In an interview, Amod Malviya, the co-founder of Udaan, shares his journey in the startup sector that propelled him to start his own company. After graduating from IIT Kharagpur, Amod has followed his passion for creation and gained unparalleled experience in the business sector.
Early beginnings of Amod Malviya
In his early years in Shaktinagar, Amod Malviya was exposed to science and engineering since his father was an electric engineer. Following his father’s area of expertise, Amod applied to IIT Kharagpur to pursue a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering. Recalling that as his first major time away from his hometown, Amod reveals his college life to be an “interesting learning curve.”
“I found a great bunch of friends there, in the first week,” Amod says, adding that it really helped pull up his spirits. He graduated in 2002, after having spent “a great 4 years” at IIT Kharagpur; however, he admits that it wasn’t a good year to graduate in terms of placement. The Indian market was recovering from an economic crash; but Amod was lucky that the company he was placed in – i2 technologies – hadn’t retracted their job offer. He says the stroke of luck was something that he was grateful for, following which he spent two years with i2 technologies.
Stepping Into The Startup Sector
Amod Malviya proceeded towards joining a startup in 2004, and another one in 2006, where he was the software engineer and senior software engineer, respectively. Discussing the environment, Amod says, “startups of that time were very different from the startups of today”. He also added that there was less glamor associated with it at the time; whereas today startups are a concentrated area of interest for entrepreneurs and investors alike.
He spent his time in Itellix Software Solutions creating new technology products with web services. After spending a year and a half in Riya Internet Technologies before finally joining ApnaPaisa. He created an engineering team in ApnaPaisa, however, the financial market crashed in 2008 soon after he joined. Later, Amod joined Flipkart in 2010, spending a rigorous five years as the CTO of the e-commerce company. After leaving Flipkart, Amod decided to take a short break, following which he got together with two of his friends. They dedicated their time to create a startup, which eventually was launched as Udaan in 2016.
Amod Malviya’s Inspiration to starting a company
Discussing his inspiration that let him immerse in the startup sector, Amod reveals that, “Personally for me, I have always liked creating & building. That’s where I derive my gratification”. There are plenty of things that need attention in a startup, from the inside out to expanding it in the market. He adds that it wasn’t such a big deal for him, that it was purely a matter of taste. “I find a lot more joy in building something,” Amod says. He admits that while there were occasional moments of the financial crisis that tried pulling him down; it was always somehow taken care of. There was a sense of confidence gained from managing worst-to-worst case scenarios that pushed his enthusiasm for work. “I just loved the fact that we built great stuff – a lot of which was really appreciated by people,” Amod says.
Amod’s Take On Business Funding
Amod answers the question on the best time to seek business funding by reflecting on a phrase said by one of his co-workers – Sachin – from Flipkart. “The best time to raise money is when you can,” Amod quotes, pointing that it was a statement that particularly stood out in all these years. “If you feel like you’ll end up needing money,” Amod elaborates. “You should raise money when there’s a high chance of it converting”. He explains that these high chances come in the form of liquidity in the market or a large influx of money coming from a sector.
He advises on raising funding at the right time, adding that “The right time is measured in terms of probability of conversion, not when you’ll be needing it“. Amod stresses the importance of acting on what you think is good for you and placing your best foot forward accordingly.
Generally, Amod says, “I prefer entrepreneurs to be open and honest about things without trying to overcompensate for being honest”. He believes that it’s very important, to be honest about the reality of things. One thing that he’s noticed in engineers, in particular, is that they tend to get too worked up on the math of things; which often hinders their ‘storytelling’ aspect when they seek funding from investors.
Udaan’s Business Structure
Talking about the company structure, Amod lists out three distinct elements that go into the effective structuring of e-commerce. The first is a strong tech-orientation, saying “E-commerce is more than just an online shop. There are several digital layers that go into maintaining a successful e-commerce”. Second is a concrete operation set – revolving around supplier pickups, supply chain, routing payments, etc. The third is a strong intuition of the way the market reacts. One has to stay up to date on the continuous changes, and identifying where the market is headed.
Amod also stresses on the importance of the combination of these three features for a successful e-commerce. He points out that it is precisely the reason why he, including his two business partners, are able to push the business forward.
Amod Malviya’s Opinion On The Current Market
“There’s so much ease to building products now. Internet products in particular.”
Comparing to previous years, Amod says that the cost of creating something useful is much less than it was earlier. With these dramatically low costs, there is an increasing need for builders and creators; an increasing need for people who are excited about solving a problem. “A single person, or a few, can actually move mountains,” Amod says. “Quality ends up trumping quantity any day.“
He believes the current market period is a great time to be an entrepreneur. The world is witnessing a behavior shaping churn, and with the significant changes happening across the market. Amod Malviya says “You have the ability to influence people’s behavior”. There is an opportunity to shape people’s behavior at this time because of the fact that people are susceptible to change.
Creating Opportunities For The Future
“Be a part of a journey where you get a lot of opportunity to create”– Amod Malviya’s advice for budding entrepreneurs
Amod encourages the younger population to think more about the “opportunity that they have, the canvas that they have, and the landscape that they’re working with“. In a potential employee, he’s interested in how they see their success four years down the line in terms of wealth, decision, and building skills.
Amod Malviya reflects on his own experience and how it has contributed to where he is today. “The way that I make decisions, about failures, about success, about people, has all been shaped by my journey,” Amod says. He highlights the need to be a part of an opportunistic journey, where you are able to create and build. One may see success, one may see failure, but in the end, the experience refines you as an entrepreneur.