Knowlarity is a Gurgaon based cloud telephony company that is backed by Sequoia Capital and has scaled rapidly over the past couple of years. The company was founded in 2009 by IIT Kanpur batch-mates Ambarish Gupta and Pallav Pandey and is currently a 250+ member company. In a recent development, Pallav Pandey has quit Knowlarity and will be moving on to other things while he still remains on board of the company.
So, is the company breaking down?
The conventional Indian thought process would scream out, “YES!” And yes, co-founder disputes are often the biggest reasons for a company breaking down. But is that the case here? The CEO Ambarish Gupta begs to differ which is an obvious thing to say but is there a reason to believe in it? We think yes.
If numbers are anything to go by, Knowlarity is probably one of the fastest growing product companies in India right now. Having more than 5,000 paying customers currently and hiring aggressively as we speak, the company doesn’t give signs of a slow-down. “We’re infact expanding fast and in the process of moving the holding structure to Singapore to focus more on international customers,” says Ambarish.
Perhaps a logical step
“The company has different phases of operation,” says Ambarish. A company requires different capabilities from the founders at various stages of the life cycle. “An early stage company which has just taken off needs a a hustler and a strong-minded management guy at the top (with tech understanding). These two people are most often a must,” he adds.
Once the company has raised a series A or B and is in the growth phase, the need for a hustler reduces. More processes come into the picture and making disruptions within the company isn’t that easy. The dependence on the person who can scale and take incremental steps becomes predominant.
Curious case of the serial entrepreneur
Businesses are built over a lifetime is what many believe but this isn’t the thrill for every entrepreneur. Some people like the thrill of building things from scratch and when it reaches a certain scale, they move out to do it all over again. This is your serial entrepreneur and one can hint a sense of this in Pallav. He had a political market research consultancy firm called Viplav Communications before Knowlarity and is now on the lookout for the next thing. “This was a planned move. We reached a certain stage in terms of growth and I needed time for myself to think about the next step,” says Pallav.
A maturing startup ecosystem?
Ambarish had to face a barrage of questions once Pallav quit which left him quite baffled. “I didn’t think it’d be such a big hue,” says Amabarish. Throughout history across the globe there have been examples of co-founders splitting or new CEOs being brought in for the better of the company.
In India, founders are often very touchy about their companies and a lot of this can be rooted down to the culture. Strong ties form the crux of any Indian family and quick changes are looked as signs of promiscuity. But in terms of business, the perspective is different and . We recently saw Dhingana bring in Rohit Bhatia as CEO and organizational changes in other companies (we explore everything here). “We need to grow up and put the progress of the company before every other thing,” says Ambarish.
Surely a progressive thought, it was articulated here to bring forth the other side of conventional interpretations. Do share your thoughts on how you look at co-founder splits.