Founders Unfiltered

Unscripted conversations with Indian founders about their story and the process of building a company. Hosted by Aviral and Mazin.

Podcast available on: Spotify, Google, Pocketcast, Apple, JioSaavn Video conversations available on Youtube.

Ep 39: Hyper local delivery

Kabeer grew up in a small town in Dadra & Haveli, where starting one’s own business was unheard of. After completing his MBA, he started working as a sales executive at Airtel and later became a product manager. After spending a few years there, he decided to leave and spent a year doing nothing before finally starting his first startup. A location-based service that offered coupon codes for local shops and worked on SMS communication. He found Product-market fit and eventually sold the company to hike.

Kabeer took a hiatus and decided not to work on anything for a while. After around 6 months, he stumbled across a personal problem. Kabeer had the habit of staying organised and had a system in place for efficiently doing almost everything. Purchasing groceries every week though, proved to be a challenge. This urged him to think of a solution. Not thinking of it as a business, he started by simply creating a whatsapp group for taking orders and making deliveries himself.

Within 3 months, the member count reached over 10K, by word of mouth alone. It was then Kabeer realised the market for this problem is huge, and a business can be created around it. Thus, Dunzo was born. Today, it is trusted by over 5 million users across 7 cities.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya

Ep 38: Fintech Lending

Gaurav grew up in a family that operated a large apparel business. Seeing his Dad grow the business had sown the early seeds of entrepreneurship in him. He worked in the family business for 6 years during which he witnessed the complete business journey – From IPO to an exit to a PE firm. He decided to take a break and went to do an MBA at Stanford where he met his co-founder Shashank. The two had complementary skill sets and were clear they wanted to start a business together but didn’t know what. After graduating, they returned back to India and started searching for business ideas.

They had close to 40 ideas ranging from a ride-hailing service to QSR restaurants. Over the course of a year, they dug deeper to test each idea and narrow it down on one. They evaluated ideas on 3 important parameters – The Scale of the problem, Can Technology be used as a differentiator, and the Impact generated. SME financing was something that ticked all 3 boxes.

In 2013, they started Capital Float to solve the problem of SME financing. Today Capital Float has expanded its offerings to also serve consumers through Buy Now pay later and Personal Finance solutions.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya

Ep 37: Disrupting an Unsexy Industry

Souvik grew up in Kolkata in a middle-class neighborhood where Entrepreneurship was something alienated and mainly constituted of generational family businesses. After completing college he started working at a construction company. He worked there for 5 years, then went on to pursue an MBA. He graduated in 2016 and witnessed the Indian startup ecosystem booming. However, the B2B space was something that remained largely unexplored.

Being familiar with the construction industry landscape, Souvik was aware of the inefficiencies and the large opportunity at hand. His thesis constituted of 2 insights : – majority of the market is fragmented and served by many local manufacturers, – Companies mostly set up centralized mega factories and use multiple distribution channels. Souvik started Infra.Market with the mission to digitize procurement of raw materials using an asset-light model. In 2019, they started receiving investor interest and began expanding rapidly.

Today, Infra.Market supplies across 10 Indian states and exports to markets like Dubai, Singapore, Italy etc.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya

Ep 36: Taking Indian Commerce Online

Abhinav grew up in a traditional middle-class fashion and went on to college to study engineering. Becoming a part of the institute’s entrepreneurship cell, he got exposed to the world of startups. Interacting with founders and hearing their experiences, he had realized that he ultimately wants to become a founder one day. After graduation, he got a high-paying job at Goldman Sachs. After working for a few months in the Indian office, he went to work at the US office where he met his co-founder. The two loved discussing product ideas and study emerging market trends.

While living in the US, they witnessed the Black Friday sale and were awestruck. Everyone goes on a massive shopping spree with items getting out of stock in a matter of hours. This observation made them interested in the Indian space. Amidst the Flipkart amazon rivalry, they were confident that offline retail also has an important role to play. Digging further into the Indian retail market revealed its inefficiencies and presented the large opportunity at hand. Wanting to give their best shot at the problem, they both quit their job and came back to India. Thus, Perpule was born.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya

Ep 35: Building an audience in Bharat

Ranjeet grew up in a small village with less than 1000 population. He used to go to the nearby city on weekdays to attend school and return to the village on the weekend. As a kid he was a voracious reader, starting with first his school textbooks, later devouring Hindi literature, comics, and novels. As he grew up, he slowly shifted to reading English as there was no regional content available online.

Coming from a humble background, getting a stable job was what his family wanted for him. After completing his MBA, he got a job at Vodafone. He liked the job but after a few years, he wanted to do something more challenging. So quit his job and decided to startup. As he started searching for business ideas, many of his friends advised him why doesn’t do something to solve online regional content – a problem Ranjeet often cribbed about. As he started talking to people about this problem – he received many suggestions – Indians don’t read, People don’t read long-form content anymore, No one wants regional content. But he knew that wasn’t true and had a deep conviction that there was a space for an Indian regional content player. Thus, Pratilipi was born.

Today Pratilipi is India’s largest regional content platform with over 3 lac writers and more than 2.5 crore monthly active users. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya

Ep 34: Building a consumer brand for Bharat

Arjun Vaidya was brought up in a family with a rich culture in Ayurveda. His Grandfather had started an ayurvedic clinic about 150 years ago. He went to study in the US, where he saw yoga repackaged and being sold all over the country. He pondered why India was lagging behind in it’s adoption, the land where it originated from. He returned to India and started a brand to bring ayurvedic products to the Indian audience. His vision was to contribute to India’s renaissance, by making ayurvedic products for Indian consumers. He started by repackaging ayurvedic products for new use cases. Capsule Chawanprash and Hangover shield being 2 such items that received a great demand.

To build a D2C brand for Bharat, Arjun advises it’s crucial one should not consider their friends & themselves as the consumers. It’s important for the founders to talk to users every week at all times of the startup’s journey. He mentions that constant feedback and suggestions from users gave birth to many of Dr. Vaidya’s products that are now very successful.

Today Dr. Vaidyas is trusted by over a million users from 1000+ cities. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 33: Straddling a cultural divide to build

Chinmay grew up in Bombay where he was surrounded by small businesses. His father had a textile factory and his mom ran a boutique tailor shop. They emphasized on Chinmay’s education so that he could get a stable job. After graduating from college, Chinmay got a job in Singapore as a software engineer. He later became a product manager and worked in Southeast Asia for 6 years. While working he met his co-founder Abhinay and found some great mentors, who encouraged them to startup.

The two brainstormed over a lot of ideas and tried narrowing down one. Building for MSMEs was one that stood out. In Indonesia, SMEs’ contribution makes up 60% of the GDP, indicating a huge opportunity. And the majority of the business was still carried out using traditional ways. Bukuwarung started out as a bookkeeping app for small shops, helping merchants maintain their cash flow.

In just 2 years after its start, Bukuwarung is now trusted by over 6.5 million+ users in Indonesia. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 32: Disrupting an existing category

After completing his MBA, Chaitanya started working as a management consultant in the US. There he learned about product management, user experience, and how large organizations function. He really enjoyed the work but didn’t like the traveling lifestyle and decided to quit to do something better. He came back to India and decided to startup in the consumer tech space. He ran the business profitably for some years and eventually exited the company and decide to remain in the startup ecosystem by working with Yourstory and LetsVenture. Finally while working at Tapzo he met his co-founder Ankit who shared a similar background – coming from a Middle-class family, studying engineering, and later founding a startup.

While buying furniture for his new home, Ankit found out purchasing mattresses is a very costly affair. In search of a solution to buy a cheap mattress, eventually led them to Wakefit.

Wakefit has been profitable from the start and remained completely bootstrapped for the first 3 years. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 31: Building a gaming company

Sai grew up in Hyderabad and developed an interest in building things right from his high school. Studying at IIT Kanpur, he tinkered around with different ideas that didn’t work at the time. But taught him the importance of overcoming failures to grow. After graduation, he got a job at Zynga, a company making video games for social networks. It was there he learned the Art of Product Management and Game Design.His experience at Zynga had taught him that gaming works at scale only when Data, Device and Payments, All three are present. In 2016, UPI was launched and bridged that last gap. This insight gave birth to MPL, a mobile esports platform offering a plethora of games to users.

Today, MPL is India’s largest mobile gaming platform, with 50+ games and over 60 million users in India. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 30: Storytelling for Millennials

Seeing the rise of Indian talent in foreign movies coupled with their interest in film and media, Ashwin, Aditi, and Anirudh decided to come back to India and do something in the space. They started with a production studio creating films but soon pivoted to a content creation company as they witnessed the growth of social media. To build a community serving multiple interests, they created multiple brands under Pocket Aces with a unique content thesis for each.

Today Pocket Aces is India’s leading original content company with over 700M monthly views. Their clients include all kinds of companies – large MNCs, FMCG brands, startups, and OTT platforms. Join us to learn how Ashwin, Aditi, and Anirudh built Pocket Aces to help solve boredom and provide entertainment to all of us. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 29: Building Talent Dense Organizations

Abhimanyu’s interest in tech began in college where he met his co-founder Anshuman. The two of them worked together on many projects before joining as full-time engineers at young high growth startups in the US. They discovered how hard it is to scale a talented tech team. They started Interview Bit, a website that helped people prepare for tech interviews using high-quality content. But they felt there was a bigger problem at hand to be solved.

Scaler Academy is a virtual university that acts as a focused guide with mentors, relevant courses, and the correct learning environment. Abhimanyu talks about how important it is for companies to hire the right talent as bad hires hit the hardest in the tech domain. He explains the hiring process and suggests ways how both companies and employees should go about it. Join us to learn from Abhimanyu about building talent-dense organizations. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 28: Social Commerce

After college Prateek got a job at a big bank. He enjoyed the job but often felt like a small cog in the machine. Witnessing the early Indian startup wave closely, he decided to leave his job in 2014 and startup. He launched a B2B marketing platform that after 4 years got acquired by an Indonesian firm.

He moved to Indonesia and fell in love with its culture. The country’s budding startup ecosystem and sense of community led him to start Kitabeli, a social commerce app. Social commerce takes advantage of people’s behavior of sharing purchases and offers in their friend circles. This significantly reduces the logistics cost and the CAC as compared to traditional e-commerce. Join us to learn how Prateek built and grew Kitabeli to facilitate commerce in Indonesia.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 27: Know your Customers

Sumit grew up in a town full of small business owners. His family’s nudge towards STEM education was considered the unconventional path. While working as an equity analyst, Sumit discovered a unique problem in the fintech space – Indians have very high physical asset ownership, yet asset-backed lending makes only a minority of total borrowing. 

In 2015, he started Rupeek to fulfill this unprecedented demand. He believes Understanding customers is an ongoing process and one should keep running experiments to learn. Today, Rupeek has served over 1 lakh happy users across 25+ cities. Join us to learn how Sumit got to know his customers and built Rupeek.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 26: Fintech Payments

Growing up, Reeju had never thought of starting his own venture. It was after receiving an admit from ISB when he started thinking about what he really wants to do in life.

Considering the huge expense of Bschool, in addition to the opportunity cost at hand. He made the decision of not doing an MBA and starting up instead. He met his co-founder Akash through a mutual friend.

The two often used to bounce around business ideas with each other. Before starting up, they evaluated many different ideas and narrowed down on the problem they both had faced personally, Cash on delivery payments for online businesses.

Today, Cashfree is used by over 50000 businesses with transactions worth $12 billion processed annually.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 25: Building Communities

Pranay studied at IIT Delhi where he got to be a part of a true community in the form of his hostel. Post his MBA from IIMA, he got a job as a Stock Broker. As work used to get over by 4, he started helping his college startup accelerator after his working hours. This continued for a year after which he came full time as the CEO.

After working at the accelerator for 4 years he met his co-founder Varun and decided to start 91 Springboard, a small fund to help startups. To make the fund economics work, they realized the need for a local community of startups.

Join us as we deep dive into Pranay’s journey of building 91Springboard.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 24: Impact Entrepreneurship

After graduation, Dhimant worked for a large tech company as a software engineer for 5 years. Intrigued by the business aspects of a company he decided to join a B-School. At ISB he met folks with diverse backgrounds including entrepreneurs that transformed his initial perspective of getting a high-paying job at a corporate. Dhimant highlights the importance of intertwining Business with Impact so both continue to grow simultaneously.

Today, Better India has a reach of over 90 million people in a month. Join us to learn how Dhimant built and grew Better India to empower citizens and catalyze change.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 23: Understanding the market

Ashish built his first website and was competing with tech giants in his 10th grade! In college he kept toying with ideas and code which led to his first startup, providing telecom-based value-added services that he exited in 2011. He started a Restaurant with a friend and realizing how painful it is to manage a restaurant, led them to create POSist, a cloud-based platform for restaurants.

Today they serve 8,000+ clients spread across 22 countries. Join us as we talk to Asish about how POSist evolved overtime to find their business model and customer segment.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 22: Finding a problem to solve

Ajinkya grew up in Nasik, in a family where doing business was more of a default option than doing a job. He credits his entrepreneurial acumen to his father, who owns a manufacturing unit. His first startup idea was based on an emotional problem, and it didn’t work out. He stayed in the fintech industry, playing different roles at different companies, and finally landed on the idea of growfix.

Join us as we talk to Ajinkya about find a problem to solve and building Growfix.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 21: Enterprise sales

Swapnil landed his dream job when he graduated from college. After 3 years at Twitter, he decided to come back to India and startup. What followed was an 18-month struggled to find the right idea and co-founder.

He finally connected with his college roommate and their experiences lead them to start The two of them started selling the idea before they had a final product. When it came to growth, they experimented with a variety of sales channels to find out which ones work and doubled down on them. Swapnil advises founders to start selling in the right market from Day 1. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 20: Self management

(Hindi Audio) Mr. Chaudhary started his first business with a small loan from his father to set up 2 looms. Today, Jaipur Rugs is one of the largest manufacturers of hand-knotted rugs serving clients all across the globe.

Join us as we talk to NK Chaudhary about how he built his company and empowered artisans through self-management.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 19: Disrupting an industry

Blowhorn connects customers with mini-truck drivers for intra-city deliveries via its website and mobile app. Mithun hustled to grow the initial supply of drivers and acquire their first 1,000 customers without spending a single penny on marketing.

Join us as we talk to Mithun about how he disrupted the disorganized logistics industry.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 18: Building a global product

Mindtickle started with corporate treasure hunts to improve employee engagement but over the course of several years and many pivots later they created a new category of enterprise software called sales-readiness.

Join us as we talk to Deepak about how they built and sold their software to companies all over the world.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep 17: Acquiring customers

On a mission to make quality education accessible to a wider audience, Ashutosh founded his 2nd startup Testbook, a one-stop platform designed for students to achieve better results on government exams.

Join us as we talk to Ashutosh about he acquired over 13M users all over India through some innovative offline channels.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep16: Women’s Internet

Sairee, a serial entrepreneur, realized that the Internet has been built by men, with their needs in mind. Leaving women underserved. Many women have had a bad experience online and there is a lack of trust for women on the internet.

Join us as we talk to Sairee about her incredible journey building a safe community helping women with jobs, resources, networking, and advice. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep15: Product market fit

Prasanth talks about his fifteen-year journey from learning how to code through trial and error, turning it into a profession, and then using the skills he acquired to build companies. He proudly discusses his failures and what he learned from it, as he sheds light on how he found product-market fit.

Join us as we talk to Prasanth about his incredible journey and finding product-market fit. 

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep14: Founder market fit

Vivek and Neel met while working on Voicetap. In 2016, they started iZooto to help any company with a domain name to engage with their visitors.

Today iZooto delivers 60Bn notifications for some of the world’s largest media companies without any external funding. This focus on a single customer segment that they could serve best has been one of the biggest reasons for their success and the market share that they now hold.

Join us as we talk to Neel and Vivek about how they segment their customers and how they discovered their DNA as a company.

Editing credits: Neel, Aditya, Vaibhav

Ep13: The SaaS playbook

Gaurav is a serial entrepreneur who has built well over a dozen different products. He learned how to code as a child and built his product when he was still in college.

Since starting SaaS labs in 2014, Gaurav has built several products catering to different themes. Each one is a self-sustaining business with some of his products like Just Call generating millions in annual recurring revenue.

Based on his experiences, Gaurav created a 20 point SaaS playbook, which he used for a new product, he grew it to $100K ARR in just 4-5 months. Join us as we talk to Gaurav about his journey. 

Editing credits: Vaibhav

Ep12: Creating new products

We had previously covered the Razorpay journey in detail before this

Harshil was turned down by over a hundred banks when he started Razorpay in 2014. Instead of fretting over it, he spent the time talking to businesses and building a payment gateway to solve their problems.

Razorpay’s customer-centric approach made them one of India’s best payment solutions. Once users trusted him to handle payments, branching out into banking services was natural.

Today over 350,000 Indian businesses rely on Razorpay for payments, bank accounts, and loans. Join us as we talk to Harshil about his journey and creating new products.

Editing credits: Tanish

Ep11: Early days of a startup

Shrehith met his co-founders in business school and started a company with the goal to make finance more accessible.

They started writing and gradually built an audience but it was not enough to pay the bills. Just when they were running out of funds, one video went viral which helped them take the company to the next level. Today, Finshots delivers one 3 min read per day to over 100,000 subscribers on India’s most important financial developments.

Join us as we talk to Shrehith about his journey and the early days of starting a company.

Editing credits: Tanish

Ep10: Building a Rocketship

Kevin is the Co-founder and co-CEO of Gojek. In just a few years, he helped to build Indonesia’s first decacorn. Kevin joined Gojek as CFO of the company in 2014 but as the company grew, his role evolved. Gojek grew like crazy – 100% month over month for a 12 month period. Few people have experienced that kind of hypergrowth.

Join us as we talk to Kevin about how we built the rocketship and what he learned on his incredible entrepreneurial journey.

Ep9: The Startup Hustle

Kush is the founder of FamPay. He started his company while he was still in college. He built FamPay with sheer determination and hustle. Today, just a year after Kush graduated from college, FamPay brings cashless convenience to millions of teens and their parents.

Join us as we talk to Kush about his incredible entrepreneurial journey.

Ep8: Thinking Big

Ankur is the Co-founder and CEO of Nuclei. He has founded a successful restaurant chain and was part of the founding team of Tapzo a venture-backed startup that exited to Amazon. He first learnt to think bigger when he moved to Mumbai to study engineering, well before starting his entrepreneurial journey and he kept thinking bigger at each step in his professional life.

Join us as we talk to Ankur about his entrepreneurial journey and the value of think big.

Ep7: Learning to Scale

RainCan, now called BB Daily, started off as hyper-local grocery delivery but it really took off due to a freak incident. The milkman in his colony went away, so Abhijeet decided to offer milk delivery as an experiment. He realized that even though milk is a low margin product it was the start of a relationship with his customers. He could then sell other products to customers once they knew that RainCan would be at their doorstep every day with the milk.

Today, BB Daily has over 2,500 employees serving more than 3 lakh subscribers per day! Join us as we talk to Abhijeet about how he built and scaled the company. 

Ep6: People Build Companies

Varun first started playing poker in his college. After graduating, he worked in a variety of roles and continued playing poker online. As his love for poker grew he realized that there is an opportunity to create a better poker playing experience. In just 3 years, he built one of India’s largest poker platforms. Join us as we talk to Varun about his journey and the importance of finding the right people to build his company.

Ep5: Go to Market

Sanchit started his company in 2013, right after he graduated from college. Today, Townscript is a market leader that operates in several countries helping event organizers issue 3M+ tickets per year. Join us as we talk to Sanchit about his journey and how he built the Townscript marketing machine.

According to Sanchit, anyone who is starting an internet company should check out Moz’s guide to SEO and the HubSpot inbound marketing course.

Ep4: Building for Bharat

Anuradha started her business as a hobby, teaching people English from Hindhi through simple animations on a Facebook page. Today, Multibhashi has over 1M+ downloads on the play store and offers a variety of service in 10+ languages. Join us as she reflects on her journey and talks about how to build for Bharat, specifically the lower-income but higher volume segment of society which is just starting to come online.

We conclude the episode by talking to Rohan who is launching his MVP – Reezy: A payments platform to make renting easier for both landlords and tenants

Ep3: Building for space

Rohit and his company Trancelestial are using lasers to transmit data. Building a deep-tech company can be really challenging but for those that can get it off the ground, it can be extremely rewarding both intellectually and financially. Join us as Rohit talks about his journey and the challenges he encountered, the incentives for deep-tech founders and why this is such a huge opportunity.

We conclude the episode by talking to Akshay who is launching his MVP – Stoquity: A fantasy stock trading game that rewards learning.

Ep2: Crafting a Delightful Customer Experience

Neerav had the idea for his business several years before he actually launched it. His start-up journey began with simple but effective advice – talk to customers and validate assumptions. An idea that is still crucial to the company today and an integral part of their continuous pursuit to delight customers.

We conclude the episode by discussing a listener’s business idea and with that example, shed some light on how to implement this idea of validating assumptions in a B2B setting.

Ep1: The Founding Team

Realising firsthand how difficult it was to meet and connect with people offline, Suyash and Siddharth, his batchmate from college started MyScoot by hosting a party for 15 people at their house. Join us, as Suyash reflects on the transition from the corporate world to a startup, the challenges of building a company and the constantly evolving roles and relationships amongst the founding team.

We conclude the episode by introducing the final segment and invite listeners to submit their startup ideas and MVP plans.