Our Awesome Startup Employee from ZipDial is Mahesh Rangappa. Valerie Rozycki Wagoner, the Founder of ZipDial nominated him.
Hearing the excitement and joy in Mahesh’s voice one would peg him as a fresher thoroughly enjoying the rush of working at a startup. Well you are in for a surprise. Mahesh is ZipDial's second employee and first team member on the product team.
Valerie says, “Over the past 4 years, the product team has grown to nearly 30 people, and Mahesh continues to be a leader who we all look up to. Mahesh's dedication is unparalleled. Time and again when we were operating all-hands-on-deck to delivery on time for customers and struggling with cash flow to make ends meet, Mahesh put the company before himself. Mahesh is really part of the founding team, and he has demonstrated this leadership and dedication to the fullest.”
He clearly remembers his first meeting with Amiya Pathak, one of the Co-founders, at a coffee shop. “The meeting is still so fresh in my mind. It was supposed to be an informal talk which went on for a few hours because we got so engrossed in discussing and brainstorming about what a missed call could do.”
He has been a part of every success and challenge ZipDial has ever faced.
Like most startups, ZipDial started with a small team. Mahesh says, “We just wanted to understand how the missed call concept worked. We wanted to see and understand user reactions in the market. We were the first startup in the market to comprehend the value of a missed call and the opportunities it could create. Mahesh says that it all started with a fun activity like giving out cricket scores. Now we have evolved to being market leaders. The growth has been tremendous and I have never experienced so much joy. We are doing some great work and it is good to see the team grow,” says a proud Mahesh.
“Mahesh is a quiet leader,” says Valerie.“He is exceptionally good at his own work in terms of product architecture and development, but he is also extremely patient and thoughtful in training and leading his team to make them successful. He will never be loud or take credit for things, but he will quietly lead from behind to make others successful. This is a sign of a true leader.”
When asked how Mahesh resonates the culture and values of ZipDial Valerie had this to say, “Mahesh thinks holistically about solving problems and deeply understands both the technology and business sides of the market. At the core of ZipDial's DNA we have disrupted a market and we are solving problems that have never been solved before. It is impossible for the company to succeed and for a team member to succeed within the company without thinking about the problem from all angles. Though Mahesh is leading the engineering team, he regularly asks me the tough questions about our business, pricing, marketing, and fundraising strategies.”
Valerie lets us into some interesting stuff too. She says,
Mahesh has delivered more lines of code and product releases from the hospital than probably anyone else in India. Over the past 4 years, whether through a motorbike accident he endured or the birth of his first child, Mahesh has proven his dedication to delivering world-class product for the company, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Talking about ZipDial and his team, Mahesh says, “ZipDial has attracted like-minded people. If one person has a dream it may not become a reality. If the whole team has the same dream then you can go ahead and achieve anything.”
“At ZipDial the team is great. The synergy we share is amazing. I am very happy being a part of the team,” he adds.
To his team he sends out a message,
In the startup world it is all about enjoying yourself and riding the tide. There is high tide and low tide, so you have to have that patience and perseverance as well. Know what your goal is, know what you want to achieve and be confident about it.
Since Mahesh has grown with ZipDial he has valuable insights to share about team building. “Team building is challenging. A startup is all about people and the team. Stronger the team the more power you have to go through various challenges. Team building is an investment. It is important to ensure that you understand business and company goals. It is important you align your goals with the team. You have to have the drive and you have to exhibit the same exuberance every day."
The work culture at ZipDial is very cool. It is important to have a work culture where people have the liberty to make their own decisions. When people are given responsibility they thrive. The more ownership we give to people the more happiness and productivity we see. This is what ZipDial is all about.
Mahesh says that a lot of credit goes to Valerie for making what ZipDial is today. It has been very informal thanks to her. The founders have been very supportive. “It has been great to work with Valerie because of the simple reason that she is a ‘go getter’. She works very hard to meet the goals no matter what and sets the right example for the rest of the team to follow.”
Mahesh worked in another startup before joining ZipDial. He says, “I am not new to startups. Being in a startup is a lot of fun. If you have the appetite of going through the cycle of ups and downs, it is a very exciting place to be in. A few years ago I had to move to a larger organization before joining ZipDial. I could not relate to having a career in a large Corporate. Things are fine and stable but the thrill you get at startups is totally missing!”
“In a startup, you are the key decision maker so it is important for you to understand the finer nuances of what you are doing, have a keen understanding of the business scenarios, there has to be a realization of the tough decisions that you will be making and the impact those decisions will create. That is what makes working at a startup exciting. I do not think I will ever go back to the corporate world again.”
Sharing a memorable moment, Mahesh says, “So in my third month at ZipDial when I went to pay my phone bill the guy at the counter asked for my phone number and unfortunately I stated a toll free number as my phone number. When they asked me to repeat it I realized my mistake. I had recently tested the customer campaign so I repeated that number instead of my phone number. The whole thing was quiet funny!”
At the personal front, Mahesh loves to travel. Travel is the best form of relaxation for him. He has done a bit of trekking too. Kerala and Manali are places he enjoyed visiting the most. Bali he says is very close to his heart.
At the end of the day however, Mahesh gets to play with his child. That is the best form of relaxation, he says.
To our readers, he adds, “Working at a startup has been a joy ride. I got very lucky to see it from ground zero. I recommend everyone to go through at least one startup in a lifetime. It is a different experience and totally worth it.”
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