Samar Singla, Co-founder and CEO of Chandigarh-based Jugnoo, engaged with our readers during Conversations at YourStory, on Wednesday, July 5.
To every aspiring entrepreneur, Jugnoo Founder Samar Singla’s advice is, wait for it, not to listen to advice. He, instead, advocates “experimenting it out”. In a market with high-level competitors, his way is to study the space well. He claims to have never thought about scaling in a structured way when he started off.
“The plan is to keep going and see where the journey takes us. Vision is to change how hyperlocal commerce happens in India. Size is just an outcome, and solving the problem well is the more important thing I should focus on as a CEO. Too much obsession with size and outcomes puts fear in you,” he says.
Samar was chatting with YourStory readers as part of our weekly programme ‘Conversations at YourStory’, which engages who's who of the startup world about their views on the ecosystem. Joining the ranks of Ronnie Screwvala, Girish Mathrubootham and Anu Acharya, who we have hosted in the past, Samar shared with readers his own journey in entrepreneurship, as well as on the observations about the ecosystem.
The making of an entrepreneur
Samar founded Jugnoo in November 2014 with Chinmay Agarwal. He says he is not really an idea person.
“It was just an experiment that worked out. Chinmay and I put together an app that would just match to an auto; no payments, no fares. When it started getting requests, we pretty much built the whole backend,” he recollects about the initial days.
As every entrepreneur does, Samar has his good days and bad days. He says that the best thing about being an entrepreneur is that he never gets bored. “Seeing the impact you have is very satisfying. The flipside is that it gets very lonely sometimes,” he adds. However, he is sure that there are no major cons of being yourself. “Sometimes, I can't get along with everyone because of being too blunt, but that's okay,” he says.
Jugnoo is Samar’s third venture, after Prodigy Foods, which he exited in two years, and SaaS technology solution provider Click Labs. He stresses on the need to keep one's employees motivated. So how does he keep his best resources around for the long haul? “Talk to them, be very transparent and align with them for the long term,” he says.
Making of the startup
Jugnoo has ventured into different verticals of on-demand and hyperlocal space in B2B & B2C domains, with its services like Rides, Fatafat, Meals, Menus, Asklocal and Jugnoo Delivery (B2B).
Within two years of its inception, Jugnoo has expanded across 40 cities in India and is trending at 50,000 daily transactions. Samar says that the focus on Tier II and III cities has fared well for the business. He claims that they are profitable on every transaction. The company has a registered user base of five million and over 15,000 auto drivers empanelled with the brand.
But Samar doesn’t get caught up in vanity metrics. On being asked when it is important to start paying attention to exit strategies while running a business, he says he still doesn't understand them. “I think it's more important to focus on growth and fundamentals,” he quips.
Taking a risk
Jugnoo happened at a time when most players were pulling out of hyperlocal commerce. But Samar says that Jugnoo always had been very fundamentals-driven. “Our unit economics is good; we are profitable on EBIDTA basis. The companies pulling out didn't get their unit economics right because of excessive funding,” he opines.
Samar adds that B2B is important for any company to make profit. “Indian customers today are not the ideal ones in terms of spending capacity. B2B can fill that gap for companies,” he explains.
Balancing life and work
Although entrepreneurship was never something that Samar took up on a whim, he says that it was his late wife who really got him serious about his career. “I had to be successful to marry her and I just got serious about my life because of that,” he adds.
Passionate about photography and travelling, Samar used to post his photos here. Yet, maintaining a balance between professional and personal life is not hard for Samar. He says that there is always enough time as long as one manage things well and has their priorities straight. “My life, other than work, is my daughter and spending time with her is my way to recharge myself,” he adds.
Samar says he is fairly disconnected to outcomes. “We are just focused on our mission, and have no time for new ideas,” he adds.