Five founders on building a unique product and making it last
Welcome to First Principles, The Ken’s fortnightly leadership podcast! I am Rohin Dharmakumar, your host.First, if you’re a new listener of this podcast, I think you’ve clicked on the right episode. And if you’re a long-time listener – thank you, by the way – then you might know that here at First Principles, we have a few favourite questions. And we try and ask these questions to most of our guests. The most interesting part of this is that every guest has a vastly different answer to the same question – their age, experience, outlook on life…even their co-founder or their family plays a significant role in how they answer our questions. Take motivation, for example. What drives founders/CEOs, even when things aren’t looking so good?It could simply be untameable perseverance – like in the case of Deep Kalra, the founder of MakeMyTrip. For Ruchi Kalra of OxyCo, it was the people around her. Srikanth Iyer of Homelane, in fact, quotes from a book that changed the game for him.We highly recommend going back and listening to our full episodes, but this is a great place to start, too. We went back to some of our older episodes to make a supercut of some very specific answers from our guests to questions on motivation, perseverance, finding the right opportunity in a difficult market and fighting stress. Good stress, as one of our guests calls it.Here are our guests:We start with Deep Kalra, the founder and chairman of MakeMyTrip – a company that began when India wasn’t even ready for internet businesses. Deep talks about surviving as a travel business through the pandemic, learning to stay in the game and building to last. Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip on being “22 years young”, presenting from Excel sheets instead of Powerpoint slides, the importance of open disagreements, and the good stress of buildingNext, we have Ruchi Kalra – who has built two profitable unicorns in seven years: OfBusiness and Oxyzo. She takes us through an important maxim that drives both her businesses: finding the right opportunity in the right sector, even if it’s crowded.Ruchi Kalra of Oxyzo on creating two unicorns in 7 years, spotting gigantic market opportunities, putting profits and cash flow first, and letting go of personal ambitionsKamal Sagar, the founder of Total Environment, has had one thing driving him for 27 years: good quality. Good quality that even thousands of real estate companies in the West are just not able to deliver on. The most interesting part is how he does it: Kamal builds homes the way software is built. Kamal Sagar of Total Environment on picking principles over convenience, reimagining real estate, design, authenticity and learning to say noWhen I asked how Srikanth Iyer, the founder of Homelane, fought through the first few years of absolute chaos at his startup, Srikanth said he focuses on understanding what you’re bad at. He explains how he learnt and applied this First Principle in his career.Srikanth Iyer of Home Lane on embracing what you’re bad at in order to do better at what you’re good at, and being a wartime generalShan Kadavil of FreshToHome cracked a really tough business in a super competitive market. And then, he evolved as a CEO and a leader. He talks about scaling a 40-employee organisation to a 4000-employee organisation, encouraging his team to “be their own CEO,” obsessing over the right metrics, and much more. Shan Kadavil of FreshToHome on selling fish, building moats, encouraging bottom-up “shots on goal”, and being honest with boardsThis is First Principles— The Ken’s fortnightly leadership podcast.The Ken is India's first subscriber-only business journalism platform. Check out our deeply reported long-form stories, insightful newsletters, original podcasts and much more here.
Thu, September 28, 2023