Pop Quiz, Monday with Pramod Gupta

If you are joining a start-up from an established organization, unlearning of stuff that you have done for years is very important. Get used to building things on your own that you would have your team do for you.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Pramod Gupta

Pramod Gupta

What is your job role?
ex-CFO. Currently on a sabbatical, before I take up something new by end Jan ’19

Tell us about your company?
(My ex-Company) Founded in 2014, Rivigo is a dynamic tech-enabled start-up that aims to revolutionize trucking operations not just in India but globally by addressing the core issue of quality of life of truck drivers, thereby increasing driver availability. It has been making significant progress, with its unique operational model and cutting-edge technology to provide unparalleled delivery times consistently. This has been possible because of it’s innovative ‘driver relay’ model which ensures that it’s delivery people, aptly referred to as ‘pilots,’ live a life of fulfillment, dignity, and respect.

Rivigo’s motto is ‘Making Logistics Human.’ That’s what inspires us, drives our work and pushes us to challenge the status quo every single day. The belief is that people make it possible. We saw ourselves as a high performing sports team, playing together every day, and achieving success by holding ourselves accountable for high-quality outcomes.

What do you love most about your job?
There is so much to do and so much to learn. The sheer pace of things, opportunity to experiment at so many levels, build teams, reimagine everything using technology and making a large-scale impact across Supply Chain functions of multiple client organizations.

I have loved the opportunity to build base level systems and processes once again, build teams from the ground up and work with them shoulder to shoulder.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
So much exciting stuff going on all around, and the feeling that I can indeed make an impact.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
The whole environment is that of chasing big goals, making a significant impact, lots of experimentation and bringing in innovation in everything we do. And all of this is because of the people who have come together.

So many of us have left behind a settled corporate career to do something different and more fulfilling. And the stories of each of the people around me is an inspiration for me.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Most of our fun has been around solving issues. This is what we call fun@work. We could just have an impromptu samosa party in the evening. Working late, we could order some good food, or suddenly someone would put on some beautiful music.

Team also has an occasional weekend game of cricket or a gateway out of the town.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Every day is like going to a gym. Goals are large. The pace is high — failures many. So I had to really get comfortable being uncomfortable, as a cliché goes.

A key focus has been building the team and processes as the organization scaled up rapidly. How do we invest in scalability? How do we find a balance between giving the existing members their dues even while bringing in more skilled and senior people? How do we prevent burnout? When failure happens, how do we separate experimentation from lack of care? How do we keep a rapidly expanding team together?

So one of the most significant challenges (as well as fun for me) has been managing all the people aspects.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
One of the key lessons I have learnt is to find a balance between pace and maturity. While in Rivigo, our goal was to create a dashboard-driven high tech finance team that uses data to drive the business, I walked into a place where virtually everything manual.

After a couple of months of visioning, we did lay down a Finance Tech roadmap with four stages – starting with basic automation and finally leading to data lakes being used for high-end analytics.

We took on aggressive targets and made excellent progress in its implementation. In hindsight though, I should have focused more on resourcing, contingency planning and putting my foot down on going live unless each stage reached a threshold level of maturity.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
If you are joining a start-up from an established organization, unlearning of stuff that you have done for years is very important. Get used to building things on your own that you would have your team do for you. Get comfortable with things not working well always. Don’t judge if that happens. Just fix it. Youngsters in start-ups know so much more about technology than you do. Don’t expect respect. Earn it.

And above all, processes may be sacrosanct in larger organizations. But in start-ups, expect everything to be challenged. So please develop a way to explain to people in clear terms why things need to be done in a certain way – and be ready to change your own views where required.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:


Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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