Never be afraid to launch your product, even when it is not 100% perfect.

 

Apurva Udeshi is the Managing Director of Argent Capital – a sector agnostic structured fund that invests across Private Equity, Listed Equity, Fixed Income Trading, Real Estate and Start-ups that he setup in 2011. In the private equity space, Argent Capital has invested in hospitality, education, BPO and IT (HSenid – a HR Technology Company with over 1000 clients and 500,000 users). He is also the founding Board Member of the Lankan Angel Network (which is tied up with India’s largest Angel Network – the Indian Angel Network) and is a co-founder of Avantrio – a machine learning and blockchain-focused service-based company. In 2017, he founded an analytics company called Zeptolytics – a technology start-up focused on Self-Service Data Analytics & AI. Its flagship product Zepto is the simplest business intelligence tool (with Artificial Intelligence) for small & medium businesses.

He has a degree in Computer Science from Imperial College, London and has worked at Nomura and Kotak in London ( for 5 years) before moving back to Colombo, Sri Lanka to start his own companies.

Where did the idea for Zeptolytics come from?

Something that I am passionate about is bringing technology to its best use in the financial world. Data is the most valuable resource for any financial company and my goal was to ensure that even a small to medium sized business should be able to gain effective insights from their available data.

I run a structured fund that invests across private equity, listed equity, real estate, startups, etc. Most of my company’s decisions were based on my opinion and almost all the analysis was carried out on Microsoft Excel. I realized the value of available data and the need to use it to our benefit. As a startup, we wanted something simple, clean, and easy to use without the overhead of having trained analytics professionals, infrastructure teams, and support teams, so I decided to build a simple analytics tool. Thus ZEPTO was founded – our main aim with Zepto is to ensure that users can delve into the depths of data and make business decisions based on facts and figures and not just opinions. The real advantage that users have is the simplicity in which they can analyze their data using our AI platform. Think of it like a data scientist in your pocket!

Zepto’s first version was launched in 2018, and already has customers ranging in multiple industries such as portfolio management, manufacturing, food and beverage, and trading.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My day starts early in the morning at about 6:30 am. Believe it or not the first thing I do in the morning is check mails and clear out all pending emails which I have received the previous night( due to some of my work happening in different time zones). Before getting into office I need to be updated with the markets and news across the globe which may affect my days work.

Another important task I do daily is sync up with my core leadership team to understand the team’s tasks for the day and if we have any challenges which we can overcome or help solve. Being an entrepreneur running 4 businesses you always need to stay on top of things – I am always connected to what’s going on at work 24*7.

I strongly recommend everyone to indulge in ‘Deep Work’ for at least 3- 4 hours of your working day. Cal Newport’s book ‘Deep Work’ has encouraged me to focus, without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Most people usually spend their days in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way to seek focused success in a distracted world.

This is the best way that I try to make my day productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I spend some time with my trusted pen and paper to always chalk out an outline how an idea should be executed. It gives me some sense of direction and helps me plan the next steps of action. The second important point is taking input from my team – I always look for new innovative suggestions from the team and try to action on them.
Last but certainly not the least I believe in launching a product/system as quickly as possible even if the product is not perfect. It helps you get early customer feedback and determines if your product is right for the market it has been launched into.

What’s one trend that excites you?

New Technology Trends excite me. I am very positive on Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies become a part of our day to day lives. Virtual personal assistants like Siri & Alexa, traffic predictions while commuting, online customer support using chat bots etc are an integral part of our everyday life!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Managing time to run 4 companies helps me immensely to be productive. No one is too busy for anything – you just need to prioritize your tasks and manage your time. In my case I think the way I handle my time multitasking makes me extremely productive. Another habit which help me is never carrying backlog from the previous day (or sometimes week for heavier items). I try to clear out pending tasks as soon as possible so that I can focus on new opportunities on a new day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to spend more time reading books. One of the biggest regrets I have is that I did not start reading early enough. Reading gives you deep knowledge and helps you execute tasks with greater efficiency. The books that I have read in recent times have helped me be more productive, manage my team better, understand human behavior and help me focus my mind.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I believe that reading two business books per week is the best form of recreation, which sadly nobody in my family/ work/friends agrees on ☹

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

As an entrepreneur I believe that whatever you do – it has to be done fast. Even if it fails atleast you fail fast! For me I believe in launching products, developing systems, acting on insights in the market FAST. In todays rapidly changing world technology changes in the blink of an eye. To stay relevant time to market a product/ system should be minimal and this is something I would do over and over again.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

1. Hiring the right core team: It is the team that makes the company – we are a group of very different people with a common goal to build a successful business.
2. Taking feedback from dissatisfied customers: The true capabilities of a product are obtained from the feedback of dissatisfied customers. I always make it a point to speak to them and length and accommodate feedback into the product build
3. Building a network: It is the network that you build that will help you in the early days of your business, hence a large network of professionals is a must

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I would say as an investor I took the wrong call in a large investment that we made in the early stages of when I started. The investment was not well researched and done based on instinct which was a huge setback to me. It helped me put in a structure for myself and my team for any future investments and also helped us prepare for any setbacks.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would say technology is disrupting the world today. Focus on developing Machine Learning and Blockchain models even for large companies that are still not using Artificial Intelligence in the true sense of the term.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I’ve spent recently is on books! It has helped me gain tremendous insights into time management, productivity, human behavior, improving sleep patterns and balancing work and family. Some of the book titles are as follows: Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, Traction by Gabriel Weinberg, The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Rework by Jason Fried.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Slack and Jira help me to be productive. They help in seamless communication and clear prioritization of tasks which helps me work extremely effectively with my team.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Hard Things about Hard Things‘ by Ben Horowitz is a book everyone should read. Everyone who aspires to be an entrepreneur should read this book. It helps you to understand the importance of accountability in Business.Hard Things will always be hard, it is courage and grit that will guide you to success.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is by LinkedIn Co – Founder Reid Hoffman :
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Key Learnings:

  • Never be afraid to launch your product even when it is not a 100% perfect product
  • Time Management is the key to running multiple business’
  • Network Building helps to get traction to your product in the initial stages
  • Hiring the right team

Connect:

https://www.zepto.io/
https://avantrio.xyz/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/apurva-udeshi-7a1b2b15/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/zepto-io/