"Happy Teams Cre­ate Happy Cus­tomers":

AK­SHAY BHA­TIA, Founder and CEO, Mut­ter­fly

India Business Journal - - CONTENTS -

Ak­shay Bha­tia, Founder and CEO, Mut­ter­fly

En­trepreneur­ship runs in Ak­shay Bha­tia's blood. The founder and CEO of Mut­ter­fly, a rental mar­ket­place for premium prod­ucts, has al­ways been in­spired by his fa­ther, who also in­ci­den­tally hap­pened to be a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur.

The Mut­ter­fly chief ad­mits that his fa­ther is very un­like the present-day startup founders, who mostly look for ex­ter­nal fund­ing to ex­pand their busi­nesses. But Mr Bha­tia points out that his fa­ther has al­ways been stress­ing on mak­ing ev­ery unit of a busi­ness suc­cess­ful and prof­itable and thus self-sus­tain­able for growth and ex­pan­sion.

Mr Bha­tia gave up his cushy job as a Mor­gan Stan­ley banker in Lon­don to re­turn to the coun­try and be­gin his en­tre­pre­neur­ial jour­ney. He be­gan build­ing a food-shar­ing net­work and in the process, dis­cov­ered a larger mar­ket that al­lowed peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence as­pi­ra­tional prod­ucts with­out buy­ing them. That was how Mut­ter­fly was born. The Mum­baibased rental mar­ket­place for premium prod­ucts of­fers an easy ac­cess to a lux­u­ri­ous life­style.

At Mut­ter­fly, Mr Bha­tia leads the strat­egy and prod­ucts and has been in­stru­men­tal in scal­ing the com­pany to over 70,000 users. The in­vest­ment man­age­ment cer­tifi­cate-holder has been a guest speaker at mul­ti­ple Agrade uni­ver­si­ties and B-schools, like H R Col­lege, MISB and the so on. He has com­pleted his BSc (Hons) in ac- count­ing and fi­nance from War­wick Busi­ness School.

Mr Bha­tia swears by phys­i­cal fit­ness. Apart from play­ing squash or foot­ball at least once a week, the Mut­ter­fly CEO has built strong stamina by run­ning long dis­tance once a week. Like his pen­chant for run­ning long dis­tance, Mr Bha­tia be­lieves in run­ning his busi­ness with a long-term per­spec­tive by keep­ing his em­ploy­ees and clients equally happy.

The Mut­ter­fly chief is not the one to dis­cour­age his em­ploy­ees. He rightly be­lieves that em­pow­er­ing em­ploy­ees and get­ting them to de­liver on chal­leng­ing tasks with the right guid­ance can bring con­fi­dence in them. This way, the em­ploy­ees will be happy to own up the com­pany where they are work­ing and help sus­tain and ex­pand busi­ness. He also em­pha­sises the im­por­tance of keep­ing em­ploy­ees happy. This way, happy em­ploy­ees can fa­cil­i­tate in keep­ing cus­tomers happy and con­tended.

With a plenty ad­vice from his fa­ther and sheer rich ex­pe­ri­ence, Mr Bha­tia has stuck to a few busi­ness man­age­ment prin­ci­ples to trans­form Mut­ter­fly into a ro­bust startup.

Sharmila Chand meets and chats up with the Mut­ter­fly chief and re­turns sur­prises with his sim­ple yet highly ef­fec­tive man­age­ment prin­ci­ples and prac­tices.

A game that helps your ca­reer

Yes, I play squash or foot­ball at least once a week. As a startup, you go through mul­ti­ple highs and lows dur­ing the day, and over time, these can be emo­tion­ally ex­haust­ing. Sports def­i­nitely help me clear my thoughts and help me ap­proach the next day with a re­newed en­ergy and fresh per­spec­tive.

Turn­ing point in your ca­reer life

Leav­ing Mor­gan Stan­ley Lon­don and mov­ing back to In­dia to be an en­tre­pre­neur was a turn­ing point. It was one of the big­gest de­ci­sions I have made, and look­ing back, I am glad that I took the leap of faith.

Se­cret of your suc­cess

It may sound iron­i­cal, but fail­ures and boot­strap­ping have been a se­cret key in my jour­ney so far. En­trepreneur­ship is filled with mak­ing mis­takes and the

"An ex­pert in any field was once a be­gin­ner. Learn­ing a new process, func­tion or busi­ness might of­ten seem like a daunt­ing task, but as long as you have the con­fi­dence and per­se­ver­ance, you will be­come ex­pe­ri­enced with time."

quicker you re­alise what you should not do, the quicker you head to­wards the right direc­tion. When you are boot­strapped and can't use money to solve prob­lems, you end up com­ing up with cre­ative so­lu­tions and dis­cov­er­ing hid­den tal­ents.

Your phi­los­o­phy of work

I be­lieve that at­ti­tude pre­cedes ap­ti­tude, and an ex­pert in any field was once a be­gin­ner. I am a strong ad­vo­ca­tor of cus­tomer feed­back and be­lieve that cus­tomers are co-cre­ators for grow­ing com­pa­nies.

Any par­tic­u­lar per­son you ad­mire

I have been lucky to find in­spi­ra­tion in my fam­ily. My dad is an en­tre­pre­neur him­self, and over the years, I have seen him grow his busi­ness from a home of­fice to a com­pany of 100+ em­ploy­ees. While it's easy to get lured with fund­ing to scale busi­ness, dad has al­ways chal­lenged my thought process and made me fo­cus on unit eco­nomics to build a sus­tain­able busi­ness.

Your favourite books

Hooked by Nir Eyal and Sapi­ens by Yu­val Noah Harari - both these books give some amaz­ing in­sights into hu­man be­hav­iour and emo­tions and sup­port it with some con­crete ex­am­ples of how lead­ing com­pa­nies use psy­cho­log­i­cal traits to hook users. This has helped me un­der­stand peo­ple bet­ter and aided the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process while run­ning my busi­ness.

Your fit­ness regime

When it comes to fit­ness, I mix car­dio with high-in­ten­sity train­ing. I run once ap­prox­i­mately 7 km a week, cou­pled with squash or foot­ball

Your five busi­ness mantras

An ex­pert in any field was once a be­gin­ner: Learn­ing a new process, func­tion or busi­ness might of­ten seem like a daunt­ing task, but as long as you have the con­fi­dence and per­se­ver­ance, you will be­come ex­pe­ri­enced with time.

Happy teams cre­ate happy cus­tomers: Com­pa­nies are usu­ally fo­cused on clients first. While the cus­tomer might be the king, he will not be treated like one if your em­ploy­ees are not mo­ti­vated. Keep­ing your team mem­bers happy will en­sure that they take care of your cus­tomers.

Praise in pub­lic, crit­i­cise in pri­vate: This builds trust and will cre­ate a strong bond be­tween your man­age­ment and em­ploy­ees. Some man­agers crit­i­cise in pub­lic as a way to set bench­marks for all em­ploy­ees. How­ever, this of­ten has neg­a­tive ef­fects on other em­ploy­ees who start fear­ing that it may be them be­ing shamed the next time. This causes them to be risk averse and un­pro­duc­tive.

No one knows your busi­ness bet­ter than you: While it's great to re­ceive ad­vice from se­niors, al­ways re­mem­ber that the busi­ness was built by you, and the DNA of the busi­ness has to re­flect your vi­sion.

If you don't ask, the an­swer is al­ways no: This is one of the sim­plest yet ef­fec­tive mantras. If you are ever hes­i­tant to ask or fear a neg­a­tive out­come, the re­sponse will al­ways be neg­a­tive. If you start ask­ing more, it will in­spire con­fi­dence, and you will be sur­prised with the gains along the way.

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