Due to the fact that London is Europe’s startup hub, it is only logical that there are many startups, accelerators, incubators, investors and co-working spaces, offering startup-specific services. With regards to this, I want to present Maulik Sailor with his company Innovify, which has found its niche within the crowded techcity.
V: What is the core business of your company?
M: Innovify is a product management company (a.k.a product foundry) for early stage startups. We work with them to develop new products. We take care of all the technical and non-technical aspects. We offer tools & frameworks, man-power and product management, design and development expertise, which helps them to scale efficiently. We are operative for four years and now employ 100 people with many operatives in India.
V: How would you describe yourself in just three words?
M: Entrepreneurial, passionate, hard-working.
V: Could you tell me a little bit about your education and previous work experience.
M: I have done my MBA at the Imperial College, London. My Master degree is from Brunel University. My engineering Bachelor from India. I have worked in many places, small and big companies. I worked for Nokia, Microsoft, Wall Street Journal, BBC and others. I have a good mix of experience. My role in most companies was related to product management.
V: Would you say that your previous experiences made you entrepreneurial or were you before? Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
M: Both probably. I always wanted to start a business. When I entered the job market, I was just too comfortable with a well-paying job, but it gave me the required experience. So Innovify could be established through my experiences working for all those companies.
V: Did you try to found before?
M: Yes, I have tried to do it twice. One software development company many years ago, but it did not go anywhere. And a product based startup during my MBA, but I faced too many problems. Innovify was the outcome of those problems.
V: What was the single most important motivator to be an entrepreneur and found for the third time?
M: There were a few. Money was among them, but not the one. I always wanted to be in control of what I am doing, instead of working for someone else. Power.
Also I wanted to have an impact on others people’s lives. By having a successful foundry, we make startups and employees successful. We would be launching a social enterprise programme soon, so it is really about impact.
V: Did you have backing from family and friends? During your first startup, when you failed.
M: No, they did not know about it.
V: And now with the third startup, how did they react? Did they support or even fund you?
M: It was all personal effort. My parents did not learn about the company for two years. I never asked help from my parents. Of course they support me. I started on my own, without external money and co-founder. After pivoting and refinements, I had three friends, Ruchit, Vikas and Prakash, who joined me as my co-founders in Innovify.
V: Why didn’t you tell your parents for two years?
M: Like any other parents, they would worry a lot unnecessarily. When I started Innovify I had a lot of uncertainty. I left my job, did my MBA and incurred personal debt. So it was really stressful and I didn’t want my parents to worry needlessly.
V: Since you mentioned co-founders. Why did you decide to take your friends on board? Were they providing different skills?
M: The reason is that I know my co-founders for fifteen years and we all bring very different skills to the table. I set up the direction, I am the visionary and get my hands dirty, getting things done. Another does the code and gets it done. Nothing can stop him. And the other is more operational and financial. He digs into details and can establish good networks and connect. We also have different experiences in life and different backgrounds, but a common reason. We are on the same page regarding what we want for our company.
V: What was the reason for starting up in London?
M: Outside US or Silicon Valley, London is the best place for founding a startup. The reason for London are also government regulations. It is just the best place in Europe and better than Asia, but probably not as good as the US. Second thing is the multi-cultural environment. You find people from all over the world with different experiences. People in London are here, because they want to achieve something in their life!
V: How would you describe the differences between Indian and UK startup environment?
M: UK is very good, positive, investment – and startup friendly. India is a very different market. Developing a startup is a very difficult endeavour, because you do not have support. Financial risk is huge, because it is hard to find investment. And if you do, the terms are very aggressive. Recently it is changing. There are some good startups recently and the government is a lot more supportive. Now it is a little easier in India, but not as easy as in the UK or US.
V: What would be your most important advice that you can give other entrepreneurs?
M: Keep calm and carry on. That is the most important one.
V: If you could choose one entrepreneur to meet. Who would it be?
M: I think I could choose many, because there are many good examples. I think Bill Gates is great as a person. There are also some great Indian entrepreneurs. But as an industrialist, if I had to pick one, I would choose Ratan Tata, former CEO of Tata. He is just great, social, innovative and a very humble human. He would be my inspiration.
V: Do you have one favourite book about entrepreneurship or marketing?
M: To be honest, I have never read any books. I am just not into it. I do not have the patience to read a book. Though, I have recently started using Blinkist App, just what I needed.
V: And what about blogs?
M: Yes, I read different blogs, but not a favourite one that I could recommend. Harvard Business Review articles are pretty good. Entrepreneur.com offers also great articles and I like Forbes.
V: Thank you so much.
M: Likewise. Talk to you soon.