INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #18: Rahul Garg on building Moglix — a B2B Marketplace for MRO

We continue with our discussion on building for India in the #INSIGHTSpodcast Series and in this episode, focus on building an eCommerce company for Industrial India. To talk about this important topic, We have Rahul, Co-founder of Moglix, a B2B marketplace for MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operating Supplies). Before starting Moglix, He has held various leadership positions at Google in Asia Pacific and is a graduate of ISB and IIT Kanpur.

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? How do you evaluate B2B market opportunities?
  • Importance of market size and, conversely in especially large markets figuring out what is the value proposition and the market-segment you can address with this value proposition
  • The chicken and egg problem — what comes first in a marketplace — solving for what comes first on your platform — identifying the size of buyers and sellers and determining the build-out of your marketplace
  • Contrasting between B2B and B2C — buying behavior and differences in customers
  • The difference in the decision-making process of B2B and B2C customers and ticket size changes and the way the 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 is building a well-loved and resilient business
  • Building a tech-first marketplace to handle scale in the future
  • Surviving the initial few years and emerging as a leader in the space
  • Hiring the right talent for the team, and hiring for B2B
  • B2B businesses are not glamorous — finding the right talent means finding people with a passion for the business and the problem you are trying to solve
  • Hire a diverse group of people who bring complementary skill sets to your team — juggle responsibilities till you find the right hire for the role

In the next few podcasts, we will dive deeper into startups in the Indian Business Sector. If there is any feedback on this podcast or questions for the next set of episodes, please do share as a comment below or tweet us at @Accel_India

Accel shares such interesting entrepreneurial stories, with informative nuggets to run and scale your startup. Follow the links below and subscribe to our #Accel #INSIGHTSPodcast Series using the following links: iTunes, Twitter@Accel_India, Google Music: (US & Canada Only)and the RSS feed

INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #16: Dhruv Agarwala recounts Building PropTiger

We continue with the #INSIGHTSPodcast Series on importance of execution and in this episode, we focus on the myriad problems and decisions founders face while scaling. To talk about this important topic, we have Dhruv Agarwala, a successful serial entrepreneur who has built companies across multiple Industries.

On this podcast, we discuss what to expect when we scale, and potential conflicts that arise and how to resolve them:

  • Early days — the thesis for Proptiger and figuring out the core value proposition for the business, and the focus areas
  • Achieving product market fit quickly — The importance of MVPs and integrating feedback into a scrappy, yet functional product
  • Scaling the business — What is the right time to scale your technology and refine processes, how did the org structure evolve with the business
  • Acquisitions — How do you look at acquisitions and achieve synergies. Importance of being prepared and timing your acquisitions
  • Strategic investments vs financial investments — How and when do you choose a strategic investor vs financial investor.
  • Dealing with problems as a founder — How do you deal with exits of leaders and co-founders, tips to manage emotional volatility

If there is any feedback on this podcast or questions for the next episode, please do share as a comment below or tweet us at @Accel_India

Accel shares such interesting entrepreneurial stories, with informative nuggets to run and scale your startup. Follow the links below and subscribe to our #Accel #INSIGHTSPodcast Series using the following links: iTunes, Twitter@Accel_India, Google Music: (US & Canada Only)and the RSS feed

INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #10: From Coverfox to Acko, Varun Dua recounts how they are disrputing…

In a startup ecosystem that runs on a culture of “move fast and break things,” Varun Dua took the path less traveled to establish Coverfox in 2011, an online insurance aggregator platform . Seven years down the line, we look back at his startup journey and the lessons he learned from plunging into the Indian insurance market as an entrepreneur. We also learn more about his newest venture: Acko, a general insurance company developing an innovative, more efficient age of insurance.

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 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.

Accel shares such interesting entrepreneurial stories, with informative nuggets to run and scale your startup. Follow the links below and subscribe to our #AccelInsights Podcast Series using the following links: iTunes, Twitter @Accel_India, Google Music: (US & Canada Only)and the RSS feed

INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #9:Living the Experience with Myntra’s Mukesh Bansal

Subrata Mitra, Mukesh Bansal with Anand Daniel during the podcast.

In 2007, Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal left California for India after spending ten years building his career in Silicon Valley. Accompanied only by the ambition to make his startup vision a reality and the unwavering conviction that India Shining was a truth about to be realised, he took the plunge. This week, we take a look at how Myntra took India’s e-commerce fashion market by storm and learn more about Bansal’s newest venture, CureFit.

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.

Accel shares such interesting entrepreneurial stories, with informative nuggets to run and scale your startup. Follow the links below and subscribe to our #AccelInsights Podcast Series using the following links: iTunes, Twitter @Accel_India, Google Music: (US & Canada Only)and the RSS feed

INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #4: Turning Failures into Success: The Making of Swiggy (Part 2 of 2)

For Swiggy’s Sriharsha Majety (Harsha), the entrepreneurial journey has been quite bumpy. The initial run with Bundl as a 2-person company wasn’t as successful as they had expected but things got better as their vision became clearer. In fact, it is Harsha and Nandan’s ‘never-let-go’ attitude led to the making of Swiggy.

The Makings of Co-founders

Building the idea of their second venture into a possibility required expansion. While Harsha found one of his co-founders in a friend from BITS-Pilani days, Nandan, the difficult part was to find the right technical co-founder. This was also one of the reasons why they had to shut down their first venture, Bundl.

The past experiences made them hunt for a technical co-founder before starting Swiggy. Even though Harsha came from an engineering background, he felt that it was better to have someone with hands-on experience in technology.

“Finding the right technology partner is a challenge that all founders and co-founders face these days. With Bundl we decided to hire a contractor. But, that didn’t work out well,” says Harsha.

Both, Harsha and Nandan were clear that they wouldn’t repeat the history of starting without a co-founder. They did not want to hire part-time employees and nobody was willing to devote their complete time and effort to a new venture. They needed full-fledged individuals willing to go the extra mile.They waited patiently to find the right person until a friend suggested Rahul Jaimin, a developer.

Getting Rahul excited about their idea took numerous meetings and chats. But even then there were roadblocks. He still had to serve his notice period. Following this, a personal crisis almost swept Rahul away. But soon Rahul was back in the game and became the third co-founder of Swiggy.

Skill v/s Friendship

One of the main concerns of the entrepreneur is the division of roles between the founders. In Swiggy’s case, Harsha was clear about his tech co-founder since the beginning. But, there were no set rules when it came to dividing the roles between him and Nandan.

According to Harsha, it is relatively easy for founders who have known each other to work with each other.

“We had known each other for a while and that helped us coordinate and organize work. We knew each other’s weaknesses and strengths, so we decided amongst us what we are going to gravitate to. At first, we split the operations amongst us, but after some time, he (Nandan) took over sales full-time and I, operations.”

So, what’s more important: skill or friendship? In Harsha’s case, he had faced both the situations. He started with a friend then went on to find a technical co-founder. According to him the most important thing is the understanding between the co-founders in each other’s vision and finding joy in doing so.

Speaking of his relationships with both, Nandan and Rahul, he says, “There is no right answer to whether or not starting with a friend is a good idea. I guess, knowing Nandan helped me because it helped us work with each other. Of course, we have our differences, but that is okay. Even with Rahul, I think we had a common tendency of being grounded, and going after what we wanted in life.”

He also thinks that contradictions are bound to happen — one must find a way to work it out in order to help the company. The key here is attaining the balance of calmness and ferocity in the team.

Also, the understanding between co-founders plays a crucial role while dividing the equity.

Entrepreneurship: Not a One Man Show

Harsha believes building a company single-handedly is a herculean task and might lead to many misses. He suggests 2 to 4 is a good number for co-founders in a company.

When it comes to deciding on choosing the CEO, Harsha says, “I am a strong believer in being equitable and not equal.” Recognizing individual contribution to the company is and what helps the company grow are significant factors in establishing the equity divisions. And most importantly, all the co-founders must be clear and agreeable to it.

An important skill that Harsha thinks every CEO must possess is that of storytelling. Whether it is inspiring people while building the team, convincing investors in believing the dream or, energizing the team every Friday, storytelling definitely comes to aid. Not just weaving stories but being resourceful is another basic characteristic for CEOs. Resourcefulness is a necessity not just while networking but also while building relationships. And curiosity definitely helps in being resourceful. Harsha believes it’s all about learning as you go about building a company.

“You should be humble enough to actually accept that you don’t know everything and you must have that curiosity to learn. For me converting that drive helped me in entrepreneurship,” he concludes.

Eventually, having the right mix of traits with a great team is what makes a successful entrepreneur.

You can listen to the first part here

Accel shares such interesting entrepreneurial stories, with informative tips and tricks to run a business. Follow the links below and subscribe to our #InsightsPodcast Series using the following links: iTunes, Twitter @Accel_India, Google Music: (US & Canada Only)and the RSS feed

INSIGHTS Podcast Series — #2: Rajesh Yabaji on Building Blackbuck

Intercity Logistics is a $70B industry which has very little technology penetration and humongous opportunities for disruption. Despite this, it has not been an easy sector for startups — for example, six startups in the space had to pull down the shutters last year. In this backdrop, logistics aggregator BlackBuck has a different story to tell — it has become the largest marketplace in intercity trucking across India within a span of 3 years from founding. The startup has been continuously climbing the growth ladder, and navigating newer landscapes in Indian online logistics market.

BlackBuck has simplified the complexities of Full Truck Load (FTL) freight transportation, making the experience seamless for shippers and fleet operators. So, what led to the initial idea of driving into the fragmented logistics market? How its co-founders met? How gruelling were the initial challenges and are they any easier today? How the team grew from mere 3 founders to over 1200? Joining us today is one of its co-founders and first-time entrepreneur who will trace this journey to the initial days of conceiving BlackBuck.

Our Guest For This Week — Rajesh Yabaji, Co-Founder, BlackBuck

Born in Siliguri, Yabaji spent his childhood across the length and breadth of northern India. It was at the age of 17 that Rajesh made the most crucial decision of his life — whether to choose engineering or join the army like his father. He chose former and cracked the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for engineering and was soon armed with a degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

After graduation and interning with Schindler, it was a stint with ITC Ltd. that he attributes the idea of starting BlackBuck (Zinka Logistics Solution Pvt. Ltd), a marketplace for online transport logistics. Founded in 2014, the list of investors include Tiger Global Management, Flipkart Ltd, Accel Partners, Sands Capital and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

An avid athlete, Rajesh doesn’t belong to a family of entrepreneurs, but always aspired to do something big. As a first-time entrepreneur, his entrepreneurial journey has been phenomenal. Yabaji is also among the Forbes India’s young achievers list of 30 under 30.

Now, without further ado, let’s quickly dive right in — kicking off with a discussion on building BlackBuck.

Figuring the right market opportunity while solving real life problem

Yabaji shares some market insights into how logistics is among the largest unorganised sectors and trucking is one of its major components. He presses upon its impact on supply chain, which leaves a spacious room for improvements.

He further touches upon how the unstructured sector can be helped through technology. And, eventually solve real life transportation problems faced by both fleet owners and shippers, using real-time information flow.

Choosing skills over relationship to form the founding team

Yabaji talks about Chanakya Hridaya and Rama Subramaniam, his two co-founders who have helped build BlackBuck. Reminiscing the early days when BlackBuck was conceived, he points out how all three come from diverse backgrounds and work experiences. And, reveals the one special aspect that binds the trio together, and why they form such a phenomenal team.

A collaborative startup culture is about leveraging differences, skill sets, and people who are passionate towards finding the best solution for a specific problem, is something he firmly belives.

What role passion played at building BlackBuck

For some passion is one of those intangibles that drives an entrepreneur, while for many others it is overhyped. Yabaji talks about how it is intertwined with motivation, and the role it played while building BlackBuck. He justifies how a trio of co-founders with different frequencies will keep moving in circles until their passions are aligned.

Splitting responsibilities organically

Despite diverse backgrounds, Yabaji said that equality formed the essence of their partnership right from the beginning. This also ensured that the roles were split organically, depending upon the competencies each one brought to the table. He touches upon topics like deciding the CEO to adapting to changes every six months.

Hiring people better than you and growing as a CEO

Yabaji shares some insights into growing as a team as well as an individual. The fast paced changing ecosystem means one has to continuously adapt and learn. He points out that there will be many first-time scenarios and explains how one can tackle them. He touches upon what roles mentors can play and why it is important to reach out to right mentors. He also talks about how he learnt from the people that report to him.

Learnings while hiring the founding team

Yabaji didn’t mince words and stated what worked and what didn’t while hiring during the early days. From the approach the startup used for hiring to difficulties he faced while letting employees go, Yabaji touches upon the hiring aspects and how they affected him personally.

What are some of the common mistakes founders make

Finally, a glimpse into some mistakes that founders make, according to him, and can be avoided.

As our “INSIGHTS” series continues, we will dive deeper into the fascinating and complex world of entrepreneurship. Each episode will be packed chock-full of insider wisdom from experts. So, stay tuned!

Got questions?

If you would like us to cover any specific topics or dive deeper into particular questions, please do share them with us via twitter @Accel_India

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