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Manav Garg started and ran Eka Software for 20 years before selling it. His #1 advise to founders? Budget 6 months to "manufacture" your co-founders

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Manav Garg started and ran Eka Software for 20 years before selling it. His #1 advise to founders? Budget 6 months to "manufacture" your co-founders

23 Mei 2024

“As I said, I am from a middle-class family. I was earning $10,000/month, which is a large sum in those days. And sitting in Singapore, Bangkok, travelling around the world. So my the larger question in my mind is that how do I take the decision?” says Manav Garg. Manav Garg, founder and former CEO of Eka Software, a SaaS company that operates in the global commodities trading space. "Former CEO" because Manav started Eka in 2004 and just sold it earlier this year.  Since Manav was earning $10K a month back in the early 2000s, we talked about golden handcuffs. You know, when people earn so much that they become risk averse? A lot of people are attracted to the lure of startups but not necessarily the grind that comes with them. Including much, much lower pay.  “So, my competition was TriplePoint, Openlink, SAP. Large companies, at that time. $100 million plus companies. So, I started calling them. Cold calling. And few of them didn't pick up my phone. One person luckily picked up my phone saying, ‘Please don't call me again and again. It's not nice. I'm never going to work for Indian company.’   I said, ‘Fine. Since I have you on phone, can I meet you?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘No. What will you do by meeting me?’   I said, ‘Let's have coffee. What I will do is, tell me your travel schedule.’   He said, ‘I am flying to London tomorrow, so I am going to be very busy.’   I said, ‘Okay, let me do one thing. I will travel to London next day and I will meet you at Heathrow. Just have a coffee. You anyway will take a shower.’   Most of the people from New York travel to London that red-eye flight, take a shower in the arrival launch. I knew that. I said, ‘I will meet in the arrival launch. Half an hour coffee and then you are free to go.’ He said, ‘Fine.’ Luckily, he said, ‘Fine.’”   It takes a LOT of courage to fly to London to meet someone who said he doesn’t want to work for an Indian company. And a LOT of vision to convince that person to join you. That’s what happened at the end of that 30-minute meeting that stretched to 2 hours.    Today, after 20 years as founder, Manav has jumped right back into the ring as the co-founder of venture capital firm TogetherFund, along with Girish Mathrubootham of Freshworks and others. When I asked him about something most potential founders overlooked, his answer was easy: Co-founder selection.  “See, in India also, still we have in that cultural mix, where you start up with your college friends because you spend time in dorms together, in college, you went through life's ups and downs together, right?  So, therefore, you're very attuned to start up with your friends from college, most likely, that's the most likely case, or from your workplace. You work with somebody in Amazon, Flipkart, Freshworks, Eka, Zoho, so therefore you end up starting up. I personally think that there is also a way to manufacture your co-founders.”  Manav advises founders to set aside at least 6 months to “manufacture” their co-founders by just meeting a LOT of people.  My conversation with Manav uncovers a lot of insight on how young founders should think about building for the long haul. He did it for 20 years.  There’s a lot of very counterintuitive builder wisdom to unpack in today’s conversation. Welcome to First Principles–The weekly leadership podcast from The Ken. Let’s get started. ------------------------- Daybreak is now a daily podcast. Listen to the first special episode we released on 17th May: “Why aren’t we scared of chemicals in our skincare anymore?” ------------------------- If you love listening to First Principles, we’re sure you will enjoy reading our Sunday newsletter, aptly titled First Principles as well. Sign up here, it’s free. Also, write to us with your feedback, suggestions and guests you would want to see on First Principles. (P.S. A lot of you have written to us over the last few weeks with thoughtful suggestions and excellent feedback. We’ll be sure to take all of it into consideration when putting these episodes together for you.) ------------------------- Also, have you checked out The Ken’s new app? It’s packed with a lot of new features. Read all about it here. If you haven’t downloaded it already, here are the links to both iOS and Android.


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