[YS Exclusive] Zomato’s Deepinder Goyal lists down the 16 quintessential values that every founder should have
Gurugram-based foodtech unicorn Zomato recently turned 11. On the official blog, Co-founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said this “makes us proud of what we have achieved yet, acutely aware of how much there is left to do”.
“We achieved tremendous results in optimising our costs, without affecting new product launches or innovation," Deepinder said, adding, “we will shoot for market leadership, and simultaneously steer the business towards a more sustainable P&L."
In the past six months, Zomato has executed over 65,000 orders for 2,200 restaurants across Delhi and Bengaluru. The revenue from its warehouses in H120 stands at $6.5 million, as compared to zero in H119, with a FY20 projection of 10x growth. The food aggregator acquired Hyperpure in 2018 to provide fresh and clean ingredients to its restaurant partners.
The company has been growing significantly in the past 11 years, and has been in news constantly. Many things have changed significantly, but one thing has remained common: even today, Deepinder goes to work with the same vigour and passion.
Being hands-on for 11 years
“Even today, I miss nothing. I am still as hands-on as I was when the business first started. And it isn’t really that hard. I start my day by making a list of 40 small and big things I need to do that day. And I end my day by 7-8 pm,” he says.
So what keeps him going? “You always need to be truthful to yourself and, by that virtue, to everyone else around you. Posters don’t define culture; what you do defines culture.”
He adds that intellectual honesty is the most important thing “When the going gets tough”. “You aren’t blaming circumstances, things, or others; you are looking inwards on what needs to be solved and what you need to do differently or better.”
In line with this belief, the team has built the ‘Founder Programme’ for people who have contributed to Zomato, have helped build or scale businesses, and have demonstrated a founder’s mindset.
Every year, the company will assess and announce deserving individuals as founders at Zomato.
“Being a founder gives you the privilege of serving our employees, customers, and business partners from the highest possible level. It is a privilege to play a cornerstone role in building out our ambitious vision: better food for more people,” Deepinder says.
While Zomato may have built a programme for their partners and employees, Deepinder Goyal believes that every founder and aspiring entrepreneur needs a few attributes to be successful.
16 must-have ‘values’ for a good founder
“What does a ‘founder’ mean? According to me, it just means that you have now earned the leadership team's trust to be able to take decisions on behalf of the company. Simple, but not easy. Over time, after speaking to, hearing from, and reading about other founders, I have developed a set of founder ‘values’ that I think are necessary for someone to be a good founder,” says Deepinder.
You realise that as a founder, your commitment is not only to the role you play, but to the vision and mission you share with thousands of people who work with you every day. You value the opportunity to serve millions of people, and the responsibility that comes with being a founder. You deeply understand the commitment and sacrifices it requires to live up to the responsibility.
When we are rejected, the door before us becomes a wall. We can either push against the wall, pretending it's a door, and tell ourselves that those who rejected us made a mistake. Or cry over the wall, bemoaning our lack of talent. Or try to scale the wall, realising it is unyielding. Or we can walk away and look for another door. A founder finds other doors. Those new doors mean resilience. When you address uncertainty with flexibility, you exhibit resilience.
You are an embodiment and evangelist for the company’s culture and values, both within the company and externally — to employees, customers, and business partners.
You are mindful of the sunshine test - that is, everything you do should be able to stand public scrutiny.
More hits than misses
Founders have strong business and people instincts, and make decisions that are mostly right.
You prioritise your actions along the interests of the community of employees, consumers, and business partners.
You uphold the highest standards for quality of work for yourself and your teams. You stay connected to details, and only have tolerance for well-intended mistakes.
You have a learning mindset, are intellectually honest, and open to new ideas and change. You proactively seek feedback, take everything positively, and invest in your own learning and growth.
Eye for talent
You not only have the ability to hire people better than yourself, but also invest in converting people’s capabilities into their abilities. You bet on exceptional talent, irrespective of their age and experience, and put these people at the right places where they can add the most amount of value.
Go wide, and deep
Founders have a reasonable amount of meaningful input for each aspect of the business. When required, founders can quickly master any topic that they need to (irrespective of whether they like that topic or not).
Founders are fearless and comfortable to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree. They do not submit to authority and operate from deep-rooted, mission-oriented convictions.
You create and communicate a bold direction that inspires extraordinary action. Then you inspire people to execute and beat these goals.
You look into the mirror and take ownership for negative outcomes, and look out of the window and give credit to those responsible for positive ones.
You do more with less and maximise the output of your own and your team’s work, while keeping budgets and costs as low as possible.
Source of energy
A founder is a source of energy for everyone around them. Founders have to energise, and build morale around lots of stakeholders. They know that if they are drained of energy, then people around them will also feel drained.
Founders tend to be blindly ignorant to the challenges around the problems they’re seeking to solve. That means they think outside the box and are undeterred by the failings of those who have tried before them.
Deepinder adds that this is not an exhaustive list. “I can add more points, but, in my opinion, these are the most important aspects of a founder’s mindset. If you zoom out and look at this list, operating with a founder’s mindset is simple, but not easy.”
“It just needs you to detach from yourself, and bring your soul to work. Also, it is not necessary that you are in the founder’s mindset every day; what’s important is whether the days you are in the founder’s mindset are significantly more than the days you are not. All growth begins with discomfort. Without it, there is no reason to change. We mature when we finally realise that life is not about achieving absolute peace but about effectively managing tension,” Deepinder says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)