"Do Not Ig­nore Your Gut": Harsh Dhand, Founder & CEO, Ren­tSher

India Business Journal - - CONTENTS -

Harsh Dhand, the founder and CEO of Ren­tSher has had an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer be­fore set­ting up his tech start-up. Ben­galu­rubased Ren­tSher is a lead­ing on­line prod­uct rental mar­ket­place and ag­gre­ga­tor for event ser­vice providers, elec­tron­ics and med­i­cal equip­ment.

After com­plet­ing his BTech and MTech in Com­puter Sci­ence from IIT Delhi, Harsh joined Phil­ips as a re­searcher in 2005. After two years, he de­cided to pur­sue an MBA in tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion and strat­egy from Said Busi­ness School, Univer­sity of Ox­ford. He re­turned to In­dia to re­join Phil­ips in 2008, where he held the post of ven­ture man­ager.

From Phil­ips, Mr Dhand moved to IBM Re­search In­dia as a se­nior busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager. At IBM, he han­dled sev­eral multi-mil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness con­tracts in the Asia-pa­cific re­gion along with IP li­cens­ing and new tech­nol­ogy sales. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, he took up a cor­re­spon­dence course in fi­nan­cial man­age­ment from Cor­nell Univer­sity, thanks to which he learnt more about mak­ing ma­jor cap­i­tal in­vest­ment de­ci­sions, iden­ti­fy­ing, mea­sur­ing and in­cor­po­rat­ing cap­i­tal bud­get­ing de­ci­sions and more.

For around five years, he han­dled busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties for new tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tives in both B2B and B2C spa­ces with hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing com­plete sales cy­cle from pre-sales, mar­ket­ing, ne­go­ti­a­tions, con­tract­ing to ex­e­cu­tion and de­liv­ery of projects. How­ever, the busi­ness leader with over 12 years of ex­pe­ri­ence was keen to test new wa­ters. After learn­ing about a lack of or­gan­ised, on­line, rent­ing plat­forms in In­dia and eval­u­at­ing the un­der­ly­ing po­ten­tial in the rental mar­ket­place model, Mr Dhand, along with his Ox­ford Univer­sity batch­mates, built the next-gen rental plat­form, Ren­tSher in Oc­to­ber 2015.

To­day, Ren­tSher is present in two coun­tries (In­dia and the UAE) and six cities. Be­sides en­trepreneur­ship, Mr Dhand is an avid Bad­minton player, who en­joys spend­ing his leisure time play­ing the rac­quet sport with his friends in Ben­galuru. In an en­gag­ing con­ver­sa­tion with

Sharmila Chand, the Ren­tSher chief ex­plains his man­age­ment prin­ci­ples and prac­tices that have helped boost his busi­ness.

Your five man­age­ment mantras

Treat each em­ployee with re­spect: I be­lieve that that is the key for peo­ple to work for you, more than salary and perks!

Trust is a two-way street: Un­less

you start with the el­e­ment of trust, you can­not ex­pect other the party to trust, and busi­ness hap­pens more on trust than on fi­nan­cial terms.

Each per­son is dif­fer­ent: Cat­e­gori­sa­tions and gen­er­al­i­sa­tion of peo­ple based on role, gen­der and na­tion­al­ity are a big mis­take and should be avoided.

Del­e­gate wher­ever pos­si­ble: As they say, ev­ery bot­tle­neck is on top of the bot­tle. But if you have to grow busi­ness, you need to del­e­gate and trust your team to de­liver.

Praise in pub­lic, crit­i­cise in pri­vate: A strong and pow­er­ful mantra, this is the key to mo­ti­va­tion of em­ploy­ees. A game that helps your ca­reer I am a reg­u­lar and avid Bad­minton and Cricket player. I be­lieve that any sport ba­si­cally helps you keep phys­i­cally fit, but more im­por­tantly, those one to two hours of sport­ing ac­tiv­ity keep your mind away from nor­mal busi­ness dis­trac­tions.

Turn­ing point in your ca­reer life While I was al­ways suc­cess­ful in cor­po­rate life un­der set rules and def­i­ni­tions, start­ing Ren­tSher.com from scratch taught me sev­eral lessons from ac­count­ing to le­gal, reg­u­la­tory to HR, tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment to cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion and more. It has been the most in­ter­est­ing, three-year learn­ing and im­ple­ment­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Se­cret of your suc­cess I do not know how to de­fine suc­cess. But for me, be­ing happy and mo­ti­vated ev­ery­day for what I do is per­sonal suc­cess, and that is achieved by tak­ing bold de­ci­sions re­lated to work and per­sonal lives. Hap­pi­ness is also de­rived when you truly help some­one. Thank­fully, my cur­rent role as head of a com­pany al­lows me to in­ter­act with and pro­vide ben­e­fit to thou­sands of cus­tomers.

Your phi­los­o­phy of work At work or any other sphere of life, what works long term is only in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion, since ex­ter­nal mo­ti­va­tion is only short lived. Hence, per­son­ally and for my em­ploy­ees, I make sure

"It is easy to get swayed by quick wins, es­pe­cially in a start-up-like en­vi­ron­ment, but that can back­fire. This holds true for ev­ery­thing from tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment to busi­ness deals,

peo­ple man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing and more."

HARSH DHAND, Founder & CEO, Ren­tSher

that there is a rea­son for the work that we do. All the peo­ple at Ren­tSher are in­spired to help cus­tomers ful­fil their re­quire­ments, and that has helped us grow as a com­pany.

A per­son you ad­mire As a stu­dent and also dur­ing early years of my ca­reer, I was quite in­spired by A P J Ab­dul Kalam (em­i­nent sci­en­tist and former Pres­i­dent of In­dia) for his ded­i­ca­tion and hard work. Even to­day, when I read his books, they in­di­cate the self­less na­ture and slow but pow­er­ful im­pact he had on mil­lions of peo­ple through his sci­en­tific con­tri­bu­tions. Your favourite books Cur­rently, I am read­ing Gita for Chil­dren by Rupa Pai with my seven-yearold son. It re­minds us in a very sim­ple but im­pact­ful man­ner the im­por­tance of do­ing Karma, even if it means choos­ing the longer path. Also, it teaches that it is right to ques­tion and spend time eval­u­at­ing sev­eral op­tions in front of you, but once cho­sen, stick to your choice. Your fit­ness regime Run­ning after my kids ev­ery day, long walks with my wife when we can and in­tense Bad­minton games with friends thrice a week! Your five busi­ness mantras

Busi­ness can be run as a win-win sit­u­a­tion: Es­pe­cially over a long term, only those busi­nesses sur­vive which cre­ate value for all. We are en­abling the same with Ren­tSher On­line Ren­tals to­day. Our value propo­si­tion around ren­tals for short-term events and elec­tron­ics is ben­e­fi­cial for cus­tomers, cor­po­rate en­ti­ties, sup­pli­ers and for us as a mar­ket­place.

Pa­tience: For the first two years in our start-up, we strug­gled against com­pe­ti­tion and some of our in­ter­nal lack of clar­ity. But there was al­ways some part of pos­i­tive cus­tomer feed­back and ful­fill­ing their re­quests that kept us go­ing. To­day, we are well po­si­tioned as a unique sup­plier for short term and event rental across sev­eral ge­ogra­phies.

Cus­tomers' de­light helps grow busi­ness: We have al­ways placed cus­tomers' de­light as our first pri­or­ity and have helped over 100 start-ups and SMEs with their re­quire­ments around lap­tops, desk­tops, pro­jec­tors and more rental re­quire­ment. That has helped us grow our busi­ness sig­nif­i­cantly.

Do not ig­nore your gut: Ba­si­cally, the sub-con­scious mind is more pow­er­ful than the con­scious mind, as it

silently pro­cesses more data. Though ra­tio­nally, it might not com­pete, it does sense the right ver­sus wrong bet­ter.

De­cide ju­di­ciously be­tween quick

wins and long-term gains: It is easy to get swayed by quick wins, es­pe­cially in a start-up-like en­vi­ron­ment, but that can back­fire. This holds true for ev­ery­thing from tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment to busi­ness deals, peo­ple man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing and more.

Your part­ing shot Cher­ish and en­joy each suc­cess that comes your way, as it helps in mo­ti­va­tion for the long term.

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