Org building with the Captain Fresh team

Rupali Sharma
DIRECTOR - HUMAN CAPITAL
No items found.

Rupali:

Hello, everyone. My name is Rupali Sharma, i'm part of the human capital team of Matrix Partners. Today i have some very special guests, Utham Gowda, CEO and founder of Captain Fresh and his two key firm building partners Abhishek and Venu. Abhishek leads everything business and Venu leads everything tech in Captain Fresh.

For our viewer’s reference, Captain Fresh is a b2b Seafood i’ll cut it in between, yeah? For our viewers reference, Captain Fresh is a b2b seafood and aqua marketplace, which tries to bring fishermen on the supply side and to connect them with demands both domestic and international on the demand side. While i'm from Assam, and i love my fish and fish curries, i had no idea about the seafood business and i was told no one better than Utham himself to teach us this and i think i wasn't wrong.

So, i must confess, i was very skeptical with them, you know about the building process for Captain Fresh. But i have had the honor and the privilege to partner with you and your team in the last 24 months and if i'm allowed that one moment of self-pride, building the Captain Fresh team in the last 24 months would be that one moment. They've just announced a series B fundraise, right? Yesterday, a 40 million round from Tiger and Naspers and i think this is the third fundraise in 12 months.

Utham:  

Yeah, i think we should stop counting it.

Rupali:

Yeah. Fingers crossed and i would request our listeners and viewers to refer to a previous podcast that Utham has done where you will get to understand why the ecosystem is so bullish about the seafood, you know, business and Utham's vision on how he wants to change this ecosystem through Captain Fresh- but in this podcast, we will be speaking more about how Utham and his team went on building the captainl fresh team and who better than them himself along with his team to tell us how did he went around building the team? So, what was your hack?

Utham:  

Thanks, thanks, Rupali and, as always absolute pleasure to be on Matrix moments, one of my favorite podcasts and, again, not sure, as a founder, right, we have mainly three things to do, which is essentially have a great vision and keep improvising on those vision and, of course sell it to investors  like yourselves and others and third is talent.

So, in our first podcast that we had, we had an opportunity to, you know, address the first two parts of this whole founder responsibility, happy to be doing a very dedicated feature on talent, because talent per se is very, very central to who we are, and who we want to be as an institution. So yeah, as in, i used to be an advisor to begin with, right? initial part of my career i've spent in consulting, investment banking, which also means that very, very fortunate to have worked with some of the finest minds in the country.

So back in 2015, when i came in touch with seafood, i think one of the contrasting things that i saw was the quality of talent, right? Which also, you know, simply put the opportunity was that everything about the sector was either very unorganized, or inefficient, or simply put messy, right. But having said that indians consumed two lakh crore worth of seafood, right?

That's the opportunity, right? Everything is bad, but there's so much that's happening out there. Right? How do we fix this? So clearly, one is, of course, like i said, vision and investors  is two parts to this entire hack. So to say, the third most important piece is that talent, and the whole thought process around building a high quality team to go after this was very, very central and i would say, was the genesis of this entire platform building journey that we started, right? So, from that standpoint, there was i wouldn't say that very, very clear thought process in terms of how we went about attracting talent. But yes, there were some two three very key non negotiables that we were going after when we started building the team, right?

So, one of the one of the first things we're like, if you see our top 20 People today, right? There's absolutely zero shared background, right? They have never met before. it's not like we come from the same dorm or work with the same office, all of that, right.

So basically, it is about putting together a bunch of guys just simply based on their merit and their interest in the purpose that we are often we are after, right? So that's what we are going after. So that is one and then second is real over indexation on merit, right?

it's very easy to say this, but in order to really prioritize merit over loyalty, when you're building organizations for a category like seafood, which is, which is so complex, right, which is so complex, and so dynamic on the ground level, is a very, very difficult thing to do. i think that's something that we were very clear from Day Zero in terms of over indexing on merit.

The third thing about i think the third very clear, non-negotiable that we had was, you know, a match with the value system and getting people for the right motivation. Getting people for the right motivation. it's not just obviously the, the financial part associated with the company, but it's about, you know, everyday getting up and living that purpose, because it's a very difficult journey. it's a very difficult complex category.

And i'm sure you have, you've seen it yourself, and you have gone to the market, trying to represent Captain Fresh, i think i continue to hear this every second person that i made a what is the seafood sector, right and that's all i've done for the last two years, in terms of, you know, selling seafood as a mainstream sector to as many minds as possible. Right.

Rupali:

Yeah.

Utham:  

So that's the i think, the broad thinking Rupali going into it as a Captain Fresh and trying to build this org as a as a as a, as a unit as a cohesive unit. That was the two those were the starting three four, you know, non-negotiable points and principles that we started.

Rupali:

Yeah, but then you did manage to get some pretty amazing folks. Yes, two of them are here and both Abhishek and Venu. right? Abhishek was with Myntra. i mean, Venu was with livspace? Right? Just to give an example, because i think the opportunity cost for them was very high. Because, you know, you know, just to take their example, they were doing some great stuff already.

Right? Were part of larger brands. So, what, what really did you do differently, to get them on board?

Utham:  

i think i'm only trying to connect these dots backwards Rupali. But, if i have to try, if i try to articulate how i went about it is one, this was very important for me, which meant that i gave a lot of time to this process in terms of at least getting the first set of hires, right? Because that's make or break for a company like us, if i get the first set of guys, right? it can take my company take us almost like two, three quarters back, right.

So, i remember before meeting Venu, i must have met 100+ folks, and the amount of time each of them, i spent two, three hours and in some cases more than that.

Rupali:

Yeah.

Utham:  

And still, i wasn't convinced and this is when i have significant pressure to build a tech team and a lot of milestones linked to it. So that was a very, very, you know, i like i said non-negotiable, wherein i need to have full conviction on having somebody on board, because this is almost like a marriage, right? i need to be super convinced that this is going to go long. Yeah.

And they are going to come in with conviction. So, before i obviously the question that you asked is, how did i sell this entire thing? The first thing is, was i sold completely? So that i can be intellectually honest about selling the vision to them and tell that boss you guys need to be on board, because look, together, we can do this phenomenal thing. right?

So, there were a couple of, you know, common threads. While i said there is no shared background, there are a couple of common threads one is, you know, most of the guys that we have, at least in the top layer, including the ones we have here, come from a very, i would say, humble background, and there is this hunger and fire associated with what they want to do. Point number two is they have stuck around with their old companies for a long, long time, like, like, Venu has been with Myntra with Livspace for at least four or five years, right?

Which…which, or for that matter, same with Abhi. right? Which means that you know, they're willing to go through the journey, the highs and the lows and stick around and you know, be there for the vision right? Not for the key things like monetary jumps, etc map to markets and all of that right. So those two things and once i'm convinced that these are the guys to go after, right i think i go all out, right in terms of getting those folks in, it's just like, i just want them. and what it means is that the way i sell aggressively to, let's say, to investors , the same mode of aggression goes when i'm convinced that this is the candidate that i want to go after.

Which means that, you know, there is there is almost a pitch that i tailor based on their background based on what stage of the life they're in and why a Captain Fresh  should be the one they should come with, which…which means that package the purpose, for a tailor it for the for the person that you're meeting, simply because you're so convinced that yes, this is a this is a combination that is going to work. Right?

So, one is of course selling the purpose and of course, this value system, right? That's something that you know, it is it's again very difficult because there is no science to it. End of the day, you rely on a lot of instincts.

So, value system is something that i have valued a lot like say Abhishek, one of the key things was he’s from he's from Tata administrative services, and i as a as an individual, of course, i started with my career with the with the Tata Group. So, i have huge respect for the for the value system that as a company as an institution they have, right. So that kind of markers is what i used to read that yes, there is match.

And once i read it, then you tailor the pitch, go aggressive, ensure that whatever it takes to make this entire piece work, and be extremely honest and brutal, brutally honest, right in saying, talking more about negatives rather than positive about this whole Association. i think that's what has helped.

Rupali:

Okay, so no, so i've, i've seen your part of the story. i'm going to hear it from the horse's mouth, right?  So, Abhishek and Venu both of you are here so i’ll ask both of you to give your views right. We've been in touch for quite long, right and i know Venu when we spoke, and i think you know, by the time you had spoken to them 100+ people, i think he was the second person i introduced you to.

Utham:

Yeah, absolutely so.

Rupali:

i remember, he was already evaluating some ideas, right? So, and as much as we know, we've introduced you to a lot of our founders also right, we pitched couple of- because given any help, and these best guys should end up in our portfolios. But what was what really clicked with them? Like what really clicked with Utham when he shared his vision? i'm sure a lot of other founders would have done that. Right? What really clicked for you, guys, for you to maybe take the decision that yes, this is going to be my next challenge.

Venu:

So, the answer is simple. i’ll keep it simple. See, when i first met with them, we spent in a small cafe in in sometime? Almost? Yeah. And what i really, the thing that gave me that that instinct right to consider this is his vision, right is very clear and probably because of your previous experience, right?

They spent almost five, six years in this industry, right? and it's not only the business instinct, how do we structure it right? How do we organize this? Right? How do we sequence it? Right? it's, as he already said, it's very, very complex, extremely complex, and there is no, already a playbook established and there's no one ever sold it in the market. The way he structured it the way he explained it, it seems logical. seemed logical.

Rupali:

Yeah, right.

Venu:

Again, i'm sold.

Rupali:

i like...

Venu:

it seemed logical.

Utham:  

i just feel a little nervous the way it's going but yeah.

Venu:

it is logical. i will agree.

Utham:  

Thank you Venu.

Venu:

So now, what will i do? Right? What will my contribution here is coming from tech background, having worked in ecommerce and supply chain systems all my career, right? i thought my experience will come handy here. Right? and how do i break this complex problem into simple scalable, repeatable tasks? So that the perception changes? Right? Today? Everyone says it is very complex, how do we keep it simple, organized so that this industry seems easy for everyone? it’s that.

Abhishek:

So, i had this whole, and like you said, Rupali, there were a lot of founders that you had introduced to me, and you know, i think over not only recently, but over the years, i've always met people who have great ideas who have great business, you know, gaps in the market, all of that. i think, for me, it's always been a combination of two things. There is iQ and there is EQ. The iQ part is fairly there for everybody to see. Right?

i think it's a very large unorganized market. Tech has never touched this market or disrupted this market. There's no playbook. Like i said, it is a high value product, if you actually look at the nitty gritties of the business unit economics, you can actually make it work if you do the right things and in a sequence, of course, right, so i could see light at the end of the tunnel in terms of economics, there is literally no global example of anybody having solved this problem. So, from an iQ point of view, and sorry, the last but not the least, the biggest moat in this category is knowledge.

Rupali:

Yes.

Abhishek:

And knowledge is not capital subsidized. Right. So, which means that the longer you spend, you are more knowledgeable today than you were yesterday. Right and you can't literally catch up with it. Like, you'll always keep building building…building on that. So those are some of the iQ parts and i think Utham has probably covered that in the previous podcast as well. i think the EQ part, i have two three interesting stories there.

So, when…when i had started, of course, i know Sudipto, from before and Sudipto and me, were chatting on a bunch of a lot of the investments that Matrix had made, and he never came to me with Captain Fresh, obviously, because, you know, from an industry background point of view, i was so detached from anything that Captain Fresh is doing. it was always about a lot of companies, which are adjacent to the industries that have been in not similar to the industries that are winning.

i actually went back to him after having seen the list of portfolio companies saying, hey, what does Captain Fresh do? Why don't i chat? He was still not very keen, because he genuinely felt like i could add more value. You know, i think he still thinks that. But he, i think it took a reasonable amount of coercion from my side, for me to even get to chat o with Utham, right? And the first chat with Uttam was very, very real. it was brutally honest. And on the EQ part, for me, what stood out was just like, most founders pitch to their, you know, potential, top hires, the way they pitch to investors . So, they tend to romance it a little bit more than what's needed.

Rupali:

Yeh, yeah.

Abhishek:

And they tend to stay away from the harsh realities of the hidden. Right. He, in fact, i think played the other way around, he actually told me the real underbelly of why the industry is paved the way it is, what it takes, why it's so tough, why it's so complex. And i actually went back from that, from that conversation thinking, wow, this is just like a lot of information to process and then it actually got me thinking, i went back, i did my homework i researched and then i actually went back to him saying, Listen, i want to know more.

Rupali:

Yeah.

Abhishek:

So, i think that that kind of dialogue that that happened, i think three-four times we spoke Yeah, which was spread over three, four times. And each…each of the time was me asking more questions, and he clarifying more things for me. So, i think that entire thing helped me understand where he was coming from and he said that there is really not enough smart or good talent that this industry has been able to attract and i will, i would want to kind of be part of that change it. So that's essentially...

Rupali:  

What whatever worked, i'm glad you guys came on board, because i think it really helped us bring in that initial velocity and everything later on became so much easier.

Utham:  

...to set the bar, right, yeah, set the bar. So Rupali, i think let's flip this, you've been, you've been trying to not have a generate, of course, the top of the funnel and eventually out that cascades. Right? How has it been your experience, you know, while while selling Captain Fresh, story, to the ecosystem?

Rupali:

Okay, i'll be very honest. And i've told you guys, i was initially very skeptical right as you use the word romanticize. Right? You know, because i'm part of the Matrix team and definitely, very, very privileged and heartened by the fact that, you know, we do have access to a lot of hi-po’s- having said that, you know, we as a team can only do as much you know, yes, i can create the initial interest in a company on…on a founder, but the final reeling has to happen from the founder’s side.

So, while i was a bit skeptical with them, you know, as it how do i romanticize the seafood business, right, and there is a cultural connotation attached to it, right? A lot of people because of the country, we belong to may not want to be a part of a business, right, which is, you know, selling fish. Not literally selling fish, but yeah, you know, facilitating that.

My conviction is that i index it on you, i have to be very real. i thought, if this person can make this business so lucrative to marqueei investors . i think he can reel it in and i think i wasn't wrong. My entire stress was, you know, a Venu or a Abhishaek or someone else should just be convinced to document them. After that he really didn't write i know he introduced a lot of other people, but and a lot of those discussion might not have worked out, right.

But i knew every person came out of your discussion, thinking that whatever you're creating is going to be big. And then i think what Abhi mentioned the EQ element, right? And, you know, end of the day, we're all matchmakers. Right. And i think, you know, apart from the EQ, we're all talking to very smart people. But i think for you, what really, you know, for me, it was important that the cultural, you know, the…the cultural fitment should be very, very important.

So, i indexed on people who wanted to roll up their sleeves, right, we’re not hesitant to get their hands dirty. And i stopped romanticizing the story, i said, this is going to be, this is our organize, this is not in case they you don't have enough good people, indexed on all the not so good things, for them to, you know, get more excited. And i think, you know, i definitely believe with them that followership is not, you know, that you get the people you work earlier, to be a part of your vision that i think very authentic and very easy. Followership is when you're able to create the interest in people who haven't seen your work, right. And i think you've been able to do that. So, thank you for making my life easier. Right.

Utham:

And thanks for being very kind.

Rupali:

Yeah, but i'm going to take the question back. it's not about me, it's about you.. now that you've done this, right, you've done this for 24 months, we are 300 plus 200 Odd people,, that's in 24 months, we go into Grow, if i'm not wrong, 3x plan in terms of headcount, infinite x in terms of business in this crossed, and i can see Abhi smiling, if you had to do this a bit differently now that you will be Hiring  more people and you've learned from the journey, would you do the Hiring  or the building process a bit differently?

Utham:  

Absolutely. i think there is, there is certainly a huge learning curve for a founder, in terms of…of building a while initially the heart is right, at the right place in terms of saying that she i want to get right people, but the whole method may not be right. i think the initial part like i mentioned that No, i met 120 / 100 plus folks before narrowing in on i think if you have to, again, do an analysis and say that, what is that that was missing?

Clearly there was lack of method and over dependence on instinct, in terms of trying to hire folks, which also meant that you must get lucky to in some way right to get the right folks and at the scale at which we are trying to grow. We can't rely on luck, which i think if i have to redo this entire thing, maybe a lot more focus on process, and working through the or doing the hard work to get the process right and doing it, you know, day in day out. Right. That would be possibly something that i would refine which definitely we have, i would say in the last two, three quarters.

Rupali:

Yeah.

Utham:  

We have definitely refined and there is a lot that we have learned from i would say, your process wherein there is so much focus on the way we process the feedback and i think this i cannot stress enough the referencing that we do.

Rupali:

Yeah.

Utham:  

And how we read those feedback from the references is a very critical as we go after the top tier talent, because that is a significantly effective tool, which possibly i would have loved to have used it a lot earlier than i adopted, but it's never late than never. Right. it's, it's, it', it's something that i would recommend to everybody.

Rupali:

Yeah and i think, you know, highlight that viewers can definitely refer to our podcast on extreme referencing. But you know, deflecting it to you guys now, right? You've been what, 8- 10 months now? and there was a perceived vision you said, right. and...

Utham:  

By the way, i don't want to count these numbers, months, etc. Yeah. Because, yeah. Because....

Rupali:

Now that you, you you've seen a vision, you know, and then you took a bet and you've come on board you're part of the journey now full-fledged, right. Any difference in what you thought things were going to be and things how things are now?

Venu:

Frankly, from the vision standpoint, there is no difference, right? But the way sequence is also fine. i mean the way we wanted to go into the market, there is no change the way we wanted to enter but as we already discussed multiple times this is extremely complex and organized. Right? Sometimes the processes that we think that will work, right, they may need iteration. Right, which is and it needs certain amount of constant attention to experiment, experimentation iterations. Right. So otherwise, i don't see there is a major change in the way the vision.

Rupali:

Yeah. And yours a bit more complex in the sense of managing the business part of it. Right. And tech isn't, you know, because you're, you're solving on the ground. Right? What is your experience?

Abhishek:  

So, Rupali i think i agree with Venu on the broad vision, right, it is always the same, i think it's not going to change. We are essentially organizing an unorganized, large, unorganized, complex industry. That's the fundamental vision. i think the how keeps iterating there are two-three big takeaways, for me, at least from the last six months doesn't feel like six, but two, three big takeaways. One, the biggest challenge i think we face on a daily basis is what not to do.

Rupali:

Okay.

Abhishek :  

Right, because it is so unorganized and everything is an opportunity, right? Like anything we touch, you're like, Oh, we can do this as well.

Rupali:

Yeah.

Abhishek :  

Right? Why don't we try this as well? And then we actually have to sit at the end of the day and say, Listen, there are too many things, let's just do these top five, which will really move the needle, and then it's about sequencing and doing one after the other. The second big takeaway for me is this, this industry has no benchmarks, and i keep repeating this, it is not easy for me to know, what we are doing will succeed or not, right, because of which it is very attractive.

So, with a lot of trial and error, we try something we try a PMF for a GTM in the market. And then we say, oh, you know, why don't we do this? So ironically, that process is very rewarding. Because i think what we end up with can be replicated at scale, across multiple markets, geographies, whatever. So, i think that's number two. Number three, for me is i think we are more committed than ever on continuing to build a great team. i think we have realized, very, very surely, that the only way to solve a complex problem is to put smart people behind it. Right? So, i think those three are my big takeaways.

Rupali:

Yeah. And i think i remember with them, you know, because i've worked with so many founders. And as a team, we definitely try telling founders to have an HR team from early stage, right? And finish any successful but lots of successful linear time. And i remember, i think you were one of the very few founders that i've worked with, who he who wanted to solve the HR chapter, before we wanted to solve everything else, right?

So, i remember Hiring  the HR person for you, at Day Zero before we started focusing on anything else. So, what was your motivation? in the sense, you know, you've seen businesses being built? Why did you index on building an HR team? Right, or, you know, having a recruitment HR score is zero, before Hiring  any of your other key business players?

Utham:  

Yeah, i think so what i mentioned previously, right? Vision, investors , Talent. . So, vision and investors . Luckily, i came from investment banking, something…something that i could handle in HR, i definitely needed help, right?

Rupali:

Yeah.

Utham :  

And this order, or rather, three important things as a founder, right? Very, very clear, right? Simple, very clear, i need to have the best talent to solve this problem. And i may have a broad vision, but execution will need really high-quality talent that is very, very clear. So, which means that HR is not a tactical piece for our organization, it is actually as strategic as it can get. Right? Right up there. in terms of the way you manage your investors , can we manage the talent?

The way you manage your brand for stakeholders on the investing side? Can you manage the employer brand? Right, those were really right up there in terms of our priorities, which i think that clarity is what helps Rupali i think that also, of course, you also nudge me in the right direction. it's also about, you know, a lot of times as a founder, especially early stage, you're bogged down by so many day-to-day stuffs.

it's hard to think of okay, look, i'm going to get HR now. So again, right, not just from your side, a lot of credit to you, in terms of saying that, look, HR could be the right arm that you need to build. But yeah, there was meeting of minds in terms of what we wanted to do and talent being right up there as a strategic plan. And of course, right nudges, which is where we said we'll get the team together.

Rupali:

outsource this process, right? i think that's been the key difference. i know you  you respond on time you need people  people are introduced to you in the morning you'd meet people have calls from airports, right? Anything that is constant focus from you, right? That, you know, this is all building is very, very important really helped, you know, not only to me and my team as a partner, but also to give i think a lot candidates people to making that feeling that, yes, team building is important.

Utham :  

Team building and onboarding, right, maybe we can add a little bit more how much we take the entire process of integrating somebody who come in. So seriously, because this is such a complex industry, we are very, very aware that, you know, we need to set that person up for success, right?

Because one, we are very, very clear that this person has all the right tool set, because he's had coming from high opportunity cost plays, which essentially means he has the right tool set, how as an organization, we can set them up for success, as he has done brilliant work in terms of ones integrating himself into the org, and also now integrating, like scores of people into the org in terms of maybe you can add, that's, again, another thing that we really focus on, in terms of ensuring that if the person is right, ensuring that this marriage is going to be really long.

Abhishek:  

Yeah, so i think two-three realities of our business is that we can't sit in an office and understand it. We have tried and failed, right and i remember, i am actually ensuring that the kind of integration i got when i joined, so what happened the first month of me joining was, I think I spent six days out of 30 in Office, I spent 24 days on the road with Uttam traveling from source to and I keep joking with him that you know, for another.

Abhishek :  

...but…but I think the…the reality of our business can be understood only on the ground. And we actually take every month, we actually do this little bit of a follow the fish program, where we take all new joiners, ourselves, either both of us together, or one of us at least. And we take them in fact, we took the tech team as a that was a fun, that was a fun fact very interesting.

Yeah, so…so we take them all the way from, let's say, a pond, or the coast, all the way to the retailer. So, we literally follow the fish. So, we take them to a and I can guarantee that 99.9% of the people who we hire obviously, have never seen fish getting harvested or called before, including me.

Rupali:

I’ve seen it.

Abhishek :  

you've probably been closer to this, then then a lot of us, but most people haven't seen it, and it blows your mind. It's actually amazing. Like, it changed my perspective on the entire industry. He had obviously told me a lot. Yeah, you know, I'd heard a lot. But when I saw it, I still remember that, that half an hour, when I was seeing fish getting harvest out of the pond, and I was like, oh my God, what are we trying to do here? Because this so many things that, you know, come into your mind in terms of idea. So, we want everybody to experience that. So, we do this follow the fish program, we obviously it's becoming tougher and tougher for us to do it ourselves now.

So, we're trying to put a process in place where somebody goes with a bunch of people explains to them, we put them in touch with  our sourcing and all that, that I think really divides the group into people who are excited, versus people who are mortified.

That happens, right, and people are mortified, usually come back to us saying, why don't I try something else within the company. Like there are so many people in our company and I think that's also a great part about one being a startup and one being as new as new industry that we as we are, all functions are open. There are people who move from business to tech. Right.

And, you know, we know Venu knows, there are people who move from tech to business, there are people who moved from finance to HR, there are people who moved from, so all sorts of cross pollination happened. All of that is a result of that induction. Right? Because then you really know your place in the org, you really know which part of this puzzle you want to be part of what we have seen is 99% of the people get more excited after the induction. All they need to know is then which part of the story they want to be. They want to be part of it. So that's...

Rupali:

You guys should copyright that, okay?

Utham:

Just intellectual honesty. We do obviously it's a little bit what solderability doing, getting in that security, that look, you want to be in the team, who express yourself, which is what we're trying to do once there is fitment in terms of intent and value system. Right and there is that mutual excitement about each other, right? It's about we'll figure it out. We'll figure it out in the system.

There are no other problems that is resolved and intellectually honest. Yeah. And it's not like it's worked out for everybody. There are folks who come back and say, look, I think you guys are being very, very sincere. You're showing the real mirror in terms of what it takes. I think this is not what I signed up for. Yeah, right. Those conversations have been very real. You said, look, it's fine. You want to stay for a week, on stay for two weeks? We will, we'll make this separation as easy and as graceful as possible.

Rupali:

Okay. Just to add on that, and this is where you have people who themselves get aware that this is not meant for me, after all the due diligence we've done, but there might be also another set of people who are equally excited, but may not in your vision, right may not be able to solve the problem that we seeking to service. Yes. Right?

So how do you what do you do? Because, you know, we…we still go wrong, any time with everything, but it plays out? Both ways. So, when I'm sure you see, you're faced with some of those problems on a day-to-day basis, right? It's a huge team. So how do you solve some of those where you've taken a hiring call, you've tried whatever best you could do to work it out, you know, that it doesn't fit into the larger scheme of plan. So how do you go about solving this?

Utham:  

This, this is where, you know, bearing the short-term pain for a long-term game, is comes into play, wherein we need to be honest about things that it's not working out and have the chat. And we also have this thing called, we hire, of course, fast. Yeah, even the even the way we are running.

And if it's not working, even that combination of firing needs to happen fast, right? I just can't sit on it for long, because it's actually counterproductive for both us and the other…another person, right. And lot of times the other person is not, you know, in that mind space to come back and say, look, it's not working. So, I think that's where we as an organization are very, very open about things.

Rupali:

Okay.

Utham :  

And feedback is something that we are very, very open about. Right? in some in some places. So never not used to that kind of a radical candor. But I encourage that, because it like he said, right, it becomes a bipolar, please write either you fit or you don't fit, there is no somebody who is trying to make it work either from our side or on the other side, right? That's something that we consciously tie into. Right? and separate the two, right? Either you are here or here. If you are here, we would love to make it work. If our finance, HR, if not HR, something is right.

But if it's not working out, let's make it faster, make it fast, where it's more efficient for you and more efficient for us.

Abhishek:

And I think going back to our core principle of the only thing we do not have in our world is time. Right? And because of that we are always optimizing for time. Yeah, even even…even our product, time is the problem. Because you need to get it, you know, as quickly as possible from…from coast to plate, so that our entire org is built around, make the right decisions, make them fast, go all in, if it doesn't work, do that fastest. Kind of....

Rupali:

...because you're talking about intellectual honesty and radical candor. You know, because I represent a VC team and the perceived opinion is always there, your VCs and founders are at any time loggerheads. Right and touch it, we had a very seamless working relationship and, and during hiring decisions. So, we know that we you know, we've had differences of opinion, you know, around hiring. Right.

And but we, you know, you've managed to build one of the most like Aslim, I would say, but how did you manage? How did you go about managing some of these conflicts?

Utham :  

Between Investors and me?

Rupali:

Yeah.

Utham :  

Yeah, General, General conflict, right. I think it's really talking about investors. Again, that's one area where we as a team have been extremely choosy. Extremely. Right. I think there's possibly, like, every round that we open, there are multiple requests, but there is a kind of decision made even before you open the round that look, these are the kind of names that we want. And not just that, who within that team would be the, you know, the person that should come on board, because, you know, this needs a certain kind of thinking. Very, very clear on that.

So that has helped us in having a very constructive world, right. In fact, I can't think of one conflict situation where it's a real conflict right, given that we now have. we now had to add it two more high quality investors we have close to six investors on board, never come into that situation. But having said that, I think the whole mature position, at least I bring to the table that Captain Fresh for all practical purpose is a board run company. It's as much investor run company as a founder. Right? It is not about my company and my views and the way I want to do, it's a collective thing, because there is a wisdom that all of us bring to the table.

And as Captain Fresh, we will succeed when the best of the collective wisdom is put in place, right. So that that again, acknowledgement, and then walking the talk there were being very honest about yes, there is a viewpoint which I'm missing, which a lot of times have taken and changed the view about a candidate and said, Look, I think what you're seeing, I'm not seeing, right.

So, there was this situation where we had finalized, and then Tarun  went in, he spoke, and then there was this very specific info that was not required to be shared, but shared during the chat. And he came back and said, Look, this one piece, I'm not too comfortable.

Rupali:

Okay.

Utham :  

And we had one so far in the process. But that one simple piece, who said, No, let's unwind this entire thing, let's all be super convinced about this candidate, because this is very, very important. Right? That entire commitment, right to the process and being honest about some of these feedbacks and having that mindset that we are all aligned in the same direction is I think, was what helped us in some of these situations, I wouldn't say conflict is divergent views.

Rupali:

So, I'll pause here I have an impromptu question for him and I will come to see because I won't even tell him about the tech what a talent in see in comes is a very operation heavy business outside. So, I'll ask you a subtle question. As it comes, this is operation heavy ecosystem what…what...

Utham :  

What is your pitch?

Rupali:

Yeah.

Venu:  

I give the candidates I will give the same pitch unfortunately.

Rupali:

So moving to the last question, but okay. So, my next question is for you. Because generally right Captain says seafood, b2b comes first impression in the minds of every commercial operating heavy ecosystem, right? So many time tech talent, right and a bit skeptical in terms of what are the problems they are going to solve? We know we want to solve it through technology. But we know technology a team really been right? What can you potentially take a look to solve in getting fresh?

Venu:

See, you're right in saying that this is operation savvy. Right. But the way we look at it from tech point of view, tech perspective is the end of the day, it's all supply chain. Right, there is a material movement, there is money movement and there is data. Ready? Right?

So, some anyone right from a tech background? Right? They see it as a supply chain. Infrastructure, right? If infrastructure is built correctly, abstracted out in the right possible way application layer where the way people interact with the system, right? That's the only place where we see this as a category. Right? Other than that, for the core, it's exactly the same. See, I have done apparel at Myntra. Right? Not exactly housing, but interior space. Right? He has made in fish.

Yeah, but the fundamentals remain the same from a technology standpoint. Right. So, what this means is we need those techno functional guys, right, who are a good blend of both technology and are functionally ready also, who can understand the business nuances? Right, who can visualize both short term and long term, especially in the leadership team? Who can get the right balance between short term and long term? Take the right bet. So, it's this blend of techno function is what we are, it's a tricky thing to hide, but we have been successful.

Rupali:

So, Utham, we, we are going to grow quite fast right. So, if you were to give that 30 second pitch to people who are listening or people who want to be  part of right, why should they become part of the journey now?

Utham:  

This is a at least we all believe that we will build a company which could possibly define this generation and we are very, very fortunate to unearth an opportunity like this, right. There are not many $400 billion product  global opportunities, which are able to be organized right or at a $40 billion India opportunity which are 95% unorganized, right.

So as…as a generation as a as a as a team, which is coming from a certain generation, this is an opportunity to create something that lasts outlasts us and of course, it can possibly become an institution. Right? Yeah. So, somebody for anybody who's listening and if this whatever last few second I spoke give that effect Yeah, maybe I should be part of this yeah, yeah. I think that calling just a genuine reach out to us. Yeah, I think we can do something special here.

Abhishek:

For me, it's legacy Rupali, straight and simple to I think to echo Utham's point.

There are literally no industries left in the world that is of this large scale, it's so it's so old, right? It's been around forever. This is not a new industry. We're not trying to create something out of nothing. We are just trying to organize and improve or upgrade, so as to say, and very old, very unorganized, large industry. I have seen a lot of industries inside out. And this stands out for me as one of those industries where you can leave a legacy. Right? So, for me, anybody who's super excited by building out a legacy. Like he said, you know, outlive us. That is why I'm here. And that's why I think anybody else should…should come on board.

Rupali:

Perfect. No, thank you so much Utham, Abhi and Venu. It's been a privilege to host you at this moment. It's been an amazing privilege to be partnering with you guys. Right? And we hope, you know, there'll be many more that same and excited about the year to come. Right and wishing you guys immense high. I know we're building and we building the team, and for anybody's listening to us. And if you think you want to be part of this journey, please do reach out to us. And we would love to see the visibility of you getting on the team. Thank you again, and great wishes for the next time..

Thanks for tuning in. For more matrix moments episodes, you can head to www.matrixpartners.in/ blog. You can also follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube for more updates.

Related Content

4 Insights on Content & Community Building: Unveiling Truth
4 Insights on Content & Community Building: Unveiling Truth
Vikram Vaidyanathan
3 Learnings for Founders about Building Company Culture
3 Learnings for Founders about Building Company Culture
Vikram Vaidyanathan
Team Building Lessons with Ashish Kashyap
Team Building Lessons with Ashish Kashyap
Rupali Sharma
Rupali Sharma
Rupali Sharma
DIRECTOR - HUMAN CAPITAL