[Awesome Startup Employee] Meet Mahesh Muraleedharan, the hustler at Uber India

Jubin Mehta & Tanvi Dubey
15th Aug 2014
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It is people that make a company and it is especially important for startups to get the culture right. We started the Awesome Startup Employee series with the idea of bringing the people behind the scenes at the forefront and we've been at it for a while now. This time around, we have Mahesh Muraleedharan from Uber. Although Uber is no longer a startup, considering the scale it has attained and the venture capital it has attracted, it's each individual office certainly is.

Allen Penn, Head of North Asia & India Operations says, "The strength of Uber is it's people and nowhere is that more evident than the Uber India team. We're truly hiring the best entrepreneurs, operations gurus and marketing minds in the country. In building a team from scratch, early hires matter hugely and having Mahesh as Uber India employee #1 has been a great example and prototype for our growth." Mahesh has been nominated by Bhavik Rathod, the GM at Bangalore Uber and we completely agree with the choice. Talking about him, Bhavik says, "Mahesh is very analytical, a number cruncher and a visionary. He has an attitude that 'nothing is impossible' and he keeps gunning to achieve challenging goals he sets for himself. He is a true hustler and adapts to situations effortlessly". Do we have an instance of his hustling skills? Yes, Bhavik recounts:

One special moment that comes to mind is when Mahesh, on an extremely hot afternoon in Bangalore, drove up to a busy parking lot next to a wedding venue and pitched Uber to all the drivers that were there using just an iPad Mini. As I said before, he is a crazy hustler and extremely dedicated to scaling Uber in the city.

Early Days and joining Uber

Mahesh grew up in Chennai and completed his graduation there. He did his Post-graduation from IIM Ahmedabad and was a consultant for a small Infra Advisory firm for 3 years. Post that, he joined an eCommerce company in Operations which got acquired in 2013.

Mahesh ran into a job posting on Uber.com/jobs. “After learning about Uber and its disruptive technology, the Operations and Logistics Manager role in Bangalore was an opportunity that I had to apply for. The role is a very challenging and exciting one that requires granular analytical and problem solving skills and at the same time, an immaculate operational efficiency,” he says.

The interview was unconventional, and a simulation of what it's like to do the job you’re applying for, to see how he reacted to real world problems. “I can tell you honestly, that I was nervous and not entirely sure of how Uber would work in India at the time,' Mahesh recollects.


Being employee #1 at Uber India

Being the first employee of Uber India was nothing short of an adrenaline packed amusement ride. I was immediately thrown into the business where I was running analytics, managing partner relations and economics. This is really a one of a kind business – there aren’t too many companies that describe themselves as 'a logistics business with a consumer-facing brand that's disrupting the transportation industry'

Mahesh says that Uber is a global company that is truly local at its core. He still has to pinch himself to believe that it was just a year ago that he worked with the Bangalore team to find their first office, bring on board the first driver partner and help run their first rider promotion. Fast-forward just a year later, Uber is in 6 cities in India creating entrepreneurs with drivers and providing reliable and convenient rides.

Role at Uber

The role of an Operations and Logistics Manager is a very challenging and exciting one that requires great analytical and problem solving skills and the passion to build a business at the ground level. Mahesh is responsible for everything to do with supply ranging from managing fleet partnerships, partnering with individual drivers, metrics analysis, schedule and position supply in the city and find ways to improve the ride quality. In short, Mahesh is responsible for Uber’s growth in the city along with their Community Manager who builds demand.

Best part about working at uber

Mahesh says that Uber allows you the opportunity to execute everything hands on. The entire ownership and responsibility of 50% of the business rests with Mahesh. "I don’t have a ‘backup’ team or person who is available to cover me if I leave. That’s exciting and scary at the same time," he says.

Mahesh believes the team to be one of the best part about working at uber. "I can confidently say that I work with the best startup team in the country. It is a team that is super pumped with energy, passion and just love for what they do. They are some of the brightest, most creative and analytical minds I’ve ever met,' he says. Besides the team, the other thing about working for Uber is the impact that one creates everyday. "Today, the drivers work flexible hours and make more money at it. One instance is that of our first woman driver, Bharathi, who has been an Uber partner since October and recently bought her own car. She now earns enough to pay of her loans and take home money for her family,"shares Mahesh.

Biggest challenge working at Uber

Selling the idea of Uber to our first driver partner that got on the system. We were new in the country and not many had heard about Uber. To explain to our first partner on how his earnings can increase significantly with Uber and walking him through our technology was a big challenge.

Core values of Uber

Mahesh gives us three things that everyone at uber values:

Best idea wins: At Uber, the right answer always wins. We like people who’ll stand up for the right answer regardless of where it comes from.

Hustle: First to take initiative, innovative, creative and constantly looking for ways to improve everything around them

Infectious enthusiasm: We like to bring passion to everything we do. We like to work hard, party harder!

A message for team Uber from Mahesh

What we share is romance. We are changing lives everyday – And it amazes me that I am so connected with everyone at Uber, across over 160 cities, through this shared vision. Looking forward to making “hailing” a thing of the past with all of us!

So, what are you waiting you? Do you want to transform your life by choosing to work at a startup? Find some handpicked jobs on our Jobs Board. For more such Awesome Startup Employee stories, read here.

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