Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I started in the non-profit sector, working at Avanti Fellows to provide quality education to underprivileged students. After that, I managed sponsorships and PR for IIT-M’s cultural festival and was an ambassador of Teach For India. My career took a turn when I joined Deutsche Bank as an Analyst, where I met my Shipsy co-founders. I also founded Mappr, which focused on creating a platform to connect students, teachers, parents, and the school administration.
The motivation behind Shipsy was the glaring inefficiencies in the logistics industry, specifically in the last-mile segment. Working at a bank and seeing the level of sophistication there, we aimed to create a Bloomberg-type model for the global supply chain, enabling stakeholders to collaborate and streamline operations. A platform where every stakeholder, be it an enterprise, a logistics service provider, shippers, freight forwarder, and delivery executives, can collaborate, analyze, decide, and execute everyday logistics. We are rapidly inching closer to turning this vision into a reality.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
My story showcases the power of serendipity! Now picture this: I’m on the metro, CEO-turned-delivery-guy, hustling parcels across Delhi. I noticed a young child struggling to find a seat. My instincts kicked in, so I gave up my seat, and fate took the wheel. His father, grateful for the gesture, struck up a conversation with me.
He noticed my company shirt, asked about the business, and I shared. The man, looking impressed, introduced himself as Dheeraj Jain, a partner at a UK-based hedge fund. Our metro chat turned into a whirlwind investment opportunity. Dheeraj connected me with a group of angel investors, and within a month, they funded a round in Shipsy. Who knew kindness could be so lucrative? The universe sure has a funny way of connecting the dots!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
After we cracked our first sales, I Invited the team (running on a very tight schedule) to an internal office celebration with the wrong date. We had to schedule an additional meeting that week called “Calendar Management.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Our anchor customers had been critical in our successful go-to-market. They validated our observations related to ground zero of operations, evaluation of the challenges, innovations, and ideas. Having said that, achieving success cannot be credited to just one person. There’s an entire team working hard to execute the company vision. Special mention here to the office coffee machine whisperer. You know, the one who always knows how to fix it when it’s on the fritz. They’re practically office superheroes.
Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader?
We had to rapidly increase the scope of our technology to address challenges beyond the last mile, catering to first-mile pickups and mile-mile journeys too. This was tricky but offered a great opportunity to streamline and optimize the end-to-end transportation journey for logistics providers and establish us as category creators. We kept rapidly innovating and expanding our tech capabilities according to customer needs, bringing more and more industries and global brands into our ambit. The rest is history.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
Being a native to the modern startup ecosystem, I believe that the traditional gap between a leader (of a team or a department) and a CXO is shrinking fast. Everyone, irrespective of their role in the organization, must work towards common objectives–help customers address their unique challenges and needs and keep learning, innovating, and growing as a professional while doing so.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
This is what I was always passionate about. It feels great to see your idea coming to fruition. And blessed to have so many passionate and extremely talented people believing it and joining the journey.
Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
Aspirations, hope, and the dream of becoming someone keep us going, right? I do not think any specific traits are needed to become an executive. Think of Steve Jobs. He did not come from a tech background and dropped a semester to save his parents’ money and started helping his father rebuild cars and do other household repair work. Yet he became Steve Jobs. Believing in yourself, your idea, and that you can truly make a difference counts.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?
Fostering a culture of open communication, trust, collaboration, and cheering your team for a job well done is the backbone of a happy and motivated workforce. Today, at Shipsy, we have directors and team leaders who joined Shipsy as interns and continue to do fantastic work.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Success is a very relative term. It brings me great joy to say that we have a good company culture, providing a canvas where ideas can thrive. We observe zero bias against any community, gender, or culture. A brand, homegrown in India, is now generating employment opportunities across regions.
Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are your “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO” and why?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’ll answer this from a technology perspective. I strongly believe that we can leverage modern technologies to drive social and financial inclusion of people worldwide, even in some of the most difficult places.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are many. But the one that’s coming to my mind right now is a quote by Steve Jobs, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
That will be great then! I’d love to cook and have breakfast with Bill Gates and Satya Nadella. Their invaluable insights and approach to leadership would be an incredible opportunity to learn and grow as we find the perfect waffle-to-syrup ratio together.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
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