Having clarity around the end goal goes back to having a clear purpose.
Where did the idea for LASH Delivery come from?
The phrase “on the lash,” which refers to drinking with friends, was introduced to my co-founder Uppal by his Cisco peers from the UK. Years later as life got much busier with young kids in the mix, Uppal was inspired to create a service that provided convenience and returned some time back to the users so they can spend it on activities that are core to them like friends and family. He approached me with the idea of creating an On Demand Service for a liquor store run and the term “LASH” was a natural fit! Now with a touch of a finger, LASH Delivery users can explore over 3,000 products, make purchases and schedule delivery times for their purchases up to seven days in advance. Recently LASH Delivery has also started delivering full-service restaurant food in line with its core value of convenience and is the only service of its kind in TX that brings Food and Alcohol to your door in one delivery.”
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Typical start-up environment at LASH Delivery where having typical days is seldom. Each day begins with a straw man that quickly morphs to meet the demands of the business. On any given day, you will find me and Manil strategizing over new markets to launch, building partnerships and alliances in the Food, Alcohol and 3PL (Third Party Logistics) space, optimizing our operations with our regional operations managers (Zo, Sadr and Alvaro), working on technology and design with our uber cool global tech team (here in the US and in India).
Having a well-articulated strategy for the company along with specific goals helps govern, prioritize and bring focus to what we as a team works on. As a company that is growing at a breakneck pace, we stay extremely lean. It forces us to surround ourselves with A Players who are very good at what they do but also have the ability to wear many hats. The team allows us founders to focus on growing the business and staying true to our LEAP mantra for 2016.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Both Manil and I are visual people. Give us a white board or a stack of post-it notes and we will have a plethora of “What If” scenarios plotted out. Everything we do at LASH is a result of throwing caution to the wind and putting ideas up for critique. Ideas turn into paper model concepts that we test on focus groups, the ones that show promise receive our attention in terms of effort and funding to pilot with a test market. It’s as much an art as it is a science, I look for messages from our expected results as much as I do from the unexpected anomalies. Yes sometimes the accidental data points are the ones you chase…….our 3PL logistics business started as a means to plug the holes in the LASH last mile delivery model and has morphed into a service of its own, powering billion dollar on demand services like Instacart. The underlying driver for us is to bring convenience options to our customers that are affordable and yet profitable for us to exist as a business
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The world of possibilities that come from people and things being connected. Our On Demand Alcohol and Food delivery business was launched on the mobile platform based on the principle that irrespective of where you are, by virtue of being connected, the consumer dictates what, when, where and how they choose to interact with services like ours. Take the trend around the Internet of Things and layer that with LASH Delivery’s last mile logistics network, the future is primed for hyperlocal services that result in same-day gratification for the consumer.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The ability to sift through the noise and focus on the items that merit attention. As an entrepreneur with a lean organization, you are pulled in several directions, the ability to identify what NOT to focus on becomes immensely valuable. It’s like navigating a sea of opportunities, got to pick the right waves to carry you forward on your journey.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job will always be the one I stay in after I have outgrown the job. For me, the job or venture must serve as a source of learning and intellectual challenge.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’ve enjoyed my journey so far. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work in corporate offices and also have several start-ups under my belt. The value of each environment is not lost on me and I continue to draw from those varied experiences. I would do all that I am doing, only sooner than I did, youth is wasted on the young
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Innovate and question the status quo. To sustain the rigors of being an entrepreneur, it’s critical to have a purpose and continued belief that you are working towards something that is making a material difference.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Having clarity around the end goal goes back to having a clear purpose. At LASH Delivery, we set our sights to be the turnkey service for food and alcohol delivery across TX. We also wanted to build a service that was sustainable on its own vs. propped up by investor funding. We stayed 100% bootstrapped for 10months, launched the service, proved the viability of the business in a couple of markets before we raised money in our seed round. Built a lot of character by going down this route, the journey was harder, but it forced LASH Delivery to build a new age on demand service on old school business fundamentals. Building a good business that you want to keep forever underlines our approach and decision making.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve come pretty close to having “the deal that got away” story. The advice from mentors and my ability to include folks close to me for counsel have been critical to minimize lost opportunities. I’ve moved from the “knowing it all” attitude in my younger days to being cognizant of my weaknesses and surrounding myself with folks that excel in those areas.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Control the Sun and the Moon and create more hours in the day. Short of that, there is a void in the arena of startup funding between Banks and Angels at one end and VCs at the other. I’ve seen a few companies spring up that have begun to address this by tying funding to revenue milestones vs. exits, lot of room for someone to innovate and find the sweet spot.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My daughter had been riding this broken down bicycle for months. She didn’t ask for a new one and that made it seem okay for me to ignore what seemed pretty clear to everyone around. I did make time one evening to get her a new one, very few things if any can compare to the joy and gratitude I witnessed that day. Talk about exponential returns, she spent one day on the new bicycle and let go of her training wheels. I have all the neighborhood boys of her age in our cul-de-sac asking her to teach them to ride without trainers…….this is not going to end well.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Everything cloud and device independent have my bias – Box, One Drive, One Note (Manil introduced me to One Note, and I love it, at least when it syncs without a fuss). Trello is a great tool we use with our global tech and creative team. Twilio is another gem that works behind the scenes doing its magic. Recently we on-boarded fleet management software that tracks our vehicles, driver’s driving patterns and provides us optics to preempt issues. Pretty awesome to see how far logistics management software has progressed over the years.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Dhandho Investor, Freakonomics, Art of War and a Short Story of Nearly Everything continue to fascinate me. Learn something new every time I revisit these books.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
-Warren Buffet, His investment philosophy as much as his philanthropy influence my habits.
Bill and Melinda Gates, for having the resources to make the world a better place and actually working towards doing just that. Here is a recent annual letter they released….
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.