Dec 09
42 must-have business books for your tech startup’s library
Hill, Napoleon
Branson, Sir Richard
Malcolm Gladwell
 
Sutherland, Jeff
Lencioni, Patrick M.
Ed Catmull
Dec 07
Mumbai, work-life balance & Bandra allowance!
Having been an entrepreneur for over a decade now, I’ve had to think about the whole work-life balance concept for my team more than a couple of times in the journey. Sometimes we get so busy in what we do that we don’t realise what all we miss in the process. I’ve always been asking many of our mentor figures what it means to them & a billionaire entrepreneur once said “Work-life balance is a myth!” I want to prove him wrong, well at least to some extend.

In this age of hyper-competition where plunging into the unknown is the norm, with all of us busy trying to change the world in our own way, we inevitably end up working round the clock. The vibe of your work place, accessibility, fun things in the neighbourhood, the commute time are all very important aspects as far as overall productivity goes. We very recently moved into a super-sexy office in Bandra & I personally believe it was one of the best decisions we made which I’m sure will go a long way in shaping up the company work-culture.

A lot of people ask me ‘Why are you a tech startup & still based in Mumbai?’ I love Mumbai, its vibe & it’s pace. But it’s not my love for Mumbai behind the choice. Being a FinTech startup, having the HQ in Mumbai makes total sense. This is where all the big banks are, all the card companies, RBI, NPCI, major banking vendors etc. But being in Mumbai is tough when it comes to traffic, pollution, the chaos, finding tech talent, cost etc. We took a call to maintain our Engineering team & Support team in Kochi for these reasons. But our Business, Product, Growth, Partnerships, Merchant Services, Design, Finance, Compliance & HR teams are based out of Mumbai and it’s working great for us.

The 1st office space that we moved into in May 2015 at Santa Cruz (W) ran out of seats in like no time. When I started searching for a bigger space good enough to be made our HQ, most of the real-estate agents & fellow startup guys were suggesting Powai (Powai Valley they say), the whole IIT story, the free interns and the bunch of startups. Another bunch was recommending the BKC stretch and yet some others were suggesting Lower Parel corporate parks.

My theory was that we all will end up working late in office no matter what. Most of the times I have to push people out to go spend time with their families & friends too. In startups obviously because of the kind of time you spend together & the fun stuff you do together your biggest friend circle obviously gets formed within the organisation itself. So when you step out of work if you don’t have good cafes, pubs, shopping facilities, restaurants etc nearby, your work-life balance becomes totally non-existent. Another factor to consider was of course the very important ‘time-to-airport’ factor.

So in-spite of the lower costs in Powai, proximity to banks in BKC & the very fashionable office buildings in Lower Parel, I was hell bent on Bandra for our office. In fact I was particular of finding a space to the west of the Linking Road. After seeing probably 25-30 options I finally got this current space for a decent deal & one-third of the space had 25 ft height (2.5 levels), so I knew the whole ambience after furnishing would be super-cool. It is walking distance to 33rd road, the centre-point of Bandra life these days and pretty much 20 minutes to Airport most hours of the day. So after a long day at work we get unwind at Monkey Bar, Irish House, Bar Stock Exchange, Tap, Eddies or sometimes even Doolally or Khar Social or the countless other options nearby. Plus the Carter’s Road with all it’s eateries and the beach side walk way could a great stress-buster.

Commute is something I firmly believe can screw up a person’s productivity & increase stress levels for no good reason. Even commuting for meetings during the day could be such a waste time of time if you are in one corner of the city. Bandra is great that was as well with the access to Sea Link, it is almost like a cheat code in a game some times. Right after fixing the office space, next thing I wanted to push for was to get as many team members to stay near the office, ideally within 15 minutes distance. Though I personally made request to a bunch of them I figured the cost of staying in Bandra was prohibitively high for most to actually make the decision even though they wanted to stay close.

So here comes the solve! We just rolled out a Bandra allowance to anyone who moves residence to within 15 min of our office. The great thing that’s happening because of this super-cool policy is that many of them are not only moving into Bandra but as groups sharing 3BHK & 4BHK apartments. For them it works out cheaper than staying anywhere else in the city cos the allowance is per person thus subsidising their stay a great deal. It works great for Chillr too as in the process of living together / staying in the same neighbourhood, more random ideas gets discussed off working hours too & there is a lot more sync between business units. The time they save daily on commute runs into hours and the resultant increase in productivity easily justifies the extra ‘investment’.

Hoping to see a ton more startups in and around Bandra. This is undoubtedly the coolest place to be in.

Bandra Map
Oct 31
Getting others to believe in your dream

So the clock continues to tick, as fast as ever. At Chillr, it’s been 10 months down the startup lane and I can just start seeing some sign boards to an action packed future not so far away. Whoever said a brilliant idea & an amazing team is all what you need to build a great startup, has never built one for sure. It is in your ability to make others believe in your dreams, that those dreams start turning into reality; nice and steady. Else it will just continue to be a dream & more often than not, turn into nightmares. Continue reading Getting others to believe in your dream