Mr. Binu Girija is the Founder and CEO at Way.com, Inc. He is responsible for building products that meet the changing demands of Way.com’s users and partners. Prior to Way.com, he was an Enterprise Architect at BEA Systems, Oracle Corp and Computer Sciences Corp., and led the Enterprise Infrastructure, ERP, CRM and Database team. He has
started multiple successful software companies that continue to grow and thrive today. He has a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Computer Science.
Where did the idea for Way.com come from?
I was going to a business meeting in San Francisco and discovered that I had paid three times as much for parking after walking by another lot. I literally had an aha moment that this wasn’t fair – and that people should be able to see all the options and have a transparent marketplace for parking – and cars.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I will wake up, have tea, and then sit for half an hour browsing things I find interesting. It’s my quiet time. Then I get ready and head into the office. My morning starts with meetings with each team, following up with items that I need updates on. I will have lunch around 3 pm usually.
When I get home, I actually wash plates. It’s very calming. I think it has something to do with the water, but it’s a nice distraction and it’s time to just not think. It also helps my wife! Interestingly, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates do the same thing. I just read that a few days ago.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I pitch the idea to team members and see if there is any stickiness or interest. But I won’t stop there with that limited feedback. You really need to vet an idea before you jump into it. Today we were brainstorming an idea, so I added multiple people to the call to hear all of them out. I also think about how we will go about getting the first 5 customers, because if you can’t get the first 5 customers, it’s a complete waste of time. I also try to implement new ideas without using too much of our technological resources, because otherwise engineers will spend too much time building a full-blown product. But most importantly, you need to hear from different sets of people. My wife is the shrewdest person. Even when I think I have a great idea, she will be ice cold. She’s very tough to impress!
What’s one trend that excites you?
The global green movement and sustainability really excite me. The contribution from EV and solar is very promising. I think with the speed which we are going today, the world will be much greener in ten years. This will help everyone from human beings to animals to our planet. There will be less cancer and less sickness. I am hopeful for that.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I scribble! I just like to write; it helps me with my thinking process.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep innovating. There are a lot of problems to be solved in the world. I would also say, listen to kids. They are so intelligent these days and give such thoughtful answers. They are learning things at a much quicker pace than anyone else. The access they have to resources is most important. My son told me when he grows up he will have 20 CEO’s and start 20 companies. His theory is that you just need one of those companies to work and be successful.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That I am a very optimistic guy. I get hot tempered when there is a problem, but I calm myself down, and I really do see a silver lining in every situation. I am passionate about problem solving. Until I find a solution, I will think about all the various ways to solve it. At work, I tell the team to bring your solutions, and I will work with you on coming up with even better ones. And then we become true partners.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep trying. If you fail, understand why you failed. Correct that and try again. Don’t put yourself down because you have failed, take a closer look at it. Do a post-mortem on your failure. Walk through it step by step again and see what could have made it better.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
You must be certain there is a need in the marketplace. If there isn’t a need or desire for what you have to offer, you’ll fail. Obviously, in the case of Way.com, there wasn’t a super car app in existence where people could save money. People spend a lot of money on their car services, so this served that need.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am a hard code engineer, and I love technology. So, at one of my previous startups, I tried to take on an engineering role, but I forgot about my duty as an entrepreneur. I started focusing my energy on how to solve technology problems and neglected the more important role. It’s really a process, the transformation from a tech entrepreneur to a business entrepreneur.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a lot of ideas, but I don’t want people failing because of one of mine! Don’t chase other people’s ideas. Your heart must be in it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
There are no hundreds, it’s always thousands these days!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My cellphone is really the most productive device.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend “Who Moved My Cheese,” because if you can’t deal with change in the workplace, you will have a tough time being successful.
What is your favorite quote?
My current favorite is, “Failure is only an opportunity to start again and use data to beat your emotions.”
- There is always room for innovation and improvement
- Sometimes the problems that you can solve are right in front of you.
- Take time to really listen to those around you, as well as those you wouldn’t typically interact with on a daily basis. Each person adds a new perspective.
- Believe in yourself, but also be realistic as to if there is a need in the marketplace for your product or idea.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.