Cover Image For Episode 50 with Anupendra Sharma on Maharajas of Scale
Anupendra Sharma of Startup Leadership Program

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Building a Global Entrepreneurship program – How Anupendra Sharma started Startup Leadership Program (SLP)

Building a Global Entrepreneurship program can be a daunting task. Our Season Finale – Grand 50th Episode features Anupendra Sharma of the Startup Leadership Program (SLP). Today, Startup Leadership Program has grown to enable 4000 entrepreneurs who have raised $3.5 Billion in funding for 2000 ventures spread across 28 cities in 14 countries.

Around the year 2006, two different types of people embarked on creating an organization that would enable entrepreneurship. One was Paul Graham of Y Combinator Fame and the other was Anupendra Sharma. Y Combinator and Paul Graham are famous for the kind of ventures funded and the exits. Y Combinator helped create billions of $ of wealth and transformed ventures. Anupendra Sharma built Startup Leadership Program from the shadows.

When he began in 2006, there were no templates available on building a global entrepreneurship program that would catalyze startups. Angel investing was still in its nascent stages while Venture Capital was perhaps in a slightly more evolved stage. Anupendra decided to start a non-profit organization in this backdrop. Given his Indian roots, being an entrepreneur is a privilege for him.

How the model came to be

When Anupendra began, it was initially to learn more about startups and entrepreneurs. He ran year-long mostly loosely defined sessions involving startups in life sciences. He then felt that this was an experiment that had to be shut down. To his surprise, participants of the program not just loved the program. They voted that it be expanded to include startups from other market segments and in other cities.

Anupendra’s inspiration was John Wood’s “Why I left Microsoft to Change The World”. He realized that a non-profit, volunteer-driven model was the way to go. His strength was in creating a curriculum that anyone could take and run sessions. This fit beautifully with the volunteer model. Along the way, he added aspects and elements that would make SLP an inclusive, self-governing, and empowerment-driven model.

What makes SLP Special?

SLP today is a global model that is run almost simultaneously across 28 cities in 14 countries. The program features classroom sessions, expert speakers, simulations involving negotiations of the term sheets with real VCs. Further, role-playing, pitching to investors, refining the product amongst others are key. The program builds up the entrepreneur to prepare them for the road ahead in their entrepreneurial journey. The underlying philosophy is that – if you prepare the entrepreneur, they will succeed in their vision or mission.

A unique aspect of the program is that Fellows, as they are called, can join the program in one city and travel to another city. In the other city, they can join a session along with the class of entrepreneurs or fellows from that city. This creates an amazing sense of inclusiveness and unparalleled access for entrepreneurs that is very unique to SLP.

This episode is all about how Anupendra built this with a frugal team of just 3 and yet created this massive impact.

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Word cloud for Episode 50 with Anupendra Sharma on Maharajas of Scale
Word Cloud For This Episode

Here are some excerpts from the episode:

In 2006, September, I started my first class with seven people in it. Those seven people were a combination of VCs, entrepreneurs. Called the leadership program, it included people working in research and academia

Anupendra Sharma 02:43

We’ve had one, two, maximum three full time employees sitting in Bombay, who engineered the backend. SLP has
always been frugal from the first day. It’s been something by the fellows for the fellows

Anupendra Sharma 16:49

Some of the things, of course, you stumble upon. And see if they’ll work or not, and they don’t work everywhere, either culturally, so it’s not guaranteed.

Anupendra Sharma 29:02

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​Episode Transcript

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slp, fellows, year, india, company, program, startup, entrepreneurs, create, people, started, boston, run, israel, government, privilege, talk, day, pandemic, part


Krishna Jonnakadla, Anupendra Sharma, Tania Jadhav

Krishna Jonnakadla  00:01

This is maharajahs of scale, a podcast where we go behind the scenes and talk to founders who are demolishing the myths around building and scaling a big business in India. These are the stories that have shattered the assumptions around Indian consumers and of changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of flip the fashion located in town and startup mentor, bringing you the stories. Hey, everyone, welcome to our 50th episode, the grand finale of season one of maharajahs of scale. I'm your host, Krishna Jonnakadla. Today, I have a special guest. He's He's a very different founder. He helped create, rather he founded an organization that I have been a part of, I've had the good fortune of having been a part of and having met a lot of entrepreneurs through that. He's a founder of startup Leadership Program. He is an opener Sharma upendra is today joining us from Boston. Where it's beautiful. I think we're knocking on summer right now our weather.

Anupendra Sharma  01:23

Yes, absolutely. Yeah, not only summer. It's what I call the whatever whether or not whether all the stars align in the wet weather is evidently

Krishna Jonnakadla  01:41

so and Boston is enjoying a little more spotlight than usual, because it's the hub of healthcare, and life sciences, startups. And if anything, we are in the midst of the second brutal COVID pandemic in India. And a lot of people have come to think that viruses no longer reside in computers, but they are actually live in the real world. And they affect humans as well. So welcome to the show.

Anupendra Sharma  02:06

Thank you. It's great to be here. And actually surprised to be here that I'm chosen for this 200 podcasts to be honest.

Krishna Jonnakadla  02:16

Well, you know what I usually ask our guests to talk about their venture. And today, we'll I know, you're part of a for profit startup right now. But what I really want to talk about or rather have you talk about is impact that you helped create with startup Leadership Program. Tell us what startup leadership program is all about. And go into a little more detail about the program, the width and all of that.

Anupendra Sharma  02:43

Okay, so a few things. So SLP, you know, so I suppose, or SLP was started in 2006. In my office, it was the same year I became a VC that actually, I worked at Siemens, Siemens venture capital. And similarly, scapple is all about at that time investing in later stage startups. So I, when I started off, in the job, I said, I'm really interested in knowing more about early stage companies. So I just started a group of I said, put a word out in the standard, what I call the leadership program, it was called at the time, in the first year, which is, in 2006, September, I said, my first class with seven people in it. And that's those seven people were a combination of VCs, entrepreneurs, and people working in research, actually, in academia, that is called the leadership program where I said, I'm going to bring in these people who are working on innovative things, and try to give them some examples of leadership. So we sat on a table for a year, actually, one year at the time, meeting every month, and bringing in some really incredible entrepreneurs, VCs and professors into our offices, and basically talk about innovation and startups. And that was in a really interesting year, because at the end of the year, I was pretty sure that people will say this was a kind of a disorganized program, because we really didn't have an agenda when we got started, except that we wanted to talk about and learn about entrepreneurship. But and leadership at the same time, but at the end of the year, they presented to me I said, your presentation and tell me what you want to do. And the presented to me and the presentation said they were all in life sciences. They said, don't expand this group. We had a great time. We've all become great friends. And we want to do this across all sectors. So and one of the guys on the team was was ex McKinsey. So it was a McKinsey presentation they gave me I maybe I have it somewhere I need to find it. And and then the second year we went across all sectors and it went from seven to 24. So that's sort of how it went from an MVP to a let's ship it locally only Boston program. Go back for a second to how It actually got started. When I became an entrepreneur, I was interested in doing something around entrepreneurship, early stage entrepreneurship. And back when I became a VC, and actually my father in law, poor and Dang, I, when I spoke to him, he's always been a big student of leadership. He's always been about talking to people about the how you should become leaders. And he's actually a friend to BITS Pilani, he went to IIT Kharagpur, he started the world's first IoT Alumni Association, I started the bits planning Alumni Association and total coincidence had nothing to do with anything. But he had a lot in common. So when we talked about this, talking about leadership, and I was talking about entrepreneurship, I said, Okay, that time was not easy to find entrepreneurs, he, you know, is not something that was as widespread as it is today. So the leadership program became a Genesis of teaching entrepreneurs and innovators about leadership. So those two conversations came together. And the third conversation I had with another local entrepreneur called the stage Pandey was also about on the same lines, because I took this idea to him and he said he was at the, at the time, the chairman of Ty, Boston. And he said, Yeah, a lot, not a lot of people will become entrepreneurs. But there'll be lots of people who will work in big companies and still need to be entrepreneurial leaders, or intrapreneurs. So he liked the idea. And he said, You started as a program within PTI. And that's how we got, we got started. So that was the sort of background to the conversations before those first seven people got together and launched SLP in its first year. And then after the first year that we should make it a six month program. So we did cut the program length in half, but we doubled the frequency of the meetups. So, so that was the history of the program.

Krishna Jonnakadla  06:46

How big has it become today?

Anupendra Sharma  06:48

What is grown now to almost 4000 fellows, it's in 28 cities and 14 countries, we have always been up in person, I think this is this pandemic forced us to go from in person 25 to 35 people classes, which people where people got together to going totally on zoom for this year. And then we went from our 28 series and for 28 series in 14 countries to just say, We don't care where you are. But you as long as you can travel within two hours, to whatever our chapter is, this year, we will go online and accepted into the program. So we went with that in mind, we sort of covered several countries here. And in all those countries, we didn't care about being in the city, we care about being in that country.

Krishna Jonnakadla  07:36

Interesting. And I know there are other numbers right for

Anupendra Sharma  07:41

for the last few years and has to do so you know, this number changes every day. So when we started this year, we were at two and a half million raise. Now we're three and a half billion raised 2000 startups that are in SLP. You know, every week, now we've come to the point where the second time entrepreneurs and SLP they're raising money the second time, you know, once you're a fellow, you're we say you're always a fellow and you we try to engage them as much as possible to come back and be part of the community. But I think most I think most importantly, the the money raised is very interesting metric. It's interesting, because it's, it's a way to explain to people the power of and value of the community we have, it's not really something we take credit for, for what we do. But we do believe that by taking really interesting, intelligent, raw talent and putting them into a systematic program, we're able to get them to create the frameworks in their minds to be able to tell scale or scalable companies. I think that's sort of important to us. And then we keep the part of the community and they come back, they stick around, they meet each other, they make close friendships, they co found companies together. So in one case, they want to get married to each other and have the first sob baby. So but the idea is to keep this community very tight. And unlike any other community in the world, men talk more about this, it's the way we run this is way different than than a typical accelerator. So it's not as easy to define us. And that's sort of some extent the metrics like 2000 startups, or 30,000 or 40,000 jobs created around the world. It's a number we just working on right now. We'll have a better handle it in the summer, but would be super helpful. But in India alone, it's our single biggest chapter, we have 11 170 fellows from India in SLP, there was $1.8 billion. So India alone has raised 1.8 of the 3.5 and Indians and actually the first and third most valuable companies that came out of SLP or SLP. fellows came out of SLP are actually in India. So which one is interesting, so shave chat and gray orange are both fellows who were an SLP in their early days. 2015 nine rearranges already started sharing It was around the same time that they were in the program.

Krishna Jonnakadla  10:04

A lot of other marquee names, right, so justeat, which eventually got bought out by food, Panda, Panda, I think no longer exists. And a few payment for linko in Bangalore is an alumnus as well. There are a bunch of other maybe

Anupendra Sharma  10:21

delis as well as a Alo patch pi is actually one of my favorite SLP fellows in the program, because he sort of embodies all the values and characteristics of an SLP fellow. He was in the program in his very, very early days. But he's always stayed connected to us, he stayed true to the program, he stayed true to the values of that we reflect in his own companies during the pandemic, they didn't get lay anybody off, you know, he made a, he made a statement that that's what they're going to do. They've always treated everybody with a set of fairness and transparency that we try to embody within the fellows recipe. So I'm very sure exigo will one day be one of our what will be the most valuable startup an SLP. But certainly, in terms of a person, he certainly embodies all the values what we think an SLP fellow is because to us, the SRP fellows our product, not the startup, it's an individual and that values that we have in the program, are what we hope to choose for, and then in continue inculcate in those fellows and certainly a loke is one of those who does that. I'm forgetting I'm a chairman's company, but he's raised 80 million also as an e commerce Mark company out of India, as well, but I'm thinking I'm blanking on his company name. But I don't know if you Krishna, you know, I'm a chairman.

Krishna Jonnakadla  11:42

I do like I remember looking at his company about a month ago. And I did, I did reach out to him to have a chat. I don't think we managed to connect yet. But it's interesting that some company that raised 80 million euro recall.

Anupendra Sharma  12:01

Yeah. Yeah, no, I remember I was when I was doing his first company, which ultimately didn't work out where he was trying to do t shirts, I think it was called uncapped. At the time, I remember at the time, because I've always wanted to start a T shirt company. Not just as a personal hobby, because I said, I always keep writing down interesting sayings. And you have a good one on your wall, back there. But but so I keep writing them down. I say one day, I'll start a company. So I always remember I met for his short company, not his ecommerce company, which is obviously far more successful, that short company, but he was also in the program at the time. So after you joined SLT, so it might so seems it was longer back in the day, and talk about how

Krishna Jonnakadla  12:51

I like to finish.

Anupendra Sharma  12:52

Yeah, and I think I think that's the beauty of SLP is, you know, I am not really interested in doing a gateway or sort of staying in touch with every fellow in the program unless they want to stay in touch with me. But it's really important for me that they stay in touch in some ways that somebody else in the community. So similar, most important thing for me, and I used to have the same I said, you come for the education, but you stay for the network. You know, back in the day when we had nothing I mean, we were so we're so or the only thing that precedes us is Y Combinator. by six months, they also started in Boston, in 2005, December, and then we started that year TechStars came much later came actually came after us in Boulder. And we're the only ones I mean, maybe it's a good decision or a bad decision. But we're the only ones who started off as a not for profit organization. So we are even today we the world's oldest world, I'd say first and oldest multi country accelerator, if that's a way to define us. But I think the point I was going to make was, I'm not when I don't know what the story is of SLP fellows, and I hear that from others, like even from you, you are much more repository and historian of the knowledge of the folks in SLP than I am. It's important for me that they are connected to others. Because when I want you to think about your time at SLP, and your continued Association SLP doesn't mean you came and spoke in the program. You're mentoring fellows, you're investing in startups, it can also mean that you have three friendships that are going along with you on that journey. And those three friends or somebody you picked up an SLP. And that sort of super important. In fact, in the pandemic, what I was most worried about is how do we try to create the bonds and friendships people have an SLP on zoom, and that continues to be something that is a something I'm trying to, you know, figure out an algorithm for and hack for, but it's certainly something that is so so embedded in our DNA, that without that we would not have grown in scale the way we have on literally a shoestring.

Krishna Jonnakadla  15:00

I think it's a good segue into the scale story, I want to get to the scale story. And I think you also done it in a very sort of, I want the words to come out of your mouth in a limited manner, because you haven't been yours, you're someone who stayed somewhat in the background. You are at the forefront of it, you are not the face of the program. You You do not go around saying that, yes, you know, I'm, I'm an expert on this. I'm an expert on that. But yet, you have somehow managed to engineer this to become what it is. And the beauty of it is, from what I know, you spoke about the online format of it. But when it was actually happening in person, the beauty of it is a fellow that joins in Hyderabad can travel to the valley, or Paris and can participate in that class. Yes, in that in that particular place. And that's, that's incredibly powerful. I don't know how many people actually look at it that way. But I personally look at it in a very different way. Because you being able to walk into those places, and sort of get that immediate recognition, or me, or maybe having a chance at establishing your camera tree with some of these people is actually powerful. So there's access, which is the by design. So you began with a small class, and then eventually, when we did talk about those initial days, and when this global scale happened, and what did you see? Was it an outgrowth of what was happening in the startup world? Or how much of it was engineered? And if you could talk about that?

Anupendra Sharma  16:49

Sure. So um, okay, that's interesting. So I started SLP, in Boston in 2006, you know, and we continue to run SLP in Boston, for three years. So 2006 2007 2008, we were here. And actually 2009, I felt that we'd figured out what we needed to do. And I wanted to take it outside of Boston. So my first step was the valley. And actually, the person the way SLP has grown, it hasn't grown through by sending somebody to the valley from the sob office, because we literally have most of our life. We've had one, two, maximum three full time employees sitting in Bombay, who engineered the backend. SLP has always been from right from the first day. It's been something where I'd seen it's by the fellows for the fellows. So I'll talk about one of there are a few different things in SLP that were important in terms of how I thought about this, the most important of all, these was a fun, I read a book by his name will come in a minute, but his his book was about why I left Microsoft to change the world. And it's about somebody who went to from India to Nepal, when from when a trip to Nepal, and he ended up going to a school, which he stumbled upon a school in a village and it was a school that had no books. So he was impacted had one book, I think, was 100 Daniels steel book that was locked up in a cupboard. And, and he, he left, he came there, and he was so blown away. And he said, How could a school exists with no books. So he said he's going to come back a year later. And he's going to try to bring books for the school. So he not only that, that he came back a year later and was like some sort of a broken down school. He came back next year. And his name is john ward. He came back a year later, with materials to rebuild the school. So and the way he did it was he bought the materials. And he said, Here are the materials, you build the school. So the village actually put the school together. And then he put a whole bunch of books in the school. And what he saw was most powerful was there was demo schools that existed in this region for a while but what he realized were these schools that existed, they being used for storing grain obese and the kids there was government run. But this school was functioning beautifully. The reason it functioned beautifully is because it was the villages felt a sense of ownership of the school. So from the day one of SLP in Boston, actually. So this book is the backbone when actually started SLP I said, I'm going to do it where the fellows in the program will be in charge of every class. So every class that we had in the literally the first year after the first class was designed by the fellows Evelyn's per charge, they brought a speaker and they set the agenda and they talked with a topic that was interesting to them or classmates. And this was super powerful, because when you walk out of SAP out of the first year, my ask is okay, who in this program wants to run this over the next year, whatever you're doing, and always electrical volunteer to run the program. And I think this sort of level of feeling that you are now runners of the s&p program is what allows us to then take it outside Boston, find people who had the same values that we did, and then replicated everywhere. So I think you mentioned a point when we stay in the background, the most important thing and sort of, or something that I feel I'm really good at is I can put together curriculums or instructions, write them down, sort of play around in my head on exactly how something will go if it was written down handed to people, or even when they come up with an idea, try to figure out how to put it into steps which can be executed without anybody without much training, or people being there and being able to run a class or a program. And that's sort of something which allowed me to scale SLP. So, in particular, I'm sorry, it's a long answer. When we went to the valley, we had somebody who was in Boston, she was actually my chief operating officer with my Sharma, just to confirm that we share the same last name, but she was my first CEO. And I said, Okay, we want to go go out, because they were we are now by this time, we were trying to get a little bit more organized. And I'm thinking, she found somebody who was actually in San Diego, Rebecca, her name is Rebecca Boudreau. And Rebecca was in San Diego met me in Boston, love what I was doing. And she said she would start the first SLP chapter outside Boston, in San Francisco, not in San Diego, but in San Francisco. So every two weeks, she flew to San Francisco for that first year, to start the chapter there because I knew I knew folks in the valleys as it is the right place to go to 2009 was a first class run by somebody who flew from San Francisco to run it. So that's, and that's how we got started. And then similarly, an interesting thing happened and is around the same time somebody had come. Somebody had come to Boston. Somebody had come to Boston, who was I started, the program is being invested in China. So we started SSB in Beijing, and somebody had joined SLP Beijing out of Tokyo. So he would fly to Tokyo to attend classes. And he was co founder of a company with a Russian guy who was actually looking for they were looking for money for a very specific type of startup, we Boston has a big presence here in in renewable investing. So we bought a lot of top renewable investors here. So he flew to Boston, to meet some renewable investors, who told him that the best place for him in the world to go find money for what he was doing was the UK. So he plugged into SRP, UK, and then he ended up moving to Scotland. So there is the sort of constant feeling of that if you want, you can connect with anybody around the world, and you can move from place to place and get connected. So there many stories like this, where people have taken trains, planes, and automobiles, to travel for classes, or to meet investors because they met somebody else in some city, and they were able to do so. So that's true, it's absolutely a one global program. If you get chosen at SLP, in Mumbai, there is no reason why you should not be retained any class or program in San Francisco, if you're part of the programs. It's one global program that starts and runs about the same time. So that's a sort of long winded answer, but it's super and that sense of one world, one brand, one field for the program. And wherever you go, you should get the same feeling that you are meeting the same sorts of people the same level of trust, the same level of empathy towards what you're doing, and the same ability to help each other as, as you would in your own city. And that sort of has always been true to sob.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:05

Incredible, I want to touch upon three things that you said, you sort of made a passing mention of them as if because that's so natural to you. One aspect was your own strength in writing of the curriculum, and then perhaps instructions on how to run these classes. And maybe, and you equated that with you being in the background. So let somebody else run it. So that's one part of it. startups, most ventures are literally anything you are literally flying blind no matter what they're trying to tell you. Right? Because they're discovering new stuff all the time. But But the point is for the people that are there, can you bring a degree of predictability because not everybody is comfortable with chaos, and not knowing where they're going. So it's a great ability to have to say I'll structure it I'll give you a plan of action. And I'll tell you what I let you run it. And so you've done two things. One is establish the framework established all the curriculum. And you actually empowered that. Either by design or by accident, you stumbled upon, perhaps two things. One is the most one of the most difficult aspects to create in any venture, not just a startup, even in a large organization, is that sense of ownership? Yeah, in, in the very Rebecca's example, where you talked about Rebecca flying to San Francisco to conduct, I mean, she wouldn't be doing that if she didn't feel like it was her class was right. Yeah. So and in some sense, looks like you've created that sense of ownership. And the second thing is with the curriculum, and the third part, and here, I want to bring in a book I'm reading right now. It's called why nations fail. It's an incredible book. In fact, in my life, I read a lot of books. But I've always been searching for this, this particular answer to this question saying, Why do some nations succeed? Why have some societies succeeded? Why have some societies not? And what is it that we need to do? So you what what is maybe just repeat? Can you repeat the question that she's missing? So I'll come to my question, what I was saying was, I think, you stumbled upon three key aspects that are essential to the success of most organizations and I, and I'm including society, startups, families in that bucket called organization. One is the ability to create a framework and a set of things that helps them implement or execute on something, which is, which is where you talked about as being your strength. The second one is to create a sense of empowerment, because Rebecca's example, is that sense of empowerment. Yeah. So where she traveled to San Francisco, one of the biggest problems in any organization, any any organization, why would you give somebody stock options, because you want them to own? You want them to feel that sense of ownership, right? Yes. Why do you give them give them a certain title you want again, you want to give them that? You want them to have that sense of ownership? Yo, you have people constantly, leaders are called leaders, slash managers are constantly saying, Don't you see what I see? So you want them to have that? So you magically which is why I was saying, I think you've stumbled upon, perhaps one, the framework, second one, the empowerment, and somewhere along the way, this aspect of inclusive growth. Just a couple of minutes ago, you spoke about how any fellow that shows up anywhere else in the globe, should be able to should be welcome, and should be able to network and should be able to feel that it is actually his group. That's inclusiveness. And so a book I'm reading right now, which in my life, I've been, I've read tomes and tomes about geopolitics, economics, the Washington model, the East Asian model, by China rose by Thailand went bankrupt. What did Mahathir mama do? What job role George Soros place? I've, I've read lots of books on them. But yet nobody has convincingly answered. Why the Incas or the Mayans and the Aztecs, in spite of great empires went bankrupt. Why did the Mughals actually TK? Why was the why was the western civilization able to create so much innovation? So there are three or four key aspects in that book, one aspect is creative disruption, which there is a whole book about it. But more importantly, I think, this aspect of inclusive institutions, and I think you've stumbled upon them somehow. Maybe if you go back in your thoughts, maybe it's by design. I think that's why

Anupendra Sharma  29:02

this was by design, for sure. That's it was it started off with, with this idea that I which I believe there's another organization, I started before this, which led me to really see the power of inclusiveness and design, which was an idea that I came from john Woods book, but I was clearly implemented in a way that it resonated best with me. So that part was definitely by design. Some of the things of course, you stumble upon and see if they'll work or not, and they don't work everywhere, either culturally, so it's not a forward.

Krishna Jonnakadla  29:34

I maybe I actually have to say perhaps disagree on that. I've seen them the sense of ownership part, the empowerment part, giving people up giving people a playbook, but still giving them room to actually improvise on it. I mean, take SLP for example. You have 262 modules in the 62 modules. You let the fellows decide, hey, for this year, what are important to you, you guys come together. And choose what's the curriculum, now you've given them. But you've not made the boundaries too tight, you've given them a face, the last thing you want to do is let them all lose. And all of them are just they're not going anywhere. Right? So that's so that you've done. The second one is by having people who've gone through the program, have a sense of involvement has created. So anyway, I'm able to enunciate all this because I've been a part of the program. Have you used it? Quite so? Yeah. So but I'm fascinated, but what by what you've done, I want to touch upon the nonprofit angle a little bit. And please don't mind me, I'm a little opinionated on this, I consider it an Indian disease. So so for example, right now, in the Indian media, there is a lot of talk about, I won't take names, but large business houses, paying salaries for individuals who lost their lives due to COVID. Till that individual attained 50 years, or 60 years. As commendable as it is, I think the wrong thing to say would be that this is somehow wrong. But when we come in service, that is money, it costs money. And we very rarely ask how are they paying for it? The number one reason in India is there is this whole notion and halo around service, but very rarely a halo around making that systematic, which means if a large business group is let's say supporting 1000 people, or let's say 1000 people, because they're a large business group. Yeah. So

Anupendra Sharma  31:45

there's other pieces here. Let's just take them one by one. So let's talk about one second. Let's go back. So the three four things here, before referring, you know, I'm, I'm much older than you. So I'll forget all your setups.

Krishna Jonnakadla  32:02

I want to I want you to very well remember them. And it's not. It's not an opinion I

Anupendra Sharma  32:07

agree with so I'll tell you the thing. So super important. empowerment is super important. Right? So I realized, so the way you were actually right, we set it up to say. So slps curriculum is not typical curriculum. Most accelerators will take you from startup, not whatever, it's post ideation. So they have an idea, they have a building product. And they'll take you through a three month program, which will end at a fundraise. So your goal in the program is to raise the money. My goal isn't that so SLP is curriculum by design takes you through the entire lifecycle of a startup, irrespective of the stage you're at. Because I say for a brief period of six months, you're captive to us, we want to make sure you understand things that you will not learn about, unless we tell you now, and we're not gonna do an entire class on how to sell your company, a whole program and how to sell your company. But we throughout the program, we will sow seeds of things you need, so that when you go out into the world and continue to have these conversations, now you've heard about these things, you will start to grow, the seeds will start to grow into trees, just because you're smart enough to start to absorb things, but we will at least give you the frameworks you know how to think about this. Secondly, the curriculum is specifically for being a CEO. It's not about you, being a CTO and the company. So everything we do in the program is geared towards saying if you're the CEO of a company, whether you are or not one of the things you should know as a CEO, so it doesn't mean that you have to come in and for example, you have to learn how to create a balance sheet or how to read build a cash flow statement, you as a CEO need to know what what are the questions to ask of the expert you have, so that you as a CEO are well informed to do your job. So this is very specific to SLP. The third thing in SLP is we prefer to have people who are mostly makers, because I went to I went to bits finance and Engineering Institute. My dream was at Pilani was which is a stated goal of mine was that it should be the first program in the country. That I said every engineer should be taught business plans. Every engineer will wake up one day and Sam had my job and had one for somebody I should know how to start a company. And we should provide that as a mandatory learning for every everybody because it's a tool that empowers you. So at s&p when you come in, we only preferred makers because we said me as a grade and I have the engineering degree and the MBA MBA you learn all this stuff. In fact, an engineer with an MBA said, when you go to a top tier MBA school, it's like having an Amex poster to your forehead because you know you can Have the communities to raise money from knew how to do it. So the idea of a nursery was, again, bringing the makers, those innovators, early innovators, teach them about leadership, but teach them things that they would not normally learn in their job. So if somebody were to sell an absolutely what to say, we would love to partner with SNP, my response to them is, please send us all your CTOs. Because eventually the CTOs will want to be CEOs. And I want to teach them something because you can't teach him how to or her. You cannot teach somebody who's not studied engineering, how to create chips, right, or how to make molecules. But you can teach people to make molecules and chips and work on Archer intelligence machine learning models, you can teach them what we teach, that's a whole lot easier. So the makers can become people who create companies and know how to run them, then I feel the world will move a little bit faster. So this is the heart was is what also resonates with people because everything we do says irrespective what job it is, our curriculum is designed for you to learn how to be a leader, because we recognize you are a leader, you just may not have the skills yet. So that's one piece of that underlying curriculum and everything we do that when we look at things and when people speak as companies, they talk to these people in a way that you want to teach them, even if they're not to be CEOs of the companies not they may be founders, entrepreneurs, innovators, but we want them to do to talk to them, like their CEOs. So that's one thing by design in a program that resonates with people, because ultimately everyone wants to be in charge, they want to lead beyond in control of their lives. And I think that's a bit of a meaningful piece of curriculum, which is very different than a typical accelerated curriculum. So that's one thing. The second thing about empowerment. I've seen this, it's I saw this from from the dock. But certainly in SSP, people are super invested in being part of our community because of what you said we saw, okay, there's some things you need to do. SMP has a lot of grooming and simulation, right? You've seen that term sheet competitions. This is very interesting ways of teaching things. But we also say up to there three or four classes to you tell us what you want us to teach you. And that creates a sense of, okay, we will dry what we need, we will bring in the people we need. And we will tell the fellows, here's the curriculum. And but if you have a better idea to do this, you you run it, and I and most of our innovations in SLP, have come from fellows coming up with ideas on what the class should look like and create a framework and then replicated around the world. So that's certainly very empowering for people, they feel like they're shaping in some ways, the lives of 1000s of SLP fellows, because they came up with an idea for a class that they can now immediately come up with, they can write about it, they can structure it. And next thing you know, next year, is going to 500 people around the world. And that's super empowering. So that's the curriculum side and the sort of empowerment side, I do want to make one point you disagree with, I do feel that this empowerment is not so straightforward. So we tried this in China, in SLP, it's very typical to say every class is co lepsy classes run by a CEO. China's not so straightforward. So we were not able to do as good a job as empowering people in China, to say your class CEO, you will now have this open work to bring who you want and what you want. There. We're not used to that. So in the this concept of volunteering also is a very, is in some ways a Western concept. It's an Indian and a Western concept. But to say you volunteer to do this, and you don't get paid for some of this was a challenge in some, some cases where they said what I have to do all this work for somebody else for nothing. And as gay you can't get paid for this. And this was actually an alien concept for some people, culturally. So it's not the same around the world, because it's what people are used to. In some regions, people are used to being told, like when you grow up in China, just like India, it's a very teacher to student relationship. You tell me what I need to know, I will sit down and copy it. The difference between India and China is we're very open knit a bunch of people who, once we get out of this out of school, we try to we figure out our lives ourselves, China, the system is still very top down. They've done a fantastic job as entrepreneurs, and they were amazing system. But it's a different system than than the Indian system. So it doesn't really work in the same way everywhere. China, the government has been a massive crater of wealth for the people by creating the systems that are needed for people to reach certain amounts of scale that they allowed them to do within that those frameworks and they did a beautiful job of it. That is not so easy to work in India, we've had to sort of figure out things in parallel to the government, not within the framework of the government. Or sometimes as as you know, one of the somebody said that, you know, Are beefing up the system works because India works and the government sleeps, you know, this is back in the day. But

Krishna Jonnakadla  40:10

you know, it's largely true, right? But But what what I was disagreeing was actually not on any of the empowerment stuff. In fact, like I'm, I think what you did was elaborate on the labels that I put because one was framework. The other one was empowerment and the inclusiveness and the Chinese angle, about not being paid for volunteering, because it was alien in their culture. I think that was fascinating. I'll come to cultures in a bit, because you've seen so many countries, what I was actually trying to say was, I was touching on the nonprofit, the decision to be a nonprofit. And I was thinking this somehow had this notion with this grand Indian concept called service. And we've been if we go back in Indian economic history, we'll all see that when India was thriving, it was not thriving because of this. No. Okay, so I got your point. So let me talk about that. If I complete if I will complete all I was also what I was trying to contrast was what's going on right now,

Anupendra Sharma  41:14

sustainability mentioned that. So just repeat that part. You talked about making things sustainable in earlier before for the recording cut off?

Krishna Jonnakadla  41:21

Yeah. So what I was saying was, today, if you we are in the midst of the COVID pandemic, and a lot of young people are losing their lives in this way. And we are seeing a lot of headlines where certain business houses very large business houses have promised that they will pay these people until they attain 50, or whatever odd reason, yes. That's what everybody commends them. But the same set of people, if it happens to be 1000 people, and those 1000 people are being paid. Let's say nobody's asking the question, Where is that money coming from? Right. So somehow, we have become a fanciful nation, of nonprofit and social service. And you know, it last count, there is an NGO in India for every seven people. I don't know if I remember my statistics. Well, there is an NGO in India, for every seven people yet, our human indicators suck. Our human development indicators suck. And we are neither creating wealth. And nobody's asking, okay, this is business houses saying I'll pay 1000 people, whatever the number, how are they paying it? Because that means we are creating a lopsided set of incentives. Nobody's actually saying that that act is wrong. So I'm wondering,

Anupendra Sharma  42:49

let's talk let's tackle that, let's go specifically to this, let's talk about the big business house that is that this set will pay off people who died their livelihoods. So he wanted to break typically in the us that when you work at a company that they will do two things for you, you will have a signup, or often even free, sign up for life insurance while you're employed by the company. Okay, that's one second thing is they will also have disability insurance you which you don't need and you don't always have to opt in to these things because it doesn't cost you anything to have these it is just an employee benefit, okay? Tatas may not have this benefit. On the other hand, Tatas have done a fantastic job in realizing in India where people are not trained to be able to give everybody an opportunity to holistically grow in an in a society where the stakeholders include the employees. So I really commend them because I do believe that in any company, it is super important to be able to create a society that benefits especially large corporation with a corporation is almost like a like a country in some cases not as is like a country that they equally left everybody and taught us I've done a just truth. That doesn't tell us also, well, so much more low key in this respect. But they have done a fantastic job both these groups who have to try to bring up entire societies of people. So when Tata said that we will pay you the COVID benefit. If you were an American company, they would you asked about how are they getting paid? In the US? You won't have to ask this question, because their life insurance and that benefits all that the cost would have been part of the CTC that they would have gotten anyways. You will not have to tell it, explain it. But I do believe that in India, I think every company, every company of certain size, if it can, should add this benefit to its employees. I don't know what it costs. Personally, I'm going to try this if we have SLP employees. I'm going to now after this call, make sure I go figure out what is the life insurance policy or disability policy. If we can pay for it. We should pay for it. Because in some cases, people don't think about these things, especially when they're young. They don't sign up a thing. You think you live forever, and bad things do happen when they happen. It was kind of unfortunate in those situations that for that person's family, and it's really remarkable if people would come together. In fact, a classmate of mine had died recently from Killarney. And he worked for he worked for an automotive company in India. And I could see how the employees and the company because of their culture came together to help the family in the time of need, just because of these values are put in to save you're part of a community. And I think that's super important. I don't think that in some ways, the sort of top down view of focusing on the APS and and trying to maximize profitability, which drives the very large payouts for a small number of people in companies is absolutely the wrong way. Because if I can't make ends meet at Walmart, but my owners of my company are worth $100 billion, it doesn't feel like you're part of the same company, it feels like you're part of two different worlds and organizations. And I do believe that this is super important. So when they did this, it's possible that they're all pivots that's already paid for, because they have an insurance policy that allows for contingencies like this, or they have deep pockets and they do it. But it's not a big cost to do this from an insurance standpoint.

Krishna Jonnakadla  46:23

No, I think actually is not. Okay, I've, I'm not focused on the act at all, like I said, something like, what I'm actually what I have trouble with, is this notion somewhere in the larger part of society, that I will actually keep focusing on benefits. And then I will keep focusing on REITs, without ever, ever asking the other questions, to be honest with you.

Anupendra Sharma  46:55

There's an engine for salespeople in our life indicators suck. I think India is a truly inverse respect, like the world's laboratory for social experimentation, you know, all for experimentation of how to bring up communities. Now, of course, I agree with you, in this regard, that our life indicators aren't very ungrate. But on the other hand, I feel it would be much worse if it weren't for 1000s, of NGOs, doing some good work on the front, some organizations are, of course, not so great, I don't think you can have all those organizations, every single one of those organizations is valuable. But I will say this, that I have seen the Chinese model, in this regard, I do believe that the best way to pull people out of poverty in India would have been if government were to do work to be able to create structure as at school, even in a country like India, if they just want to do nothing but to give us, you know, 100 megabits per second of bandwidth and do nothing else, you know, Indians are smart enough to figure this out for themselves. So, if the government just had some things that were heavily subsidized, then we would I agree, build sustainable organizations and be able to do things for ourselves. And he would not have this sort of focus on what's my benefit? And how can what can you do for me,

Krishna Jonnakadla  48:11

that is not likely to happen. Because we have, we are going back to the book that I spoke about why nations fail, what what India today has is an extractive style of government. And not an inclusive style of government. Where, and and that so that indicated, that notion of somebody paying for all of this is a larger indicator, there is a romance with Gao, the notion called comment that's been going on for since independence, whereas all we need all most people need is just an environment, you need basic things to be available, and then somebody to get out of my way to determine my own destiny. Which which doesn't happen, because at if we take the SLP example itself, if you were present at every point in time saying that no, no, no, I am going to decide what's going to happen here. I'm going to decide where you get going to get funding, which is what happens today. But if you have an answer, right in the way you configured SLP, with the framework and the empowerment and the inclusiveness, which is why it but why I gave you that background was we all are bitten by the socialism. And this nonprofit Park, if Why did you choose to go the nonprofit way with SLP is number one. And I've heard you yourself talk about in another forum, where you spoke about Paul Graham and Y Combinator. Both of you starting off almost at the same time. But I think it's too early to tell in terms of the outsized impact that both the organization's have created. Why C is way more well known. The quantifiable aspect of that wealth creation that they've done is, you know, much, much more but still looking back to questions. Why did you go the nonprofit way? And if you had gone the for profit, where would the trajectory have been very different?

Anupendra Sharma  50:09

Sure. Okay. So two things. Absolutely. So first yc, you know, we, when we started when Paul Graham started this, and when I started this, there was nothing right there was universities had their own classes, they were largely for business school students. And there was not much on YouTube either. So we serve. And then David at TechStars, came up with the idea a little bit later. But around the same time, you know, So Josh, Josh, Wagner is a famous founder of a company called vertex, which went public and create an incredible drug for rare disease. And he said that innovations will happen simultaneously. In other places, you'll never be alone in your thinking. So SFP is an example of we came up with this idea at the same time that Paul Graham and you know, around the timeframe that we went to the TechStars. The route which was very different, because as I am from India, so maybe my first thought is service, but the idea of an SLP was, and still remains true today was I said, entrepreneurship is the privilege of the middle classes. In this privilege of entrepreneurship, and the way we were, we are always, we talk about our struggles and our challenges and our inability to meet ends meet at the end of the day, and we chose him dreams. And we talk about that, you know, when you're not getting assistance and chasing these dreams, I feel we lose perspective. And the perspective we lose there is that the fact that we have the chance to chase our own dreams is a privilege in itself. And most people on the planet do not have this privilege. So in starting SLP, very early, very early on, in fact, the first year first class, we had a social outing social impact outing, because I wanted people to never forget that all this stuff that we are doing is because we were privileged because our parents mo for most part nslp, at least had a social economic situation, they may not have been rich, but their socioeconomic situation allowed them to give all of the folks in SLP a damn good education, which allowed them to have choices. And I always wanted to remind people that they are still at that when I started SLP, it was 11 million, it's now 5 million. But I said 11 million children, now 5 million kids are gonna die of preventable causes, simply because they don't have this opportunity. And I do want people to have this pledge, which is true today to at the end of the last class to say I will use in my lifetime, whether I fail or succeed, I will use my knowledge, which everybody has wealth, which some people will create or resources which has access to their own networks, to make the world a better place for those who cannot do it for themselves. And that's sort of fundamentally just how I'm wired. It's not a not for profit thing is like, I have incredible privilege, you know, and if I don't make don't can't make ends meet, and I'm a Bachelor's in engineering, it's my choice. It's a very rarely my circumstance that does that. Maybe briefly, like my circumstance, for the most part and be my choice. When I start a company and it fails. It was my choice to work on that idea. I was wired that way. And maybe I couldn't help it, I had to scratch the itch. But I had this choice. And on the other hand, I put my in, put money into Kiva. Kiva is amazing not for profit organization, or the us start by an Indian, which gives money to vegetable sellers so they can get credit so they can buy vegetables. So I read Muhammad Yunus, his book banker to the poor back in the day. And it was incredible, because he said that as a one, right, where people should have his credit, credited to their birth, right. And everybody in SLP, almost has credit as a birthright. When they get a Bachelor's in engineering degree or a Bachelors of Science from a good institution, and they have some small money coming in, they go to the bank, they're able to draw on some level of savings, which the poor can't. And even in the US today, 40% of Americans 40% and one of the world's most wealthy nations cannot find $500 in a situation where they needed from any of themselves or their friends and resources. Whereas we have networks where we could probably get a million dollars in a crisis. If we, from you know, we please know people who have access to a million dollars if needed, they may not give it to us, but we can find people. These are people who don't have access to people who could give them $500 for a speeding ticket that they got Which is, which means they have to go to court after court after court and late to bankruptcy or fix a car so they can go to work so the kids can be fed. These are things that will always be important. And I Oh, just don't believe I don't consider it to be disease, I consider it. And that's the beautiful thing. When we go and pictures, choose to have recipe, we do look at these things, it is super important for us now that you're empathetic to how privileged you are, versus thinking that you should get paid for something which is just nothing you learned your parents, you born into the house, mostly of your parents, you're born with a brain which wasn't created, given, you didn't do anything with it. Thank you work hard for it. But there were so many accidents that happened that make you so much more privileged, that other people don't have that for me. If we don't do anything this previous lifetime, it's a total waste, you know, what are you going to do at the end? You know, you never spent the money, we aren't in our lifetimes. Neither did our parents, neither will we knew there were no children. So we'll just continue to grow wealth and problem, nothing for society. So I feel being born in India, or to have grown up in the Indian system where you've seen all the poverty, you've you understand premise a lot better than most people do. Even in the US, which you don't see that abject poverty on a daily basis is very isolated. And you we live in our own suburbs, we don't really see this day to day, I feel that we have the the we're a rarefied group of people in India, who have had the ability to see both sides coexist with it, and have an opportunity to do something about it. So I look at it a little bit differently than you

Krishna Jonnakadla  56:31

know, I, on that account, I completely agree with you before we hit the record button, like I was telling you, the only way we can get out of the morass that we are in is through entrepreneurship. The government can't and will never be able to. Yes, we are a different model than China. So I think let's put that disclaimer out there. We are a highly independent set of people, Indians are independent. We all every person, you talk to about what's wrong with the country and which secretly will tell you we need a dictator, we need a dictator. And the funny thing is, none of us really like them. a dictator we can't live with one. We've never worked well with a pp. If anything that has come with history, for us, it has been this independent thought and that degree. As Amartya Sen put it, so I am with you. No, no, no, I think I take entrepreneurship even more a step further. I consider it not just as much more than a privilege, I consider it as a responsibility, I think as a responsibility to actually change the society positively that we live in. In fact, four years ago, after I graduated after the SLP class, I put together a small fund. And I've been constantly hunting for startups that are changing the game of politics, we don't have any innovation in politics, the only innovation is happening in how campaigns are run. And all that is happening is such a, it's such a tight thing that is run with money. There are a few startups that have started my and my But nobody has, has yet changed the paradigm in terms of how politics is run in the country. You have all these apps, which is which is where you can have anonymous messages, all of that can be changed through technology. So today is not much of innovation is happening. So I fundamentally, I think you and I are in alignment, in terms of how we see on entrepreneurship, I consider it is more than just a privilege, I consider it as a responsibility, I think a few 1000 Indians should take it upon themselves and say, I will do this, I will say it is up to us to change it. Now, when you start pushing the boundaries, then regulation will change that government will change. Somebody is going to turn around and say, Okay, I looks like we cannot fool all of these people all of the time. And we have to change we have to change the regulation. I don't know if it will happen in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and maybe some stroke of luck will help us get that what I was trying to say actually was there is a notion of nonprofit a couple of years ago, you if you consider entrepreneurs privilege, consider all the guys that went to it. Right. So amongst the Indian Air Force, those that went to it are considered the most privileged because they went to the perhaps the most lobby to that. So I didn't I didn't go to and I'm a chartered accountant, so and I so these so they are privileged yet three years ago, when the post D monetization recession happened. And I've talked about talked about this on my show before when the likes of Flipkart and a few other companies rescinded their



Krishna Jonnakadla  59:58

Parents And it students said the government should intervene and force these companies to actually stand by their offer letters. So somewhere, there is a notion of a guarantee, you went to it, you were given virtually a subsidized license to actually change the world. That's exactly what's given. And all of a sudden, you are going and telling the government, a government, that you should get involved and actually enforce this private institution who possibly is facing some financial issues. So whether true or false, that's a separate matter altogether, and engage in a degree of high handedness to force them to support this. So I see that, that service mentality giving rise to these things. So there's a sense of entitlement, what I feel wrong about is that sense of entitlement, which is runs inherent saying that, okay, it is one thing for me to be entitled, but a totally different thing to say. So, for example, if the data is the reliance have put together a program, I think what we should be clamoring for is the response you came up, right? saying, hey, let's put a structure together, let's maybe put the Disability Insurance together, or the life insurance program together and saying, can we create this, it's the framework that we should be creating, not a set of individuals who will come together and say, I will support them, then what it means is they absorb all the resources, and they create a lopsided situation where they are the ones that in power. So I that's the, it's a, it's a very deeper argument. In fact, if you read about that, inclusive versus extractive institution, you'll understand that, let's switch gears now. I want to talk about the cultural aspect you've noticed, between. So what has been some cultural nuances that you've noticed, you briefly talked about the China angle, with SLV being present in so many of these countries? Talk about or talk to us about some interesting facets of some of these cultures?

Anupendra Sharma  1:02:07

So I would say a few things. One is left I found that UK in the us a very similar UK, US India found it very similar in terms of this concept of volunteering, leading things. And, and sort of giving back. The mindset is very similar. It's very hard to tell the difference between these three and certainly, Indians, for the most part, have been very Western educated, the fourth country that sort of fits this module would be Australia. I think Australia, we've been less successful. I'd say in terms of building scale in Australia, maybe it's a small gun, I'd haven't really understood it. We had wonderful people running the program there. And Atlassian is a really well known major company that schemer Australia not an SLP No, no. But so so there's definitely a lot that probably happened there in terms of entrepreneurship. But I've never I felt we always struggled in two ways to in Australia to get people connected with the rest of the world. For we, I think UK, Australia have some pretty, pretty tight connections. And the Australian certainly tried, the entire one is closed, they have some interesting things that s&p Australia did with with Taiwan and doing stuff with Singapore. But I always felt that no, I wish we could have blown that program out a lot more. So that's the one country where I'm not sure seems very similar on the face of it, but but we have not seen the sort of being able to drive massive growth in Australia, like I hoped would have happened. The other interesting thing is actually, if you go to the France has been wonderful. They've just France, Taiwan, Taiwan, of course, is a different language. But those two countries have run beautiful programs very well run by sob fellows.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:04:20

What do you see culturally different in culturally,

Anupendra Sharma  1:04:23

the difference in France, for sure, has been that I think a lot that happens in France involves the government, unlike other these other countries. So there's government subsidies, there's government programs. So when you talk about entrepreneurship in France, there is a big aspect of government gets involved in the in their thinking, and the things they do even the people who join SLP in France, they get refunded from the government for being part of the program. So it's just the mindset is very different. A lot of accelerators were set up in the cities and I visited Paris and I saw a couple of them what government To set up so it was less, it was less of a private sector initiative as it was. And it's also not been typical there. Because of this government mindset. I feel, it's also not been typical that private sector would write checks and do large sponsorships, you know, it's not, it's much more than you get wined and dined and invited to our final event with 40 investors would come up as happened in a fantastic old, beautiful building of the Bank of France and Europe, a very fancy events, but it's all sort of big government institutions, versus what has happened in other countries, small accelerators, privately run, things that that are sort of just organically growing like in India, 91 springboard, you know, and these whole bunch of accesses, portals or private sector initiatives. So that's a difference in France. So when we think France, we got to think about what we are doing, does it fit with the government does it fit with a large government model, which is not how you think about in these other countries. The other interesting thing is actually just culturally, from a city standpoint. So we found that some cities are just naturally more entrepreneurial in their thinking than others, people naturally meet up the nationally ready to go connect with other folks, even in the US, there is a big difference of each city to the other. So there's some cities where SLP has thrived. And there are other cities where it hasn't thrived as much, because people are not as naturally willing to network and connect with strangers as they are, which is kind of interesting at France. Also, when we, Frances interesting, we have our WhatsApp groups in France. And, and they say the sob recipe, the idea is you shut the doors, and you can talk to anybody you want about anything you want. And it's a safe environment, you can say what you want, you're not being judged, because we are not giving you money. So we're not an accident in that sense that we are giving you cash. And if you tell us things are going bad, and our investments will go down, we don't care. We're invested in each other's success. But in France, I was told, I'm trying to change that culture around and over time, but the WhatsApp groups, they will talk to people and say things within their groups. But in a larger setting, they will not say things that they would consider to be unsafe. And that was a cultural thing. We tried to change because but they say that it's France, you don't really do that, which you would in the US or in India, you'd find somebody saying, I'm in serious trouble in India and my company shutting down, can you help me and you'll send a message to 50 people that you don't know, you will not do that in France. So there's some nuances around just how you communicate across cultures in an in a virtual setting as well. Russia is actually very interestingly, one of our most successful chapter, chapters, again, totally disconnected from the rest of the world, run by Nicola Antonov now, but Russia has gone away from what we have, which is very early stage, they have they have overtime gone to people who have already done a startup or they are a little bit more mature than other cities, they're running good sized startups that actually 40 people in two classes running at the same time and in in Russia this year. And they get together. It is actually, in our chapters, they do the most expensive thing to join SLP, because they can afford it, they created it, and they do a lot of programming around it. But it's a very domestic program. I have been involved with Russians who are going overseas, certainly for me working in the work that I do, the things that I'm doing, right now around machine learning, and AI. Those are things that Russians are amazing at, you know, these incredible mathematician, so I was very keen that we get a big push from the Russian chapters into the into other countries, whether they'll become a sort of Center of Excellence, where they're providing a lot of knowledge and thought around this field. But it's not necessarily something that the Russians are focused on the lot of things that doing a domestic consumer type business is, which is kind of insular nature. So we've not been able to connect as much with the Russians to the rest of the world, as I would like so but we've had Russian like a Russian fellow moved to London to set up his venture fund there. And now he's plugged into the London scene. So when they move, we plug them in if they want to. But it's Russia, Taiwan, in two specific countries were successful. Well run Taiwan is actually the highest number of applications into any program, anywhere in the world coming from Taiwan. But these are programs that are very much run within country and less so connected to the rest of the world, for language or for other cultural reasons. So that's really very fascinating. entrepreneurial cultures.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:09:52

What about Israel, anything in Israel?

Anupendra Sharma  1:09:54

So Israel has been Israel has always had a very Israel as a mayor. For us, so EMEA is Europe. And so we've, we've had Portugal, Turkey, Israel, we've had several countries like seven or eight countries in Europe. What's interesting about Israel though, even though Israel is within email, they're going to think that they're connected to the US because Israel as well, tight link historically, to the United States it has to Europe too, but really is the US. So Israeli diaspora just like Indians, and they look to the US market. So when we, when we talk about Israelis, and bringing Israelis into SLP programming, they always prefer to be connected to what talking to your us startups, and us VCs versus European startups in your European pieces, which I found fascinating, because I would have expected that to be a much closer collaboration with European companies. But because of cultural reasons, I'm in New York is one of the biggest cities in the world terms of the Jewish population, they very tied into the home country. And that has meant that they also have very tight connections with the venture capital community. And I was an investor in life sciences. From the US, I go to Israel every year and I, I saw that, you know, the back and forth in US and Israel was so tight was much, much more than anything I saw between the UK or France, because the number of the Jewish community itself in these countries is much smaller. And that's been the biggest driver for Israel. So an incredible country. We stopped that program in Israel. In 2017, we have a tight community there, we stopped our program in 2017. Because on every corner in Israel, just like an India, at one point, we got an nit on every corner and Israel, we ended up with an incubator, literally every corner of the street in Israel. I mean, it's like that now. India's like India's like that now, but not even not only 4 million of 6 million people. So you know, they have coffee as absolute as they are in India. It's just an incredibly entrepreneurial country, where every professor at every university in Israel, you know, before when, before they speak, what the idea we always joke that the right to patent first, because they're so well aware of the system. But what Israel has done, which India hasn't, Israel actually has a massive government funding for the accelerators. So Israel did a fantastic job of putting together these programs where if a startups gave, our private sector gave money to them, government match three or four times as much money to get these companies build up in Israel. And there's some really amazing companies in Israel, especially in software, and then in in shrinking electronics that come out of their commodities, that country, the lesson infrastructure, but you talked about electronics, hardware and software, as well as been amazing. And now we see the value of the Israel, US connection with our fellows who here we are connecting more and more Israelis, or people of Israeli origin of parentage back into Israel to tighten those bonds so we can get Israel re launched this year, with a newer program more online, but very connected to Israel, Israelis in the United States can have harder driving the program. So how has

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:13:23

this all of this changed you when you look back? So one of the things that I would possibly imagine happening, yes, this whole additional opportunity and a privilege to be a meta learner? Because you're seeing so many people, so many fellows, so many, how has it changed you? And have you? Has it has it become an opportunity to has it been an opportunity to become a meta learner?

Anupendra Sharma  1:13:56

So yeah, I this is my 15th year of SLP. So it has so certainly I, when I started in venture capital, I had a successful run as a VC. And I credit majority of my run as a VC to having learned from the fellows. So one of the things that I find in venture capital is some VCs are amazing. Investors and they always stay tuned and some VCs over time lose touch with entrepreneurs, as you get managed bigger funds as you do more and more. You tend to forget what life is like from the other side. So the one thing that I never forgotten the 12 years or so, as received is because I always lived life on the other side. So I would always be in conversation, the s&p fellows, their fundraising, the top VCs and out here the blow by blow of what's going on or sort of a system on their term sheets. And they're not always remember what it's like on the other side. of being an entrepreneur. So that definitely kept me grounded as an author as a VC. And in fact, when I go to meetings with entrepreneurs, I'm very much a take a pen and I start whiteboarding. And I start my conversation in a very interactive, it's not necessarily pitch to me, it's like, I want to make sure I understand what you're doing to the third level of detail, which is not always not, it's not necessarily important to be to do that as a VC. Some people have a lot of go with a lot of gut instinct, and some people are just, they just naturally understand some things, I tend to be very much nuts and bolts try to get down to really understand what the entrepreneurs do. And some of that has been, because I am, I have done this, from both sides are long. So in fact, in one of my VC meetings, one of the VCs, one of the entrepreneurs said to me, he said, You sound more like an entrepreneur than a VC when you talk to us, you know, and I said, If I do that, and then do my job, well, because you don't want, it's not an awesome damn thing, you've got to be joined at the hip in this regard. So I have always found that doing that allowed me not only to be grounded to be supportive, I would often be entrepreneurs, and to be able to have no problem with understanding third level of detail, because I think over time, you're right, I'm a meta learner. I'm naturally curious about what people do across businesses and sectors and why things grow and scale and things fail. I'm always trying to understand these things, to what I call the molecular level, I keep going down till I can find a point when I say Oh, I get it, because I do have this belief that a lot of startups reside in a very simple single thesis, or assumption, which if you understand where that sits, then you can test it. And if it once you're tested, or have a hypothesis, to test, it will succeed or fail on that thesis. So I try to get down to that molecular level of detail on every startup. And I think that's because of SLP. And being an SLP. Being in life sciences investor, I have been able to be comfortable with a lot of things around software that I wouldn't normally not have done, I've been able to be comfortable around consumer products, startups. And you know, we hungryroot has just raised $40 million yesterday, is a consumer product startup building growth, selling, putting groceries in a pandemic, out of New York and be comfortable to be able to have the sort of rights or conversations or questions around things that I would never have the chance to know about otherwise. So that's definitely been fascinating. And we have many people in SRP, who are now VCs themselves and managing directors of well known funds, they're CEOs of big companies. So I started off in a place where I was the mentor, in some ways, ourselves, the capitalists many ways, but in many ways, now have access to all these incredible people who know far more in fields and are much more experts than I am. So that's the other thing that and most of them will at least take my call or answer a question. So I certainly have this incredible access for myself, which is certainly a privilege that I enjoy being part of SAP recipe.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:18:03

So if five, you already spoke about how it made you constantly not lose that touch with the entrepreneur, and also be a meta learner. What have been four or five surprising insights that have sort of where you've told Okay, I thought this was going to be true, or this is what it was going to be. And then that that changed? What have been some challenging lessons that you had to learn.

Anupendra Sharma  1:18:30

So one, so really couple two lessons, I'd say one is when you sit on a VC with your colleagues, you understand them in a certain way you but when you are on the other side, or you see how they are from the other side, some people are, are, what you see is what you get. Right. And my, my surprise has been from time to time, when I've seen some investors behaving badly. They gave a term sheet. I know the investors and I'm like, Okay, I know how they will act. And then I'm surprised I've been surprised when they change the terms after signing when they have gone back on their own things that they said they will do when they have put the entrepreneur on the backfoot. And I've had to step in, in those cases. So that has been super surprising to me. When I've seen certain people act in a way that did not expect them to act and don't want to name names. But that's been and sort of being able to see life from the other side without them knowing that I have access to what they're saying or doing allowed surprise me in some instances. So now when when I look at when I look at it, when I when I know people, I know how they are. I have to make sure I really understand how they're behaved in a in a in a money setting like in a setting where compensation needs is determined where there has to be sharing of work. People are not necessarily the same as they are maybe on a panel or in a conversation or a cocktail party as they are when you need exchange, some people have very sharp elbows, and some of those sharp elbows have surprised me. So it just got a job. So I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with what they're doing unless they're going back to the word. Invest investors have a responsibility to deliver money to their LPs, their business, they're not in the business of being nice to entrepreneurs, they're in the business of providing a return to their LP is that's their job, whatever it takes to the job, they're doing their job. So I, you know, some people give VCs a bad rap, I never give me such a bad rap, there was really critical role to play in society to provide liquidity. And if they did not provide that back to their investors, we would have no entrepreneurship, or we would have a lot less scalable entrepreneurs than we do today. So that's important, too. The second one was I I remember an SRP fellow coming to Boston. And, actually two stories here, one was, I was in Tel Aviv. And my rule is, when I go somewhere, I will buy drinks for the class that you know. So we're in a bar I was there. So we're in a bar, and I have this rule, also an SLP, that we feed you, you know, that comes up about right at the top within a minute. That's also inherent by design. So we were at a bar and then the two guys the bar in the boat said to me, this is the first time we having a drink in four months. And I'm because they were freezing. But it was not typical to go to a bar after you would have the sort of lunch serving or and but they won't go to the bar. So the guy bought, the guy said, First I'm going to bought in four months, we can afford to go to a bar. And that struck me and then in Boston happened as a fellow here, who was visiting and he had broken shoes and borrowed a coterie of broken shoes. And, and he was visiting. And the rule other rule that slpi created, which was when somebody visits you buy them drinks, as like the program, team SLP will buy them drinks, don't expect them to buy drinks or because for me, I don't really know what anybody's financial situation is. And even though I say entrepreneurs, it is a privilege at that moment in time, they may be in a tough financial situation, this drink or dinner that they might have from here might be the only good dinner or drinks they might receive on their visit. So those two things really stand out in my head that Israel trip, when they said we haven't been to a bar in four months, because you can't afford to. And then the guy in Boston who had broken shoes, and a borrowed quote, who I realize how little money he had. And he was like hanging on a shoestring visiting and trying to raise some money from some folks in Boston, he was from overseas. Those two things gave me pause to say it's easy to forget how tough things are for people at that moment in time. And it's super important for us to remember it, and to make sure we take care of them. So even in my conversations with people in SLP, when I'm having a conversation around, should you sell your company? Should you raise money? What should you do? A lot of my conversations are not about the company and the bad. The first is to understand the background of the person is coming from what's your financial situation? What do you have a family? if you're if you're a woman? Are you a mom, with some pressures? Like I want to understand everything that's going on? Or you're a dad? Do you have some financial constraints to your pet? Like what are all the things going on, that are required to be put together to make a decision like this? What should you do next, versus just something standing on on its own? And often my conversations with people have been around Is this the right time to be doing what you're doing because of the constraints you're on. Because when you're doing a startup, you will have lots of constraints. If you can reduce the number of external constraints that those possible that's a good thing. And those those founders said, if you are going to start a company, or reduce the amount of things that will restrict you don't buy that house and have a mortgage. You know, if you're single right now is the best time to start because you can do it with a rental, you know, a cheap apartment live sleeping on a couch, you have no constraints in life, unless you have student loan, this is the best time to do a company. So things are certain things that do I do see that as you get older SLP fellows tend to be older when they do their companies, even in India, that I mean, now it's skewing younger, but they tended to be 2728. So some of those people's lives men and bow women both in HR 50 women and SRP, they come with certain constraints. And it is very important to take this into account. So that's super important to me, is looking at a holistic picture of somebody's life and giving them advice not just assume that all that is taken care of because that Sometimes more important. So those are sort of two things that, and I would advise anybody giving advice, it's a super important responsibility when you say something, especially as an SLP, as a, you know, older SLP person, when I say something people, I could impact somebody's life, because they may mistakenly assume that I know what I'm talking about. And I do tell them that I am just one voice, I am not the right voice. I'm just one person, one piece of information that I'm going to give you. But usually when I talk to people, I talk about all these other things that do not factor into the conversations, but are super important. So when you and I were talking about, you know, we ended up in a conversation where I started to understand your life background. And sort of your you know, your conditions about us, India, if you're part of consistently which are not natural conversations you have when you are talking just pure business.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:25:54

Right, right. I, I've gone bankrupt thrice, I began from nothing. And I've always felt that business is important, but it's the people behind the business that make it happen. People buy from people, you're smart. Yes, he's just an enabler. The day we lose sight of the fact that there's a human being behind it. I think that is that should be never, that should never be forgotten.

Anupendra Sharma  1:26:23

Yeah, that's true. Yeah, business is about people selling things to people. Absolutely. Right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:26:28

That's right. And the beauty is, I think some of the most smartest entrepreneurs are the ones that have truly understood, not just people, but it's the emotional person inside that particular person or user that they are targeting, whether good or bad, you know, we have so much about social media, that target that's targeting emotional, but even for the products that actually are positive and make sense it is against again, makes sense because it's touching the emotional side. So unless we touch that part of it, I don't think we are going to make any impact.

Anupendra Sharma  1:27:02

Actually, I don't know if you've written your book. But yeah, I love that. He talks about it that as entrepreneurs, we have a social responsibility. Yeah, to words, good habits, you know, don't get caught into the into try to give bad habits and addiction to people. But don't try to create that. create that. And I find that to be super fascinating, right? It's almost like one route. You have a responsibility. I mean, I think Netflix after four hours should say Do you really want to watch more Netflix or shut? up? Now? The responsibility certainly doesn't zombies on Sunday. Episodes without stopping are.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:27:47

So awesome. It's been a fabulous conversation. Now, where do you see SLP going from here. Now. The startup world, if anything is only getting bigger and bigger, right now more than play with privilege in India. And I can see other parts of the parts of the world as well. It's almost glamorous to be an entrepreneur now. Right. But the real entrepreneurs, just like any real people behind a lot of things will actually attest to the fact that isn't all that glamorous, not really what it's made out to be. And that 15 minutes of fame that somebody is enjoying is a result of, as Sam Walton put it during the overnight success 20 years in the making. And it's a lot of the other ones that are prioritizing glamour, that gives good guys a bad rep. Right? So but you fit SLP and with your own focus on values, I can see that it's the focus on the putting the person together, right? And making the person together a much more rounded individual so that he can take his venture to the next step or maybe the next venture to the next step. Right. So it's about empowering that person. I know that's never gonna go away. But where does SLP go from here? Now?

Anupendra Sharma  1:29:08

When I said, when I started SLP, there was nothing as I said, an SRP or 15 years, we've seen what I call the industrialization of entrepreneurship. There is now as you said, x a little bit corner. I have. So I SLP is a mature product, in that sense that and I have many times woken up and said, doesn't want to need SLP. Because if we were here to serve a role for people that did not exist, and do we need to be here. And what surprised me is the resilience of people who have been so excited about SLP and that they want to continue have ad to want to continue as obey. So I said as long as people want to run SLP and want to grow it I'll be there to facilitate it on the back. And it certainly is not. I always thought it would last my lifetime, maybe it will maybe it won't maybe shut down next year. You can't tell. But it's only here. If it's valuable to people, you know, if it makes an impact as valuable, then it's important. The two or three things that we're doing a recipe which are, which, actually, one of the fellows in s3, Dimitri, Colton of Dimitri has been an amazing program leader, Director of recipe out in New York, with an incredible community. And so we are in New York, he, you know, talking last year, and he said, this may pandemic will be an opportunity for SLP. Because we've always feel this sort of low key organization, almost like, you know, not a big marketing machine that has brought people in, who come in and they'll say, I get it, I didn't really understand it till I was in it, because it's not an easy thing to understand. But he said that the pandemic may have been an opportunity for us to transform SLP, which he and I had the same idea the same time. So the last year has been about running SLP. In a hybrid model, it has been totally online, the idea was to do it in a hybrid way, because a lot of natural accelerators, that whole business model is a real estate play. Right, that has come to a halt. In some cases, things have shut down, but SRP has stayed resilient throughout this period. So the question is coming out of post pandemic, what are we doing, and where does so be going? One of the things that we have seen as the emergence of private communities around us, and we're looking taking a playbook from private communities to say, this summer, for example, given our incredible SLP fellows, we are going to make 100 educational videos available for free to all s&p fellows inside insights on I want to start a T shirt company in India, or here the things that challenges I faced in building an AI company in Israel or sort of insights that you will get from the tribe that you will not get otherwise? You know, that's one thing we're doing. Secondly, we want to take our education from the car and put it online as well. So again, in small pieces, so we really want to have access to education or education library. Now that we have gone online and a pandemic. Take that and scale that this summer. The second thing we're doing is investigating setting up SV angels this year. SVP fellows are interested in investing. In fact, my first email had 130 or so sob fellows say they want to be angel investors in SMB companies. So there's a lot of interests about five $6 million a year, they seem to want to put the work in second. So the startups, so the other thing we want to do is we want to say, okay, let us create wealth for people in the community by being able to invest in each other. And unlike finding somebody on Angel list or finding somebody through a network where you don't know the person in sov you can diligence or know about anybody in the program by two phone calls. So I think that's super important. And as people are on their second startups that are for the raising capital, why not get SME fair as a chance to ride the wave with them. So those are two things that are really new to us. And the third thing is, because we've gone online, we will see if we can use this model to get get access to people who can be part of a community, but valuable to our community, not necessarily in the cities we're in but they might be in valuable places that matter where we do not have organizations. And we're going to test that model as well as here. So it's a lot of it's almost like a in some ways, a major move in this direction this year. And we'd see says like sob 2.0 will save SOC 2.0 is a better version of SB 1.0 or not. But we certainly feel that the level of engagement on what our WhatsApp groups and our slack group says is extraordinarily high, has always been so but it's just a you know, something with 1000s of dollars of I'd say, consulting advice or, or direction you can get just by simply sending a note. And you get responses for that is something that has kept SLP fellows, whether they graduate in 2006, or the graduated now in touch with each other, and that's super valuable, that won't go away. I just think that by doing some of these things we are doing, where people are more comfortable being on zoom and will give us a chance to shape the world a lot more.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:34:49

So before we wrap up, you're now an entrepreneur, you pick the bullet. And yes, what's what are you working on? What stage are you in?

Anupendra Sharma  1:34:57

And what's it about? So I'm working on so I'm working on disease. So in the life sciences guy, my focus is on, I'm trying to, there's a huge burden on understanding disease, there is a massive burden on people who work in innovation and disease to be able to know where the state of the innovations is. So what I'm working on is trying to get anybody who is going to cure disease, up to speed, innovate short amount of time on the status status of that disease, whether it's a patient adopter, or more importantly, an innovator. Because it takes a long time in my field to understand what's really going on. And I want to give that to somebody at their fingertips. So they can spend all the time thinking of ideas, versus using a lot of brainpower and time to understand what they should be. What the status of the diseases. So when as a VC is I the process I used to try to understand it takes a lot of time and effort. So what I'm trying to do is have an audacious goal to say Can I get you smart on 1000 diseases on any one of 1000 diseases in 15 minutes, you know, so that you can focus your time on, on understanding disease. So that's what I'm working on. So my my stages, I am an alpha. I'm a pre alpha. So I actually have, I'm an alpha software person. So I have two SSP fellows making my front end and back end. So ROM GS has been working on my back end the back end of my product, and Cody has been working on the front end, they both sob fellows out of India have been super helpful. I think

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:36:42

you know, Dr. Marty. Say that again? You Dr. Mark Martin rotblat? No, I don't. I'm still bad with pronounced now with all of what's going on. I think they is the right amount for this person. today are from life sciences. There is a particular episode on the Tim Ferriss show. Okay. It's pretty fascinating. I think you'll love listening to it, where their daughter was suffering this rare pulmonary hypertension, cardiovascular hypertension situations. And at that point in time, the daughter was only one of 2000 people in the US that was supposed to have the condition. And there was a Martine had to search through 1000s of papers, before they chanced upon this molecule, and there was a test result that had come out of it. And that eventually leads to that becoming a billion dollar truck. Wow. And that whole story is laid out in on that episode. It's very fascinating was seen he was he was a Sirius XM CEO. Yes, yes. Even connect to them. Yes. So what your describe that ability to get to that particular data point in that 15 minutes? I think that entire process was laid out in that episode. So I'm sure you'll find it fascinating.

Anupendra Sharma  1:38:24

I will listen to that wonderful. See, I learned every day from somebody that's looking.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:38:30

So, so unaware that this has been a great conversation. I know. I love the SLP format. And I think by taking the angel investing route, you somewhat changed the perspective from nonprofit to for profit in an indirect manner. I think wealth creation, I will never apologize, never, never apologize that wealth creation is important. And you can do all service once you've taken care of that. I will never prioritize services important, but service at the cost of wealth creation should never be a goal. But I think

Anupendra Sharma  1:39:08

you're absolutely right. So can I make just one point on that? So the letter fellows when we did the social impact class in SLP, it was me, I feel terrible about what I'm doing. I'm looking some something to help create emojis. You know, and like God sold the company. But how is this valuable? Like the talking social impact, somebody's creating this company to be able to have a healthcare thing and a clinic in a container to be shipped to third world countries. And obviously this thing, you create wealth, knowing what you know, do not apologize for it. Just like don't apologize for it. When you move your money doing what you'd know best. You can always give it to somebody else to like, which is what Warren Buffett he said I can't do it, but I know Bill Gates can let me give him my cash. But I know how to do what I do well. And it's super important. Once you've taken care of that need of yourself, then you put it to work wherever you want. And by, we haven't changed the focus of SLP. But we want SP fair to say, my startup doesn't work. But somebody has a community Standard Work works by putting money and I could do I could change my life. Why should this privilege only be given to people who are outside SLP? Why should SLP fellows also have that privilege? So that was the third change in thinking, which came this year. But given I'm in a VC, everything I invested in, I'm, I've exited or, or always thought about exits from day one, when I invest in these companies, because I have training for eight years in m&a. So I've always looked at it saying, Is there an exit here. So as India has an only the very recent times mature towards exits, people have talked to me about angel investing for a long time, which to me has always been, it's, it's kind of a cool thing to do. I think we're now at a stage where angel investing is a reasonable leap. Good thing to do in terms of adding liquidity, it's not just for the rich, you could have a transformation in your wealth, by investing a small amount of money in something that has an opportunity at a big exit today, Justin really exists even five years ago, that has been only a recent phenomenon, with all this incredible liquidity, an IPO and these massive companies writing 100 million dollar series A checks that did not exist before. Right. So that's a little bit of a game changer, where I am now a believer in angel investing from that perspective. In the old days, we also said there's a tie of angels to it, like, we joke together with angel investing, but nobody says I'm doing the single best thing. So I can get rich, they like we get together in a club, he loses money, who cares? But we get to feel young and relevant again. That's not what s&p fellows should have been investing in. And that's why my change, I'm thinking as GM is only very recent, because of this phenomenon. Sure, sure. So I think

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:41:58

that wealth creation angle will happen. And I think much, much needed, given how unique this format is, given how different this format is. So we will come back when you hit another peak. And I like to say this to all speakers that are on the show. The next speak your scale, the next big impact that you create will create a whole new conversation and whole new learnings that we can share and all benefit from that. So it's been fantastic having you, we wish SLP and all the fellows the very best. May the numbers double this year, you 1 billion in a year 3.5. Don't let it become seven. And at some point in time, let the wealth creation aspect of it now start getting captured as well. And then I know that that day, we'll know the true amount of impact. And then the fellows will start acquiring some outsized influence, because there are a lot of changemakers amongst us who deserve to get hard and Buddhism to change the world. So awesome. It's been a

Anupendra Sharma  1:43:05

thank you for having me. I know it's a real privilege to be on this show. So thank you for having me. And thank you for what you do. Because you have a big role to play also through your podcast and you're sort of continuous education of people about what to these deeper conversations. So thank you. Thank you. Have a good day. Bye.

Tania Jadhav  1:43:27 We hope you enjoyed the story. If this story made a difference to you. Tell us by leaving a comment on the website or our social media channels. help us spread the love by subscribing, liking and sharing our show. We welcome speaker suggestions and collaboration. Write to me at