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 — #15: Vamsi from Vedantu talks about the importance of execution in EdTech

We continue diving deeper into the importance of execution in an early stage startup and how to get it right. We discussed this topic with Srikanth Iyer, co-founder and CEO of HomeLane in Episode #14. In this episode, we dive into the Education industry and look at execution from the lens of an experienced EdTech entrepreneur Vamsi Krishna, Co-founder and CEO of Vedantu.

In the first part of the podcast we dive into the following questions regarding execution in an EdTech startup:

  • Challenges of execution in early days
  • Importance of Minimum Viable Product and speed in execution
  • Focusing on one product and nailing it and the importance of that
  • Customer delight — to get to Product-market fit — what metrics did Vedantu use to achieve this
  • What changes after product-market fit?
  • When do you bring in specialists for specific roles?
  • Role of founders as specialists are brought it to take their roles

In the second part of the podcast, we dive into the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) approach that startups can use to stay focused on what matters for the company in the near to medium term. This methodology is very clearly articulated in the book “Measure What Matters” which is a great read for startups founders.

Measure what matters

  • What are OKRs and why does it matter?
  • How many OKRs at a company level and how do you roll it out?
  • Stretch OKRs vs Committed OKRs
  • What are the benefits of rolling out OKR process?
  • What are the challenges to watch out for?

Next episode will be the last on the series “Importance of execution” and how to get that right as a startup founder. 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 — #14: Srikanth Iyer (HomeLane) on Execution and the Importance of Uncommon…

We continue the #InsightsPodcastSeries and in this episode, we focus on the importance of Execution and how to get it right in the early stage of a startup. To talk about this important topic, we have Srikanth Iyer a successful serial entrepreneur who has built large companies across multiple industries. Initially in Education with Edurite (sold to Tutorvista/Pearson) and currently founder and CEO of fixed furniture eCommerce startup HomeLane.

Srikanth Iyer — HomeLane and Anand Daniel — Accel

On the first part of the podcast, we discuss the importance of execution and specifically the following topics:

  • What is execution and why is it important?
  • Early days — how to get things started, how to figure out must-haves vs nice-to-haves and focusing on must-haves
  • Speed vs. getting things right — what is more important?
  • Customer delight — to get to Product-market fit — how to go about it?
  • Role of product/tech — how important in early stage vs once you are focusing on scale
  • Launching with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and then continue refining the product/tech
  • Why scaling prematurely can hurt your startup?

We also discuss a book that has really inspired Srikanth to deliver outstanding service to his customers. The book is “Uncommon Service” and highly recommended for founders — particularly startups that involve services. Here are some of the key takeaways from the book and we discuss a couple of them in the podcast in the context of Srikanth’s experience.

Uncommon Service — key tenets:

  • Tenet #1: You CANNOT be good at everything — to be great at something its ok to be bad at something else — how do you decide on what to be good at as CEO?
  • Tenet #2: Someone has to pay for it — what does that mean?
  • Tenet #3: It’s not your Employee’s fault — but they are the ones executing?
  • Tenet #4: You must Manage your customers — how do you do that?
  • Tenet #5: Now multiply it all by Culture — talk to us about the importance of this one?

In the next few podcasts, we will dive deeper into the importance of execution and how to get that right as a startup founder. 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 — #13: 1999 to 2018 — Ashish Hemranjani recaps the BookMyShow journey

In this final episode on fundraising, we hear from a master story-teller — Ashish Hemrajani, co-founder and CEO of BookMyShow, India’s leader in entertainment ticketing.

Ashish recaps his journey from founding the company in 1999 all the way to 2018 and the various phases of the business ups and downs he has seen over this time period.

In particular, we discuss the following topics in great details:

  • Early days of BookMyShow including launching India’s first cash on delivery (COD) service
  • The tough years post the 2001 dotcom bust and how they survived those tough years
  • How to pick your investment partner — and the importance of that in the battle called entrepreneurship
  • How to think through valuation while fundraising
  • Hiring bankers or not while fundraising
  • How to become a good story teller as a founder
  • Difference between building a good company vs a great company
  • Having an empty chair that represents your consumer in every meeting
  • Why Ashish appreciates being known as a mongrel more than being a Unicorn
  • And most importantly how to run this marathon called a startup while still enjoying your life and coming back every Monday energised to build your startup!

Hope this podcast was helpful as you figure out your startup journey . In the next set of podcast episodes, we are going to focus on something Ashish touched upon — the importance of execution and how to get that right as a startup founder. 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 — #12: Digging deeper into Fundraising with Abhiraj Bhal from UrbanClap

In the last podcast with Abhinav we discussed the key aspects of picking the right investor and also the actual process of fundraising. You can listen to it here.

Today, we are looking at the same topic from an entrepreneurs’ perspective. We are chatting with Abhiraj Bhal, co-founder and CEO of UrbanClap, a path-breaking company in the Home Services space which has grown from zero to over 300K transactions per month in just over 3.5 years and still growing at a phenomenal pace (3–4x per year).

We are again going to divide the topic into two sub-topics — 1) picking who to raise funds from and 2) the process of fundraising. Key topics covered in this short 30 minute podcast are outlined below.

Picking who to raise funds from

  • What are the factors to consider before picking who to raise funds from?
  • How did Abhiraj connect with his Angel Investors and VCs?
  • Importance of having an experienced Angel as an investor
  • Avoidable mistakes while picking your initial source of capital

Tips on the fundraising process

  • How long should someone budget for fundraising?
  • Tips on preparing your investor pitch — the What, How and Why methodology
  • Importance of story-telling as a founder and how to practice that and get feedback
  • Being completely open with the investor and why that is important
  • Best way to connect with the investor
  • Initial pitch to term-sheet — the process from an entrepreneurs’ perspective

In the next episode, we are going to hear from an entrepreneur who is a master at Story-telling — a very essential skill for fundraising as well as for recruiting and retaining employees. 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

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 — #11: Abhinav Chaturvedi from Accel demystifies fundraising

As a first time startup founder, fundraising can seem overwhelming. Many have gone through the process without too much knowledge about who to raise funds from and how to go about the process — particularly as it relates to the Indian ecosystem.

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

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 — #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 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.

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 — #5: Markets Opportunities — Evaluate Wise & Execute Nice

“Ideas are cheap, execution is everything.’’ – Chris Sacca

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.

Anand Daniel and Prashanth Prakash during the podcast

Prashanth Prakash is one of the founding partners at Accel India, who has been investing in ventures like BookMyShow, Qwikcilver, RentoMojo, CleverTap, and many others 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.

Take Ownership for Heavy Lifting

The first thing an entrepreneur should assess is the role his product or service can play. What is that one thing missing in the market and how well can you solve that problem to thrive in that market?

In the early days of India’s internet boom, Prashanth attributes technology’s role to providing ‘predictable access’. The first phase of India’s tech-led entrepreneurship journey really kicked off post Flipkart, and ever since, tech has provided ‘predictable access’ to services ranging from retail shopping and food to cabs and movie tickets. And while access was the major issue, the predictability aspect is where most entrepreneurs took ownership. Even when the ecosystem wasn’t mature, many entrepreneurs in India took ownership and ensured brilliant execution with great customer experience.

“So, the obsession with great customer experience meant an obsession with solving something that requires heavy lifting,” says Prashanth.

Meet the Unmet Need

When considering markets with no predictable access, it is also crucial to check for the needs that are unmet besides doing the heavy lifting.

Qwikcilver, a technology startup for gift card delivery, did the same. Before the advent of technology in the gift card space, the business operations were cumbersome from both the customer and the retailer’s perspective. Buying a gift card meant one had to get paper vouchers that had limitations in terms of access, usability, pilferage, etc. Qwikcilver helped in the transition of this sector from existing paper vouchers to digital cards.

“What Qwikcilver did was to understand the unmet need in a niche market and convert into a meaningful opportunity. It is important to understand changes in customer behaviour over time. A new generation of customers will have a different role in using that access, or the changing customer experience will drive a whole lot of behavioural changes, and that’s exactly what we have seen in the gift card space,” adds Prashanth.

Today Qwikcilver owns almost 90% of market share in this sector.

Tame the TAM, Regionally

Every entrepreneur realises the value of TAM (Total Addressable Market) and why is it important to figure it out for business revenues. While understanding the TAM, an entrepreneur also needs to understand the nitty-gritty about the regional demographics. Not every market is the same, especially when it comes down to the Indian market, things work differently in comparison to the global market.

“India is not homogenous or singular when compared to other countries. While the Internet consumer base has grown drastically, the demographic is not homogenous from a disposable income and per capita spent on the disposable income,” says Prashanth.

“While addressing the TAM as early entrepreneurs, you have to make those leaps of faith regarding tapping latent demand and not always addressing a fully visible demand. When you are doing that, be clear about the underlying monetary behaviour of your audience, and don’t expect too much shift in that behaviour.”

Here are few points he suggests:

● Offer nuanced services

● Understand the buying power of the millennials

● Make early adopters your brand ambassadors by offering great product or service

● Have a broader view of the market to make the TAM meaningful

● Be tactical while choosing areas that are slightly low hanging and monetizable

● Have a vision for the space and the adjacencies to take advantage of

BookMyShow, an entertainment ticketing website, is a fitting example of a team that identified the adjacencies and expanded their TAM accordingly. BookMyShow, while predominantly in the movie ticketing business, realised that the entertainment quotient in India goes beyond movies, and so they immediately started looking at the adjacencies as well. India has a huge cricket fan base, and as soon as franchises like IPL opened up, they grabbed the opportunity and immediately rode on that. Similarly, they started providing services for events & plays.

“There’s no way we could have thought that a company, which is in the movie ticketing space, will become a dominant service for entertainment across a broad spectrum of categories. I think that’s where your belief in the ability of the entrepreneur to actually have the vision for the space and those adjacencies that could be leveraged starts becoming important. In this case, Ashish Hemrajani, founder of BookMyShow, was able to find a reasonably sized market (of movie tickets) and build traction,” adds Prashanth.

Also, sometimes it can be really hard to measure the market at the early stages accurately. For companies like Qwikcilver or Swiggy, TAM turned out to be much larger than what they had expected. According to Prashanth, it is always a good thing to have a pulse to understand the triggers of the market. Even if the business model isn’t clear at the start, one needs to identify the underlying revenue stream. If you take Facebook’s example, even in early days, people in the US were aware what ad monetisation could do over time. Google, as well as other proxies, were already there and the size of the ad market itself, irrespective of whether it was online or offline, was very large.

Understanding the B2B Space

While the B2C segment features effective use case scenarios about how technology plays a role in getting access predictability, when it comes to B2B, things are different. Selling B2B tech solutions is a bit of a task.

So, what’s the difference while approaching B2C vs. B2B?

The approach of taking ownership and solving problems remains consistent across both. The predictability in B2C is more about taking ownership of the problem and finding a solution. In B2B, however, one needs to provide a platform as a whole that brings a change not just within the organisation but extends beyond it, to the relevant stakeholders involved.

Take the example of the education sector, in which technology platforms like Vedantu help in bringing educators, students, and parents together in a more meaningful fashion. They take ownership of providing good grades for the students, which matters the most to the parents.

What the Future Beholds?

Entrepreneurship in India has come a long way. The early starters faced hurdles regarding the ecosystem elements such as technology tools and size of audience who were ready to accept the services. Today, things have changed with many opportunities.

“The interesting and exciting thing about the consumer space is that everything is a white space when it comes to a new generation (the millennials). Everything gets reinvented, the products and services, and brands. In the next 10 years, you will have a whole new generation, where products, services, and brands are up for the challenge, up for reinvention and disruption,” says Prashanth.

He further adds that the consumption behaviour is moving at a rapid pace and the large CPG companies (Consumer Goods) are going out of sync with new generational trends and consumer behaviour patterns. This is creating huge opportunities for entrepreneurs in India. In 5–10 years, entrepreneurs will take the homegrown brands to a global marketplace.

“I am really excited for India going from a brand deficit country (as I would like to call it) to a high momentum brand creation country and that over the course of time, a lot of brands will emerge not only for India but the global market,” he concludes.


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

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