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Serial Entrepreneur Club – EP51


Bhavin we’re so happy to have you here. Of course, you know Colin, myself, Paige, Peter, many of us have been talking about singing your praises, but talking about how we’ve crossed paths with you. So many different times and how you are, just an amazing innovator, but more importantly to us, an amazing entrepreneur.

So we’d love to hear from you just give us a highlights of what you’re doing now and what your past is. And then we can just dive into a couple questions and start to bring some of our amazing members up to the stage to ask you questions directly. Fantastic. Happy to do that. So by way for quick background and Michele, thank you for for all the all the kind remarks.

I have I’ve been a serial tech entrepreneur for pretty much all my life. I was fortunate enough to find my passion early on. I started coding when I was 10 years [00:01:00] old in the sort of Ms. Store CC plus kind of pre-internet days in, in 1989. I I was schooled in, in Mumbai and my school installed the very first computer room in 1989.

I was in sixth grade. The computers with these sort of green colored own terminals, 0 8, 6 microprocessor. And they had these five and four inch floppy drives and 360 KB of storage on each of those floppy drives. And for me, it was kinda love at first sight. And I just, I’ve never looked back I’ve spent my entire life building technology products since then started my first company co-founded along with my younger brother in in 98.

That’s actually, I guess in some sense my highest return on investment, cuz we borrowed. $500 in capital seed capital for my father bought a bunch of servers in data centers and co-located them in the us and started selling hosting space and domain names and email and website builder, and all these sort of web infrastructure services and cloud services for micro SMBs it was called direct tie back then still is I guess, in some sense.

And then 16 years later, we actually sold that company for 160 [00:02:00] million all cash exit to a public company based in Boston called endurance. Since then in the interim, I’ve also started three other companies that I still own. In 2012 I started rads and rads basically own some of the most premium top level domains.

We’ve got, dot do website, many others. Currently roughly a half billion dollar enterprise. I have a CEO and a team and extremely capable team that doesn’t need me anymore. It’s like a teenage child left home now, but that runs the show. And then in 20 E 14, I started a company called Titan with Titan and flock that basically provide two products, email and chat for micro SMBs.

And we recently raised. 30 million at a 300 million valuation from WordPress last year. And science sort of a strategic partnership with them. And then 2015, I started my fourth company which also takes that sort of a consider amount of time. Right now goes into that one. It’s called Ze and Ze.

I started I invested about 40 into my personal capital co-founded with [00:03:00] a gentleman called Roki. And basically Ze is we started with the goal of essentially rewriting all the banking techs. So if you think about all banks and fintechs and financial institutions across globe most of ’em running software that was written more than 20 years conceptualize at least more than 15, 20 years ago before the cloud, before smartphone existed.

And we’ve built, AZE a full stack platform that can run an entire retail commercial bank, every asset liability and payment product, it’s gonna be credit cards, deposits, debit cards prepaid accounts, loans, mortgages, et cetera. And so if you’re a bank or FinTech, we basic that’s. So our clients are banks in fintechs across globe in six different countries right now.

You can basically use our platform to essentially run pretty much the entire bank and become much more agile nimbler faster in terms of innovation as well as provide far modern experiences to your customers, improved customer NPS improved cost to income ratio. And Ze recently raised now about two 80 million.

Most of it from SoftBank, it’s kinda my first ever institutional fundraise. In fact, the first time [00:04:00] ever gone fundraising period. But we raised two 80 million, two 50 from SoftBank and 30 from a few other funds and and MasterCard at a one and a half billion valuation. And so that’s so currently most of my time is spent moving Ze in Titan.

So that’s communications and banking and payments, oh my gosh. There’s 10 questions I have for you, but let me just start with the first. So you have an idea for this company, do you think about it as being scalable defensible? What is it that goes into an idea that makes it a unicorn down the path?

Like how do you visualize that? Can you tell us that process that you go, like, how did you come up with Zeta? Sure. That’s an interesting question. I would say firstly, that this is something I tell all entrepreneurs focus on creating value, not valuation is kinda like a side effect.

I don’t think any entrepreneur. In my opinion, the ones that really achieve, significant success, start out with the notion of, I wanna build a billion dollar company, you start out with a problem space, and if it’s a big enough problem, you will [00:05:00] basically, if you focus on it, you will essentially valuation will automatically happen as service side effect.

But yes, you’re right. In my, anyways, in fact over the last decade, I’ve learned in some cases, even the hard way, but I’ve learned Colin the questions you asked, actually, a very useful and important question that you could end up spending your life.

You smart individual, you could end up spending your life on on solving a problem that just has a much, a smaller scale and scope, or you could end up spending your life on working with a problem. There is a much larger scale and scope. The truth is by the way, in terms of brain power and amount of time and effort that it takes I don’t think there’s any entrepreneur or small or big, that’ll tell you that it’s not a struggle.

And so therefore you end up having to stay, spend a similar amount of sort of time resources, effort anyways. And so I’ve always believed this notion that, if you’re thinking you might as well think big because it takes same amount of brain power and brain cells. And so with Ze actually I can anecdotally talk about that and give you perspective on, on how we.

How we pick this problem space and how it’s such a massive problem space, et cetera, which is, I’ve always been passionate about payments and banking. [00:06:00] Typically my, any business now data actually comprises of multiple different businesses, but any business that I that I start and all of them have been in B2B SAS, I’ve discovered now this, or I’ve ized the process and I gonna take it through four stages, which is discovery plan sorry, planning, discovery, scaling, and steady state.

So every company that I’ve started, every idea that I that I’ve that I’ve looked at has gone through sort of these four stages, which is, planning, discovery, scaling, and steady stage. So same thing happened with Zita in the planning stage that is a hypothesis. Think at Zita, I said, look, banking and payments is right for disruption.

Banks are using legacy tech customers. Don’t really like banking services. And and and so there’s clear sort of opportunity. It’s a massive space. It’s global, it impacts everybody banks. Typically these are things that you can discover in, in, perhaps a few days of research, but like banks typically across the globe spending about 200 billion per year in it expenses.

And so it’s a huge market in terms of revenue opportunity. Even if you, even, if you manage to end up getting only sort of five, 10% of the market share, you’re still sitting on a sizable [00:07:00] pie. So these are all these sort of, elements of okay, here’s a space that I definitely wanna do something in.

And that kind of kicks off the planning stage. At the planning stage, the goal is to actually construct a business plan that for me answers questions. So validates questions or hypothesis six buckets, which is who’s the persona what is the problem or the primary problems that they’re facing?

What product am I gonna build that is 10 X better than existing status quo that will actually meaningfully solve for that problem, way better than anything else can solve for it. How am I gonna get it to market? So my GTM how am I gonna make revenue? So what is my sort of revenue model now in the future?

And what is the mode that I can create such that if I if I start this and scale the business that somebody else can’t come and directly compete on just price or features or that I actually could create a sustainable business, right? So it’s persona problem, product GTM revenue and mode.

So this is kinda six variables that I’m trying to answer. And so in the planning stage, the goal is to just keep doing homework. We did [00:08:00] that for about a year. So me and my co-founder, we started conceptualizing zero in 2014. We spent a year doing homework in terms of reading up, about regulation, understanding PNLs and profit law statements of existing banks evaluating competitors, understanding where we should play.

Like for instance, one of the questions we had was if you wanted to sub banking, should we start our own bank? Or should we actually power the technology for banks? So there are two completely different businesses. So all of this stuff, the planning stage, the goal is to, obviously. Write down your known unknowns identify as many and figure out all the known unknowns in that discovery process, figure out as many unknown unknowns and and then validate across all of these sort of six parameters to come to a conclusion in terms of, okay, there is a clear problem.

There’s a clear persona, it’s a big enough, problem, the sizeable market for it. We have the capability and the ingredients of success to be able to build a product that can cater to that particular audience. So in case of banking, for instance as I said, our perspective was we realized that, all banks across global using legacy tech, realize if we become a bank ourselves, we [00:09:00] will be we will be actually stuck with regulation and and, managing processes and bureaucracy and and licensing in, in many different countries.

So as a technology service provider, we’re not gonna encumber by any of that. Banking also serve as a business, as a cap return on equity. And, won’t get too much detail there, but we eventually chose this part that look there’s significant potential. Our goal is to of become the de facto technology platform that enables become digital first companies and create model experiences.

Now, once I cross the planning stage with a, okay, this is an area that we want to focus on in the discovery phase, the goal is to get to product market fit. So build a, version one of the product and the deliverables essentially are that, we had a hypothesis. If we provide, if you create the product, we provide it to a.

A bunch of customers does the picture resonate? Do they buy it, do they use it? Do they remain retained customers? Do they have a high NPS? They love what we’re doing and they love us, love our product. And do we have a traction channel that we can use to scale in a manner that [00:10:00] LTV is data than C now in Ze, that was pretty simple because cost of acquiring each customer is fairly low cost of acquiring each customer is, fairly low’s all BD and sales.

Sorry. No, no Bhavinbin. No we gotcha. We hear you. And I was just gonna say, so basically you’re the same as every startup, you find a problem, you solve that problem. The only difference is you find a big problem and you solve that problem. That’s very interesting. No, absolutely. And I’ll quickly summarize out here.

So at the end of discovery, the goal is to get product market fit, high NPS, higher attention and and at action channel that. And during the discovery stage, you are also putting together a playbook to scale the business, bringing the right kind of middle, middle management and so on and so forth.

Then, we move to the next stage, which is scaling put in capital, build out the sales and marketing teams, build out the sales and marketing playbooks, build out the delivery playbooks and basically scale the business and then eventually gets a steady [00:11:00] state. So I actually spend a lot of my time on the first, let’s say two and a half stages of the cycle, I’m very deeply involved during planning during discovery and halfway through scaling and then stunts to smart people in the organization that that actually take over and and then scale the business.

And this applies to a sort of company as a whole, it applies to a market or a specific product that we’re launching within the company. Invariably it goes to kinda the same four phases if you will. I think we can all sympathize with the fact that the banks offer is so slow. Every time I go to do a wire, do anything in the bank, it’s they’re tapping away for 20, 30 minutes on that computer.

And they’re saying, oh, it’s just working very slow. You solve the problem. You identified it, solve it. You take it to mark, you understand distribution, you’re killing it. I can see right now why that, creating a unicorn and what you do is it’s almost like a process. It’s not like some magical, Smart talking Newman, WeWork style CEO.

We’re talking about here. Somebody who understands a process who knows how to identify an idea who knows how to vet [00:12:00] that idea and then take it to market. I just listening to you is absolutely fascinating, Michele. I know you’re wadding here, so I’m gonna shut up. Yeah. Mary Colin, that’s also because of built a lot of lemons.

I will tell you I have made some of my worst mistakes have been stupid products, things that unvalidated yeah, trust me. I’ve gone through a journey where I’ve created crap that nobody wanted enough number of times. . That’s great. So just a couple of takeaways, one thing I hear is your, you take a very analytical approach.

It sounds like you’re brutally honest about what the research is showing. Cause I think a lot of people, fall in love with their idea, it’s hard for them to, so to speak separate from it. And then I also heard you talking about NPS, so the net promoter score. So you’re really making sure that this is something not that people kinda like, and you might have to talk ’em into it.

What I am inferring is something that they [00:13:00] will really love and see the value of and last, but very importantly, You really, adhere to this idea that you can build an attraction model, which we might also say is distribution. So you really are making it sound simple. I’m gonna say, and obviously you’ve done it extremely effectively, but wow.

You take a very disciplined to pro and that’s something that we, really love to hear insight into here at Sierra entrepreneur club, because that’s something that, we can quantify and give people help on how they might approach businesses. So on that note, I have a question where do you see, like you’re like a profit to us so where do you see still existing opportunities in the markets in specific verticals? Like you’re looking around. I know you’re very technical and I’m sure you’re very [00:14:00] engrossed in what trends are. We would be curious to know what trends that you know of, spark your interests, if you could tell us.

Sure. You’re happy to do that. I think the two or three that I’m closely following is, of course AI biotech is a lot of stuff, taking place in biotech that I think is gonna drastically change. People getting more health conscious as a trend in general, but more importantly in the last 10, 15 years there’s so much happened in the sort of platform in biotech.

We know we mapped out the, it took us, whatever, 10, 15 years to map out the human genome and over a billion dollars. And now anybody can do it with less than thousand dollars on a machine in like less than 30 minutes. So there’s so much progress that has been made in terms of understanding cellular molecular biology and being a, able to apply that to personalized medicine.

That’s a huge area of development that, that I think is gonna skyrocket in many ways. What else? I must say I haven’t really gotten on the blockchain and crypto bandwagon as much. I have been I have some perspectives on it. I do definitely see the, [00:15:00] benefit in advantages, but I’ve always thought of blockchain more as a technology and enabler of some really interesting use cases.

And so I haven’t really spent a lot of time on the kinda whole crypto blockchain side, but definitely there’s, tons of potential there. So have you bought NFT yet? I haven’t. You had your first, I have not either. So no, yeah, I I must say I’ve I haven’t actually dabbled in it yet.

But yeah, I, biotech will be areas that I think are right for disruption. I think everywhere where you see, it depends whether you wanna be, I’ve been B2B focused all my life, so it’s easier for me to spot opportunities and B2B as opposed to B2C.

And I see much like banking there’s, insurance there’s mutual funds and the testing that is healthcare and health services, all that use, a lot of legacy tech that don’t have the ability to use, data underlying to generate meaningful insights at scale. And so there’s lots and lots of opportunity in many of these areas where there’s tons of legacy tech employed, but it’s a.

Massive opportunity cuz it impacts every single individual [00:16:00] on the planet. So I think those would be other areas from B2B standpoint that I would I would think of, yeah, it’s really an amazing time to be in business for sure. So on that note, we have some folks that have been extremely patient here on stage that we would like to get their questions.

So when you come up with your question, please try to get right to the point so that we can get through and be respectful, Bhavin’s time. So first I’ll start right after Bhavin folks above, if you are, have a question, just fall your mic, but let’s start with audio. Audio. What is your question for Bhavin?

Hey, Bhavin and health, wealth, love happiness now to you and congratulations. And may you go from strength to strength in all your business endeavors? I’m myself, an entrepreneur and trying to grow businesses. And I’m been doing a lot of me and mindfulness education, wisdom, intelligence, and study [00:17:00] and research.

So I’m just wondering how you utilize, the wisdom of meditation to help you concentrate your endeavors, to grow your business. Audio fantastic. Question and I can, very candidly say I wish I U utilized much more of those tools than I do today. I actually longest period of time, I was I was not really as much into spirituality meditation and and in general, hadn’t really explored that aspect in any form, but about two and a half, two, two and a half years ago I started doing a bunch of reading.

I got partially motivated by, Tim Ferris’s book on tools, Titans where pretty much, I think 80% of the people in that book talk about meditation being is extremely important tool for their success. And up reading a couple of really good books that I strongly recommend.

I love them. One is a book called waking up by Sam Harris and the other one is sort book by Robert Wright. Something it’s a scientific take on Buddhism. I forget the title, the name of the book. And so I started really spending some more time on, on those topics in [00:18:00] areas as compared to what I did before.

I have had bouts where I will take time out to meditate every day or every alternate day for a couple of months and then again, pause and then restart. And so I certainly am not as regular as I hoped I would be by it every time when I have in, engaged or indulge in it.

I see a difference in terms of the, I think more and more so I’ll give you my perspective on it. I’m probably, I probably have a lot to learn from you compared to what I can share in that regards. But fundamentally I think the most valuable resource we all have is time.

I, and vast majority of us don’t even realize they’re in this sort of multitasking environment with multiple devices and constant interruptions as to how much of that time gets utilized in distracted thinking that doesn’t add anything concrete throughout the day. And that applies equally to me as to anybody else.

And meditation is say time tested centuries old tool and the only one that can effectively enable you to improve focus, [00:19:00] reduce distractions, reduce stress and anxiety and all of that. So I certainly would strongly recommend it as a tool. And I hope to be I hope to get better at it in terms of in calculating it more regularly in my practice is what I would say.

Excellent. So the next person and I love what you had to say audio. That was a great question to real, really think about. How are we more productive and focus as individuals? So thank you for asking that. Next we have GU I hope I said your name correctly. Yeah. Thank you, Michele, for pronouncing it better than other focus of sphere.

So I, I have a question for Bhavin. So Bhavin, huge, an opportunity to have a conversation with you is like dream come true to me. And you have started working with a brother back then in the nineties and, working with siblings it’s[00:20:00] I am still working with my brother on an idea he’s on the tech part and I’m on the product side and I have a long experience product, so I can utilize my playbook of product, elsewhere for the organizations to catalyst the process.

But when you’re working with a sibling, how do you get them to the single idea and work on it, plus it is more like that, what challenges you faced while working with your brother? sure. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really amazing co-founders have had two in my life.

My first company was yes, with my younger brother, Dave and my current company, Ze, I have co-founded with a guy called round key. Who’s basically has worked with me in the past for about 10 years. And we started this company together. Both of them are gems, amazing people. Two of the most brilliant people I know potentially I would actually go so far as to say that they’re both smarter than even I am.

So they’ve it was an amazing time. Obviously great to be able to work with with your brother, cuz there’s automatically implicit trust. I think that’s a, one of the things that that’s most important when you’re looking at a co-founder [00:21:00] and vast majority of founder relationships actually probably I guess it technically applies to all relationships, but specifically since we’re talking about companies, and founder relationships, vast majority of them, if there’s any sort of issues in the future, it’s because of lack of trust.

And so benefit there is that there’s already implicit trust, with the relationship and and to your first point, actually me and he ended up working on different things. And I think we the good advantage of having somebody who’s super smart, extremely intelligent equally driven an outstanding entrepreneur in his own accord.

The benefit of that is that you obviously, you don’t wanna spend both of your time on the exact same problem with the exact same time all of the time, because then you’re just, wasting resources, but you can act as each other’s sounding boards on areas, whether it’s departments functions or products that you’re that you’re working on.

And so that, that was the automatic relationship that ended up forming between me and Dave. And in some sense right now between me and Ram key is that both me and Dave would end up picking up different problems. We are implicit trust of whatever problem, I [00:22:00] own, or he owns that we will actually be able to deliver the best outcome.

And we would constantly update each other in conversations and take advice and treat each other as a sounding board for for validating the approach that we are taking makes sense. And if there’s any things that we haven’t considered from a risk mitigation standpoint or scaling standpoint or things of that.

So I think that was the approach that we used.

Oh, thank you, Bhavin, for, these words and, this is gonna be really helpful for me to, strategize properly and more, to be more communicative with my co-founder slash my younger brother, so thank you for that. And, huge opportunity for me to have a conversation with you.

I cannot express my feeling right now. We feel the same way seriously. So thank you, Bhavin. And that’s amazing. Like it’s just your clarity, your insight is very much appreciated. It feels very straight from the heart. So on that note, we have Johnny, [00:23:00] what is your or question for. Hi, Michele.

Great Roman great to hear from evolving. So I deal with the world of FinTech. I wanted to ask you a question. Do you see embedded finance dominating the industry of the world of FinTech come 2030, where obviously seeing Facebook pay apple opening that up where financial products will no longer be a standalone entity come 2013.

It’ll be more part of the user interface. And then lastly, what has surprised you on your entrepreneurial journey? Thanks. Sure. A huge believer is embedded finance and embedded banking. I don’t necessarily know what you, what what you’re referring to in terms of, whether it dominate the industry, but I’ll give you my perspective on embedded finance, embedded banking, et cetera, is that financial services and this, by the way, happened in the communications space in some, since the last two, three decades, right?

There was a point in time where [00:24:00] point to point communication was specifically transactional in nature. The early days of email, the early days of instant messaging, the early days of conversations and phone calls. And and essentially each. Communication was a transaction between, I, I don’t know, two parties or a group of people initiated in some sense.

And then, there’s an end of conversation basically and tools and technologies that were providing this were providing it in a transactional manner where essentially somebody initiated this transaction and closed transaction. So that, that was the case with communication more, more than a decade ago, but now if you think of communication is invisible in and embedded into sort of products, apps and experiences that manifest purpose.

So take clubhouse for instance, one could arguably say it’s fundamentally a conference call, but it actually isn’t right. It’s actually it’s embedded communication into a community experience. So the purpose of clubhouse is not just communication. In fact, communication is actually invisible to people participating, it’s really this creation of [00:25:00] a community creation of, aligning people around a purpose and having these amazing conversations and by the way, communication ends up powering it.

And so I wanted to draw this, analogy because we see the same thing now, starting in finance and banking, and payments was all about transactions. It was all about getting money from point a to point B. But really nobody wakes up in the morning thinking I’m so excited. I have to make five payments today, right?

You’re always performing a transaction for a specific purpose. You’re always dealing with money and finances for a specific purpose. It’s, either saving, spending, growing, investing, earning to achieve some sort of a purpose. And and so that’s really Zita, in fact, Zita, we basically started the company with this aim goal saying that we wanna make payments invisible.

We wanna democratize banking and we wanna make financial services available in a transparent and intuitive manner when and where they are needed. That’s the fundamental goal of embedded finance and embedded banking. Now, FinTech play you a huge role in this banks play a huge role in this merchants play a huge [00:26:00] role in this, retailers, et cetera, and many of the parties and constituents play a huge role in this including infrastructure players, whether it’s Google and apple that enable some capabilities and functionalities with the goal that that transactions are no longer relevant, they can happen.

You should be taking them. It’s like you open your your, you turn on your shower and water comes out. You don’t really give a thought as to why that’s happening and how that’s happening. And it’s just completely invisible and transparent to you. And, water by itself sells 20 different purposes, but it’s embedded into each of those purposes in a transparent way.

And so that’s what embedable finance is, if I’m shopping for something, the ability to be able to get access to money, if I don’t have it, then and there available the ability to to be able to use financial data and information to get, privileged access, what, whatever it might be.

So being able to embed a specific use case and serve a specific purpose by leveraging financial services, that’s really what the what imitable finances about. And it’s a, it’s there was a point in time when technology did not ex assist to be able to support that very easily, but now going,[00:27:00] looking at the last few years in terms of how FinTech is sort unbundled, finance, and you’ll see whenever the takes place, you’ll also see a large amount of unbundling, right?

Until sometime ago, a checking account was a checking account. A deposit was a deposit. Loan was a loan, and they had some similar fundamental characteristics. But now if you think about it same loan can serve as a Bino pay loan or a cost loan or an installment loan, or a there’s so many different forms of it because they’re serving a specific purpose underlying it’s still a credit product where somebody’s ability to pay is being assessed.

And a certain amount is sanctioned, and they’re being asked to pay it in a certain format, but because of technology and the way we can scale things, now the flexibility of conferring that and embedding their experience at the point of purchase, the point of sale becomes much more, easy and possible.

Yeah I’m a huge believer in embedable finance and mobile banking. And in fact, one of the thing, things that we want to do is that banks, fundamentally will remain. As in the role that they, they are in today, right? Every single country [00:28:00] is going to have a licensed, regulated financial service regime.

There will have to be players who essentially act as custodians of people’s money and and act as responsible organizations that basically provide these financials that are allowed to be manufacture these financial services, but the stacks and platforms they operate on, don’t make embedable finance conducive or standardizable, or easily accessible or available to players that want to unbundle these services and offer them or embed them in a certain way.

And so one of the, important elements of features of functionality of our product is to allow banks and fintechs to be able to embed financial experiences in various various journeys, basically. You asked another question, which is, what has surprised me as an entrepreneur?

Can’t really think of a good example, but I’ll of paraphrase. One of the, one of the, one of my favorite quotes is that I’ve always founded that both myself and entrepreneurs generally, or any individual, I always find it surprising. We can tend to overestimate what we might be able to do.

In a year’s time. [00:29:00] In six months time, I can build this product, develop it, put it out there, et cetera, but we always tend to underestimate what a focused approach can deliver in 10 years time. And the kind of growth you can achieve in, in, in a decade. And it’s because compounding doesn’t come naturally to us as human beings, as human beings, we’re very easy, easily we very easily sort compute linear equations and linear algorithms, but when it comes to the notion of compounding, you see all these sort of rids that if I was to give you the opportunity, I have to review, a dollar today that doubled every week versus give you, $200 the end of the year world, you take, it’s very hard to intuitively figure out which one makes more sense because the notion of compounding is difficult for people to understand when you work consistently in a particular space industry, product area avenue, problem space consistently for years and end, you’d be surprised at how much exponential growth is backended in that equation because of compounding which doesn’t intuitively like none of these, if I, if you read the biographies of whether it’s, an apple [00:30:00] or a Microsoft or a Facebook, et cetera, none of them, none of the entrepreneurs there when they started out ever realized how big, what they built could become.

They were out there to solve a problem. They kept at it for decades and consistently saw compounded growth to grow to the size and scale that they are. So I guess that’d probably be a candidate.

Wow. There’s so many lessons there. I feel like you need to write a book, Bhavin, and you’re so much wisdom on us and we really appreciate it. So on that note we have Dicky, who’s been very patient Dicky. What is your question for Bhavinin? It’s not really a question I wanted to say. Hi Bevin.

Great to see you. You may remember me with Paul Lomax when we were one of your very early customers, ATT recti with free parking and we moved the whole of our platform onto your platform. And I just wanted to say thank you so much, cuz it saved our life at the time and free parking subsequently been sold to names co [00:31:00] and I’m not in the domain name business anymore, even though I still absolutely love the domain name business.

I’ve now got a very exciting, renewable energy storage business. I’ve seen you on clubhouse a few times and I was talking to con Colin earlier and just wanted to jump on and just say hi and great to hear from you. Thank you so much lovely to, to see you. Hear you hear from you. Also, and yeah, it’s a domain name industry is I keep saying it’s such an amazing, industry’s so small in terms of, all of the people within it have been around for such a long time.

And it’s an industry that I guess you can try checking out, but you can never leave. Even after I’ve sold, I sold my company, we still got back in with Radis and then we’d, tighten. And so in some sense of the other, it’s always kind dragged me back. So it’s always great to catch up with with all of few folks in about yeah and you and I was very lucky.

I came over to Mumba and came to your offices and your team were amazing. They hosted us brilliantly at the time. Yeah, it was really good days. And it’s just been lovely to watch your journey from [00:32:00] afar. Because as I say, we, I think we were fairly early adopters of your system and I’ve sent quite a few mates onto the re reseller club system as well.

Which has always worked really well for them. And here your are and the sound of Zeta. Oh my goodness. It sounds like you’re gonna have another great one on your hands as well. And I’m hoping to be following in your footsteps Babin with core energy, really exciting. Having storage brings security of supply to the energy business, which of course with the Ukraine and Russia crisis Europe especially really needs it.

I didn’t say it, but we’ve also got plans to go into America any minute now. So very exciting times.

Yeah. I remember Bhavin and when I was a farmer back when I graduated from college, how hard it was to pick a flat of raspberries and make $20. And then we started selling these things called domain names. And literally, here’s the idea. I’m gonna give you a name and you give me money back. It didn’t feel like work.

You [00:33:00] launched. We as we sold it to GoDaddy. But I’ve often been said in, if there’s one company that is done better than anyone else in this industry, it’s RAs, you put together a great portfolio of domain names. Again, another idea you seem to stick yourself out there on these ideas, these concepts that they’re not necessarily mainstream yet, but they become mainstream over time.

Colin. No, absolutely. And by the way I think few people in the industry know and are aware that we obviously launched our TLDs or you guys had one of the best TLDs also, but we launched our TLDs in 20 13, 20 14, but there’s a good period of about two and a half years starting late 2009, all the, in 2012, I had a small team as an ex ancy consultant.

Somebody who’s a current CEO, myself and three other analysts that spent that entire [00:34:00] two and a half years building so many profit and loss statements and projections out 10 years, et cetera, for thousands and thousands of TDS to come to that that we wanted to eventually select and the right price that we wanted to bid for them.

And so a lot of groundwork and analysis was done behind the scenes for two and a half years. In fact, in some sense, we had the luxury do that two and a half years cause we started that exercise in in 2009 because originally the new GTD round was gonna get opened up in late 2010, then became 2011, then became 2012.

So we ended up getting the luxury of about two, two and a half years of planning versus what we originally would’ve had to get to that outcome. And I think the second one is the whole selection of TDS and the second piece. And I really. If there’s one thing that I really pride myself on and I really am truly humbled by is the quality of talent that we have and the kind of people that we have.

And I spend a lot of my personal time on recruitment, on hiring the best players and hiring the best talent to a point where, it, it ends up making me redundant in many circumstances and rads is a living [00:35:00] example of that. A lot of the success posts that the selection on today, I think we’re one of the best run registries, if not their best run, we, do a tremendous amount of, analytics drives kind of decisions in the organization.

And we’ve got an amazing team him. I think everybody in the industry keeps telling me that and it makes me proud. Of the team that we’ve done well, we’re just glad you never went That would’ve, you would’ve been tough in an auction if we had to fight donuts for that one.

All right. People are everything you can see what happened with Jeff and Michele took over a CEO of doc club, but a year or two, before we sold it to God became one of the most successful along with your TLDs as well. What a great it’s all about the people. I think, you touched upon so many different points today.

But I think that’s probably the number one, it’s all about the people you can put in place who can help get you to that unicorn status, is there a difference in the type of person, going from a hundred million to a billion or from a million to a hundred million, is there a difference [00:36:00] in, in the type of person that you would hire or profile of individual I’m certain, there is a difference in the profile of the individual that we would hire in those circumstances.

I would say that a couple of lessons, as said, we spend a lot of time in, in in hiring the best talents. There’s a lot of lessons we’ve learned along the way out there also. But but one of the things that I’ve realized, and I, that’s why I spoke about soul planning, discovery, scaling, and steady state is that it takes a very different kind of skillset.

Passion inclination ability for the individual who’s doing the zero to one motion. If you use Peter Thiel’s terminology from his kind of book zero to one. So the individual who’s doing the zero to one motion, which is the planning and discovery stages versus the individual who leads the organization to grow it from one to 10, which is the scaling and then steady state phases.

And so you end up as I said, I spend a lot of my time on the first two and a half phases. It’s harder to find talent that can that can tackle zero to one. It’s much, much more talent available that can take a [00:37:00] company from one to 10. So that zero to one phase, it requires a different kind of skill because you need to be able to deal with uncertainty, with vagueness, with pretty much at that point in time, everything is unknown.

Well known unknowns and unknown. So you need to be able to deal with this rapid discovery of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Where will you find the information, the ability to rapidly self from learn a huge foundation of knowledge in an area that you’ve never probably touched before.

When we started, whether it’s hosting, whether it’s new G TLDs, whether it’s, email and communication, whether it’s payments and banking, they’re all very different domains. When we started looking at payments and banking in 2014 Ram, and I had zero clue about either of those domains, but you need somebody who’s got this first principles engineering mentality that starts from, the foundational concepts and derives everything along the way in a very rapid manner.

When you look at the the scaling pieces, you’re typically bringing in folks with domain and functional expertise, who’ve done this before. Who’ve taken ready, meet playbooks and run them at scale before operational excellence starts becoming much more [00:38:00] important than than the sort of whole discovery phase or so to speak.

So operational operational sort of excellence efficiency, those kinds of things become important, so requires a different skill process. So that’s one, element in terms of hiring. So when you said, that one, two, I would say even 10 million and then that 10 million to a billion, they’re two very different journeys and required to very different types of individuals.

Wow. It’s amazing. You, it, it seems as though you’re such just student of business as well, and that’s so amazing to hear someone that has such a passion for the people and the whole process and really finding. Solutions. I absolutely love the idea of Ze and you just explained it in such a way that really made sense to me.

And I’m so looking forward to seeing it massively available. But on that note, before we go to Edna, I have a question you’ve been so successful [00:39:00] and you make, it looks so easy. Is there anything that you would do differently knowing what you know now?

Oh, I think every entrepreneur will tell you it’s far from easy. I would be completely incorrect if I said was easy in any form whatsoever. In fact, I think since I’m talking about this point, I do wanna touch upon it a bit more. It’s unfortunate that the entire industry mostly recognizes only the glamor in the space and the crazy high valuations and the huge fundraisers and so on and so forth.

And there aren’t adequate forums that actually showcase, the number of failures, mistakes issues, hurdles struggles that aren’t, that entrepreneurs and founders have had to go through in various phases of their company at various times. So I’ll certainly say that there needs to be more material out there and we’ve made our fair share of, as I said, stupid mistakes, built products and spent millions of dollars them and only to find out nobody ever needed them.

And it was a, crappy idea to begin with. [00:40:00] Opened up in markets where where we felt we had a play, but didn’t really spend time validating adequately only to find out a year later that we don’t really have a play there, tons and tons of mistakes in every possible area and avenue that you can think of taken on much more than we can chew and therefore being overwhelmed and stressed for months and months and years and the opposite taken on much lesser than we can chew and then be underwhelmed with the results and realized that we could have actually taken on more.

So we’ve been through and by we, this apply to anybody who’s an entrepreneur of any size and scale. That there’s always that struggle. I think entrepreneurs that have this interesting a presentation, a video for his online, I think somewhere, which I deliver called reframing failure.

And I think entrepreneurs have this sort of mindset where they think of failure very differently from other conventional people might think of it as, but it’s their topic for probably another time. But yeah, as I said, I don’t think that it’s it’s it’s it ever been easy. And to give specific examples, second part of your question I think two areas that I can talk about, actually are both related[00:41:00] two separate areas that we talk about actually one is that some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is is trying to cut short, the planning and discovery stage.

Because I intuitively felt something was right. And sometimes entrepreneurial success is is your ACHI list. And in you succeed at building five products, you certainly think that you have the ability to skip a bunch of steps. Think through the sixth one, build it, put out there and, people will come.

And and it’s a humbling experience to realize is that, at the end of the day your institution can lead you Asray. And and so I said, I’ve made some investments and made a ton of mistakes in building the wrong things that actually nobody ever needed. Because I decided that, oh, this I think is a great idea and didn’t bother to go through the template that I spoke about earlier, which is a silly ease of steps in planning, truly understand the persona, truly understand the problem, truly understand if you have a product that is actually 10 X better than the existing solutions for solving that problem.

And instead skipped all those steps purely based on gut. So I think that’s one area where I made a ton of my mistakes.[00:42:00] I think one other thing I would say is that, and this we learned in direct time much later, but now subsequently with all the other businesses, we’ve started doing it much sooner is that in a B SaaS business, we found invariably north America’s one of the largest markets.

And a and so one of the things I would’ve done sooner in perhaps directi is is enter that market sooner and started aggressively pursuing market share in that market sooner. Because pursuing sort of market share in every other country it’s gonna divide into small segments.

It’s, significant amount of effort for every dollar spent in north America. You end up getting a relatively high ROI in some cases, almost three to five X, more in a B2B SaaS business compared to let’s say India or elsewhere. So that’s fed into our expansion strategies now where we try and open up that that channel soon.

Happy you didn’t do that. Happy you didn’t do that. Cuz two cows and easy hosting, gave us an opportunity to get some market share as well. Or you guys running [00:43:00] a great company at two cows. I have huge respects for what you guys built there for, what Elliot and team Ross back there. I think Ross R built.

I was in, I don’t know if you know this, but I was in an early customer of two cars. I started as a two cars reseller. Seriously, you basically stole all your good ideas from us and you turned to minute and made a billion dollars. There you go.

He made it better. Yeah. That’s awesome. all right. Let’s be re I wanna be respectful of your time, Bhavin. And we have about 15 minutes more of the show and we have five more people. So please ask your question very directly. So Bhavin and can, so next on the stage we have Edna. Yeah. Hey Bhavin. So a couple of years back you spoke at the matrix conference with Al right.

And I saw the video on your YouTube channel. And I did hear you stressing out on the point of doing time was thinking time. And in the later, last year, February last year, September, you [00:44:00] did say that same again, that you should have something like 70, per, 70 days to 30 ratio for doing versus thinking time.

So my question would be what is the kind of at atmosphere you get into, when you think, thinking time, I know you just can’t sit in your bowel opinion think, so what is the right kind of atmosphere you get into, if you want to.

I substitute Edna for , but I’ll finish off that question. We can Edna move on to you right after that. Thank you. Arian for that question. So I don’t know. I somehow think best at my computer, by the way, I will say this, like I open up a text pad or a Google doc or a Wiki page and start putting down notes.

I I generally am a huge fan of said bulleted notes and do my research and keep adding notes in in my document. So most of my thinking time is actually spent spent at a com. I use my computer as a notepad in that situation, but it’s spent it’s spent on my on my computer.

And then going back to the principle, you spoke about the C know I strongly believe in that’s another area where I think I have had scenarios where I’ve made my personal mistakes, which is [00:45:00] spending a lot of time doing. And so it’s very easy to find yourselves to keep yourselves busy by just constantly doing things.

And and I have been prescribing this principle now for almost five, seven years even within my, they actually doing time is lesser of the entire equation. I talk about this whole division between discovery, implementation and measurement. And so I talk about how you should ideally spend between 30 to 50% of your time in discovering what to do, which itself is an activity in maybe 30% of your time in actually doing, and then 20 to 30% of your time in measuring.

Whether, what you did actually accomplish the outcome that you expected would accomplish when you set out to do this thing. So if you spend a good 70% of your time in discovery and measurement and 30% of your time in implementation, that’s the rough breakup and formula that I use that spend more of your time in both thinking.

And then in the retrospective in understanding if and when, if, and where you went wrong and actually the implementation should not consume more than 30% of your time. Got it. [00:46:00] Thank you so much. Bhavin also be super active on Twitter and YouTube. Please be I’m personally looking forward to your tweets and videos and apologies.

I was my turn. So I took the mic sorry for that. No worries. No problem at all. So Edna you’re next. Hey, thank you for that. Thank you. Appreciate what a great conversation, man. This is awesome. Thank you for hosting startup club, Colin, Michele ed. You guys always do a phenomenal job of bringing great speakers to the stage.

Bhavin, my question for you is, you’ve done such amazing things and you’re an innovator and you definitely see things from a different perspective, which is awesome. Where do you see? There’s a lot of challenges that we’re facing right now in the energy sector. And have you ever thought about or considered tapping into that market and what do you think would be the greatest kind contribution say to the solar space, the [00:47:00] renewable energy space and helping more people become more sustainable when it comes to energy, especially what, we’re the crisis that we’re facing right now.

Thank you. And I’m sorry, I’m not on the golf course. That’s a little noisy

dreams. Keep would’ve to. Bhavin and it looks like the question was about renewable energy. I’m not sure if you heard that all. Where do you see? No, I didn’t. I got disconnected. I apologize. If you can paraphrase that for me again. Okay. I’ll my question was, with everything that you’re involved in and the crisis that we’re currently facing in the energy sector, do you see yourself working on or where do you think would be the biggest contribution for say the renewable energy space as well as how we can effectively reduce our carbon footprint and increase [00:48:00] energy for everyday folks in businesses and homes?

Sure. I will say start out by saying that I don’t won’t have any personal expertise in this particular area. Almost at all. So anything that I say will be more fundamental slash first principles thinking, but not really coming from specific, knowledge or numbers or understanding of the industry but the one thing I’ve invariably seen is that that that some of the best solutions adversity is the mother of invention.

And and when you are faced, we’ve seen humanity whenever we’ve been faced with problems of a high, scale and magnitude that we come up with solutions around them. So I would say, I think this might seem a bit naive uninformed perhaps, but my thought process is around.

If you make. If we make it more imperative like right now, for instance, I think one of the big things in the energy sector is that if you think about oil oil is actually hugely subsidized in every single market, right? Gas prices and and access to gas and Petro and [00:49:00] diesel and oil, et cetera, is hugely subsidized by virtue of that.

Therefore you’re already creating a scenario where there is no significant incentive. And unfortunately for whatever reason, evolutionary algorithms have driven all of us humans to be far more shortsighted than long sighted. And so we don’t, we’re not creating that adversity. We’re not creating that huge incentive to actually require people to act.

And so I think, if you ask me, I think the biggest contributor would be if now you’re talking about the energy crisis now, partly thanks to the situation going on the war going on in, in Ukraine and other sort of reasons that’s resulting in requiring countries to look at other solutions where we shouldn’t have to technically wait for it.

Can we artificially create that adversity or. Create that incentive where people need to act and and people will find a solution. I always remain hugely optimistic about about what all of us can do if we set our mind to it. It’s just that sometimes we, we lack the inclination and incentive[00:50:00] to act in the right direction.

And and then it’s incumbent upon the government, perhaps in most of these cases because they are the custodians of the future in many ways, but it’s incumbent upon them to try and come up with ways and means to to create that forcing function as we call it in, in, in, in in mathematics in some sense, right?

So create forcing function where you have no choice, but to act unfor and in some sense, we elect these leaders, but unfortunately right now, the, as I said, the incentives are all misaligned. And so pace tends to be slower. So yeah, that would be my kind of perspective, as I said, might seem bit naive and uninformed, but that’s what I could say.

No, it’s a great perspective and I, you for that, and basically what I’m working on is trying to bridge the gap between oil and gas and renewable energy so that they can all coexist together. So thank you very much for your insight. Really appreciate it. Thank you, Michele. You bet. All right. So rot, what is your question for boffin?

Thank you so much, Michele, for giving the mic. Happy to be here. Hi, Bhavin. We have been [00:51:00] connected on LinkedIn for, many years. And I believe we might have met in one of retail association of India conferences or something. I have two very different unrelated questions for you. One is regarding your company Zita.

And I know that you mentioned that you are not much into blockchain and crypto technologies as such. I just wanted to ask really whether you explored the impact of decentralized finance on your initiative for Zita. And the second unrelated question is that I’ve been practicing meditation for over 15 years now.

And I truly believe that everyone must meditate for at least 10 minutes a day. And if you cannot get those 10 minutes, you must do for 20 to get those 10 minutes. So how many minutes do you meditate a day? Thank you so much for giving this opportunity. Thanks. Second question. As I said before, I wish I did that.

And I think it’s super of me to say that I don’t have 10 minutes a day. I need to, there are phases when I end up when I end up meditating, for periods of time, there are phases where I just [00:52:00] don’t I’m way worse at, at creating time for that than I should be. And then I like the way you put it that if you don’t have 10 minutes, then you take out 20.

It actually is it makes logical sense counterintuitive with regards to. Sorry, I didn’t catch what your first question was. If you can repeat that it’s regarding the decentralized finance. Yes. Decent finance. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So as I mentioned before, I actually haven’t, I spent a lot of time studying the, I love the blockchain algorithm, for the first time somebody with Bitcoin and blockchain created an algorithm that’s solves for the double spend problem in a decentralized manner. It was a very elegant solution. So the sort of the geek and the kind of math offic, and me really enjoyed reading up all about it and learning about the algorithms and the fundamentals.

But I’m, I must say that I haven’t really spent a lot of time in exploring defi Zita, by the way, is agnostic, right? So we basically are a banking and payments platform and for us currencies an [00:53:00] attribute, so our platform can handle defi just as it handles any kind of centralized currencies, we don’t distinguish between those you can essentially use the platform for issuing financial production services on on, whether it’s a decentralized sort of finance product or service, or whether it’s, issue to a licensed regulated body.

The part that I the reason why I, as I said, I haven’t personally is I’m yet to. Look, DFI brings with a tons of advantages, but also tons of disadvantages, there’s huge volatility there, isn’t somebody standing behind the currency. There is potential risk of of countries changing their stance on it and so on and so forth, or, making it illegal or things of that, creating significant amount of regulation around it and things like that.

And so I haven’t yet gotten to a point where I am where we, where I have spent enough time to really explore opportunities and avenues there because I haven’t been fully convinced is all I’ll say so. So from a technology stand point, data certainly supports defi, but but we are not actively an active player in the defi economy yet.[00:54:00] 

Thank you for that. And I guess you might have conflated a little bit between defi and cryptocurrency over there. And I, more, my question was more or aligned to on the direction that data is, of course being more about centralized finance and defi by definition being a. Decentralized financed platform and network, which is self-sustaining and cannot be taken down.

Like you just got disconnected from clubhouse. That kind of thing will never happen on a ized finance. Yeah, I’m sure, but I appreciate your answer. Thank you so much for that. And I, my question was more related to that. How have you explored Z getting, taking Zita into DFI? No, but I guess you, yeah.

Thank you so much, Bhavin. Really appreciate it. All right. Excellent. So we are at the end of the hour, FA we’re huge fans. Really, I feel like I just got a PhD course and launching and building a tech [00:55:00] company and more so Colin. Over to you. Let’s close out this session and let this gentleman go to bed.

Yeah, isn’t that amazing? What happened today? And we saw Bhavin, you come on here and you just opened up and you just, you shared your knowledge, your understanding, and just. Just a way that we all appreciate, you just we learn so much, the mandate of this show is to crack the code, to figure it out.

And today I feel like we made a lot of progress in that area. I know I’m gonna go back and listen to this episode. You can listen to this episode on and set up to our email list so that you can get information about speakers like Bhavin and who come onto our club here on startup club.

And also we just launched a podcast with this show. This is a 51st show. So you can pick up this show on any of your favorite podcast networks. If you go to apple or Spotify search for serial entrepreneur club [00:56:00] and next week we have, from one great to the next we have SHEEO Manat next Friday, two o’clock Eastern.

I know he is got about 4 million followers, a few more than ed on clubhouse. And he’s been involved in 500 startups. So we’re gonna be talking about how startups can raise money and what does it take to raise money, Bhavin? And thank you very much. I know I’m following you, everyone here in the audience.

If you liked you, you heard feel free to follow. One of the speakers have a great day. Colin. Thank you so much. Colin and Michele for inviting me here. And I, once again, Truly apologize for messing up the daylight savings time. It’s always it’s always confusing, but really enjoyed my conversation.

Thank you so much for all the insightful questions and thank you for having me here. Thank you for your generosity be well.


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