This week I jam with Srishti Handa on her journey as a solopreneur woman in India, and talking about her experience in starting, and then closing, The Temperamental Chef, a frozen food business in India.
My guest this week is fellow UChicago alumnus Azeem Zainulbhai, who quit being an international financier to be a tech entrepreneur in India. I spoke with him about his journey and stories, from co-founding Restaurant Week India (successful exit) to Housing.com (there’s lots on the internet about that story) to ShopX, his current professional home. We talk about tech, India, professional growth, and learning in a conversation I would have been happy to keep on having for hours.
Being in tech in India feels exciting and daunting. The sheer scale and potential of it all is noteworthy, but add to it the complexities of working on Indian infrastructure (both physical and social) and the dynamics with raising capital for a tech company in India, I’m left awestruck at the whole enterprise. You’ve got to have a gut of steel to want to do it, and I’m thankful that there are people who not only do it, but, like Azeem, are willing to explain it to the rest of us.
There was so much career advice mixed in this conversation that I’d encourage any young professional to listen to the whole thing, but one set of life lessons I thought particularly worth highlighting:
- Always be learning
2. Tame your ego
3. Have a reason above salary
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Thank you!
My guest this week is Suheil Tandon, the Founder and Director of Pro Sport Development, an NGO in India with the lofty mission of using sports to transform India’s youth. This group first showed up on my radar when they were raising money to buy shoes for children/youth in one of their projects so that said youth could compete in a running event. I have watched stories of the transformation that they bring to the communities that they work with, for the youth themselves, for the parents in the community who start to think about sports differently, and also to the instructors, who learn new pedagogical methods as a part of the process.
One of the things that surprised me in this conversation was the poor government/policy coordination when it comes to setting priorities in sporting. If winning medals was truly the priority for the last several years, I’m not sure India got what it paid for, so an approach that looks for better health and human development outcomes seems worth at shot. But outside of the fact that there are new talking points in town, I’m not sure that there’s anything encouraging on India’s sports-policy front. I’d be happy to have India’s “Sports and Youth Minister” on the podcast if he’d like to shed some insight. His Twitter feed is certainly not reflecting of any change in thinking.
One fascinating nugget for me was Suheil’s decision to not cater to small donors at all. It’s a really smart move, and I think he’ll look back in 5 years and feel really good about having side-stepped that.