Who is Hemant Mohapatra

After completing his graduation from IIT Bombay, Hemant worked at AMD during his early career. In 2012, after completing his MBA from Cambridge University, he joined Google, where he worked in New Partnerships & Development for 5 years, post which he joined Andreessen Horowitz in 2017. Lastly, after seeing a huge potential in the growing Indian Startup Ecosystem, he ended up moving to India in 2018 and joining Lightspeed India. Some of Lightspeed India portfolio companies are Udaan, Darwinbox, OKCredit, and Shuttl among others. In this podcast, Hemant shares his learnings of building a Tech company in India, he also shares his Venture Investing experiences in India & the US. Notes - 00:46 - Growing up in Middle of Himalayas to joining Lightspeed India05: 38 - Joining Corporate Development at Google after MBA06: 26 - Choosing Lightspeed India vs any other VC firm in the US12: 10 - Is it necessary to raise a Venture Capital to build a big company? 15:38 - Is it the right time to build a Tech company in India? 18:16 - Looking after Enterprise, Fintech & Logistics focused deals 19:59 - Big wins for Lightspeed in India - Byju's, OKCredit , Udaan, OYO25: 25 - Difference b / w Venture Investing in US & India (Andreessen Horowitz vs Lightspeed) 30:42 - What Indian Entrepreneurs can learn from their US counterparts? 33:22 - “Most problems are solvable if you immerse yourself deep within ”38:33 - Best Founders know much better about a Market than a VC

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  • In this episode, we chat with Karan Bajaj, Founder, WhiteHat Jr. From being the CEO at Discovery, to being an author with Penguin Random House & HarperCollins Publishers, to curating his Edtech venture Karan has donned many hats.

    Founded in November 2018, White Hat Jr is focused on helping children between 6 to 14 years in developing commercial-ready games, animations, and apps online using the fundamentals of coding. In August 2020, Whitehat Jr was sold to Byju’s in a $ 300 million all-cash deal.

    During the podcast, Karan talks about how he took 3 breaks in his professional career and how they impacted him as a person, he also talks about what roles should a founder play at various growth stages in a startup’s journey.

    For anyone looking to make a planned approach & setting outcomes for sabbaticals, or for any founder confused with prioritizing the impactful things in their journey at various stages, this conversation can be of great value.

    Notes -

    01:03 - Early childhood & career prior to WhiteHat Jr

    03:49 - Taking breaks in a professional career

    04:10 - Becoming consistent with writing - "Natural consequence of living what I thought was a very interesting adventure, an experience that I thought that many people should do."

    07:04 - Major career sabbaticals throughout his journey

    14:24 - Impact of 1st Sabbatical: Understanding that the world is very boundary-less

    15:06 - Impact of 2nd Sabbatical: Productivity as an individual

    15:41 - Impact of 3rd Sabbatical: "If I pick up something, I just have to keep at it every day."

    17:00 - Growing leaps and bounds in corporate career after 2nd sabbatical

    18:30 - Self-doubts while writing and publishing his books

    22:04 - Accepting and realizing that growth isn’t linear

    28:43 - Ideating and pursuing WhiteHat Jr

    34:46 - Initial scale, revenue, and metrics tracked at WhiteHat Jr

    38:17 - Top mistakes at WhiteHat Jr while blitzscaling

    41:45 - Being mindful as a founder while facing criticism

    43:15 - "The founder in a blitzscaling phase has to let some fires burn."

    45:41 - Byju’s & WhiteHat Jr deal: Startup economics for Acquirer, Acquired & Investors

    51:19 - Enabling 11000+ women teachers on the platform

    52:07 - Karan's perspective on the Wolf Gupta’s ad

    1:00:14 - White Hat Jr’s journey in a book & chapter names for each phase

    1:04:32 - One major personality change while building WhiteHat Jr

  • Ranjeet Pratap Singh is the Co-founder & CEO of Pratilipi. Prior to Pratilipi, he worked at Vodafone with stints in Marketing, Retail, and Channel Sales.

    Pratilipi, is the largest vernacular Indian story-telling platform with over 320,000 writers in 12 languages ​​and over 25+ million Monthly Active Readers.

    There are several sub-categories and sub-products within the brand such as - Pratilipi Literature, Pratilipi Comics, Pratilipi FM & their latest acquisition IVM Podcasts.

    During the podcast, Ranjeet talks about simplifying the creation of online consumer internet companies, creating their own definition of growth, giving ownership to employees to define their plan of action, and set their individual North star metrics amongst other work culture practices followed at Pratilipi.

    Notes -

    01:03 - Pratilipi - Vernacular self-published content platform

    02:53 - Problem statement behind starting Pratilipi

    05:04 - Onboarding first set of users & building traction on the platform

    06:11 - Current scale in terms of authors, stories, & readers

    07:19 - Revenue model: Brand advertising for IVM Podcasts

    08:34 - Revenue model: Subscription & Virtual gifting for Pratilipi Literature

    10:22 - Revenue model: Early access model for Pratilipi Comics

    11:45 - Optimizing your odds based on a long-term future as a founder

    12:49 - Challenges while raising initial funding

    16:12 - Transparency & Ownership amongst employees

    19:10 - The thought process behind hiring: "We don’t look at people as dots, but we look at people as journeys."

    21:22 - Adopting things from work culture at Freecharge, CRED & Flipkart amongst others

    25:31 - Setting product-wise North-star & check metrics

    28:44 - Not following the general Growth Playbook

    31:22 - Future goals as a platform: Democratizing storytelling

    32:33 - Thesis behind Audio Content: IVM Podcast & Pratilipi FM

    39:24 - Things that didn't work out at Pratilipi

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  • In this episode, we chat with Malika Datt Sadani & Mohit Sadaani, The Moms Co. which deals with toxic-free products for newborns and mothers.

    The Mom’s Co’s journey started from a personal experience. Both the couple’s daughters had skin conditions which made them scourge for natural products that were free of toxins and artificial fragrances.

    During the podcast, they talk about how to build trust amongst customers in D2C products, what are the things a first-time entrepreneur in D2C should consider, and how they've built a closely knit community to stay connected with their customers, amongst other things.

    Notes -

    01:12 - Background of The Moms Co.

    02:32 - Family & career background prior to The Moms Co.

    03:27 - Meeting each other as life partners & co-founders

    05:22 - Mindset prior to the launch of the first product

    07:47 am - Raising initial funding for a D2C brand in 2017

    10:22 - Life-changing conversation & insight for Malika in the early days of The Moms Co.

    16:12 - "How do we change the definition of what mom’s skin, face & hair care look like and allowing us to play into a lot of other very large categories with a very different proposition."

    17:32 - Consumer journey over the past 5 years

    19:04 - Close touch with customers over Whatsapp & Facebook community

    22:27 - Brand advocates, including Genelia D'Souza to build brand trust

    24:55 - Challenges while setting up distribution channels

    29:35 - Advice to D2C entrepreneurs

    31:36 - Malika’s experience shifting from a home maker to an entrepreneur

    38:43 - Founders & Mentors they reach out to for brainstorming

  • In this episode, we chat with Pravin Agarwala, founder of BetterPlace.

    Blue-collar workforce management is one of the biggest industries in the Indian economy.

    Urbanization and deeper penetration of the internet have helped players like QuikrJobs, LinkedIn, Just Jobs, Aasaan Jobs, and Google to make inroads into this segment.

    BetterPlace is India's largest technology platform delivering digital solutions for blue-collar workforce management, throughout the entire value chain.

    Pravin started Betterplace in January 2015 as a background verification company. However, they eventually realized the need for an enabler to bridge existing demand and supply gaps in the ecosystem, thus moving to a B2B2C business model and creating a digital platform to enable the ecosystem.

    During the podcast, Pravin talks about defining and solving the challenges for the blue-collar workforce in India and also shares the company's vision to go global soon.

    Notes -

    01:26 - Coming from Dibrugarh (North-east India), working with SAP India

    03:15 - Backstory behind starting BetterPlace

    05:20 - Defining Workforce Management Solution for blue-collar employees

    07:04 - Solving for improving productivity, attrition, time & attendance among other challenges

    Ft3 - First step in the product - Onboarding solution with background verification

    14:39 - Current key customers, metrics & milestones

    16:09 - Challenges while raising funding for a SaaS startup impacting blue-collar workers

    19:58 - Global expansion plans for BetterPlace

    23:28 - Approach behind the valuation of early-stage SaaS startups

    26:35 - Focus on: Customer value, step-by-step approach, team building among other elements

    30:18 - Bringing an Angel Investor within the company full-time to build on core principles

    30:31 - Value addition from investors

    34:01 - Things he’ll do differently if he got another shot at building BetterPlace

    37:25 - Starting early in your startup journey as a founder

    39:40 - Why a founder shouldn't have a Plan B while starting up?

  • From investing all his savings in Sahil Barua's Delhivery in 2011 to becoming an angel investor in 130 Indian startups, the story of Abhishek Goyal, Co-founder, Tracxn is worth listening for everyone in the ecosystem. Being an Ex-Yahoo & Amazon employee, Abhishek stepped into the startup investing ecosystem with Accel Partners in 2008.

    Traxcn aims to become the largest platform tracking Innovative Startups, Private Companies & Emerging Sectors globally. They track millions of companies, to enable investors & global corporates to track sectors of their interest effortlessly.

    During the podcast, Abhishek talks about how to identify founders who’ll make category-creating startups, important signals to predict a brand’s success, starting as an Angel investor in the ecosystem.

    Notes -
    03:06 - Background with Yahoo & Amazon, joining Accel Partners
    09:58 - The story behind Accel's investment in Flipkart
    16:33 - Identifying patterns and traits in successful founders
    18:09 - Unlearning your existing beliefs as an investor
    22:01 - Explaining Unicorn startups and the general notion of ownership amongst investors
    29:47 - Importance of customer signals at an early stage
    31:28 - "Capital doesn't follow fundamentals, fundamentals follow the capital."
    36:10 - "10 years later we as Indians won't be celebrating Unicorns."
    37:44 - Sectors he's bullish for this decade: SaaS, EdTech, and Banking among others
    46:42 - Preventing forced exits being an Angel investor
    49:36 - Advice to first-time investors in startups
    55:01 - Reading and keeping himself updated with Startup news

  • In this episode, we chat with Ashish Jhina & Karthik Venkateswaran, co-founders of Jumbotail, a 5-year-old online wholesale marketplace for grocery and food items.

    Jumbotail serves more than 30,000 neighborhood stores (popularly known as kiranas in India) in the country with its full-stack B2B e-commerce model, which includes warehouses, a last-mile delivery supply chain network, and a fintech platform for payment and credit solutions to store owners.

    During the podcast, they talk about breaking down a problem to its finest version and then solving for it, they also talk about how capital has been wrongly seen as a golden solution by most entrepreneurs for solving all challenges at a startup.

    Notes -

    02:44 - Karthik & Ashish’s backgrounds as a Major in the Indian Army and Apple farmer respectively

    08:55 - First-principle thinking applied at Jumbotail

    13:57 - Core-Engineering Principle: Build for utility, not for the use case

    19:24 - Problem statements solved by Jumbotail, for Kirana (Grocery Retailers)

    23:18 - Capital cannot be an only moat, where “unit economics” are extremely difficult to figure out

    24:32 - Rapid scale-up pushing towards $ 250 Mn

    27:25 - Raising first-funding from Nexus Venture Partners

    38:16 - Identifying your co-founders at a mature career stage

  • Harpreet Singh Grover founded CoCubes.com, an online platform for assessments and hiring along with his batchmate Vibhore Goyal in 2007 after completing his graduation at IIT, Delhi. CoCubes was acquired by Aon Hewitt in an all-cash deal in 2016.

    Harpreet has also authored a book titled Let's Build a Company along with Vibhore Goyal. This book is a tale of persistence & grit and about a company built in India by two Indian founders. It is written in the hope that entrepreneurs can avoid the mistakes Harpreet and Vibhore made and learn from what they did right.

    Harpreet is also an active angel investor, with his deals including Chaayos, ShopKirana, and Avail Finance.

    When it comes to entrepreneurship most people only talk about immersing themselves in the company they’ve been building while ignoring everything else. To contrast with this, during the podcast, Harpreet shares the emotional and personal aspects while making the tough decisions and the importance of spending time with family in an entrepreneur’s life.

    Join this heart to heart conversation with Harpreet to know how entrepreneurs, while building their dream startup, compromise on their emotional and personal aspects, and how Harpreet's journey can add value to anyone who is doing a startup and experiencing the ups and downs while building a company in India

    Notes -

    02:47 - Harpreet’s journey: Lowest point as an entrepreneur

    08:42 - "My best investments were done when I had less money."

    15:12 - "At any point in your journey, if you've been in a tough spot, talk to someone who has been in that tough spot."

    21:30 - "Companies are not sold, they are bought."

    10:16 pm - Life after the acquisition

    29:12 - Importance of having family time in an entrepreneur’s life

    35:19 - What choices he would have changed in life, 10-12 years back?

    39:42 - Being an Entrepreneur: Solving for simple problems

  • In this episode, we chat with Mitesh Shah, who has headed finance at startups like Ola, BookMyShow & Being Human Clothing, and currently is co-founder at Inflection Point Ventures.

    IPV comprises about 4,000 investors, who are CXOs at various top of line brands across the globe. Till date it has been part of 55 deals and these include names like Milkbasket, Blusmart, Truly Madly, and Multibhashi among others.

    During the podcast, Mitesh emphasizes how the average early startup mortality rate is generally 70-80% across industry and has been brought down to 30-40% in the case of IPV portfolio companies. And he credits this to the robust support system between startup founders and IPVs extensive network of CXOs who guide and enable them to solve problems across hiring, growth, and monetization amongst others, with their rich experience.

    For any early-stage founder looking to raise funding, or CXOs who wish to contribute to the Indian startup ecosystem, this conversation can be of great value, and help them take their first step with a structured approach.

    Notes -

    02:20 - From being a traditional CFO to becoming a VC

    05:47 - What role does Inflection Point Ventures play?

    07:01 - Helping the founders with CXOs on platforms

    09:35 - Back Story: Investing & exiting from BharatPe

    10:56 - IPV Thesis: “Businesses will keep pivoting, invest in great founders.”

    19:05 - Portfolio investments in E-vehicles, Healthcare, SaaS among other sectors

    28:02 - Message to founders: "Be very selective & critical while choosing the investor you want to have."

  • In this episode, we chat with Ghazal and Varun Alagh, Co-founders, Mamaearth.

    Ghazal & Varun’s entrepreneurial journey began when they were expecting their first baby and were on the lookout to ensure that they could use the best childcare products to keep their baby safe. But what came up as a shock for them was that every product out there had some or the other form of harmful chemical component.

    This experience drove the duo to create then a babycare brand: Mamaearth.

    Mamaearth is Asia's first brand with MadeSafe certified products and has recently crossed Rs.500 crore revenue run rate.

    During the podcast, they talk about how they initially started interacting and understanding their future customers and their concerns. They also share how they built a closely-knit community of parents with a newborn where prior to every product launch, they would take feedback from them, and then they’d launch the product after working on their suggestions.

    For anyone looking to start up a D2C brand, this conversation can be of great value. From building a close connection with your prospective customers to earning their trust, to building your brand, to differentiating your brand vs other players, this podcast has it all.

    Notes -

    03:13 - Their personal experience which led to founding Mamaearth

    04:30 - Career prior to Mamaearth

    07:42 - Things to prioritize early on to build a base for a D2C brand

    11:28 - Top-seller product categories at Mamaearth

    13:36 - Journey & Challenges from 0 to $ 1 Mn ARR and beyond

    15:34 - Major milestones and fundraises

    17:43 - Difference in Mamaearth’s growth strategy vs other D2C brands

    21:47 - Future plans with Mamaearth

    23:38 - Connecting & Understanding with the first few customers (mothers)

    26:51 - Identifying vendors for packing, shipping, and production

    29:02 - Bringing Shilpa Shetty on board as a Brand Ambassador & Investor

    33:11 - Leveraging Influencer marketing to propel growth

    35:01 - What they admire in each other as Co-founders & life partners

  • In this episode, we chat with Dilipkumar Khandelwal, Limited Partner with Stellaris Venture Partners & Fireside Ventures, and an active Angel Investor in 25+ companies.

    He’s Ex-President at SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud business and came closer to the startup community in late 2016.

    He has keen interest in D2C, Consumer-Tech and B2B SaaS. Some of his portfolio companies include Whatfix, Signzy, Moglix, Yellow Messenger, Credgenics, and Pepper Content among others.

    During the podcast, he shares how he initially got introduced to investing in startups and began building his portfolio.

    For anyone looking to begin investing in startups either by their own-self as an Angel Investor or as an LP with a VC firm, this conversation can be of great value. From building your own thesis to curating an exit strategy, this podcast will really help you through it.

    Notes -

    00:59 - From a Traditional Rajasthani business family to Investor in Early stage

    04:28 - First interaction with startups via Alok Goyal - Stellaris Venture Partners

    07:12 - Change in perspective; investing in startups

    08:51 - Thesis: Solving small but focused & specific problem statements

    11:15 - Scaling can only work with the overall fundamental mechanism of the Org

    15:09 - Making a product scalable is different vs adding more features

    18:11 - Exit strategy as an Angel Investor

    27:30 - Importance of deeper understanding with a sectoral perspective

    28:14 - Upcoming trends over the next decade

  • In this episode, we chat with Arun Venkatachalam, who comes from the Murugappa Group - family, and is also an active Angel Investor.

    Arun has invested in 25+ companies including Posist, ZoomCar, ZestMoney, AdPushup among others. And he has also got successful exits from companies like Innov8 CoWorking (acquired by OYO Rooms), Yourbus (acquired by Naspers / Ibibo Group), Endless Robotics (acquired by Mojay) etc.

    During the podcast, he also shares how he initially invested in equity markets to build his own capital, which he later invested in his studies and his portfolio companies.

    For anyone looking to start up as an angel investor, this conversation can be of great value. From gaining a deep understanding of a particular space, to sourcing potential deals, to making your first investment, this podcast will really help you start and build.

    Notes -

    12:55 AM - Belonging to Murugappa Group (Family Enterprise); starting in investment banking

    04:56 - Initial investments as an Angel investor

    07:42 - "In order to be an expert down the line, someone has to start somewhere."

    12:50 - Creating an impact on the cap-table

    25:21 - Investing in Recykal; creating impact because of ESG

    28:01 - Advice for a first time angel investor

    32:12 - Having a conservative approach as an Angel investor

    34:32 - "Opportunity isn't in running with the herd, it's always in running against the herd."

    36:51 - Finding investment deals as a first-time investor

    39:17 - Having a nuanced view while investing in Fintech

  • In this episode, we chat with Nishith Rastogi, Founder of Locus.sh; a startup that uses technology and proprietary algorithms to provide smart logistics solutions to businesses such as route optimization, real-time tracking, insights, and analytics, vehicle allocation, and utilization.

    In 2015, Nishith along with his former AWS colleague Geet Garg, built RideSafe, a real-time route deviation detection, for passenger safety in cabs. However, they eventually realized the potential of this concept in logistics & supply chain, which led to pivoting to Locus.

    Apart from India, Locus.sh is present in Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, San Francisco, and the East Coast.

    For anyone looking to explore horizontal pivot or growth strategy, this conversation can add great value. From identifying the problem statement to creating customer-focused solutions, by leveraging a committed team & inward focus for efficiency, this podcast will guide you through it all.

    Notes -

    01:55 - Graduating from BITS Pilani, joining Amazon

    03:11 - Creating RideSafe, a geo-tracking app for women’s safety

    04:26 - Identifying the problem statement in supply chain & logistics

    05:53 - Early adopters of Locus.sh

    09:30 - Having more PhD’s in the team than engineers early-on

    11:58 am - Onboarding experience with Unilever; as a first enterprise customer

    17:56 - Scale up journey from India to 20+ countries

    22:15 - Clarity of purpose both as a startup & founder

    30:40 - Inward focus on efficiency in terms of capital

    31:20 - Cultural shift with the growth of Locus.sh

    31:35 - Focus while hiring: Ambition, Commitment & Integrity

    36:48 - Concept of “Yes process, but no policy”.

    39:21 - Implementation & Ideation OKRs

    42:01 - Helpful books & resources

  • In this episode, we chat with Bhaskar Majumdar, Founder of Unicorn India Ventures; an early-stage fund with portfolio companies such as - Inc42, OPEN Bank, and VLCC’s VanityCube among others.

    Bhaskar spent his early career in various media companies like - Zee Network & Times Group. He also had an entrepreneurial stint with Recreate Solutions in 2001, which he later sold to US systems integrator.

    He has since been an investor in several early-stage technology startups over the years, in India and the UK.

    For anyone looking to start up in unconventional sectors, this conversation can add a great value. From identifying the problem statement to creating digital solutions, by leveraging trends & technology, this podcast will guide you through it all.

    Notes -

    02:04 - Early career in Media domain and founding Unicorn India Ventures

    04:25 - Traditional mistake - “Finding a co-founder whose skillset is exactly complementary to your own”.

    06:26 - Identifying portfolio companies in uncommon sectors

    08:04 - Thesis behind investments: Digitization of old, rugged & broken systems

    11:07 am - Investing in Neo Banks based upon the trend shift in large banks abroad

    16:59 - Enabling Indian portfolio companies to go global

  • In this episode, we chat with Geetha Manjunath, Founder of NIRAMAI; one of India’s most awarded health tech startups using AI to solve the detection of early-stage breast cancer.

    Prior to NIRAMAI, Geetha has made her mark at CDAC, HP & Xerox, with her 25+ years of research and innovation background.

    Set up in 2016, NIRAMAI is India’s only startup among CB Insights ’100 most promising AI startups.

    For anyone exploring health tech, this conversation would be of great value. From identifying the problem statement to creating affordable solutions for the end-user, by leveraging AI & technology, this podcast will guide you through it all.

    Notes -

    01:33 - Her belief in “Karma Yoga”

    05:11 - Family background and upbringing

    06:20 - Getting into IISc, learned - “Enjoying the newness of something”

    07:36 - Joining CDAC - Member of the team that developed the First Indian Supercomputer

    10:23 - NIRAMAI’s cause - Enabling early-stage detection of Breast Cancer

    15:16 - Identifying problem statements and creating solutions

    20:11 - Partnering with hospitals and health startups

    21:54 - Mammography vs NIRAMAI screening (in terms of OpEx & CapEx)

    29:06 - Challenges while fundraising as a Healthcare startup

    34:33 - Opportunities for Healthcare startups in India

    36:10 - Challenges Healthcare startups should brace up for

    42:53 - Future plans at NIRAMAI

  • In this episode, we chat with Viraj Sheth, Co-founder, Monk Entertainment and the man behind one of the fastest-growing influencer marketing agencies in India.

    At the age of 24, Viraj started his entrepreneurial journey with his college senior Ranveer Allahbadia who is better known as BeerBiceps on social media.

    In this episode, catch Viraj talking about starting Monk Entertainment, getting their first few clients, achieving their current scale, working with companies like Nykaa Men, MamaEarth and much more.

    For anyone looking to explore influencer marketing, this conversation would be of great value. From building an audience by sharing about your niche, to having a long term vision when working with a brand, this podcast will guide you through it all.

    Notes -

    01:14 - Starting Monk Entertainment with Ranveer Allahbadia

    06:33 - Working part-time on acquiring clients and quitting a stable job

    08:07 - Growing the startup at the age of 25

    10:11 am - Current scale at Monk-E

    15:35 - Building monetization & business model with creators

    19:39 - What differentiates them from other Influencer Marketing Agencies?

    22:16 - Setting the right practices for influencers while interacting with brands

    23:40 - How is India’s influencer market space evolving?

    26:27 - Segmenting creators

    30:51 - Two rules to grow the audience on Twitter

    35:22 - Structuring and organizing the workflow at Monk-E

    39:50 - Learnings from Ranveer Allahbadia