We as humans always have a foregoing urge to sustain on the more. Living in one of the most exciting times our planet has experienced, demands are raging like a fire storm. The strive towards acquiring this demand does not concur with one inhibition. In our rat race in life, we are left with little time – to buy the astonishing dress with pretty pearls and white linen, race on a raging horse against the summer wind, date the person with whom we share a comfortable silence or get lured by the unconventional truths of cultural diversity.
An alumnus from IIT Bombay, Rajdeep Mandal founded Jugaado in 2015. Buzzfeed reported the idea of Jugaado as “The Harry Potter Spell You Never Knew”. He also worked as the Senior Financial Analyst of Deutsche Bank and Business Analyst of American Express.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS EPISODE
- Mission of Jugaado at the outset.
- Without a great team, a great idea stands on a house of cards.
- The calculated risks taken up while structuring the business.
- The caveat of the industry and how to resolve it.
QUOTES AND TAKEAWAYS
- Having a great team is the founding pillar for any startup.
- Word of mouth has been the prime source of publicity till date.
“A product needs to be sufficiently innovative to distinguish itself from the pack, but not so forward thinking as to alienate the user.” – Reid Hoffman
Tell us about your company. What are the things you specialize in? What inspired your team to do this?
Jugaado, a Mumbai based startup by IITians and Silicon Valley veterans, was born to cater to all of the eccentric, intricate and urgent desires that an incredible number of people seemed to have, but too often, have no idea how to address. The idea is simple: whatever query, quandary or desire you have, at any time of day, simply text it to Jugaado, and they will respond with a solution almost instantly.
Our specialization is in providing complete solutions from discovery to delivery across several domains, which include food, cravings, events, fashion, decorations, travel, gifts, emergencies and local information.
In India, majority of the vendors are still restricted by zero organic growth due to physical restrictions. Next time, when you want to get something special done, you wouldn’t have to wander across the streets or even the Internet. Neither do you have to consult friends who are self proclaimed experts.
Prior to you work with Jugaado, you were employed by American Express and later by Deutsche Bank. Can you tell us about your work as an investment banker in Deutsche Bank? Looking ahead in time, did it affect the way you work with startups?
While I worked at American Express and Deutsche Bank, I had great opportunities to learn across many fields. Some of the projects were particularly useful as I was able to strengthen my technical skills even further after doing my graduation in Computer Science at IIT Bombay. Since I always wanted to start something on my own, a diverse set of people in India and abroad catalyzed it.
Without a great team, a great idea stands on a house of cards. How did you build the team for Jugaado? What were you looking out for?
Having a great team is the founding pillar for any startup. Our core team includes Soma Halder, a veteran data scientist from Silicon Valley, Ignatius Pereira and Manan Bohra, my fellow batch mates from IIT Bombay who are handling technology and operations respectively. We are also lucky to have a bunch of passionate people namely Ayush Jasuja, Phalguni Roy, Rahul Khanna, and Pritika Mehra contributing across technology, design, media and marketing efforts.
While building a team, I was looking out for people who believed in the idea of Jugaado and were ready to leave their corporate cushions to come on board. I was looking out for exponential growth. We needed people working in the field of artificial intelligence and data mining. Fortunately, we found them.
What is the mission of Jugaado at the outset?
To begin with, we want the people of Mumbai to have easy and convenient access to any kind of service or product that they need. Be it a midnight craving or organizing an event in a short notice or any kind of emergency, one would require to approach a single platform providing wholesome solutions. To sum up, if you are too busy with your office presentation, or too lazy to leave your house, Jugaado offers a definite solution for you.
What is your most startup book? Is there any specific blog/personnel/video channel which you follow?
I had read “Losing my Virginity” by Richard Branson long time ago. I probably didn’t even know what exactly a startup was back then. But ever since, I have been closely following Indian and American startups whenever I got a chance to read or talk about them. Elon Musk is one person who I follow. The idea of adding real measurable value to the world, and the feeling of living on the edge are the real motivators.
Have you ever denied service to a client? If yes, can you tell us why?
It is very difficult to deny service to someone, especially when you have freshly started. People come to us with a wide variety of requests, some of them being quite bizarre too. Since the feeling of ‘jugaad’ is deeply ingrained in us, we manage to fulfill most requests. Sometimes, we have to let go of certain requests when vendors are not available during odd hours or due to cost constraints.
How did you go about for the advertisement of your business? To what do you attribute the success?
Word of mouth has been the prime source of publicity till date. Having a self-explanatory catchy name – Jugaado only helps. We have also used social media advertising occasionally. I think that we can call ourselves successful only when a significant percentage of the city’s population has at least tried us once.
What were the calculated risks while starting up Jugaado?
Considering the wide variety and range of requests possible, there was a risk of diffusion. Almost anything can be done, but not everything can be scaled up as a service. While a small percentage of our requests are very individualistic, most of the requests we currently serve get sorted through our hyper-local merchants.
What is the one caveat to lookout for in your industry? How do you mean to debacle such a caveat?
One could imagine that providing a simplistic text based solution would connote that an extensive call center would have to be set up. Such a set up would be very cash intensive, and would tend to use up funds on operations and not growth as one would like. This has been our primary concern since day one, and as a result of which we are already looking at automation in replies to significantly reduce (if not eliminate) the load on the executives. Two of our core team members are very experienced in NLP, and have already begun their work in automated text processing.
What is your word of advice to other budding entrepreneurs?
It is too early for me to start advising anyone. I am still learning the tricks of the trade. Just stay put and keep learning. Dissatisfaction of job sometimes lead to fallout from employment. What I have perceived is that the right time to startup is not not when you do not want job security. It is when you start believing in your idea of your work. You must believe in what you do for others to believe in you.