked at a business saying oh
this is something that cannot be run by women the benchmark and the you know
filtering criteria is the same for everybody and I think that’s the way it
should be I mean I don’t know I don’t see myself as handicapped or disabled
because I’m a woman and I think all of us are very lucky to have been women
who’ve had the I mean the privilege of being educated and have had all the
opportunities we’ve had I mean I think it’s definitely true there is an inherent
bias and it is getting better I mean you mention Ivanka Trump what she
was doing was great but almost every article I read about her talked about
what she was wearing while she was doing it which is unfortunate
but it is the case and I think we’re doing as much as we can do to change
that and I think that’s a good thing I think all of us who are here are
products of that change and I mean I’m very proud of that. Arjun : I think it also in
that way we’re in a cusp for our generation I think we’re in a cusp
while also because I think any generation that comes following ours
would have the ability to interact with folks who have been part of this tech
generation if I may as opposed to today as ourselves we still deal with some of
the more traditional folks who are in senior positions or more. Devika : Look it’s like I think that all women here so maybe somewhere we also are in a
little of our own gender echo chamber of saying that you know we
will not look at it as a woman or a man but how does a man think of it how does
a man who is off a certain generation whether you’ve not seen women founders
come front so I’ll give you all a small example of an situation of I’d heard of
or someone who I knew who was raising a very small amount of money like within
the 20-30 lakh to 40 Lakhs and she was in the lifestyle space she was
raising it from a good fund, she had to bring in her boyfriend who was going to
be her fiance to an investor meeting because are they going to get married
and if they got married what will happen will this go to the in-laws will this go
to will this if she going to be committed your boyfriend didn’t stay here
so he stayed abroad so is she going to move and how
are those things gonna play out with the company now I mean whether she does that
in a personal life is separate but I’m sure that if a man had to do it it’s
very unlikely they’re gonna be like I’ve cut your why it’s going to be pursuing
an MBA and you might move abroad so like we want to bring in your wife who’s you
know pursuing that that’s not going to happen so these things happen because of
you know the way we’ve been brought up the fact that like we are from the
housewife generation we are the first generation that’s setting the tone so
it’s going to take time it’s getting better
it’s not there yet. Anu : But these questions I agree I think any investor putting his
hard-earned money will want to know about the continuity of the company and
there is a certain social framework according to which everybody works I
think these questions can be asked but in a more professional way and in terms
of what the future of the company holds because he’s putting money with the
with the founder yeah people can be a little more tactful. Devika : and I think it’s
also just understanding I think that’s also like an assumption right like see
with a woman like there’s an assumption that look she’s gonna get married and
we’ll her priorities be the same after marriage because it’s a natural process
in India sometimes that of a girl kind of merely leaves a job or like changes
her like career path after marriage so they have that doubt which is very
natural doubt for a investor to have but that also kind of is still a part of the
ecosystem that we are talking about at this stage maybe like I said 10 years
later when there are more women founders and you’re seeing that women deal with
startups the same amount of seriousness and gravitas that a man does and
there’ll be no questions on these. Pranav : I was going to jump in and ask Prerna
like how what’s your experience been from when you were a back in 2010
to today how have you seen a shift in approach in context I’m sure you must
have so how was that been like. Prerna : So when I was when I was out
raising money for my first venture no I mean I did not face any issues because I
was a woman founder but maybe I was not in the right business for that is to
be run by women so while I ended up doing everything on ground and getting you
know mine was the home services startup and you know getting all this the people
on ground together setting up offices all of that I was doing on my own
but I’ll narrate one incident where it really hit me that I should probably you know
sit back so this we were in Delhi we were expanded our office in in Gurgaon
and this was like the first week or something and you’re trying to get
customers I had a I had a two member team at that time and so we want to just
distribute leaflets and we were standing in this parking lot of like a very
bustling neighborhood and there were two of us women and one guy and you like
spread across was the thing the parking lot and we were approached by all sorts
of people and you know they they were just so the fact that we would be were
women and we were doing this is something that I realized not I actually
I feared not for myself but for my colleague and then I immediately went
and told her I said it was happening with you what I just move and let’s just
the guy do it so there are times when these things happen so I’m saying
probably was the nature of the business because of which I face that if I was in
some other doing something else we did not require this kind
interaction with the general public probably wouldn’t have faced this but from
an investor perspective I never faced that and like I was saying even when now
we evaluate founders and we have we have quite a few women in our portfolio as
well never have we looked at any of their you know it’s in terms of
capability they’re they’re evaluated the same way as as any may sound we of
course have questions around will they be will they be leading it the same way
if let’s say they get married or they have kids the same thing actually for
the main founders also because if it may have found a male CEO of the company
also has it has a kid they also in you know there is a break that they would
want so these these kind of questions do come up so in terms of evaluation in
terms of looking at you know gender in the investing space I really not face
too much of a difference from what it was earlier. Pranav : So what we’re gonna do now is we’re
gonna just quickly move into a few rapid-fire questions we like throwing at all of our guests here today so quickly just what book are you reading right now? Prerna : I don’t get time read books but I’m I’m listening to the [email protected] these days Devika : I’m readin a book called everybody writes. Anu : I’m getting no time to read
because I have to read so much news Pranav : Maybe you’re reading a lot Investor decks. Pranav : One leading entrepreneur in India and maybe
globally that you think is a great role model? Anu : So alright I’ll answer that
differently I don’t know role model or not so I went for this session of Y
Combinator they talked about couple of the alumni that had passed out
some of their own companies what I really liked about that was some of the
entrepreneurs who went out made big companies and sold those companies went
back to Y Combinator and again build another one that just shows the how
humble down-to-earth those people are those those entrepreneurs are have to be
able to say all right there is so much more I can still learn. Prerna : so actually I’ve
interacted with Deep Kalra a couple of times
and I mean we all know what he’s done he’s created a great great company for
himself but as a person I just you know at that
level he’s still very humble he gives a lot of times I met in the first time
when I was an entrepreneur okay and I mean now I met him in a couple of events
as part of India question as well but before that so he gave us time he gave
us he gave us something about an hour and a half the first time when I met him and
he actually genuinely took interest in the business and he was giving us you
know idea as to what we can do what we’re doing right what we not – for a
person of that level to be – have a seat on the ground and want to give back
to the ecosystem I was really impressed and that kind of that impression here
now you know now that I’ve met him a few more times as well so yeah I I kind of
think he is a good role model. Devika : Actually can’t think of any one
particular – no but I think I think the point is that honestly my approach
towards entrepreneurs changes often because I see one particular aspect of their work
that I really admire and then I’m really interested in seeing their work or
reading their book and everything and right now this sounds completely random
in comparison to you know all of these larger funded comings but I’m finding
the work that like Pooja Dhingra did really interesting she’s an entrepreneur
she has the series of these pastry stores but she’s also written a book
she’s done a couple of things but I really like the way she’s integrated
content for example and move that the Commerce in a really
interesting manner in a landscape like India which did not understand a cupcake
but not understand a macaroon and try and feed it to them in a very new way
she’s not like a part of your typical you know scale VC universe that we talk
about but I really find her story very interesting. Pranav : And delicious cupcakes I might add. Devika : Great cupcakes, Great macaroons. Pranav : On both sides of the table right as from an investor standpoint
from both of you and all three of you and an entrepreneur standpoint so
for two of you was the craziest like business pitch or business idea that you
heard that you thought was crazy so once I got an email from an entrepreneur and
he said you know I have this great idea and I can I think I can bring down
Reliance JIO I said right I said can you send in your
business plan and we send him a guiding document which we typically have and
they can frame their business plan so I send it to him and a couple of days
later can you help me build the business plan. Devika : The story started I felt like this
is gonna be good. Anu : We get a little disoriented ideas sometimes. Prerna : We hired our office
boy through like you know we test out because we invest in consumer tech
startups we end up testing a lot of the products ourselves we are hired
office-boy through one such business and I think that was really good and this
was mind you this was in a few hours it’s not like a you know day long
process even not even a day so I think yeah that was really good I was really
really impressed, and that guy stuck on for more than a year normally at that level
there’s a lot of attrition so yeah Pranav : I think that that covers it from our end
to a large extent I just want to take again take this opportunity to thank
everybody for being here today I know it’s a crazy time to come in to Sakinaka in general and we thank you very much for coming in we hope to have very
very many folks like this on the upcoming podcast in due course if
there’s anything that you like of what we’re talking about please like comment
and subscribe feel free to reach out to us either through our website or through any social media channels till
next time from Arjun me and everybody here thank you so much for watching! AWESOME!

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