A founder’s account on life after acquisition
“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle and a victory.” — Mahatma Gandhi
8 hours. That’s precisely what it took for Voonik to acqui-hire Styl. That’s the time between our first interaction with Voonik’s team to the closure of the deal.
Just after coming out of Voonik’s office, Anup & me were looking at each other & I asked — Is this real?. Without taking too long to find the answer, we decided to celebrate the moment. Mostly, for the fear of waking up the next day to only realise, it was a dream.
Ankur Singla once told me to look for long term association in acquisition as most of them fallout after 3 months. And we are here — 1 year into Voonik after our acquisition. During this tenure, our team has built apps, backend infra, designs and handled operations.
I personally had a good share of un-learnings during the period. An year has passed by at Voonik and I think now is a good time to reflect on the un-learnings I had during this time.
Unlearning #1 — Be Nice & Build a Business
Personally my motto with Styl was to “Be Nice & Build a Business”. We have fairly succeeded in doing so. However, we haven’t done this at scale and was skeptical & had doubts about choosing the right motto.
Being nice & building a business meant two things to me —
1) Be empathetic towards employees for the risks they are taking along with yourself, to build the startup. Be vary of their careers & family. Nurture & safeguard the careers of the employees for the trust they’ve put in the founder’s vision. Be frugal & nice to investors money — spend wisely & correct the mistakes early on. Do update them on the progress or the lack of it. This is especially more important & true with Angel investors.
2) While being at the above tenet, do whatever it takes to build a long-lasting business.
At Voonik, I saw this very thing happening at scale — Being nice & building a business. This gave me enough confidence to stick to the motto.
Unlearning #2 — Be Transparent
One of the first things, I’ve noticed when I entered Voonik’s office is a set of TVs displaying the daily metrics. This displays transparency and earns trust.
Sharing the daily metrics with the whole of the company & (visitors) needs courage. It also sends an underlying message that the team isn’t timid of the bad days but shall acknowledge & work on it.
Be it metrics or be it the route the company is taking for the future — It always helps to be transparent.
Unlearning #3 — Say no to Vanity metrics
Well, will keep this section short as much has already been said & written about the vanity metrics. This is also evident in all the Voonik’s dashboards which are put to display — only the ones which are worth running behind are taken care of.
Tip: Not chasing the vanity metrics helps in not only focussing on the right ones but also tying them to the team’s goals. Almost, all of the teams at Voonik are measured by numbers.
Two pointers to startups while getting acquired or acqui-hired
1) Truly understand if you can build things along with the team for more than 6 months — Talk to people about the company & founders. We did & we’re very glad that we made the right decision.
2) Do take care of your employees & investors. It’s hard. But that’s the right thing to do.
When Sujayath asked us in the first meeting about our priorities of the deal, our answer was impromptu & instant — 1) Investors. 2) Team. 3) Us (founders). We’re glad we were able to execute the deal in that priority.
This brings me to the most important part — Thanking everyone who have helped & stood by us during our acquisition times.
Sujayath, Navaneeth & Swapna of Voonik, Chaitanya & Sangram of Stylecraze, Sirish, Deepak Ravindran, Ankur Singla & Naman Sarawagi for taking time out to chat & guide.
Also a big thanks to our investors at Styl — Rajesh, Nitin, Kiran & Pinto.
Last but not the least, our kick-ass team who were our strength through all the good times and the not so good times. Love you all.