Want to build a sustainable company culture? Ashutosh Dabral Co -Founder VoyageUp tells you how

All work no play makes jack a dull bouy!

But jack is all grown up and he’s in this fiercely competitive environment.

This is where everyone’s buried their heads in a computer and they work till darks circles pop up and their eyeballs pop out.

But jack doesn’t care.

He’s got to jump the ladder and take his little startup to its level 2.

And he’s found a solution to sleep. Drink lots of caffeine and keep red bull handy. He feels breaks are for slackers and he’s obviously not one. He believes in the wee hours of the night when everyone’s sleeping he’ll find the aha Moment of his startup.

And so the nights haven’t heard jack snoring.

Well if that’s your version of life, am sorry to break the news: you’re killing. Oh, I mean not in a positive way. you’re killing your dream of a successful startup.

Graduated from IIM Calcutta in 2002 Ashutosh has primarily worked with online consumer products in tech companies – Del, Yahoo, AOL and Data Flow ( a Honk-Kong based startup-up) and is currently bootstrapping his own startup VoyageUp.

For my ‘Too Lazy To Read’ readers, before we start, here are your actionable insights:

  • The Quality of the output suffers, if people continuously work on a problem without taking breaks, they are more prone to making mistakes.
  • Founders should expect employees to have the same passion as them, as they have a life beyond work.
  • Do something, realize it’s not working and pivot. Fail Fast.
  • Working in a co-working space gives startups an opportunity to learn from other start-ups and hold regular meetups, creating an atmosphere of shared learning and growth.
  • Set daily and weekly fixed deliverables for the team.
  • Whenever the team needs a mental break after a hectic week or they have worked on a problem for long, take out time working on something they love.
  • Working for long hours has become the new trend in the start-up world, without founders realizing that it is killing creativity, slowing down productivity and reducing the problem-solving quality.

 

——-Over to Ashutosh who’s taken route less taken——–

Startup or an IIT Hostel?         

A lot of startups these days run like an IIT hostel, everyone comes at 12, stays till late night and maybe go for a drink later.

Founders come with zeal to work 18 hours a day and 7 days a week but this kind of culture is unsustainable for a long term and doesn’t give optimized results even in short periods. Founders end up building a culture where there are these 5-6 people around them with the same background, college or company and the thinking of the company remains exactly the same. There is no diversity.  A lot of startups do not realize the concept that as they grow they will need to hire different professionals and they will not all will be able to fit in this kind of company culture.

Founders end up building a culture where there are these 5-6 people around them with the same background, college or company and the thinking of the company remains exactly the same. There is no diversity.  A lot of startups do not realize the concept that as they grow they will need to hire different professionals and they will not all will be able to fit in this kind of company culture.

The charm of long hours

Working for long hours has become the new trend in the start-up world, without founders realizing that it is killing creativity, slowing down productivity and reducing the problem solving quality.

On Quality of Outputs:

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The Quality of the output suffers, if people continuously work on a problem without taking breaks, they are more prone to making mistakes. Even people working for 18 hours , spend a lot of time being unproductive, taking small breaks , discussing and brainstorming over topics that do not lead to any conclusions.

Founders need to understand that even though they have a lot of passion and they might have sacrificed their social and personal life for work they can’t expect the team to have the same amount of passion.

When under pressure, founders want to see instant results especially if they do not have enough money to hire another professional and they try to squeeze the most out of the existing employees. Making employees work for long hours seems the only possible solution in such situations.

 However, they do need to realize that employees need their family time and their leisure time. They do have a life beyond work which can’t be taken away from them.  Pulling out long hours is only effective for few weeks and beyond that it disrupts the work-life balance framework and eventually becomes less effective.

On Hiring the Right Talent:

We at VoyageUp make sure that every team member has a seat on the table. A lot of importance also has to be given to the attitude with which the employee comes in, and whether they believe in the idea and vision.We look for people who could own the product at some level, bring in new ideas and value.

Although, we made it very clear that this is not a start-up where you have to work Saturdays and Sundays but there are a set of fixed deliverables that are expected out of them every day, every week.  We also made sure that early employees have a stake in the company, so if they stick together for a longer run, they also will be able to reap profits.

Preparing Employees for the Bad Times

We make sure that the team does not have bloated expectations while motivating them we also show them the real picture regarding the funds, possible pivots, and possibilities of different scenarios from great to worse.

The 20% Time Policy

Whenever the team needs a mental break after a hectic week or they have worked on a problem for long we take out time working on something they love. For example, every Friday we take out time to work on ideas which the team would like to bring to reality. And we make it clear that if we can come up with something that actually works in the market, we just might pivot to that!

The Co-Working Space Advantage

Working out of a co-working space turned out to be one of our best decisions.It gives us an opportunity to get to know other start-ups and connect with them, also aligns with the vision of our app. Co-working spaces organize multiple start-up events that help our team get exposure, of course, the team’s favorite is free beer event on Thursdays!

Fun and Fast Culture

We follow the fun and fast culture: Do something, realize it’s not working and pivot. Fail Fast.

We also make sure that there is no hierarchy in the company. Everyone in the team has login access and can check in code to production or submit a new version of the app. At the end of the day, you have to trust the team. Unless you entrust someone, you wouldn’t know if they worthy of the trust or not. It’s important to take that leap of faith.

Using cost optimization productivity tools:

We use an app called Trello , it’s a very effective app to work collaboratively, set deliverables and prioritize work. We also use tools like

Tools like Canva are extremely useful and effective for our marketing posts, it’s a very easy to use cloud software to make highly attractive posters in minutes!

Recently, we used Fiverr for to get our videos made at a very cheap rate. Our first promo video cost us $40 and our second cost us just $20!

We were lucky when a well-funded food delivery start-up scaled down its operations in Banglore and sold its laptops to BlueBirch , hence we got our Macbooks at rock bottom prices!

About VoyageUp: 

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There are a lot of startups and apps that connect friends, business connections, and acquaintances but if you are in space where you don’t know anyone around, a typical human behavior would be that no one talks to each other or make real connection; people are just busy on scrolling through Facebook and chatting with friends on WhatApp. VoyageUp makes it easy to break the ice and speak to anyone around you and make real-time connections.

You can download the app here:

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Follow him on Twitter: @ashutoshdabral

CoFounder :Bringing the world closer

 

Have I missed something? Ofcourse , I have ? Would love to hear your views, questions, and opinions . Comment Below!

Ashmeeta
I am 21 . A dreamer. You can find me sitting in coffee shops in Delhi, sipping a cup of tea. A sucker for good stories and interesting people. I believe every person you meet has a little role to play in your life. Looking forward to hear stories of hustlers , ‘think different kinds’, who love to break conventions and most importantly can add some good value 🙂

If you have something to say you can catch me at ashmeeta@hustleindia.com .

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