Cover Image For E37: Raghu Bharat of CrewScale-Doing the impossible of scaling an elite FREELANCER platform
Raghu Bharat of CrewScale-Doing the impossible of scaling an elite FREELANCER platform

Doing the impossible of scaling an elite FREELANCER platform

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The Future of Work or Freelance

The Future of Work is an often discussed topic. Not a day passes without some article or a tweet or a post on social media declaring that the future of work is somewhat gloomy or even hanging in balance. Some brave souls declare that given the certainty of the future of work is uncertain, some sort of Basic Income needs to be established.

However, the human race has redeemed itself time and again and there is reason to believe that it will be the case again. Why am I so confident? Because humans are freelancing like never before.

The Freelancer Trend!
The Freelancer Trend!

According to a World Economic Forum article, the number of Freelancers is supposed to outstrip the number of permanent employees by the year 2027. Not just that, human beings are reinventing and retooling themselves like never before. When everyone is decrying the potential obsolescence of human beings and painting gloomy pictures about the future of work, 55% of Freelancers quietly retooled themselves, making them far more valuable to their clients.

The Future of Work is Safe due to the rise of Freelancing

Leading corporations are now resorting to freelancers to solve many of their challenging issues and matters. From researchers to programmers to marketing executives, companies such as Pfizer and Samsung are leading the pack in hiring freelancers.

Not even COVID-19 has managed to halt the freelancing juggernaut. While there is a temporary dip in freelancing, direct interactions with freelancers reveal that freelancers are being flooded with work and the Work from Home (WFH) phenomenon is only giving greater to fillip to this. WFH has brought in a greater number of people to remote work and has thus given a major boost to freelancing.

Raghu’s tyrst with Freelancing and Entrepreneurship

Raghu was a network engineer working for a telecommunications networking firm. Network engineering can be exciting and yet boring at the same time depending upon which part of the industry you worked in. It was in this boring industry that Raghu had an epiphany. To start a consumer-oriented business and thus the business of MyWash – home improvement was born.

New Avenues Beckon

Raghu was smart and saw the writing on the wall. He sensed the tanking sentiment and smartly sold his stake, while Hyperlocal was still popular. He eventually found a lucrative career in freelancing making over US$200K in a single year and ended up traveling to more than 30 countries in that time while working as a freelancer.

Raghu discovered the joys of great earnings, excellent work-life balance, and global travel – a dream for many. That is when he hit upon an idea. The idea of freeing blue-blooded professionals to experience the same rewarding path he had taken thru CrewScale.

But the path was anything but straight. How did he scale CrewScale to more than 60K freelancers around the world? It’s all in here.

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Here are excerpts from the Episode:

So I think for me, it’s the unfinished journey like so I felt that I couldn’t really finish building a large company.

Raghu Bharat 10:19

But I think the future is like remote and more digital work is what what our thesis is

Raghu Bharat 12:31

Why My wash? What prompted you to do my wash? Because you came from a telecom background? Personally, I love b2c businesses, for a couple of reasons, because of the massive impact it can create and the scale it can accomplish. And if done well, it can transform markets.

Krishna Jonnakadla 23:52

So personally, on Upwork alone, I made probably about 200 K, just in the first year.

Raghu Bharat 47:33

The 1st 2-3 people are the really the hardest

Raghu Bharat 1:04:59

If we put it all together, it comes down to one word, which is impact.

Raghu Bharat 1:26:56

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Word Cloud For E37: Raghu Bharat of CrewScale-Doing the impossible of scaling an elite FREELANCER platform
Wrod Cloud For This Episode

Show Notes:

Follow CrewScale on Twitter: @CrewScale

Follow Maharajas of Scale on Twitter: @maharajasofscale

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​Episode Transcript

(Automated Transcript)

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

krishna, called, freelancers, fact, company, remote, india, thesis, b2b, started, people, build, startup, b2c, scale, pretty, world, point, literally, happened

SPEAKERS

Raghu Bharat, Krishna Jonnakadla, Tania Jadhav

Krishna Jonnakadla  00:01

This is Maharajas 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 changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of FLIT fashion located in town and startup mentor, bringing you the stories. Everyone, this is just after Deepawali on a sunny day in Bangalore. In fact, it was raining for the last several months for some reason. Rain doesn't actually create a perky mood with me. But here we are. The COVID transmission across the community is complete. But we have a an interesting speaker today Raghu Bharat of CrewScale, who's done something unprecedented. He's built a massive, I would send many army of freelancers across the world. So an army of freelancers that runs into the 1000s. So to put things into perspective, for instance, Microsoft has close to 100,000 employees, all of our Indian IT companies have a little over a lakh, you know, some of them upwards of 50,000. So Raghu Bharat's CrewScale has several 1000s runza, upwards of 60,000 freelancers today, which is very, very impressive. And somehow scale seems to be a part of it. So Roghu, awesome, great to have you on the show. Any opening comments before we get started?

Raghu Bharat  01:36

Yeah, Hey, Krishna, good to connect. In fact, we were trying to do justice to the word scale like event. So I think that's I think a perfectly I think that this podcast is really apt. I think even your name signifies that I think we believe in the scale. But in general, Krishna recommend everything we do everything, even every atomic thing that we do. Right. And we always think of scale, I think that I think this is going to be an interesting conversation. Right? So because scale has been something like an impact, even if you look at all our products, whether it's tell scale through scale, so we are actually called the scale of synchrony that what part of WhatsApp groups or slack groups everything, and also I think this is probably an interesting conversation, that we are going to have our own scale. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  02:18

Great. Awesome. So Raghu, tell us a little bit about yourself, and a little more about what you're working on right now.

Raghu Bharat  02:26

Sure. So did my graduation from Pilani. I did my computer science went 26 to 10, to turn six to 10. Then I was so I'm more like a geeky personality. Krishna, even when I started, it was like, so you, you would call me that typical computer science, like one like I'm so caught up with the inspiration around all the geeks and things like that, like him so as to be that geeky, kind of. So I was very passionate about computers, programming, especially the competitive programming and things like that. And I used to really, I used to really love the V, the programming and things like that, in fact, I used to really get kicked out of display programming, it's whenever I see an output for a program like that, that's probably the most exciting moment for me, in general, I can effectively count things back and things like that. So I was always a believer in the entrepreneurship as well as some hold, bought into this a slight background to this. My dad comes from a business background, whereas my mom is more of an academician. She's a teacher professor and things like that. So a probably an interesting mix of education plus businesses, what I have seen in my family from childhood, a combination of these two, I think probably I evolved into that like them. And I could, I was always, like, one is pretty sure that I mean, at some point, I'm going to start something on my own. That was a revelation I had like from early early phases in my career. So did my computer science graduation. Then I started my career in a telecom company for a program, programmer and kind of stuff. So it's called a wire like them. And so our 20,000 people, pretty large, massive organization, there is no Bell Labs, AT&T and things like that. So it's working with them. So I could, so why working with them, right. So what is to happen? In fact, there is a very interesting story. Krishna here, Lachman. So there, there used to be the leaders in telephony, like an on premise telephony like him. And I still remember the big data centers and things like that we used to work we used to go physically to that mission people and things like that. So the word was this is around 2010 timeframe, the word was evolving towards cloud, doubtless picking that up. Things like AWS are becoming very prominent and things like that. So we I used to drive things inside the company, especially in awhile to go towards cloud become and so you might have heard of this company called Twilio, Twilio now is a publicly held company pretty large, about 40 $50 billion and and their their stock is on tear like given what's happening with the telecom and also it really was nothing at that time. 2010 like when it was still coming in. I was trying to push like our company to go towards cloud, I think I put like on. So every company has its own priorities, like when given the base structure, they do have their own quarterly targets, their business targets and things like that, it's very hard. Sometimes it becomes a tricky situation, like when you're also cannibalizing your own existing business by moving towards cloud. And so the equation wasn't not really set up, right. So I could, I could sense at that time itself that the value of innovation, like I mentioned, idea can be picked pretty good. If there is a very good product, unlike me, if you can take it out. And you can execute from scratch the potential of that right, I could see that literally in front of my eyes. And that that was my first genuine argument. So that should entrepreneurship in general Krishna icon, so that was something like eye opening. So interestingly, I was the best performer award for Letterman, the first few years at Avaya, like out of 21,000 employees. So I used to be pretty good in terms of programming and things like that. So pretty good in terms of highest rated in those first two years. But I always wanted to do out to myself, or the peers in general and things like that. So being that can. Okay, so I wanted to do a start up in general Krishna lagman. So wanted to get into that. But I wasn't very sure about, I'm talking about like, 2011 2012, there's no, like I mean, Flipkart is still hasn't raised their fee and all that. And there's no Cola, there's nothing, they don't say, ecosystem is a very, very, very still. And listen to me, I put it very, very nice and interesting things at that time. But there are few outliers, especially in my batch, and few they're like coming from college and things like that some of the seniors and so I think they gave me good exposure to what entrepreneurship recommends. So I got in touch with a couple of folks from us, entrepreneurs who have done and things like that and got into some other circles and things like that. So wanted to get in. I think the Curiosity has driven me towards that I think more than anything else, I think, I think now probably it's a very cool thing to be an entrepreneur billion dollar unicorn setting. At that point, it was like pretty, you're an outlier or a you're crazy person if you're getting into that trap. So I think I come from those engineers, so so I wanted to be part of a startup before getting fully into a startup. So So krischell is the latest startup. I'm known to Krishna. And so before that, I did my wash, which is a hyperlocal. logistics. Based in Bangalore, we raised close to $2 million in funding from both for us Venture Partners, Mumbai based department, and Singapore and Japanese investors. This is like 2014 timeframe. And we have seen scale like I'm literally like, when we hit the accelerator the moment money was in the account, like we were running like super crazy, like msos are literally scaling, like blitzscaling rates, I would put the word blitzscaling literally, burning cash. And so a b2c startups you tend to the reason why you want to scale faster, especially in a b2b setup is like common. So winner takes all market segments, it's a generally winner takes all market, there is like even so crazy amount of value for the right so you we saw that across multiple things, whether it's an e commerce in us, Amazon, whether it's in China, Alibaba, or whether it's in search, like Google probably has about 90 95% search share, compared to the second counter, I think Winner takes the biggest chunk of the market, especially in intimate business. So the only way is to scale Blitz, literally blitzscale and just go to that winner like to win whatever it takes to get to that rate. So I think that that's the phase we were running. So we want to be the best in terms of services market and things like that. So I think 2015 timeframe, I think the whole hyperlocal view was slowing down, we could see a lot of shutdowns, like tiny holes and things like that. And so for delivery, and you have the impact around that. In fact, we were actually in discussion with this investor called naspers. Like even some naspers we had a literally Townshend India's largest series at that end, there was like 13 billion at that time and things like that. So then the market slowed down a lot like in the hyper local view, the thesis on that has become pretty weak and things like that. So Still, we were running pretty fast. Like when we were doing a vote, like we were about, like 300 people like that. It was just 24-25 that number, that kind of scale at which it was growing like pretty. Like Instead, it was pretty insane. I would say that we're at at that time, it was pretty insane. So we're doing like 1000 orders a day. And my work has become a pretty good strong brand economic terms of like that. So I did it with my batchmates from Atlantic again. So I think that was a fortunate thing Krishna like so like, Are you always surrounding myself with the right set of people like, entrepreneurship has its own challenges, like even it's pretty hard as well, sometimes. It's very lonely at the top as well. And it's very unforgiving the way I put it, right? But I think I always surround with the right set of people right set of folks and they act as the cushion. They act as a support system and things like that. So that is fortunate to get the right set of partners in both the startup like one so now I'm so my word my word got acquired by house. Lj is on services, Amazon funded company like 116. So then I worked with Jose for a while take him in close to a year as a product manager mainly to manage the migration transfer and things like that. I think once an entrepreneur it's very hard to get back to a job like that. And so it was. So I think for me, it's the unfinished journey like so I felt that I couldn't really finish building a large company. So I think I wanted to do something I think that so crew scale was born. This between crews kill on Hauser there is a period of one year and that was like a crazy period for me to share. Interesting few. So I'll share a few interesting experiences that happened during this period. Like even so after Hosier like them. And so I wanted to figure out what next click on service on to the next set of idea and things like that. So while doing that this is about 2016 timeframe. So this is 2016 timeframe. So I think now everyone knows what is remote work from home? I think everybody across the world, right? Like even if, literally even my mom, my parents would know this term remote tech. And if so i think i think the world has I think the pandemic has changed the entire world in terms of remote. But those of you were 2016 visual element fair people, like even people can't even fathom the fact that like so you can have it fully remote career. Right. So I think I have few good hypothesis and thesis around this like so that actually helped me to build strong thesis on it. So fundamentally, like an inshot crew scale is a remote marketplace. After all, the guides are a community of remote freelancers, who want to be having a good career in terms of I think, in short, that's the storyboard crew scale. And we are 200 people strong 200 Plus, we recently acquired a company in the US called indies.io. growing pretty strong, like I mean, literally, our metrics are like going to the roof. Like even so the i think i think that so it's I would call a pandemic as the demon decision moment for a payment apps like the way D monetization changed the equation for KTM, or any of this up or digital payments in general, like literally transformed Suddenly, I think a very similar moment happened in front of our eyes, literally, history was written in front of our eyes. Right. So I think, I think that's a, I think we will will understand the significance of it over a period of time. I think probably while we are passing through this, we are not able to fully understand that. But I think the future is like remote and more digital work is what what our thesis is. Yeah, that's more crystal.

Krishna Jonnakadla  12:39

Interesting. I want to go back to your starting days at Avaya where you looked at what you was doing, because you still a very fledgling? Yup, part of it that I remember in way back in 2009. in Dallas, Texas, I was part of well, I pitched my first startup. It was you heard of magic pin, haven't you?

Raghu Bharat  13:02

Yeah. Magic pin. I'm aware of the hyperlocal. Yep.

Krishna Jonnakadla  13:05

So when you talk about local plates, and you snap a picture of the bill is and or the check, and then you get reward points for it. Yep. In 2009. In there is a event called the Startup Weekend that happens in the US, essentially, the way the format of the event is that on a Friday evening, a bunch of people who are enthusiastic about startups who either want to work with a startup or want to launch a startup, they don't get together. Everybody pitches their idea. And all of them so those ideas get voted. So the top ideas with the top 10 ideas by number of votes are declared and got people recruit their team live from the crowd. Interesting. from Friday night, the whatever they need to do to showcase their startup. Yep, they do that on Sunday evening, they present the results. And there is a there are a bunch of investors that will that will look at it. It a teamed up with another I think guy called Jensen, my whole idea was exactly what magic pin is today. Interesting. Okay. And I called it moped. Okay, way back then. Because I wanted it to feel a little fancy. And then I like the name. I was about to say that. Yeah, I think it's a pretty catchy one. Yeah. So we called it more often and we pitched the idea. And we built a prototype and showed people how this was going to happen. The angle that we could not dig into at that point in time was monetizing all the data that comes from the back end in terms of so experts and shocked at this fireplace. And therefore I could introduce said to him or a to him. That's exactly the makin dynamics that's going on when people actually upload their receipts, right. A lot of other things are happening. What sort of promotions are businesses running? What sort of pricing? So magic peanut, the back end has lots of data? Yeah, it's a data plate. This is a data game. It's a huge data player. Yeah, those days data, the play on data was not evident at all. And Facebook was still in its infancy. 2009. And this was an idea which was ahead of its time. Yeah, in some sense. There were there were prevailing practices in the US. So for instance, retailers, what they would do is, let's say, way back, when Walmart, Kmart and Sears, were competing with each other, and you have a lot of these big box retailers competing with each other, they run up one of the one of the marketing tricks, or the tactics that they employ is you bring in a coupon and got it your competitor, got it, or rather our competitor, got it. And I we extend the same discount to you. Interesting, okay, go for it. So if you are if you are, for instance, Walmart, Target, which is an which is a competitor of Walmart, so Walmart will say, bring target's coupons to us or not. We'll got it and I'll give you the same. Same because most recently, for people who are movie fans, they'll see this tactic employed by the entrepreneur in Miss India, the movie Miss India. Yeah. Listen to India. Competing coffee shop teller. Look at the same one. Yeah, correct. So what this does is this does creates a dynamic. So one is he does these coupons vary across different different markets, for one market might be a different popular product, a different sort of a invoice amount. So these are, these were the ways in which those campaigns were being done back then everything offline, I guess, like even pretty offline, we ate up the whole data plays are sort of becoming a reality. They are becoming reality mid 20s 2014 2015. Right, when the whole world was awash with a lot of data. Yep. So similar to that. If you see, the funny thing is people think 2014 15 was the only high instacart today, which is which is actually where big basket actually gets all of its inspiration. I think I think van or something, right? I read that story. When on raised almost a similar mind boggling, you know, billion or $2 this was way back in 1996. Yeah. Yeah. And in I think 2007. I remember watching some sort of a documentary of a CEO. He called his entire late 90s fly high crash and burn story. Got it was about a startup called Cosmo.

Raghu Bharat  17:43

I know this is a hyper local delivery, very similar to your Instacart. I like reading history a lot telecinco Krishna, I went through all this. Yeah, I think pretty interesting stories and the way they went up and I think it very interestingly, one data point Krishna, like, Amazon, I think invested in Cosmos or was about to invest in Starbucks. That works. Okay.

Krishna Jonnakadla  18:04

 Except, he announced a strategic partnership with Starbucks already in that documentary. So the CEO of Cosmo, in fact, Howard Schultz, who is the our Starbucks founder, yeah, movie together, they're on stage announcing that partnership. Interesting. And these are pre iPhone, pre Steve Jobs era. This is like pre 2000. Right, literally, yeah. And then when you analyze that, in fact, all of that all of the things that Cosmo the CEO talks about are, it's just contextual there because today you have grubhub, you have doordash, you have swiggy, you have all of them have succeeded. Yeah. So there is, you know, many times, when you will, when you hear stories like that, and when you see products succeed, you have to ask questions like Bill, what Bill what people want, it actually goes out of the window, right? So maybe there is a time where when too much innovation happens, people just cannot make sense of it. Possibly what happened in the late 90s. But out of that, in that era, there is an interesting story, which is Circuit City, if you're okay with the name, okay. Like we have reliance digital in India. And then we have chrome on Chrome. So the US equivalents are two companies which is Best Buy and Circuit City. Yep. And there's also another company called Fry's Electronics but is is like this massive warehouse, but a consumer is a consumer facing electronics giants were best buy our best. And then Circuit City Best Buy is older than Circuit City. Yep, good city was bought but best buy his claim to fame was I have very very knowledgeable technicians got it guide that you want. And Circuit City emulated that model did a fabulous job. And I think somewhere they didn't manage their financial angle well before they went on. bankrupt, they shut down. The funny thing is, while those guys were working on at Circuit City, the Circuit City leadership put together an innovation team. And, and they said, if we have to survive as a sort of an entity idea, or whatever it is, yeah, yeah. Beyond, we have to disrupt ourselves. And that is disruption either means we don't exist, or we work on a totally new idea. And something that will either cannibalize this or Yep, yep. cannibalize or something totally new. Yeah. Different. Yep. They realized that in order to create new ideas, you need to how's it set up the idea? Here? goes, nothing grows. We need the big three, right?

Raghu Bharat  20:46

Yeah, that's right. That's right. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  20:48

So these guys created a team. And out of that came carmax. Interesting. Okay. Our max survives time. And you can create a multi billion dollar organization much bigger than the previous Yeah. Mother engineering. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Today, all of the clones that are called clones that we have in India, which is, you know, Gary 27 or 24 hours, 24. Rico, all of them are carmax copies. Yeah. Yeah. I respect all the founders if they must have found in spirit ardamax. But anybody's telling that, you know, it's a new take? Yeah, we have seen this story repeat already a bit trickier. So it's funny that you should talk about how, when you were looking at Twilio, you realize that when you have to make something successful, first is you disrupt yourself. Yeah. Because you don't know when you're going to get disrupted. That's right. That's right. Yeah, if not for us, I think somebody else will do that. Right. Yeah. But the lesson in there is, at first, obviously, discipline to disrupt yourself and the method is, how's it outside?

Raghu Bharat  21:56

 I think I think that's a good idea. Krishna, I think, because internally, it's very hard, just like you mentioned, right? Like, even under a big tree, it's very hard to grow my....

Krishna Jonnakadla  22:04

There's reason for that Raghu. So So for instance, let's say today, you are you are in Swiggy. Right? Let's say for instance, today, the entire management, the way they run their company, with all the metrics, and all of that, you know, while I've not spoken to any of them, but if you look at it, the commission per order, or the time taken to deliver high net promoter score from each and every order, so then there are cohorts in each of them. And then you look at promotions, you look at festival ups and downs, I'm oversimplifying it, but that's the world they know. And if you have to judge a new idea, you're wearing all of these lenses.

Raghu Bharat  22:44

 Exactly. I think I think that's a brilliant point, which I think it's about. Yeah, I think I think that's very, very, very true. I think you need to have a very different perspective and a fresh without having the baggage of the old thinking and things like that, right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  22:56

 Yeah, it is hard. It is hard, because you know, you have multiple functions.  Marketing Team can't understand that model. Counting doesn't know how to analyze that model. And people who are in teams of strategy will have no idea they have no benchmark. That's right. Yeah. evaluate any other which is why most of the time, innovation under a large tree doesn't necessarily happen unless and until it is purposefully done. And if it has to be purposefully done, it has to be housed outside. Yeah. And, you know, the predecessor to internet is DARPA. Right. So the internet, which the US military created, yeah, yeah. But unless and until internet came outside of the user, it didn't really see its potential. Yeah. So in some sense, so interesting. You should talk about it. I want to go back to the My washer story. Sure. Why am I wash? What prompted you to do my wash? Because you came from a telecom background? Yeah. And I know, you know, b2c, I personally, I love b2c businesses, for a couple of reasons, because of the massive impact it can create, on the scale it can accomplish. And if done well, it can transform markets. That's right. We can also happen but be a lot more incremental in nature. There are, yeah. And changing b2b businesses. Yeah, but but there is an allure to be Yeah.

Raghu Bharat  24:25

Yeah. So I think it's it's the way I put it mathematically, Krishna, I think it's a longer in the linear, right. So b2b is more linear, in my view, like I'm going to build it consistently. And it takes it very different dynamics Krishna, like given the way I look at this businesses, right, in fact, very interestingly, I did a b2c Vc funded startup. And now I'm doing a b2b bootstrap. So these two are like very, very different, right, so so just to answer your question, Krishna ligaments are in fact, our thesis was like when we wanted to get into Home Services. Think of the likes of house jury or urban clap, I think one company and now it's called. So our thesis was we felt we had a very similar thesis, Krishna Lagaan Suleiman Home Services enter domain was completely fragmented and very hard to get reliability out of it. Just like you mentioned, I went in, I actually spoke to a lot of entrepreneurs in the US who did Home Services startup in 96. And failed like him to take their feedback What? So my, my thesis on this was like men, so probably This time, it's different. Like, ultimately, I believe startup is all about the time segment. So that's my way of the lens, I look at evaluate idea, like, I mean, does it have the right inflection point to sustain and things like that, so I was probably that way. So we went home services at that time needs to be disrupted. We were looking at so just like ecommerce, like I mean, if you look at ecommerce, like it has multiple categories, books, electronics, clothes, Apple and things like that, but the own services also is very fragmented. Like you have electricians, plumbers, carpenters, you have laundry, you have beauticians, it's yoga teachers, yoga trainers, gym instructor, it's like a very fragmented one. We wanted to pick one category, like which has very high repeated, see electricians, carpenters, and all like the frequency is something we weren't very comfortable building your business acumen. So, in fact, there is a very interesting statement. If an electrician did the right job. That's a term for you again, so you will not call it immediate. Right? So that's very interesting. I'll share those thoughts later. At a high level, we wanted to come out come back with a like answer want to pick something that is very frequent, frequent high frequency vertical? Like just like Flipkart started with books, there might be some parallels. So either we could have done beauty or laundry. So one of this is what we felt high frequency, beauty, something we couldn't understand. Probably we three are guys, like even so we couldn't really understand that category. So that's why we started my washing thesis was much larger like a month, you want to pick one category, go deep, and then go wider. Right? That was the real thinking behind that question in terms of cutting my watch. And so what happened was by the time we so we, by the way, we were the probably still the largest in terms of how we scaled Andre as a domain, a hyper looking logistics for that domain, right? Like we probably still the I think nobody out executed us even today again. So after I think it's probably about five years from now. I don't think anybody really cracked. So in fact, the Howser acquisition happened. In fact, we also had an offer from urban clap and there was one more Home Services play called Zimbra on all three days behind us for the acquisition agreement. So because laundry is a very crucial category to get that high frequency, otherwise, you'll keep spending money on CAC, like when you just keep acquiring customers. So your customer acquisition cost is really high, like when to get a very infrequent services like electricians and things like that, like, Can you keep spending, like how many times you need to show your digital ad to get an electron. So it's a very tough business to build that way. Interesting things at that time Krishna argument. So I think, like, I think we were able to do that category really well. In fact, a lot of respect and the wave brand we were able to be in the ecosystem, we built that pretty strong, like we were sticklers for, like having customer service like, so we literally had the best customer service at that time. It was a buzzing brand in Bangalore, like member pay is to give backs and things like literally, like Even so, the proud moment, like even the good moments are like I mean, so I was traveling on a flight to a different location, I could see to my watch bags, in the cabin baggage, like I mean, so like, those, those were like small moments like human moments of joy, like, those are the best moments I had, like, what, whatever stuff I did. So I said, I think there's one slide one step, take a step back Krishna like, and I think that was the time I was actually contemplating whether to go for an MBA at hood cat got a pretty high percentile. So I was debating whether to go for an MBA or to do a startup somehow doing a startup like them. And so that was like, I would say, literally, like a crash course MBA. Like instead it was like an MBA on steroids, right? I think doing a startup on yourself is like you, you'll get to know everything marketing, sales, finance, you name it, you have actually given so I think that was a pretty interesting question at that time.

Krishna Jonnakadla  29:18

So I always get a little surprised when people talk about MBAs, especially people who've been out there in the wild. And there is an there is sort of an Americanism called for people who just educated themselves and then succeeded in life in get a college degree, or didn't get an MBA degree. So if anybody asked them Did you go to college? Yes, I go, which college? Which college did you go to? They are they respond saying I went to the school of hard knocks.

Raghu Bharat  29:49

Got it. I get what you're saying. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  29:52

 Life is life. Not too hard. Yeah. Yeah. Hit me up saying you know, I like I literally learned life the hard way.

Raghu Bharat  30:00

I think life is the best teacher ever. More than any university or anything. Yeah, that's that's right. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  30:07

 So looks like you did a practical MBA as opposed to doing a theoretical one. Yeah. And, but that's fantastic. But I still, I'm still a little intrigued by b2c at that.

Raghu Bharat  30:19

 Sure. So I think there's a bit of coolness to the b2c generally Krishna, I think probably, so I'll be very transparent and honest here. Like I think what went in my mind, right? Certain See? See, I think, see, when you're really young, right? Like when you go for, like, when you want to go really big given especially I'm that kind of guy. Like even so either you go all in or like me. So I think b2b was like a How do you put it more of a lifestyle business? You build it incrementally, just like you mentioned it? So I think probably the age, I think you could call the hot blade or things like that, like noon. So I think it was formula come and go all in. And I think there's a bit of two three factors I looked at Krishna one is like, you can create a large impact, given your brand will touch everyone, like look at how small to touch whereas in a b2b world, you probably won't be known. Like, even if you made a billion dollar like it will be tricky because you're not impacting the lives of immigrants. I think there is there is good. How do you put it it is a real coolness to if you can build a brand that is synonymous with everyone. So I think I think there's a very good coolness I could see that. I mean, so I think that that was the exciting factor for me. I wanted to do something large. That was the intention.

Krishna Jonnakadla  31:33

You know, what's the funny thing to 2014 the NASSCOM guys every year organized something called as a path product Council. Right? Yeah. Yeah. So 2014 when before launching my startup, at that point in time, I attended the NPC, okay. In the kickoff session was a guy by a guy called bV jagadeesh. Okay. he's a he's an entrepreneur, who's made a, you know, I think 100 million or so in some b2b startup. And he did. I don't know, I don't think he was opening keynote. But he was in, in a series of keynotes. They were possibly about four or 5000 people in the room. So in his opening comment, he's opening his opening verse. How many of you here are working on a b2c startup? So in that entire 5000 people, two people put up their hands?

Raghu Bharat  32:27

Interesting. Okay.

Krishna Jonnakadla  32:29

That was me. And there was another guy, either identical idea like mine. Correct. So he said, I wish you I wish you best of luck. And then I'm interested in the guys who are billing b2b. Okay. He was literally like, okay, you two fools out here out of here. Yeah. I have no clue what you're doing with the audio. Oh, I have made my millions in this, whatever B to B. So therefore, I have a predictable path to making wealth. Plus, you know, you're, you're still clueless. Yeah, that is. Like, dude, you know, I've never it if making money is important. Yeah. You know, I will not even pretend for a second that making a botnet. But we also have to do some things that we are passionate about. Yeah, no matter how much hardship I've never given up my sort of passion or fascination for building a b2c startup. It's a longer journey. Yeah. The odds sometimes feel like are not in your favor. That's right. But I think the tools that are available today, yeah. Make it different. Yeah. And so Mahesh Murthy, who is one of India's well known investors, he's got this theory, right. What do you think, right versus Is it b2b or b2c?

Raghu Bharat  33:53

So I think it was actually a mix of both because I know funny very well. He's my senior from Pilani like so they had the b2b regard, inventory management, the first time they got for seat seller or something was their product name correctly. So I think that was the game changer in the bus booking.

Krishna Jonnakadla  34:12

But that  came much later, in fact, in their original they were all about ticketing software, ticketing software. That's right. Yeah. Then eventually inventory. So they went the story has not come out. But if you look at it, the final version of it actually scaled is a b2c version b2c. Yeah. It wasn't like they tied up with IBM and then 100, IBM was wanted to go to Hyderabad and that was a bulk ticket that is not just to see what what my smoothie and there are Kunal Shah been to the the, they have their own theories, but the crux of it is that our life is getting more and more interesting way, variety driven and complicated at the same time. So getting getting better at is the intro is becoming more Megaman. Yeah, I think Yeah, so what So what it means is you have one to one thing to do this one thing to do that one thing to do, which is why the winner takes off? Yeah. So today's phone pay wants to do like 100 different things, multiple things here. But if you see 95% of what phone betas possibly do, it's only two things. One is people pay bills what people transfer money? Yeah, no, no, but that's the crux. So, the market is thinking in my mind, I do not have space to do multiple things that right, I remember for pay for fund transfer, remember something else for something else? So I associate each one of them. So my smoothie says that he uses a label called remarkable is the one thing remarkably that you do people will not so for instance, there is Facebook Messenger, there is Yahoo Messenger, there is iMessage, but he will still do WhatsApp. So if you are this, if you've done this one thing remarkably, and then you build something around it then that is where you know that that becomes the inflection point for scape. There is still like the Coronavirus thing has so many angles to it. It is like each one of these topics are like a is like an elephant. Right? In 2015 I still remember Jeff Bezos when he came to India, he said fashion is our number one category, it is a fastest growing category. But today when we see outside of myntra, that sort of thing has really stagnated. Right there is definitely online fashion. But fashion is a business whereby that physical touch trying out but I think its own limitation beyond that penetration rate. So So ecommerce has, we'll get into areas, but it is not necessarily some of the common thoughts around why it's scale may not necessarily be completely true. In fact, just to add to that Krishna ligaments are the way I look at it. It's like a b2c is probably playing like a 2020. Right? Whereas b2b is more like a Test cricket like so I think. That's the way I look at, in general, probably analogues to that. Yeah, easily reverse reverse repo because we to see takes longer to succeed. I

Raghu Bharat  37:16

 think I think probably longer because I think so two things here Krishna, like, I think it means a different mindset is what I feel like I mean, you either has to go all in like them. And so I don't see, like when so you look at let's say food delivery, for example, right, like even like him. And so probably there were 2030 players or more than 100 for four years back. So it's consolidating into to like me, right now it's in. It's a duopoly like when whether it's sweet tomato, right? Maybe in two, three years, there might be only one. It's a moment it's going to be a monopoly, like and so who execute seems a long game, except very long game. That's definitely given. But I think it's it's about winning that like it's about all, whereas in b2b Krishna, even today, if you look at CRM market, they might have hundreds of, so there won't be clear winner, it's probably the winner has like 20% market share or things like that. Right. Right. That's the way differently I look at. Definitely, which is which, which is why I'm saying it's a much more longer game. Yeah, it will see. And although people feel like you know, they need to succeed overnight, in b2b, it, the revenue making angle sort of reveals itself rather quickly. That's right. So I think b2b is more sustainable Krishna given so the way whereas b2c is still a lottery.

Krishna Jonnakadla  38:35

Why do you think the 4998 people there in NASSCOM product council did not? We are, we are a nation obsessed with safety? Yeah, that's right. I think I think it's the risk risk appetite. Right. I think it's the risk appetite as well. Yeah. I don't know who there is this TED talk about innovation. And there are a couple of guys that that talk about a great deal of research that they've done about why India doesn't get counted as a nation that innovates and then they go on to debunk the myth in that saying that there is a lot of innovation that is happening in India, but it's just not happening on the consumer side. Interesting. Okay. Okay. If you see our, let's say, Micromax lava, all these are, you know, they're emulating Chinese. Right? Oh, and when you actually start digging deeper, you'll also start realizing that we have consciously and unconsciously with bad policy, killed manufacturing Tunica, we make that for you to create products. There is no ecosystem.

Raghu Bharat  39:51

That's right. I think I think ecosystem is the fundamentally the way I look at Krishna like we are a derivative on the ecosystem, whether it's any ecosystem, right? I think he goes is the key missing piece in the puzzle? I see Krishna.

Krishna Jonnakadla  40:04

But there is a there is an outlier in in all of that. There is a very interesting outlier story even in that trouble. Do you know what that ecosystem is the if you read the Phil Knight's Nike story, the first year, sorry, the first decade close to a decade, when he starts Nike. There is a I think there is a coach called Power men. Actually his partner, okay. Phil Knight, he's done a terrific job with a memoir, he himself sort of confesses that he is unremarkable. He didn't call it moment was the genius who got it. Who was such a terrific track coach, that he knew what kind of shoe would work for the athletes. So what Phil Knight does is he contracts with a Japanese manufacturer got it to think of Portland, Oregon. And although Portland, Oregon in Japan, you know, are right next to each other in Europe, but otherwise, it's still a world apart. Yeah, it's it's a very different continents and things other than the fact that the Japanese were known in the US at that time in the 80s, when Nike really took off, because auto market and electronics, manufacturing This is their ecosystem. The ecosystem that really existed was not the supply side, but the demand side. I think yeah. So you have customers there, I think you have the market, which we still do in India, right? demand side ecosystem has existed will exist. Yep. Given the sheer size of our nature population. Yeah. But, but But the thing is, somewhere along the way, we have said, we have, we keep telling ourselves a lot of lies in our community that prevents us. So anyway, we've digressed a lot. Let's come back to CrewScale.

Raghu Bharat  42:01

 And just before the question I want to at one point, in fact, I come from a pretty patriotic and nationalistic family. But that's why my name birth as well. So a lot of friends suggested Why don't you do like just get to us and do something right. Like and so things like that. So but I think my my intention was to build something here. Really, I wanted to make justice to my name as well taken personal name as well. So I think that's another reason I have been pretty pretty much in India, which means I want to build a whether it's b2c b2b, because I feel probably this is going to be a big opportunity. It's I think, being piloted in the Indian market. That's my thesis, I think, let's see how it evolves. I believe in whatever you said, as I think we have few gaps in the ecosystem and things like that. Include see how it goes. So then let's get started with the crew scale story in 2015 16, this gap after you exited house joy, contemplating a new thought about remote work. So sort of talk about the genesis of crusade? Yeah, so. So I'm more like a nomadic in general Krishna like, and I just like to travel like him. And so generally, they come in, and now everything is in past 2020 has put on pause. So personally, I have traveled about 40 BRIC countries, Krishna like him personally, so far. In fact, one of my life goal is to travel to about 180. Let me see, let's see where I will end up in general, while doing that, so what I wanted to pursue the travel fashion Krishna liking attempts is a good 2015 timeframe for the position. So I think a while, let's say you're doing a full time job. And again, a full fledged job, it's very hard for you to take time out, especially if you're in a management layer or when you have more responsibility on you things like that. So I was for the first time evaluating this remote work, like when I bumped into a company in Europe, actually another very large telecom company Genesis. So I was part of their data science machine learning teams on naturally a Python machine learning programming guy. I reached out to them. Interestingly, they posted a job for 2016 they wanted to try it out. I also heard about top talent Upwork marketplaces like Upwork has been there from top 10 was disrupting upperclassmen through a premium high quality, filtered, vetted assessed talent. So I got onto both these platforms I started exploring so it was pretty new at that time in India, just to living like a freelancer so people will think that if you're a contractor in India, you don't have a job. Or if you're a freelancer, you don't have a job, right. So I think the mindset is still not there. Like I think the ecosystems of workforce paradigm and things like that. So, but I have I had three thesis in general Krishna at a high level. So if I looked at my parents career acumen, so for my mom, it was only one job, she joined, and she'll probably retire in the States. Probably, if one slight generation above us like him, and so probably they would have what five to 10 jobs in their career in their overall career. Probably You'll end up doing more. Like I'm also like an art generation and things like that. So, effectively what I mean by that is there is a definitive trend of both becoming shorter in terms of your association with the company. So, so that effectively means that I think more and more contracting freelancing work is the pieces. And we have seen already in this played out playing across European and US markets, Krishna like, so the freelancers in US Parliament already cross, they're literally Google, which is considered to be a big product product company, and now has more freelancers than their full time employees. So this is in tech tecplot, right. So I could see the sprinkling of I think the second thing was Krishna, like when I felt physical work, Max don't like him. And so look at traffic across Bangalore or bay area or anywhere, right? I think this problem is everywhere. It's not it's not, I could see the same problem and barriers will like the same thing, right, like when you probably had to do one, one and a half hour commute for your office and things like that. So a significant reason. And so even my telecom background 2010. So we used to have this network called H, then we got into 2g, then we got 3g 4g. Now we're at the cusp of 5g. So there is a 10,000 x difference between a Gen 5g set up in 10 years, we have seen the word digital and so I call this the digital highway segment. So digital highways have become 10,000 x in terms of the capacity expansion, where is the physical roads are still there, they probably moved at a phase of two x three x. And in fact, more people onto the road, the physical infrastructure is not scaling as per the digital infrastructure. I think that's the fundamental thesis, I had Krishna, I felt that I think more and more digital work will happen. given more collaborative tools like Slack, it was upcoming at that end, it was becoming very popular, like when you could just disappear or you could do a bunch of coding, you could raise PR pull requests and things like that you can get back and get your work done seamlessly. And so 10 years back, they came in. So if I had to debug an issue, I used to go to that physical server. Whereas in AWS, if you have access to your server credentials, anywhere across the globe, you don't need to be it server close to the server or something of that sort. I think I could see that more and more collaborative tools, more of this infrastructure changing. I think the work is evolving into fully remote, I think I was a bit early, just like you mentioned 2015, I was a bit early to this thesis like me, and I wanted to do something there. I think that then I started exploring forms with Elena. So personally, on Upwork alone, I made probably about 200 K, just in the first year. So there was a real crazy money as well like, because I was being in India and I was able to earn in dollars. So this is the monetary part as well. And I was also able to get a cutting edge technology, like I was able to work across the cutting edge technology to segments able to do that cutting edge work. So I was also had the freedom to travel across the country. So that that that was like Nirvana for me. Like even if I have all these three, I think there was like what I will say it would be right like Also, since I would need like, I'm going to have the freedom to travel if I have the protocol on everything sorted. And if I had the lifestyle work satisfaction in terms of the cutting edge work, I'm doing it or what else I was like come on. So that was like pretty eye opener for me, Krishna and I actually wanted to get this spread like a min. So that was the thesis how to scale was born when so I wanted to split this revolution remote. So I was probably one of the early guys who picked that and tested the waters initially that somebody can really do a career out of this fully. And so I think that's that's a skill was born.

Krishna Jonnakadla  48:40

So that you were yourself a successful freelancer. And in some sense, you are living the dream, so to speak. I still remember in 2011 2011 I was flying from actually 2010 flying flying from Dallas to Manila, Philippines. And, and I was flying business, San Francisco connected in San Francisco, all the way to I think Tokyo. So there was a guy next to me. And he looked like a rather really young guy, when I myself was my you know, late 20s back then. And this guy looked like he was 2324. And so we just started chatting and I asked what he did. He was a freelancer. I forget his profession. Exactly. He was doing as a freelancer way back in that time. His formula was he would work nine months in a year. freelancing in the US. He would fly business. anywhere he traveled, living his life and he would live in he would live in Bangkok. Thailand, or Singapore or Hong Kong, Monkey Beach. And he would, and he would come back, and he would work another nine months again. That seemed pretty interesting to me. So I think what you are sharing is echoing, you know, somewhat similarly. And then. So then obviously, there was Upwork, there was a top towel, top towel. And then how did you want to position yourself? So what was the starting point?

Raghu Bharat  50:30

 Yeah, I think I think that's a good question. I think that I think a lot of people miss why, like, Why krischell? Right, like, when you already have up work under top towel. So why kruskal? What's the differentiation right? So, while working on a poke and prod, tell Krishna like I could see glaring gaps. So in fact, if you really look at it, so toptal is not very much penetrated in India, right. So what you need to do is India, right? So in India, or countries like that, you are not still used to that freelancing mindset. Like if you need to give more consistent say to that, candidates, developers in general, then give your perspective different again. So when I was talking to in fact, we have people from x, Amazon x, Microsoft, excellent. And so we were able to get pretty high quality talent on board of the ship like I am. So we are about 180 plus developers, there are about 180 plus developers spread across and these are like pretty high quality tier one talent. We have a good like 50 6080 and 30 4050 chance entities to play this and things like that, like on so these are like hand picked really filtered candidates. I think I think first it was like more of evangelii thing this election in India, right? So it was very hard convincing that guy who is working in Amazon, to pick this lifestyle, right? So unless, after he saw me like, I mean, Howard was living this dream, and what it can get get to you, right like him. And so I think he was pretty convinced on that. And he joined jumped onto our thesis was to get more more and more wider people into this bandwagon. Which doctor wasn't able to do that, because so you need to still give them as kind of security a sense of security, let's say for people in India, right? So if I go to a developer who is working in Google, and if I say him that I'll pay you $1 per hour, he doesn't understand like me. So if I say your notice, it is only five days or even notice it is one day. So what we did, we flipped the model. Like we did that local innovation, we got that model into local, we hire people on Indian citizens like him. And so I get the same Google way, he will definitely get at a much larger legacy, let's say is getting it 30 lakhs working in Google, in India, so he'll get about 5060 lakh. But whereas we make sure that he is always optimized, he's always kind of so and we get those only tier one top 1%. So our thesis was also that the top people take them, and especially the high quality people, they don't have don't have work that come in. So definitely, always constantly keep getting so that was a thesis and that so we started there, we'll do three more missing pieces as well, Krishna lagman. So this is more from the programmer angle, developer angle. The Upwork is a unfiltered marketplace. I would say it's a chaotic world. Like if you post a job on Upwork, right, let's say for a common keyword like Java, you get 300 applications, depending on your budget. So how do you filter who is the best guy? Right? So that's a broken problem, like you don't have bandwidth. So you have to rely on anecdotal evidences like past history, past work history, past reviews and things like that. But if the guy is really good, he's always occupied, you will not get the guy who is really good to get to get to you. Right. So Upwork is a broken marketplace. Krishna, it's like, the same analogy works across other marketplaces is a mix. If you look at now, Craig, now, Peter. So from now three, you got this filtered thing called am jobs, which is a curated marketplace, because these are meant for large marketplaces. But if there is a real lack of genuine need for a top 1% marketplace, the same thing with the matrimonials. If you look at Mark matrimoniale, things like that, it definitely has something called as delayed matrimony. Similarly with the shoddy, right, so the same exists across multiple different matchmaking marketplace. And we want it to be that elite marketplace. That was the that was the broken thing there. So it's very hard to filter out the profile segment. So like, when you get 300 application, how do you figure out who is the best fit? So I think that's the key, missing piece. So what we promise is that what we propose our value proposition is, if you're looking for a Java developer, we get you the top three people, you don't need to worry about anything else, you can just, you interview these guys, how many number of rounds of interviews, we also passed them through a lot of interest ourselves. It's not like I'm in so we really get them through our funnel. And so really, it's very hard for the layman. So we built an assessment product while doing that as a standalone assessment product called pal scale. In fact, better than hacker rank or hacker, the pure play standalone assessment product. When Upwork or top 10 started to the assessment process wasn't there like and so even top 10, as of today, a very manual recommend. So people give you an assignment they will ask you to, there is like a very similar interview, video call kind of interview that happens and things like that. We automated and our differentiation has been the odd automated SSL use l scale to really do that assessment internally. So in fact, we actually have a thesis behind this, right? This is a pretty bit more techie techie stuff. But just to add one point there, if you look at the assessment, generally, it's more of data structures and algorithms and things like that. Whereas we believe that after four years or five years of your career data structures or algorithm are not relevant anymore. It's your MVC skill. It will do staplers ability to do code and things like that. So we actually have a project based world's first project is based on that does this complete filtering on a real world simulation of skills that are needed for your real job then what you have studied in college? That's the innovation that we are bringing to this world?

Krishna Jonnakadla  56:05

Yep. Awesome. So wherever you're fading in and out, so what, what happens is when you finish your sentence, okay, you're fading in and out. And I think your camera is shaking a little bit.

Raghu Bharat  56:18

So just give me a minute, Krishna, I'll just set this up. I know why it's happening.

Krishna Jonnakadla  56:23

 So great. So if the model is that you were convincing people who are in safe space, so called Safe salary jobs, yeah, yeah. To come out. And then, in some sense, taste the nectar of freedom.

Raghu Bharat  56:40

Freedom. So I would say I have a different philosophy here. Krishna, I think it's probably controversial. I think I think it's about bonded labor versus freedom. Right. So I think that's my view. I think that's what excites outliers. Krishna, I think that that's what we want to make a cult or a community out of this kind of case.

Krishna Jonnakadla  56:59

Yeah, I know. A lot of things haven't still left our country, isn't it? This whole Maharajas, I guess, but the point they all live on in other forms, and we have a larger than life, celebration do our job in life. We have larger than life for politicians. The thing I sort of pains me is that if, for instance, if you take Hollywood as an example, or even the British film industry as an example, no matter what the size, the variety of people is just vast. Yeah, yeah. Think of two people that played Steve Jobs. For instance. Ashton Kutcher, yep. You would not believe what even Yeah, exactly, exactly. Imagine Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs. And the other one is Michael Fassbender. Right. And then, Michael, and in the Ashton Kutcher, Steve Jobs that Kate Winslet character does not even exist. Or if you look at, let's say, Agatha Christie is vital. So Murder on the Orient Express the latest May, and then you have Kenneth Bronner, and you have Johnny Depp. So if you look at just people in a leading male, male, you know, male actor Actor in a Leading Role, you can come up with 50 6070 names, right? Yes. You know, a few people from Will Smith from Tom Cruise, and none of them can take their careers for granted.

Raghu Bharat  58:38

That's right. Yeah, I think i think i think that's important is Krishna, I think taking it for granted. Right? Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  58:43

With the exception of, I don't know, Leonardo DiCaprio, you know, has had a very dreamy run. Right. So from Titanic in 1999 to 2020. Today, he's had a dream run. But Gabriel can also take not take his, you know, success for granted give them they have deepened and divided the markets so much that none of them can say, you know, I am going to dominate the heck out of you.

Raghu Bharat  59:12

That's right. Yeah. Right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  59:14

And, and that cultural notion that there should be so many people doesn't strike us at all. I don't know why I don't if I'm the only one who sort of see this as odd for crying out loud. We have five times this population. Yeah, that's right. Yep. And that is only one language that's, you know, for imagine one language. And we have 15 official languages. We possibly have 10 film industries. And if you take Bollywood and tollywood, the two top industries, you can only name about five, three or four people who dominate those industries. And after that, you know, that list actually becomes Zilch. Yep, yep. Right, something is wrong with the psyche that and then you see that notion. People want to settle down in 2002. You know, I had a personal situation, because of a fight between my father and my uncle. I was penniless. And I was on the street. You know, when I was going to college, I was always thinking, you know what, when I actually graduate, my dad's going to be now in his early 50s. And my dad has already built a home. It's a joint family home. So therefore, and I'm going to, I'm going to get an education. So I wanted to become a chartered accountant. So my thing was my worst case scenario was, if I try something, I wanted to try something very early on in my life. Yeah. I said, as a young teenager, I started a collaborated with a friend of mine started a case automation software company for legal firms. And I'm like, okay, I don't have to worry about a place to live because my dad's already built a home sorted. I if I if what I do fails, I will practice as a chartered accountant. chartered accountant is always needed. Yeah, I probably practice. And if I lose all the money that I put in, or if I don't make any money, I can come back and ask my dad at least to feed me. Yep. So I possibly have a 10 year window. In Brazil experimentation? Yep. experimentation. So the funny thing is, around 2001 2002 when the 10 year window is about to begin, we were forced out of our house. My father became paralyzed. And the entire the responsible. Yeah, I needed getting flipped really badly, because my brother was still in college. Yeah. So all the things that I said, Hey, you know what, these are available? I'm going to take risks. He became upside down. Stop.

Raghu Bharat  1:02:06

I think I think that's the beauty of few outliers. Krishna, like, I mean, I think I think you rightly put in red, I think we don't back off for anything that life gives us. Right. Like, I think that fighting spirit is something that very, like, I can see that thread keep doing this pattern matching across people I meet and things like that. I think that's the key important thing, Krishna ligament. So there have there could have been like hundreds of scenarios where I would have just lifted my hands and just probably picked a job. But I think not giving up right, I think whatever if it's you like I mean, I think that's the beauty of entrepreneurship is what.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:02:39

If even now, you know, I was working for a US based crypto startup, I was a global business heck there. And in all of this COVID fiasco, there was a fraud at that founder, founder level very large scale fraud at that company, the result of which the company that we were I was working with, sort of, is it sort of like deathbed, right? So, you know, they'll let the people go, and I, and I don't want to work, I don't want to get a job. You know, I My passion is to build something large and it now. So funny thing is it it is about a freelancers are a big target market. We'll talk about that in a second. So but let's come back to the starting point. Still. Yeah, yeah. But so those are for a nation that doesn't culturally support that kind of risk taking? Yeah. Oh, is it? Is it fair to say that these guys had seen the tech ecosystem, they possibly had seen people like you, who had gone on to Upwork. And these places and then had created outsized outcomes for them? In the dream? So how was that? How many people did you initially managed to convince? Because getting to 60 70,000 is not a joke, right? That's right. And getting the first 60 is also not a joke. Cutural anti...

Raghu Bharat  1:03:58

Mindset mindset, right? Yeah. So that that's right, Krishna, I think you probably guessed what would have happened to three years back. So I will literally on calls with people to convince this like, even so people, so I think the early people who joined are like so I think I was, I think probably I think I could see that. What was the advantage of being in a tier one college for the first time like, and so I was able to pull off people, like even some high quality really good guys, or at least 1020 people through my personal network. So I am generally a very persuasive guy like him. And so I was very convincing and things like that in, in general in real world, like so I was able to show them this is something look at this, this is something pretty new. And this is going to change. I was able to convince them on the thesis and I was fortunate that people believed in their career. Right so i think i think that that's that's the joy Krishna leg along. Yeah, in fact, in fact, it's it actually followed an interesting curve Krishna like given the first 10th In fact, the first To three people are the really the hardest, like Even so, like it was extreme like even just imagine you started a Lego from scratch, you don't have anything to show as a company, you probably have one or two clients who are ready to pilot this, like not even fully there. I think getting people for the first two, three was the biggest challenge. I think I still have those memories like an implant implanted. pretty deep. Right? So I think so I think it became over a period of time that I think people kept talking about this. It spread on itself. I think the first 1020 it was pretty hard. Now, in fact, I don't get on the call with any any developer anymore. So I think how long did that take the take? 1020? Yeah, I think it took about close to 18 months. Yeah, so I think I've probably fortunate that it took at least smaller amount of time, otherwise, for an irregular period would have been like much longer like given the notice period and things like that, I think but as some work somehow it was. So it's from college and things like that Krishna from schooling, I was this guy who was like, Bill network like I was somehow being in the minds of people and things like that. So got that respect, some horn, things like that. I think that that's something I was able to leverage and pull people initially to get this kick started. Yeah. And then talk, talk to us about some of the inflection point. So then the 1020. When did the hundreds happened? When did the 1000s happened? Yeah. So I think what, what started happening was, I think people started loving this concept like him. And so in fact, our first customer was this company called capillary. So capillary is a SaaS based company. In fact, our customer pretty good. So in fact, I was pretty close with CTO at that time. And so he was super convinced because he wasn't able to get similar talent in normal ways. In fact, he used to tell to his recruiters like, so how was this guy able to get this? Or was he able to achieve this? Like, why? Why weren't we able to do that? So I think that triggered a lot. Getting and so we also started doing a bit of marketing, marketing, in a sense, more of his story spreading, I think, so we wanted to like him. And so get people aware of this segment is something of this sort an option that you can pick up. Right. I think we wanted to evangelize that. And we started doing that. I think, in that journey, I think we did, in fact, a very interesting additional argument. exactly three weeks back, we had one international developer from Egypt, working with an Indian client of us. Just imagine, right, so Indian client of ours, like so it's a pretty well known a tech company, I like him. And so pretty well known, they hired a developer from Egypt, like he's working live with that client, like, I mean, so that was like, all these things kept on like, even so it kept breaking all the way called whatever the mold of the whole ecosystem of work culture kept. So I couldn't imagine them. So I don't want to name that company. But like, you will be surprised like even Indian company picking up like they're open for that kind of stuff like that. So, so, things like that Krishna, I think of one step after another like milestone, we kept achieving kit. So, we do have like another couple of partners as like elements of Buddha from IIT, roorkee, though sumantra is my good friend from House jet, and he also did fitness company, which got acquired by Houser. So we met at house a, we came together and started this. So given their background as well, we were able to pull off a lot of items. And I think that also helped to bring in a lot of early adopter kind of talent. I think once it started, like even so it, it's still growing at a pretty rapid pace. Like I think Corona has definitely the inflection point I would say was in COVID, Krishna, like, I'll share one interesting story, right? So I was in conversation with the CTO of one of the unicorn in India like he, so he was not able to digest the fact that how can you work remote like him? And so whatever data security data privacy, you are letting somebody take the laptop with the data go somewhere and things like that, right, like, man, I think I think those concerns were definitely genuine negative. Be honest, I think there if I would have been in this situation, I think it happened. And I got a call from him two weeks later, or do we do remote? Right. So I think that fundamentally punctured all the questions Krishna ligament, whatever the doubts or people concerns people had with remote isn't productive. In fact, let's see what what it has done, right. Like, I mean, it forced people to do this, like and so there is no other option like this. Like I mean, I think now people started evaluating how do we become productive? They how do we make remote work efficient? I think the whole fundamental story change, like and so how do we make remote work productive and efficient is that it completely changed. It flipped the Krishna magazine, that that I would call the inflection point that just to add some to data matrix here, right? So Upwork publicly said share. It used to be about $5 in March just before COVID. Now it's about seven weeks of that document. So in six months, it became seven weeks fiber fiber is another marketplace for freelancers, staff. fibre has become the next. So publicly listed companies becoming 10 X and eight x at that scale like it was there already, since that public rate, you know, their metrics and things like that. And that level of rewriting becoming nx in a shorter time frame was not seen in any recent time setting. That's how much crazy the space is getting disrupted Krishna in general. So you were to have three or four room hacks or growth tactics, growth strategies that you adopted? Yep. that put you on the path to growth? Yeah, what would those be? Yeah. So I think we fundamentally believe in growth hacking in general, in everything we do, right. So whether it's M. C, I think there's so given that we are bootstrap. So I have actually seen both spending money on performance marketing lechem. So in b2c, you just put dollars and you get users signed up and things like that, you push, you push the accelerator, like, literally, the Burning Man. So in a b2b, you have to build this experiment, Product Marketing experiment very consistently, like you need to trigger, you need to put your loops inside the product like an answer, which will get generate more and more customers. So we had definitely the referral loop, like I mean, which got more and more like input from the candidate side and the freelancer side. And we also had few hacks. So it's actually very easy for you to figure out the ins. So in my view, sale is all about the intent of the game and figuring out who has the intent to build a product for, for example, clinical data or things like that for hospitals. Which hospital needs that product, like, who has that need figuring out and when is the key question in a sale is what I generally believe like? Right. So I think finding that intent and the time, Jeff, we were actually fortunate that we were in a domain, if people have the intent to hire someone, they put it on job boards, given that intent is publicly visible, like what it means...

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:12:00

The moment when that intent manifests itself. And where are they expressing that intent?

Raghu Bharat  1:12:06

Yes, that's right. I think I think that that Curtis is something we were fortunate to be in the right domain Krishna argument. Like, for example, if you just go to angel.co or indeed.com, like I mean, if you just get the list of jobs posted for remote, right, I think that's the intent, like when these companies really need that. And, you know, when as like, when I think that that actually was the biggest growth hack, I think that changed the equation for it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:12:29

So you went up to the job boards, and you realized, that's where the demand was coming? That's right. Yeah. And then you look, you built a supply base, and then so so I'm gonna ask you this question. staffing. Yep. How are you different from staffing? That's right. Yeah. So you are a freelancer, you are a freelancer marketplace, whereby you convince top talent? Yeah, say, guys, you know, you're on a fixed package. You're tethered to this company, and to borrow your words bonded labor to the right. But as opposed to that you can you can live a life of freedom. Yeah. And also earn more. Yeah, come with us. We know what the worry on your mind is. It is, Hey, I have an opportunity right now. Like you were saying, the biggest, when I talk about freelancers, the tenured ones, the established ones have a network where their leads come from, but still they are also there in their own mini Well, they are in a fraud, they are not. Right. But what you're bringing is the power of this removing global scale, global scale, generally, you're saying I'll remove the uncertainty and help you you're afraid of freelancing, because you're thinking, What if I leave this? Yeah. If all of a sudden I don't have work. And therefore the uncertainty that accompanies of freelancers, life, income, unpredictability, all of a sudden becomes real. Right. So you're taking that out? Yep. So you're there is demand that's manifest. And on the on the company side, you're saying, hey, you want a freelancer? Perhaps because you don't want to you don't want somebody for the longer term? Yeah. Maybe you have a month long month gig, or you have a quarter long gig. Yes. Before you'd like to do it with a freelancer? Yeah, you're scaling right now? Yeah. You're not sure you want to take all of these DEF CON to your full time pa right. So therefore, let me get, let me get you let me reduce the friction that you are going to experience in scale. That's when you may not even have the internal functions like recruitment, screening, all of that. So I have already pre vetted Yep, already. Yep, that's, yeah, you need them. So I'm going to match the two. Exactly, exactly. Right. So yeah. So how is it different from staffing. So if You look at for example, there is a menage sabharwal teamlease. Yeah. I think India's largest staffing companies on the blue collar side blue collar.

Raghu Bharat  1:15:08

 Exactly, exactly. And I think See, I think I think I think that's a good point. So I'll probably come to that. Right. See, unskilled workforce, Krishna, it's about the availability. Let's say if a driver goes away, you can just quickly replace the driver, a probably takes five minutes for him to get used to that your vehicle. And from there. So I think that there, it's a very different game in an unskilled blue collar workforce. Like it's a very, very different game, because you're not really worried about the quality of like a driver is a driver as long as it sensible and things like that, right? Like when there's no differentiate. Whereas, look, white collar workforce is very, very different segments of your assessment, and sticking to that quality is very, very important. That's what we have seen. I'll share one, I'll take a step back. And I'll share one other point. So what we have seen, right, I'm a developer being in India, right? So currently, I am working with Google. So there is Airbnb in the Bay Area. In fact, I have a lot of friends working there, like very similar to the quality of people that are working in India, Google development, right? So Airbnb pays about 300 k dollars. That's the kind of CTC generally they get there. Here, the Google Developer is getting probably about 3040. k. Both are very similar Krishna lagman. In terms of quality, I know both these people will even like even in fact, I would rate the Google Developer in India higher than what Airbnb hired for 300. Why is that difference existing? It's because of the location constraint. Yeah. The cost of the area? Exactly. Right. So if I take the location out of the equation, like what what I mean, by that, I'd like to see, I think, see, we believe that the right talent may not be in your zip code, in the same zip code. And the opportunities in the world are concentrated, whereas the talent in the world is distributed. So you look, you look for a couple of hotspots in the world tech hotspots in general Krishnan, in the both the Bay Area's relevant for the sides of the Bay Area's, whereas the talent across the world is distributed. Like even so you look at the IQ curves across Africa, or Eastern Europe or things like that, in fact, Eastern Europe has like really good, high quality, developer talent, but they're not able to go to us because of the visa constraints and things like that, you keep seeing this visa becoming much more problematic and things like that, you're taking everything out of the equation, say that we actually want to make the world a better place. We want to make the world better place by connecting people with more opportunities. Like for richer, for example, the developer in India, if he's able to work with Airbnb directly sitting in India, like so probably he will get two x three x the salary as an alien will also have a, it's a win win for everyone. It's a really a win win. So we actually want to enable that. So a normal staffing firm conduits, the problem for a normal staffing firm that they are local, like and so very geographically oriented, and things like that. So whereas we are actually flipping the whole thing, and we are saying that what if we take out the location, and we make carriers for people who are working remotely across the globe, and we connect the best people with the best companies? So the other two, perhaps, if I'm guessing is right, because these people are freelancers. They are not on your roads. Yes. Yeah. So so the few people who are on our roads, roles, in essence, we act as a layer of intimidation. I'll give you an example.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:18:27

Understand. So obviously, because you're doing the matching part, yeah, you're matching the demand with supply. So in my mind, in staffing, most people don't, mostly most people do not. They do not expect to have a choice. They do not expect to have a choice of where they will work. That's right. Yeah. Right. So the it is like a telling staffing company saying, Hey, you know what I want I'm going to work only if you allow me to work at XYZ companies. Yep. And the staffing company is going to say sorry, I cannot guarantee that. Yep. Right. You have to take up. So in my mind, if if your your model allows the person to say no, yeah, so he's, in fact, he has the 100% right on what he wants to do. Like, I mean, he can pick and choose the company he wants to go for and things like that, like that full freedom to the candidate. And then obviously, that even in staffing, the other side has always has had that freedom. So the company that is actually engaging that talent can all can always say, hey, this person doesn't fit the bit. That part doesn't change. Yeah, but it's on this side that they could make the choice.

Raghu Bharat  1:19:38

Yep. Yeah. In fact, a very interesting thing happened. Krishna again, if you really look at us, right. Most of the staffing companies are generally concentrated in Dallas. There's a specific reason for that, like even so they they wanted to be somewhere between both the coasts. Yeah, exactly. They wanted to be center pointed to perfectly location of the geography was the key constraint, the way the business model was built. And we actually if I take out that location from the equation equation, I can actually, if you really think of it, we are disrupting multiple things, the complete staffing, we're actually changing a lot Krishna, like with this taking out that rotation constructed. I think we want to enable remote workforce. I think that's the fundamental agenda where we want to go towards.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:20:25

So what are we likely to see this do Raghu I am? So the way I be I've imagined is if you know, Sam altman of Y Combinator, you can keep both posted a tweet saying, I am long gone. In person work, okay. Which means for the longer term, he believes that a book is going to be relevant. Remember, I think late 2000s whenever Marissa Meyer became head of Yahoo, first thing she actually did was she canceled work from home. Interesting. Okay. Interesting. So, so the funny thing is, I think this is still a work in progress. Indian IT companies have been doing remote work for more than two decades. Yep. Yep. So they've been doing that on a project basis owning outcomes that but outside of couple of, but path breaking things, either. We are unaware of any path breaking things that have come out of them. It has definitely created it created a huge amount of impact. You know, it's brought in a lot of forex inflow. It's made great trade imbalance a lot more better. But I'm just COVID has changed a couple of paradigms. In the P COVID. You had a situation where you had 2000 people on the same floor. Right. And in some sense, it's an oxymoron. Because how do you manage 2000 people? Exactly, yeah. Organized? Yeah. In some and that also created a great deal of disengagement and disenchantment with working for a large organization. Exactly. Because one is lifestyles are so stressed out, you know, the screwed up in some sense. And the Traffic Manager? No, no, it is it created a great income, but also accompanied with great stress. Yeah. Yeah. Like, it felt like you can't have one without the other.

Raghu Bharat  1:22:17

That's right.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:22:18

Yeah. But it's changing. So COVID put a stop to that. So now what? So now the thing is a handful of people, whoever are the are the ones that are the decision making creative. Those types, hardly the smaller office. So therefore offices become smaller. Yep. So you can still have a large workforce, but a distributed workforce, as a sort of as as as a result of this. So we are likely to see that happen. I'm you know, even in larger us American organizations, a very handful of people do the creative, creative, yes. are really executing, right. So in a worker bee, so that's right.

Raghu Bharat  1:23:03

Yeah. Yeah. So in fact, that word evolved from three phases, Krishna, I can, in fact, see, I think I would add couple of points here, right? See, I think remote is a work in progress. It's a curve that was growing on its own. I think what COVID did was shortened the curve, like when it accelerated adoption, I think the way I look at it, see, I think, if you look at it, like 300 400 years back, like when we all used to work together in factories, factories, or like even physical location, you go to that physical factory and things like that, like that's the probably the, in terms of networks, like I would call that the single concentrated dot, like you go there and do that. So then you started getting conglomerates, like you probably have a US office, then you have distributed offerings across the world. Like each of the country has its own branch office and things like that. I think that's the second model of evolution where the concentration was happening in particular particular locations. But you still have that master slave hierarchy of like top to bottom and things like that. I think the third phase of this workforce evolution is fully distributed is no any more a centerpiece or a physical office kind of stuff. You let people operate from everywhere, it's fully distributed network, like there is no office at all again, but there are a lot of companies doing that. And they're living that and variable through the Think of the benefits Krishna, like, the real estate costs a real estate without our realization is the biggest cost that we incur. And especially if you look at the balance sheets, and the p&l statements of the companies like I'm in so the real estate is the biggest that's fundamentally going to change. And I actually actually believe fundamentally, that remote work will make the world very, very better distributed and it's also very resilient. Given the way I look at it, right? It's a distributed networks are in general, very, very resilient compared to concentrated networks. And so in terms of networking as well, and things like that, I think I think See, I think arguing Krishna, human time has already comforted reading there's no stopping you. It's about it's about the real question is see a lot of people have complained about whether remote is productive or not. I want to answer that question as it. So I think, see, I think the remote is feeling unproductive because people are not able to travel freely, you're concentrated in a home, like when you're just being in a home like and sitting at the home, like, for the day long, you will definitely get exhausted just being on calls and things like that. But just imagine a scenario where you've got an accent, you're able to go for a movie in the evening, but whereas you're working from home, that's when the real productivity hits Krishna, like, I mean, I have lived that life. Personally, I have lived that life. I don't think people once they taste that, like they will not come back. But I do remember that there are a couple of angles. I think the tech industry is a little bit of not analog as to every industry out there. Yeah, I think I think that that's right. In fact, I probably should have set the context, I think what we are doing is majorly for the tech industry.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:25:52

Correct. Because Because for instance, in tech, now your assessment levels are established as assessment tools are established. Yeah. You can say who's or who's not level? Yeah. Now, take tech, to a large extent, behaves every bit unlike what normal humans behave like. Right? You do you do a, you know how to print hello world? You know, these are the steps now, you know, 10 different programmers. Yeah, just have slight differences in their code. Yep. But if you did follow that pattern, you know that Hello, world is going to get a comes to that output. Yeah. Right. So the So the thing is, as far as tech is concerned, to a great degree, and the questions that surround remote work, which is how do I find out if this person is productive? Second one, how do I know that this person actually worked on it? How do I know this person is actually creative and contributing enough contributing? Right, yeah, measuring that work? productivity? Yeah. Because ultimately, it's the end. If we put it all together, it comes down to one word, which is impact. That's right. This person really deliver and create impact. Exactly. in tech. A lot of that is actually measurable, editable, and can be looked at. Yeah, but but all of a sudden, take marketing. Right now, if you have 10 separate companies, yeah. All 1010 companies, even if they're getting the similar products, area, strategies are likely to be different. Because right now, I, you know, we have, we have launched a payment product for called vouch. Hmm. Because the freelance community, especially the fledgling ones, experience a lot of uncertainty in payments best, right? Yep. And more so in the Indian scenario, because, you know, people are don't pay, you know, the company, they don't have money, they have money, they don't pay you. You need that escrow and things like that. Krishna. Yeah, yeah. So so we act after experiencing the problem ourselves extensively. We realized, when we looked around, we realized, it's it's one of those things, which is very pervasive. Yeah. Yeah. No, I think I think that's right. Yeah. And people hadn't thought about solving it. It is like, I'll come back to that. So in running our marketing, yep. We are, we are realizing that even if we do pick experienced people, just building that creative fusion, and that excitement remote, it's just not working.

Raghu Bharat  1:28:32

Yeah. So I think I think Krishna, there is a point to add here. Right. So I think the way searing we will evolve on this question, I think we'll see I think probably, we are probably remote wonder what I mean by that, right. In fact, we are actually doing a lot of experiments inside our company itself. What we are planning to do is weekly one day marketing team will come to the office and sync, probably Monday's marketing team Tuesday's the finance team, ministers tech team, so it would be one or two days instead of a full fledged fight. Right. It would be a hybrid approach is what I think I am.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:29:06

Yeah, I totally agree with you. I think hybrid is where? Yeah, yeah, even in terms of the way we look at workplaces, and all of that, right, it is going to be a combination of a multiple satellite offices. That's right. This is where, you know, creative work gets done. Once the creative work is done, you go back and then you know, the tactical operational execution, heavy things get done. That's when you do segments around it. And then we need to check progress and ignite another spark of creativity. You come back again. I That's right. Yeah. I think you're bang on on that.

Raghu Bharat  1:29:43

Yeah, I think I think hybrid is the way forward Krishna, I think we fundamentally believe that and we are already doing that. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:29:49

But But think of the there's an interesting corollary outcome to that as well. Think of think of it this way. You know, if for people who follow investing, whenever there is a negative event, it's always like oh, The world says the world is going to come to an end kind of thing getting the fear of fear driven. But if you think of this, think of it for a moment. The earlier paradigm was if you needed 100 people, the whole notion was all 100 had to be local. That's right. Yeah. In the office, like when you need to get them in there. Make them sit in that office. Yeah. Which means I need 100 people office. Yep. Now, if I have 100 people, if at any point in time, I need 20, the ATR remote, let's say. Now, the notion is, okay, travel industry is going to go to dogs because nobody's traveling. And and it is not true. Right. Your if anything, the other 80 will possibly need to travel? That's right. Yeah, more frequently. That's right. Instead of instead of commuting to the office, here, we are going to travel, travel. Yeah. If there is any airline or any CEO, you know, who was thinking about this in like a 10 year timeframe. He's going to start thinking, you know, what, this is how it's going to transform.

Raghu Bharat  1:31:10

No, actually actually very true Krishna. In fact, we have an interesting theory internally, there won't be any more something called as Silicon Valley, we, the next phase would be remote Valley. Right. So everywhere it will be called is the remote Valley like heaven. So the world has a unified place, and people get a chance to travel and collaborate? I think it will open up, I think it will make the world a really, really better place Krishna. I think there is a bit social angle to this as well. I'll share a couple of interesting stories that happened. So there's a lady back when she took a break after her marriage of it and things like that, because she wanted to be closer to the kid and things like that. There was no company that was ready to give up work from home opportunities. Like two years back, I was talking about two years back scenario. And fear, the lack of envy said that you be at home to be closer to the kid to manage whatever stuff that you need to take care of. And things like babysitting and things like that, and you work remotely. And it really transformed her life. Krishna like women, in fact, this is, is actually the social impact of it, right? In fact, I actually have a senior from my area, like going to college area is fully physically disabled. He's like the IIT All India around to, like two years before my batch. And he right now works at Google. Google, literally, there's a pretty good widespread media, articles around him and things like that as well. Like even for people like that, like him who can't commute, like when, because of the disability and things like that. I think remote is a game changer, I think because he looked at the social impact of things like that, if you're sick, and you're not able to travel generally in a regular environment, you're forced to travel. So I think there are there are these positive elements, which probably we don't encounter. Because I see this day in day out, because I'm looking at people across and I think when I see these stories, when you see these real changes that are happening, Krishna, I think that brings me that happens.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:33:07

And Raghu when you launch a product, you cannot possibly imagine all the signs, like

Raghu Bharat  1:33:16

When I started when I started my job was to make travel and things like that. But the way it is enabling a lot more people, right? I think that's the beauty.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:33:25

That is life, because, you know, the same person is a father or a brother, and he has multiple uses. Right? So he takes on? exactly exactly right, depending on the context, your life is multi dimensional. It's just that at that point in time when we launch the product, we are not. We we cannot humanly foresee every dimension where it can be used. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Take Airbnb, for example, before COVID. It was a darling, no crashed everything completely. What did that but that's not the end. It's just an inflection point in the evolution of that company. So we've had a long chat. Let's come back to some nuts and bolts. So the initial capillary, what were some other growth challenges that you've experienced in in your scale journey?

Raghu Bharat  1:34:11

Sure. I think so. I think the key thing for me was getting the right set of people Krishna, I think we fundamentally believe that high quality talent is something we really want to emphasize on. Right. So I think the what, what, what changes the game. So people are not very comfortable working in a remote ecosystem. And given it example, I think the word culture is like when you're while working remote, like me, let's say you connected an Eastern European talent with the US or the language barriers and things like that. I think those are still the fundamental constraints. We actually have something called as remote boot camp internally, where we make people get ready in terms of making them enabled for remote working segments. So I think see in remote like a man in a physical world, it's a very different style of working. Again, if you see the person in front Have you probably for eight, nine hours, you know that his clocking hours like and so we need remote work like when tough to judge that like on how much effort he has put in how much work so it's it's a think of a completely fresh developer that joined or a fresh market or someone joined him only his work is supposed to talk. Right so I think it because you don't know the person in general and and how hard working and things like that other than the anecdotal evidence is you have, I think those are the still the constraints we're working on in terms of make building that trust clear in terms of remote. We're actually launching a timesheets product that supports breaking timesheets product, which measures your productivity, the kind of tools that you're working on, either you're able to clock eight hours, and things like that to keep transparent between the amount of time worked. So it's a bit like I'm going to bring in a lot of transparency into that marketplace that we actually want to take forward the remote ecosystem. That's the thesis in general and what our problem statement that we are keep pumping into Lachman, just like you mentioned, escrowing is like a big challenge, I think. I think over a period of time, all this, multiple entrepreneurs will solve multiple problems Krishna, like, I think that's the beauty right? Like when we all work together, making the vision of remote I think, once this ecosystem builds up, Krishna, I think for a new guy who is coming and picking up a carrier like him, and so he can be like, much more peaceful than what we all went through. And I think what will become a much better places where we are.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:36:24

Yes. company actually making an acquisition is a is a pretty bold move. Yeah. It only indicates the degree of confidence that you guys have in ourselves. Yeah. And I'm happy that it's a reverse acquisition of sorts. It's not a US company acquiring an Indian company, but the other way around.

Raghu Bharat  1:36:44

And interestingly, Krishna indies is also VC funded company. And whereas we have bootstrap, that's another angle to this.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:36:50

So how did that happen?

Raghu Bharat  1:36:53

Yeah. So that's an interesting question Krishna like, and and so we realized, in our part of evolution, we realize probably the demand side is heavily concentrated in the US, like in terms of opportunities and things like that. We wanted to set foot in the US market in general, like you need to be able to prove that, in fact, we work with grabbing Singapore, Kojic, we work with Southeast Asia on the unicon, Bygus, Swiggy, Ola, you name it, we have it kind of stuff, we were able to prove the thesis very well. In India, Krishna, we wanted to go towards that US market. So we debated a couple of options internally, one, whether we start from scratch, launch the product, take that organic path and things like that. So we felt, in fact, we actually bumped into this entrepreneur. He's from x housing, IIT Bombay, nitesh Agarwal, and he has been building this similar journey parallely, much before he started, and he raised funding and things like that he was able to take the business to a decently successful level there. And we felt this probably a potential opportunity, like when that will shorten the curve for us in us again, so through that, we were actually able to get pretty good high quality logos PCG. Domino's over and these are us, us. He has been working with them and things like that. And I think that, actually, so we felt credible, is the key thing for us to really crack the market in the US. And we wanted to build that references and customer logos and things like that. That was the key question. Krishna. I think financially it's an interesting challenge. Given that you are bootstrap, they are VC funded, but you are going aggressive, right, like I think, I think a few so I think probably we are a bit aggressive that we could change. And and fortunately for us, we did this acquisition pre COVID if it would have been post COVID the valuation. So I think that was a bit. I would call probably we were a bit fortunate that Yeah, we get it at the right time. So the VCs are no longer in the picture. Yeah. So there's not no longer so the entire team joined us. The operating team and indies is currently being run as a standalone, separate independent, random.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:38:50

Yeah, awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So what's in store the next five years ago?

Raghu Bharat  1:38:55

Yep. So I think

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:38:55

 I think you've already answered that question. Then on I take that I take that back, you already answer that question in multiple different ways. And when I asked some of these questions, it felt like we we were creating some sort of an echo chamber here. Because you're echoing my thoughts. And I'm doing it, it makes really dangerous. Yeah. So unless there is a little bit of friction, you don't get interesting perspectives out of it. So for people who are starting up, yeah. And given your own trajectory of doing b2c and then doing b2b. And I think in some sense, you're being too humble in saying you just worked on b2b. You were so excited by what happened with you, you realize that and that whole angle of bonded labor versus freedom, you're like, whether it is whether it has a b2b label, or the b2c doesn't matter. Exactly. Yeah, we probably gonna do Yeah, exactly. When I think about it that way, I think I'm thinking about whether it's a b2c You're a physical Yeah, putting into that mode thinking and things like that is just putting a label on it for me. Exactly. That is an exciting challenge. Yeah, I'm excited about this. Right. Exactly. Yeah. So so you, and you, your experience is very eclectic. Working for a telecom major, which is mostly a boring job to governance, right networks, and switches and signals, and all these 45 G's, just putting his marketing verbiage on otherwise boring industry. Yeah. And from there, you you did something exciting. And you find yourself bang admits COVID. Right. But you know, what strikes interest? What's strikes me as interesting is a number of disruptive events we seem to have, yep. In the frequency with which disruptive events seem to happen across the world. Now. I don't know if that is because of the hyper connected nature of the world right now. It seems that one thing that happens a lot. I think I think the impact spreads definitely faster. Right? Yeah. So therefore, in this kind of a scenario, keeping in, there is much needed to be that needs to be done in India. I think we've pushed more slot to a great extent. We want a more a more like, well, and for our roads and for our infrastructure, yes, physical infrastructure, because we can talk about $5 trillion economy till the cows come home, and then they've done and dusted. But until we don't improve that, they'll be coming home and onto the streets and all of that. Right. Oh, so what's your so it said, I want to talk about, get your perspective. What sort of innovation Do you think we should see? And what sort of different advice would you give young entrepreneurs?

Raghu Bharat  1:41:48

Yeah, so I think regarding the advice to young entrepreneurs, Krishna, I think I would say, See, I actually believe in no regrets framework, living life in a, it's easier said than done. They're given given the physical constraints and things like that. Right. I think for the NGO entrepreneurs person, I think they have wider, beautiful choices, I think the hard work that has been put in by the people before them. Right. So I think it made at least the world better place compared to what they went to I think that way, I think they have a much better Canvas, and much better way to express themselves and do things, which were in even, like I've been able to think before, right? Like I think I think for them, it's something big, I would definitely suggest people to take more risks, especially for people in India. I think that's something not part of our DNA. I think that that's something we have. So I think for me, not taking risk is risk. The way I look at it is very, very simple idea. Not taking risk is risk. Yeah. But I think the way the world is evolving and things like that, I think there's only one life. Go and chase your dreams. I think that's my advice to the entrepreneurs. Krishna in general. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:42:53

 When you live as a when you you're a silkworm in a cocoon right now, some eventually somebody will strip you off your silk. Yeah. So you know, a lot of us. I don't know that. Yeah. Yeah. And we by the time we realize it, it's too late.

Raghu Bharat  1:43:07

That's right. That's right. I think it's better to be your own path than somebody else tripping that right. Yeah, exactly.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:43:13

Yeah. So Raghu, I, this has been a fabulous, and a very interesting conversation. I think we've discussed a wide variety of topics I commend you're down to earth, you're so humble for all the stuff that you've done. It is somebody can just miss all the important points that you said, because of the simplicity with which you deliver. And all the ground grounded language that you use. I know, this is just the beginning, you know, from crew scale to Indies, and COVID is just like Bernoulli principle. If you have wings now. Yeah. When the wind we need beneath your wings is COVID A will lift you up and a little lift you up. I think originally his principal is going to act. That will be interesting. I have a feeling we'll possibly talk again in the next couple of years. You know, with you guys having made a huge mark in the in the US market and having gone places. It was great to have you on maharajahs of scale. We wish you the very best and we'll talk to you soon.

Raghu Bharat  1:44:13

Yeah, it was pleasure talking to you, Krishna. Yeah.

Tania Jadhav  1:44:17 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 heythere@maharajasofscale.com