Tough situations build strong people. This is an apt description for an eminent personality like Shesh Rao Paplikar – CEO and Co-founder of BHIVE workspace. The interview conducted by Keerthan who is a part of the initiative – ‘India in Making’ featured Shesh in their College Zeroes to Career Heroes Podcast Series.
Shesh shares his success story through this interview where he talks about his key learnings in both his business field as well as his personal life. He also talks about his work experience in the United States and how he has applied his knowledge and gained to become a successful entrepreneur in a competitive country like India.
Shesh is modest about sharing his story and doesn’t refer it as a ‘success story’ and feels that there is still so much more to be achieved in life. He speaks about the history of how he conceived the idea and started BHIVE Workspace. Shesh coming from a Software background and also previously worked in the US for about 8 years as a Technical Product Manager in Bloomberg and then a CTO for a start-up in New York wanted to start its development centre in India. On starting this project, he faced a lot of hurdles and realised that he needed more experience in this field. The first learning he shared with us during the interview was – “Every problem faced could be an inspiration to solve something”. By investing his personal savings, he started BHIVE, a co-working space in a small villa in Bangalore and calls it his MVP – Minimum Viable Product. Initially, he felt it was an experiment to start this new concept in India being apprehensive about its success and introduced the concept of ‘Co-working’ when it did not even exist in India. He did not wait for investors; instead, he put his own savings to start the business in India.
On seeing its success, BHIVE eventually expanded itself to 6 other locations in Bangalore making it the company with the highest number of centres in terms of co-working spaces. BHIVE is a platform for start-ups, free-lancers, smaller companies, strong growing companies, funded companies, etc. It is a plug and play office which runs 24 x 7. BHIVE manages the entire infrastructure from electricity to power back-up to coffee to high-speed internet to community interaction, to having the right meeting rooms, the system to book them, or a platform where you can interact with others – essentially what a Google or a Facebook would create as a campus for their own employees. Hence it has become one of the Global competitors with huge market size and great opportunities proving to be successful in such a short span of time.
When asked by Keerthan, Shesh’s motivation behind starting BHIVE, it took Shesh back to his college days when he remembered starting his first company. It was his 8th semester in Engineering which taught him about failures, need for experiences in the real world, money and how to have a great strategy. These proved to be one of the biggest lessons in his life. Shesh also shared about the various challenges he faced in the start-up ecosystem and quoted – “Working in the corporate world is like being a tiger in a zoo where you are fed whereas here you are a tiger in the jungle and it’s not easy to survive.” He also added that building momentum takes time and felt that working in India itself is a big challenge as the market is way more cutthroat with huge regulatory problems.
Team challenges was another aspect because he feels we should never wait for a perfect team. It should consist of the people who believe in your idea which will encourage many people to be a part of the company. So, it is important to give them everything possible for them to grow. Changing the team frequently is important for growth and to have the right blend of people by focussing on metrics and data to logically validate the performers. He wants people to take ownership, think outside the box and not wait for instructions. Hiring and Firing are both important according to him because the right people matter.
When it comes to Investors, Shesh feels that investors should not feel like they are doing entrepreneurs a favour. If the company performs well, the investors get the returns. Investors should take their job seriously and invest in the right companies and not take up the entrepreneur’s time by telling them how to run their own company.
Shesh also holds the opinion that India should be skilful about whom they let in as Global Competitors. He goes on to add to China’s unfair advantage over other countries. Letting everyone in kills the competition. Shesh faced a lot of problem on capital dumping almost facing bankruptcy. He said – “In a short time, three years, I have seen a significant amount of problems. Every time I think, hey, I’ve learnt from it, I will do things better next time, but something new comes up, so I don’t know what the next big challenge is to come!”
The next part of the interview talks about how Shesh feels it is important to think ‘Out of the Box’ to succeed in one’s field. One should be on top of things and be street smart to survive. Proactiveness is key. For this, the Indian Education System plays a key role. He feels that colleges should train their students to be ‘Industry Ready’ by encouraging them to work in start-ups and not just corporate jobs because it gives them more exposure. They should prepare them for problem-solving, critical thinking, result orientation and action so that they are ready for strong challenges. College life should be much more than just studying. A student with experience of working on various events during his college days is much more capable of succeeding in the real world as he has hands-on experience with better preparedness.
The right person in the right job is important. To find out what one is good at it, students should take up as many internships as possible to get access to the real world. He goes on to add about the ‘Entrepreneurship-in-Residence programme at BHIVE’ to learn more about the industry. So, he personally believes giving opportunities to students who are willing to learn.
When asked about Shesh’s view on the Indian Education System by Keerthan, Shesh quoted – “A smooth sea does not make a good sail. Unless you get to the water, you will never learn sailing. So, it’s about theory and practical understanding that makes one more mature. I need to see the result of where the impact lies.” He believes that all things cannot be taught in books and practical knowledge is also required. He is a big fan of Khan Academy because it is a teaching system where you learn something and have a way to measure the learning. The focus should be on learning and measurement should be constant and not just at the end. Every student should have a mentor from the industry and start-up founders could be mentors to some aspiring students who want to become entrepreneurs. E.g. Narayana Murthy who helps anyone in need. He also adds that the Indian System should allow students to question the teachings with a feedback system.
At the end of the interview, one can have many key learning’s through Shesh’s life experience. He has strived to create an ecosystem for aspiring companies to deliver and increase their chance of success in the industry. He refers BHIVE as cloud-based kind of a solution for office infrastructure. Through this novel concept, Shesh has onboarded many well-known companies such as Amazon, Narayana Hrudayalaya, NDTV’s technology team, NEC’s technology team, Uber-for training their staff, etc.
Please find the interview transcript and the video link of the above blog :
Interview Transcript: Full Transcript of the Interview
About the Author:
About the Author:
Sindhu Priya R is an aspiring millennial who wishes to travel the world to learn about different cultures and people. She has worked in multiple organizations and is currently interning at BHIVE workspace.