Naman Sarawagi is an Indian Internet entrepreneur. He founded is current company FindYogi.com about 3 years ago, at the age of 24. He has been involved with internet startups ever since he was in college, studying to become a Computer Science Engineer. He was the first hire and product manager for a cloud telephony company called ZipDial, that recently got acquired by Twitter. He was also the first hire and product manager for India’s biggest coupon distribution startup, Freecharge that got acquired by one of India’s biggest Ecommerce company. In his free time, Naman likes to catch up with fellow entrepreneurs and product guys discussing trends, helping them and seeking helping for his venture. Naman also blogs about startups and has contributed over 300 posts at various startup and digital media related publications..
Stay focused and do not give in to short term temptations. Vision for the long term goal will keep you going. Building something valuable is hard, and it can only be done with persistence.
Where did the idea for FindYogi.com come from?Ecommerce has seen a major rise over the last 5 years in India. Most of the consumer interest is driven by the cheap prices and heavy discounts that ecommerce companies have been providing. Though as product manager at a consumer Internet company what I realized what that buyers are still confused when it comes to deciding what product they should buy. There isn’t enough advice available. There are a lot of blogs but all had generic product reviews. No one was giving context based buying advice, the way it happens with salesman at offline stores. This is where FindYogi was born.
FindYogi gives you personalized buying advice. As a platform it connects you with experts who understand your need and recommend the best product within your budget.
What does your typical day look like?I generally start my work at 10AM. I drive the product myself so a lot of time goes in reading and comprehending a lot of user metrics. I spend about an hour each with Engineering, Operations and Marketing leads daily. Interviews are generally scheduled for weekends and take about 10hrs every week. I try and spend couple of hours in the morning and evening with the family, or atleast that’s what I promise them.
How do you bring ideas to life?I start with basic value add that the idea will make and discuss with the respective department lead. They take it up from there. The target is to get a no-bells-and-whistles version out and build it up from there using user behavior as a signal.
What’s one trend that really excites you?Micro-production of work and resources. The fact that one can be a driver with Uber only for a day or one can convert their couch into a rental space through AirBnB. It brings in a lot of efficiency in this world. I wrote about it at length here. http://www.nextbigwhat.com/enabling-micro-production-297/
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?Writing things down. I always insist on putting things on paper, whether it is a task list, a product feature discussion or delegating something. This saves a lot of time and brings lot of clarity in day to day pursuit.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?I was once paid $200/hour, that’s a lot of money by Indian standards, for discussing “Internet Trends in India” with a research consultant in US. He never asked any questions, I never learnt anything and the report never got published. I still got paid. I think that’s the worst job I have ever taken.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?I would make more long term hiring decisions. I would not hire to get the work done for that moment. Incase of adhoc work, I would outsource to consultants or freelancers but not take short term people on board. It destroys the DNA of the company even before it is made.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?Stay focused and do not give in to short term temptations. Vision for the long term goal will keep you going. Building something valuable is hard, and it can only be done with persistence.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.Building for the user and not for short term revenue. A lot of small things add a long term value. Again, it is part of being focused.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?In initial days I failed in building a team that believed in the vision. Working for a technology startup is the in-thing in India. I ended up with a team that was joining for fancy titles and not prepared to take the pain. Now I spend more time in hiring and engaging with potential hires.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?A peer to peer rating tool. It’s like credit score that lenders use but more P2P driven and usable to define how “credible” you are, how often do you fulfill your promise. Everything from being on time for a meeting to returning the micro-loan you took from a friend.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?I implemented a Peer review system in the office. Each team member is given a small amount that they can give to the team member they think performed best this month. There is a changed atmosphere in the office now. The amount is small but the gesture is powerful. People have become more productive.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?We use a host of tools from Google, including Gmail, Analytics, Adwords, Google Drive etc. The one most important to me is Asana. It makes collaboration with the team very easy. Assigning and tracking tasks on Asana is so simple, it helps you scale as a manager.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It conveys a lot of complex ideas of life in a very simple way.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?Given the nature of our product I have been influenced by Sangeet Paul Chaudhary’s blog, Platform Thinking. Sangeet shares a lot of insights on building Internet based platforms.
FindYogi on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/findyogi
FindYogi on Twitter: @FindYogi_IN