Elad has had significant experience with super high growth startups, with Google growing from 1500 people to 15000 people in 3 and a half years.
After his stint at Google, Elad started a company called Mixer labs which was acquired by twitter in a few years, where the team grew from 90 people to 1500 people in a couple of years. This is when he started contemplating high growth, and how to build a machine that can recruit ten people a week instead of one person a month. What was supposed to be a blog post, became a massively successful book. Elad is also involved in as an operating executive, and investor or advisor to private companies such as AirBnB, Coinbase, Gusto, Instacart, Optimizely, Pinterest, Square, Stripe, Wish, Zenefits.
A startup CEO until very recently was CEO only till they got the company off the ground, with professional management taking over, but since the days of Mark Zuckerberg, this has changed, with the founder and CEO being the mainstay with a very strong executive team backing them. Elad talks to us about the importance of the founder CEO, the vision and entrepreneurial spirit they bring to the table and he goes into greater detail about the evolving role of the CEO.
While hard work is important for success, avoiding burn outs are even more important. It is important for founders to take a break, and take some time for themselves. Founders should focus on building relationships outside of work and this will be the support system for them when they go through really hard times at work. Silicon Valley founders create a mythos about themselves about how hard they work, but what we don't hear about is the vacations and breaks they take that enables them to push hard.
As startups scale, it is important for the CEO to play multiple roles, but it is even more critical for them to realize their weaknesses and hire for those positions and be willing and open to learn from the next level. The "growth mindset" is extremely important for founders to lead the company and make it a truly generational one. Learning from your peers, and being able to trust them with their work and letting go is key to taking the company to the next level each and every time.
The pace at which Flipkart scaled remains unparalleled in India – it inspires both envy and awe. The pitfalls of scaling too fast are well known but scale is what every startup aspires for. It’s what Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal wanted, and it’s what they achieved, that too in just a few short years.
With scale comes having to let go – something that most entrepreneurs struggle with. It requires a level of trust that is not easy to give. But Flipkart wouldn’t have been what it is today if the founders hadn’t made that leap of faith.
In this podcast, Binny takes us through his childhood growing up in Chandigarh and how that moulded him, his early interest in computers and how he was "lucky" to join the Computer Science Department at IIT Delhi.
We get a glimpse of his life in IIT Delhi, his love for the "not so popular" courses and how a very unique set of circumstances had him meet Sachin, a year senior to him, as well as the woman he would marry.
He talks about the businesses that he and Sachin considered going into before zeroing in on ecommerce. Coding was easy, convincing distributors to sign up with them was not.
Binny also talks about why Flipkart bought Myntra (and the one reason they wouldn’t have done so). He’s candid about the acquisitions that didn’t work out. When it was time to plan the next leg of growth, what it took decide to bring in the likes of Kalyan Krishnamurthy (now Flipkart CEO) and Ananth Narayanan (until recently CEO of Myntra).
Binny also discusses his next venture and the role he plans to play in India’s startup ecosystem – one that was synonymous with Flipkart for the longest time.
There is a range of important topics we cover in this podcast:
Sub-sectors in cross-border startups: What are the various sub-sectors within Enterprise Software that Dinesh is excited about? What are some of the nuances of each sub-sector and developing and scaling cross-border startups in these sub-sectors?
India advantage: Is there an India advantage while building Enterprise Software products out of India for the globe?
Product Market fit for cross-border startups: Does building a product for India first and then scaling to international markets make sense? What else startups need to think about in the early days while talking to potential customers of cross-border companies.
Enterprise customers: How can you service Enterprise customers sitting out of India. What can you do differently for these large enterprise customers vs. small-to-medium customers?
Getting the team right: Right hires in the US for an early stage startup with a majority of the team is based in India? Does it make sense to find a co-founder in the US?
Multi-cultural team: How do you build a multi-cultural team and why is that super important for a cross-border company?
World class products out of India: Israel is seen as a hub for tech startups that go global- is there a scope for India to build such a hub and if so how? Some examples of world-class software products built from India.
On this podcast, we discuss the healthcare landscape in India using examples from the Accel portfolio and what to look for while building out a healthcare company from India :
Examples from Accel portfolio on problems being solved in healthcare for global markets
What is life sciences - the model of an IP led lifesciences company solving global problems
Mitra Biotech -
Why did they choose to start in India?
The solution to an age old problem - How do you understand the effects of drugs on tumors without bombarding a patient with the drugs
Building a platform to develop molecules for improving drug delivery to cancer cells
The problems with the healthcare delivery in India
Moving care back to the home - counter intuitive insight and how Portea plugs the gaps in the delivery space
Onco.com - using digital distribution to disrupt the current value chain and deliver better care for patients
Using AI to deliver healthcare in the diagnostics space - How sigtuple uses digital distribution and AI to deliver healthcare and diagnose correctly.
The Indian Advantage - Why healthcare is attractive in India
Capital efficiency from being in India
3x-5x advantage in capital required from building from India
Talent, Infrastructure arbitrage from India - The Indian pharma story for next wave of lifesciences
Speeding things up - How India helps speed up development
The regulatory advantage - lesser regulations for initial development of drugs
Using the initial momentum and taking the drugs to more regulated markets for trials - the difficulty of trials in the Indian market
Examples where the thesis on cost and time plays out
The estimates from Axio - getting to market with 1/10th the capital and 60% of the time to get to market with a great product
Setting the standards in India so the product goes global - no compromise on quality
The healthcare business - things to consider while getting into the healthcare sector
The trust process - building trust, and the time and effort it takes to build trust
Importance of IP - having a good IP and using peer-reviewed publications for validation and marketing
Patent portfolio and defensiblity of patents - defending incremental IP and not infringing existing patents, and filing patents to get it out in the world
The team - building a team as the company grows, and the expertise required; the differences between life sciences, and non-life science businesses
The Indian story - shift from communicable to chronic disease, infrastructure gap, mobile first country and the advantage technology provides in such an environment.
On this podcast, we discuss the need for a “buying club” for the Indian SMEs, the role of credit in the economy, the life of a few and inescapable market effects:
Identifying a value proposition that can scale
Solving the right problems - choosing a problem which is a real pain point for customers
Importance of aligning with the interests of all players in the ecosystem
Building out the marketplace
Building out a marketplace for large sellers and small buyers
How is the market structured, and the quality of supply in India
Onboarding small unorganized players onto an organized marketplace
Turning Skeptics to believers - getting your first large seller to take you seriously
Working capital for SMEs
Challenges with getting credit for SMEs and the challenges for banks to underwrite and service SMEs
Why is working capital a big issue for SMEs? Potential for innovation
Taking on risk with NBFCs to enable credit for SMEs
The ILFS, liquidity crunch and how the credit system operates
Lessons learnt from running a startup
The ups and downs of running a startup - dealing with market effects
Effects of policy and regulation on business and SME
Diversification of portfolio of customers and lenders
Advice for startup founders - the importance of building a strong leadership and mentorship network
On this podcast, we discuss building a B2B marketplace for the Indian Industry:
Choosing the problem - How do you think about the problem to go after?
Importance of market size, and conversely the lack of importance of the size in especially large markets
The chicken and egg problem - What comes first in a marketplace - supply or demand?
Solving for what comes first on your platform - Identifying the size of buyers and sellers and determining build out of your marketplace
Contrasting between B2B and B2C - buying behavior and differences in customers
Difference in the decision making process of B2B and B2C customers and ticket size changes the way people buy and product must be built out
Cash flow - B2B runs on credit while a B2C is on cash being paid upfront; rethink cash cycles for your business
Winning in the space - How Moglix built a well loved and resilient business
Building a tech-first marketplace next platform to handle scale in the future
Surviving the initial few years and emerging as winners in the space
Hiring the right talent for the team, and hiring for B2B
B2B businesses are unsexy, finding the right talent needs people with passion for the business and the problem you’re trying to solve
Hire a diverse group of people who bring complementary skillsets to your team - Juggle responsibilities till you find the right hire for the role
On this podcast, we discuss building for the Indian Business and how to go about building it out:
Indian Business Sector — Why it is an exciting space to build technology enabled startups
Picking a sector — What to look for and things to be weary about while picking a sector
Handling capital in a B2B business — payment cycles, working capital and managing your finances
Dynamics of a marketplace — Building supply, demand and building robust marketplaces
In this podcast, Abhinav Chaturvedi from Accel demystifies fundraising and addresses most of the questions that are probably going through your mind as a first time founder. Here are the topics covered in this podcast:
Picking who to raise funds from
When should you start the fundraising process for your startup?
When is it good time to go to an Angel investor vs an institutional investor?
What's the best way to reach your top investor choices?
What are the common avoidable mistakes that first time founders do while figuring out who to raise funds from?
Different types of companies - B2B vs B2C and any advice on how they should think about funding differently?
Tips on the fundraising process
What are the top reasons investors are compelled to invest in a particular startup?
What are some of the best pitches Abhinav has heard and funded - what stood out in those pitches?
From the first pitch to getting to a term-sheet -what to expect, what happens behind the scenes in a VC fund?
What are the common avoidable mistakes that first time founders do in the fundraising process?
In the next two episodes, we are going to hear from a couple of entrepreneurs who have gone through this fundraising process a few times and tips from them for a first time founder. If there are any specific questions that are top of mind for you, please do share as a comment below or tweet us at @Accel_India
Though Varun only fell into insurance coincidentally, he was quickly sucked into its world and discovered everything about the market’s complex inner workings. Then it wasn’t long before the itch to startup got to him. In his own words, “I started off not really clear about what I wanted to do, but I definitely didn’t want to do what I was doing.”
Varun therefore talks to us about how he identified his vision, and in true startup fashion, the critical ways he pivoted his initial idea to solve more imperative problem statements. What originally started as a B2B software service company for insurance providers grew into Coverfox. Through tedious market research, many hours of fine tuning, and a hasty wake-up call about his technical understanding of product management and process development, Varun changed the way insurance works in India’s ecosystem.
His Coverfox journey was all about asking the important questions that providers and aggregators simply weren’t addressing. For example, do we really want our customer to go down to their car park, unlock their car, open their glove box, find their soon-to-expire car insurance policy, and log back onto the website, just to enter their policy’s expiration date into a field on our online questionnaire? We are sure you are tired just reading that sentence, which is why Varun streamlined this process to make closing a deal faster and simpler. It is no wonder then that Coverfox has become one of the leading online aggregators in India. More importantly, Varun gained a better appreciation for business processes and product management - two aspects he advises all startup founders to pay attention to, especially if they are eventually interviewing product managers only to have no idea what questions to ask. (True story! Hear it directly from Varun.)
This is what makes his journey into the nitty gritty world of insurance as a provider with Acko so important to him. He first sought to turn the insurance market on its head - but you can’t add a new coat of paint and expect the building to suddenly become brand new; You’ve got to change the rails and the plumbing too. “And if you really want to change the plumbing, you’ll have to start manufacturing it,” he states. Thus, he established Acko, an effortless way to find insurance, because it goes where the consumer goes, whether that’s Amazon.in or the Ola app. Join us on the latest INSIGHTS podcast as Varun discusses how he responded to those crucial questions, his product-market fit research process, and the key takeaways from his journey at Coverfox that all those looking to startup should know.
Once Bansal arrived in India, his team referred him to Subrata Mitra, one of our founding partners at Accel. He easily piqued Mitra’s interest; “What was very interesting was the big commitment to come back [to India], and the second thing was [that] he was willing to put in his own money,” said Mitra. A startup founder unwilling to wait for investors was just as rare then as it is today. Therefore, the deal was closed and the cheque deposited. It was time to get to work.
Since then, Myntra has been numerous things. A personalised product company. A sports apparel firm. A travelling mall kiosk (yes, really). So what was the entrepreneurial journey that led to the Myntra that we have all come to know, browse endlessly, and love today? It took many a market pivot, a whole lot of patience, good ol’ commitment - and a lonely walk in a shopping mall. Trust us, this is a story you’ll want to hear because it truly goes to show that inspiration can strike at any moment.
Following Myntra’s success, Bansal planned to take a six-month vacation… Only to return less than a month later with an idea for a brand new venture: CureFit. After surveying the health and fitness market, he recognised its key issues and is now transforming the industry by bringing it to the 21st century.
Like many of us, you’re probably wondering how Bansal generates such innovative yet essential products. As Mitra puts it, “If you don’t live the experience, it’s not authentic.” Since 2007, Bansal has dedicated his career towards building brands with authenticity. In this podcast, live the experience with Bansal and delve into his entrepreneurial journey; from combining Myntra’s fashion and tech DNA, to why culture is such a vital aspect of any company, unearth his perspective about the critical influence of timing, market positioning, branding, and mergers. All before learning about Bansal’s newest venture, CureFit, and how it is revolutionising the health and fitness market in India today.
Discussing how to find the perfect product-market fit, Mitra says, “If there is one customer who has a need that you can satisfy, that’s where you begin the product-market fit. Identify that one customer or company.” The problems, then, only arise when an entrepreneur attempts to scale. And trust us, Mitra has a lot to say about scaling; Behind every successful, groundbreaking project that seems like common sense now, exists a fair share of research, trial-and-error, and even failed attempts.
Whether it was Myntra’s initial stages: personalised mugs with your photo on them, or the very beginnings of Common Floor as a community-creation platform, finding the perfect product-market fit and its appropriate scalability model has always been a fruit of research and development. Like Myntra and Common Floor, you’ll be surprised to find out where and how some of India’s most prosperous startups, such as MuSigma and Virident, actually began. All this, right from someone who was on the ground, learning about the market, and influencing each company’s decisions.
Subrata also shares some valuable insight into the qualities of an entrepreneur who can turn a synergetic product-market fit into a scalable and monetizable venture. “There are outward facing and inward facing entrepreneurs,” Mitra says.
“There are a certain set of people who solve hard problems better and are also good entrepreneurs.” Could you be one of those “certain people” in the industry today? Well, if you’ve got the characteristics that Mitra identifies, that may be a possibility.
We also hear from one of Subrata's early portfolio founders Mukesh Bansal, who spent ten years in Silicon Valley working for startups there. After quitting his job and moving from Chicago to the Bay Area in California, Bansal “bounced around, sleeping on friends’ couches” just so that he could learn more about startups. Well, today, as the founder of two successful startups Myntra and now Curefit, we think his plan definitely played out well. Not that you should be bumming off your friends as a startup founder, but listening to Bansal’s advice will certainly help. All this and more on this weeks #InsightsPodcast.
A sports fanatic and forward-looking business mogul, Anjana left her town in Hyderabad to attend university in the US, where she discovered something she had never seen before in the Indian market: Dogs wearing team jerseys at sporting events. Well, everyone wearing team jerseys - and drinking from team-branded beer mugs. At pep rallies, football games, and after-parties, every single attendee had a way to let you know exactly which team they were supporting. That’s when she struck gold and decided to combine her two favourite things.
With India’s craze for the game - whether that’s cricket, football, or entertainment - Anjana decided to bring the business model to India in early 2012 through Collectabillia.com, a celebrity-based e-commerce merchandise and memorabilia brand. For this brand, she signed legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Rajnikanth. In 2014, she even managed to sign Lionel Messi right before he played the World Cup (despite a run-in with the Spanish Embassy; you’ll have to hear her story to believe it).
After her initial success, she developed her business even further, scaling it to include women’s fashion and youth-oriented clothing in both online and offline markets with WROGN and Imara. Though she was unfamiliar with the clothing industry, one of the oldest trades in the country, she spent nights studying the entire process from yarn to final product at factories, and analysed the market for years in order to position her brand effectively.
USPL is a lesson in market disruption, customer valuation, and how a little entrepreneurial drive can make a world of difference. Join us as Reddy, now on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, discusses the importance of market analysis, distribution, and funding. And don’t forget your Accel-themed beer mug. (We’re kidding, but, Anjana, let’s work on that?)
Some Advice For Entrepreneurs
As a successful entrepreneur, who exited his business successfully and now an active Angel investor, Raghu has a few tips for first time founders:
Be Close to the Market: Talk to as many people as possible in the market (actual supply, demand, etc.) to really understand the market
Don’t hire from the industry: Especially if you are trying to disrupt an industry using technology, avoid hiring from the industry (since they might be stuck to the ideas of the incumbent)
Focus is key: Focus on one core problem at the seed stage. During Series A stage, focus on scaling to multiple markets. Only post Series B, when you have established yourself as a brand in the core space, do you look for adjacencies.
Let it Go: As entrepreneurs, one of the most important things is the hard and tough call of letting go of certain people. However, these are the calls they have to take, primarily if it is affecting the business. Another aspect of letting go, is letting go of certain responsibilities to more capable people who you can hire in — the specialists. He added, “You have to become the jockey, not the horse.”
Ability to say no: Learning to say no as an entrepreneur is very key — to employees, to investors, to the Board — are all critical and figuring out what things to say “No” to is essential for the success of a startup
Ideas don’t build a company but converting them to something tangible does. The first step towards this is understanding the market potential of your idea. Every startup knows the importance of market research towards making the product/service successful. But the way you evaluate the market is crucial. If an entrepreneur doesn’t know his market in terms of size, demographics, and the customer’s needs, then it will be difficult for his/her venture to sustain long-term. Also, market evaluation is one of the key factors for any venture capitalist to consider the potential of a startup. Not all markets are created equal, and what works in one geography doesn’t necessarily mean it would work in another. Especially when it comes to Indian markets, the dynamics are different in comparison to global markets.
Prashanth Prakash is one of the founding partners in Accel, who has been investing in ventures like BookMyShow, QuickSilver, RentoMojo, and CleverTab since 2004. In this podcast series, he talks about evaluating markets from an investor as well an entrepreneur’s perspective, especially for the tech sector.
The Podcast is hosted by Anand Daniel, Partner at Accel