Episode 176 / July 3, 2022

Principles of Product Led Growth ft. Dheeraj Pandey, Co-Founder & CEO , Nutanix & DevRev

01 hr 09 min

Episode 176 / July 3, 2022

Principles of Product Led Growth ft. Dheeraj Pandey, Co-Founder & CEO , Nutanix & DevRev

01 hr 09 min
Listen on


According to a recent article in Forbes, as per data of,“Buyers want to self-educate.”

Personalization is expected by customers—not only are 80% of people more likely to do business with a company that offers personalization but Salesforce’s 2017 State of Marketing Report found that 52% of B2C customers would actually switch brands if they weren’t getting a personalized experience.

In today’s episode we’ve some Dheeraj Pandey, CEO at DevRev; Board Member at Adobe; Investor & Co-founder at Nutanix.

During the episode, catch Dheeraj sharing his experience around Product-Led Growth over the past two decades, taking Nutanix Inc. public within 6 years of inceptio and much more.


Notes –

01:44 – Intro

02:26 – Achieving Product Market Fit – “What is the journey is not a destination.”

05:15 – Identifying the problem statement for first 10 customer at Nutanix

07:54 – Main value prop by Nutanix for early customers

10:11 – How to identify large problems?

13:22 – Whether to find a niche problem and then expand or find a problem statement of the larger market?

15:07 – What’s the first Aha moment for customers on DevRev?

20:04 – Zoho Sponsored – Prashant Ganti on Where do founders struggle with Payroll and how can they fix it?

21:18 – Why have Startups as the target audience v/s Large Entreprises?

27:10 – History of Product-led growth

32:50 – First principle thought behind Product-led growth with velocity

37:49 – Customer Relationship Management v/s Sales First Automation

39:07 – How a B2B developer can think like a B2C developer?

40:23 – What are risks of failure they need to think about?

41:40 – Building an entrepreneurial culture

43:47 – Dealing with the most difficult part of an acquisition (i.e. Integration)

45:38 – An early childhood in Patna, graduating from IIT Kanpur & Ph.D. dropout from University of Texas

50:33 – Why did he chose to startup in a downturn of 2009?

54:07 – Milestones in Nutanix’s journey

58:31 – Becoming a Public company

59:58 – Aspirations for DevRev

1:02:29 – What kind of person he is in his personal life?


Read the full transcript here:


Dheeraj 0:02

You need to think about a single use case. And you’re really focused on how you build software, how you support software. And if you did this right, then we can actually go and help grow businesses over time, which is where CRM really comes in. So the idea is to go walk to the developer, and the product manager and then walk with them to where we want them to be. We can’t be sitting here and saying, you have that CRM, they’ll be like, what are you talking about, I don’t deal with CRM, that’s someone else’s job.


So we have to walk over to where they are, talk their language, make sure we pass the Meijer test, speak the language of software, engineering software, building products, and dealing with product managers. That alone if you can just converge product managers and developers in one system so that PMs are not planning in a planning tool. In the moment, they come out of the off side of planning, it’s clear. And then real work is happening in some places, whether it’s slack or Jira, or someplace. So I think just converging the product manager and the developer in one place will be a great success in the coming two or three years.


Nansi 1:13

Hi, everyone. Before we begin, I would like to share that this podcast is brought to you by Prime Venture Partners, an early stage VC fund led by Amit Somani, Shripati Acharya and Sanjay Swami. Prime is often the first institutional investor in category defining tech startups in FinTech, SAS, healthcare and education, such as Mygate, Quizizz, Planet Spark, Bolt and Glip. To know more about Prime, visit


Siddhartha 01:45

Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia, welcome to the 100x Entrepreneur Podcast. Today, I’m very excited to have Dheeraj Pandey, co-founder of Nutanix, and co-founder of DevRev on our podcast. Dheeraj, your journey has been so amazing. You’ve built Nutanix as the largest independent hybrid cloud provider, and this journey took you 10 years. And now you’re back again, as an entrepreneur building DevRev, the One Stop CRM tool for Devs where you take away all the complexity of business tools from their life and make it so simple for them. So Dheeraj First of all, welcome to the podcast.


Dheeraj 02:22

Thank you, Siddhartha, and appreciate the opportunity.


Siddhartha 02:26

Dheeraj, I would like to start with, in both your journeys at Nutanix and DevRev, how did you achieve the process of product market fit? Let’s step back to what you were thinking on your first journey. Deep dive into it till the stage of product market fit, how do you process it? And now the second journey, how are you doing it and how are both of them different?


Dheeraj 02:45

First, in many ways you had the answer in your question, the word is journey, it’s not a destination. So you have to look at product market fit like that. It’s like any relationship between two entities: here there’s a product and there’s a market. Just like most things, like for example, love and it happens gradually and then certainly, so in many ways PMF is like that as well. I think the act of listening is very important and what I mean by that is, walk this tightrope between the things that you’re going to be stubborn about, and the things that you’re going to be flexible about. So at DevRev, we’re trying to really codify this process, the product market fit. And what we’ve come to really sort of coalesce is like these three pillars of velocity, convergence and delight.


So the first one is, are you listening fast enough and responding faster, that’s velocity. The second one is convergence, where you’re negotiating with the market on less is more, because you’re young, you’re early, they would like to have everything and the kitchen sink in your product. And you are trying to find innovators and early adopters who are not looking for everything, but they look for the one 10x. So when you’re having that negotiation, you’re trying to figure out how less is more, candidates are the ones that you actually qualify and really build with. So that means they become champions, and they can build their careers on this as well and the advocates they need to be.


So that’s convergence, with the market and the last one is delight, because when you’re going at fast with velocity and the act of listening and patching code and upgrading it five times a day, how do you not forget about the little things, the Japanese call it Kodawari, it’s the little things that matter. And it’s the pursuit of excellence and perfection in many ways, which you can never get to but it’s a great journey. So, we did this at Nutanix. We were always very, very high velocity with our customers and I think it created this dopamine effect with them as well, because they’re coming back. And even though they’re not perfect, they’re really agile and then,negotiating with those who are willing to look at less is more as a virtue. And finally what delights me.


Siddhartha 5:15

So let’s take the first two years of Nutanix. How did you identify a problem, which was so large, and did you have a smaller problem when you started getting your first 10 customers at Nutanix?


Dheeraj 5:27

Yeah, I wish it were a science, I think a lot of it is an art as well. But I think what we were really trying to do is to simplify stuff, we knew that building just yet another mousetrap is not going to work. And at the same time, we needed a killer app, a use case, that could basically showcase the value of convergence, which is basically the story that Nutanix was, I mean, we were talking about this earlier with you about how the public cloud was really a story of convergence, rather than having those many buying centers, infrastructure there was server ie compute buying centers, storage buying centers, networking buying centers, security buying Centers and tonnes of decision makers, what the public cloud did was to make it atomic and miniaturize the whole experience where you could bring it all together and then converge the experience for the developer, who’s never supposed to be a buying central to begin with, in traditional IT and the old world of on premise, data center, hardware infrastructure.


So the idea is to actually go to some of these people and talk about whether they believe in this simplified experience. And that’s what we really did is to talk about, look, we’ve converged everything into a software, it’s running on commodity hardware. And by the way, it gets rid of his dependence on too many other people, which is basically the shadow IT that public cloud also engendered in many ways. The idea that you don’t have to go and beg borrow from people who are never going to listen to you, you can just come to us and you can rent it from us. And you can pay by the cent and the dollar, as opposed to hundreds of 1000s of dollars, if not millions of dollars.


And the first 10 customers, I think some of it was, a lot of begging and a lot of traveling and relationships and network and the early on stuff is about friends, can you find friends who are willing to make a bet on you? And I think finally, these innovators and early adopters who really believe in the idea of rebellion, like, look, we have to do something that’s contrarian, and you work with them, and you make them look good. And along the way, you look good as well. So it becomes a virtuous cycle of these folks who are not just going to be your users, but also evangelize it over time.


Siddhartha 07:54

So the main value prop for them was walking away from heavy, expensive one.


Dheeraj 08:00

Yeah, the idea that you had to depend on six other departments to make a decision. And the fact that you could atomically consume it in a very small scale, and then grow over time, so I think that was the brilliance of any real public cloud, that look, you can start really small and you can pay as you grow. We brought that to the data center as well and honestly, that’s basically what the whole cloud movement is all about, like, can you make it so small that I don’t have to make a call, in fact, going forward in the world of PLG, and freemium? It’s been pushed to the limit where I don’t even have to pay for it. And could you have such an economized cloud model where the early user doesn’t have to pay for it, let them go and get hooked. And then you go and figure out what monetization really means.


Siddhartha 08:50

But who pays the salary?


Dheeraj 8:52

Well, I mean, first of all, you have to really engineer your cloud, where you can have millions of free users, we are doing it at DevRev right now, where we have to miniaturize each tenant, you cannot spin up, big things per tenant, because then you want to really give it out to freemium users, like the way you do in the world of open source where, people just start to try it out. And especially in the world of developers, they are always skeptical about paying for something upfront, because they are engineers, they are developers, they’re makers, they’re like, Look, I’m not going to really believe in you and trust you until I trust you. And when they trust you, they will interest you.


So I think you have to engineer a cloud that way. And that’s the way b2c was done. I mean, basically, each shopping cart was not charged until you really checked out. I mean, I could have a shopping cart that was not checked out for days, if not weeks, and they would send you reminders and stuff, browsing the catalog, and an E-commerce site was not something that you had to pay for. So there are many things and many experiences in the world of saas that will actually look like that. And there’s some great companies in the world of PLG today, where you

don’t charge everybody. You don’t have to get greedy up front. Where maybe the people who are creating stuff are charged, but the people who are reading that creation, they don’t get charged and so on.


Siddhartha 10:11

You as an entrepreneur have an affinity to solve large problems. But can you, for our listeners, who are entrepreneurs, share the process of how to identify large problems? I believe, when you were exiting Nutanix, you would have definitely considered 10 problems. And this is very the problem you’re solving at DevRev for developers, is 180 degree opposite to that you were solving at Nutanix. So how did you identify large problems?


Dheeraj 10:39

Well there is something to be said about having a passion for a theme, that theme in most entrepreneurs’ lives is really about simplifying and it’s a journey and you look at some complicated processes. So, at Nutanix, we had 2000 developers including engineers, and developers. And they loved slack. They didn’t like JIRA. And they liked the customer contact. So even though we had three, four departments between them, and the end user, they always liked the customer conversation, especially on calls. And hey, tell us more about why you need what you need so that we can go on and build it. And when they heard directly from the customer, they actually had more empathy for the end user.

And the customers liked it too look, I don’t have to go through six different layers. And this game of Chinese telephone in which is like the moment somebody says something, and then goes through several years of translation, it gets lost. So both sides liked it. And I think that was the aha moment for us. look, Slack has made it near real time, but it’s relatively expensive to engage with customers on Slack. The back office tool, which is built for product development, or engineering is not collaborative enough and JIRA, is not collaborative enough, everybody still goes to Twitter, or everybody talks about its interface and how slow it is, and so on. Great innovation for its time, and obviously, great innovation PLG being a freemium product from day one, I think the aha moment came to us that look, we underestimate the real aspiration of the developer is to hear, and to listen. And of course, product managers actually come and play a vital role there. But also, the customer’s aspiration to be heard can be solved for this new thing.


So I think this idea that everything has to be made as simple as possible, and more simpler, is a really hard business problem. And in this, you will sometimes go and try to redefine business processes and business roles. And those are really hard challenges. Because now you’re going and challenging the status quo and incumbency and people’s roles and responsibility. But if you have the staying power, I think we will have the biggest and the baddest things that can happen in pretty much any software vertical, I would say, and nothing has been easy. And anything that’s large has never been that easy. So I feel like if you take this customer centric mentality of simplification, and how you need to keep making things simpler, you will hit upon trying so hard problems.


Siddhartha 13:23

But there are two schools of thought. Some schools start saying, find a very niche problem, then expand, like Paul Graham says, find 100 customers who love you, but on the other hand, there’s also a saying that, solve for the largest market.


Dheeraj 13:38

Well, I think there is a compromise. Because nothing in life is really one way or the other. It’s a paradox, most things in life are for schizophrenia decisions. I would say that the balance is, even if you’re solving a very large problem, find a use case that is easy to get dopamine on. And that is what becomes viral. Because once you build that little trust, remember, trust is only built a bite size at a time, you cannot build a vast amount of trust with anybody overnight. So that’s where the compromises are that you can provide this little dopamine every month, every quarter, and then your current users will try out new features and new capabilities and the expanded story from you.


But the wedge has to be simple enough, where they don’t have to suspend their belief, cannot really be that big, how can it be that big, and ever so promising, and so on. So the main things in DevRev, that we do within the company, but we are never going to expose and market it to the end users because it’s like, we have the curse of knowledge. We know a lot. We live with it. We are in this echo chamber of what DevRev is and like hey, we can do a lot of things but you don’t want to really expose it. It has to be progressive sort of divergence of what you really do and so on because then people are willing to trust you. One feature time, one quarter at a time one $5,000 at a time.


Siddhartha 15:07

DevRev is right now in beta and you have a few 100 beta customers, what’s your simplest value prop to a developer that will trap them and pride in what the first moment of aha dopamine that you can do it today.


Dheeraj 15:23

I think the most important one is social, that the system will become an log on every day is not one that the manager is forcing him to log on to, it’s a place where they can collaborate with others, it has a multiplayer sort of dynamic built into it, it’s highly real time highly social, and it basically takes care of the chores that otherwise you need a lot of programme managers for people shouting on you and saying, Hey, why isn’t this done? Why isn’t that done? So we try to really take a lot of these chores, a lot of these awkward conversations or project management away, and provide a lot of serendipity where you find similar work and you find, how to route things to the right people, and so on, all through machine learning.


And there’s a big data problem here, because a lot of work is actually being seen in some form before. A crash, a failure, a log file, a stack trace, different things have been seen before even feature requests coming through the top of the funnel, when product managers trying to figure out how to really cluster them these things can be solved by machines. And if he can really let the machine fight fires, then product managers and developers can really focus on doing the things that really matter, because it’s a highly paid role. I mean a software developers role is probably the most expensive role coming out of school. So we need for them to be freed up of chores of trying to assign blame or attribute change management issues or similar work and things like that.


And at the same time, if you can make it fun with emojis, and high fives, and even getting the thank you note from the end user, I think that’s what makes people come to work. I mean, the problem is that today, they’re being forced to log on to a tool that is good at dashboarding and reporting. But that’s where managers hangout, developers hangout at slack because that’s where fun happens. So the thing is, can you really bring it together, where you can still do dashboarding, and historical analysis and burndown charts and all sorts of things where managers hang out for planning, but at the same time, that’s where real work happens.


Siddhartha 17:41

Essentially, you’re saying that you’re going to replace JIRA? Because that’s a project management tool used by developers to file tickets.


Dheeraj 17:50

Yeah, I mean, if it becomes successful enough, obviously, right now, in the large enterprise, we have to sit next to these things. I mean, we’ve talked about PMF, product market fit. There’s a very interesting acronym that I learned maybe five years ago, MAYA. And that was introduced by a very famous designer, Raymond Louie in the US who had come to some big brands and created these brands in the US. And MAYA stands for most advanced, yet acceptable. So Google Glasses failed the MAYA test. Because if you’re wearing glasses in front of me, and I don’t even know whether you’re recording what I’m talking to you, it’s basically awkward for me, it’s just socially unacceptable for me to know that you’re recording everything I’m talking about.


So MAYA is important in a new idea, a new concept. So we try to make sure that while we are most advanced, we’re also acceptable. So in the large enterprises, where they actually have these incumbent tools, we have to sit next to it. We have to do two things with them, we have to make sure that we don’t go and disrupt what they’ve actually invested in. But we’d love to grow with startups who don’t know anything different. They are like, oh, yeah, I mean, PLG is the way to be and my developers are social, and they’d like to know more about what end users are doing. And it’s not only in the hands of a product manager to bring product market fit, let that be a collective thing. And if you start to think that way, maybe more startups will actually have product market fit, as opposed to this loss in translation that happens because the developers have no idea why something has been done. And there’s lots of cognitive biases that come into play.


So if you can unify this thing, where the developers get things in real time, and yet there is a way to put PMs and support people in the middle for more evolved companies. But that doesn’t mean you need three tools. You can use security permissions and roles and privileges in one system. If you had more involved support and more evolved project management and project management and things like that, but ideally, it doesn’t have to be in three different groups. And that’s where you get the real time updates with these departments and get to know the end users.


Siddhartha 20:05

Dear listeners. Before we dive further into the podcast, I would like to welcome Prashant Ganti, Head of Product Management at Zoho payroll as Zohobook, Prashant, where do founders usually struggle with payroll? And how will they fix it?


Prashant 20:19

Thanks Siddhartha, founders want to give their best for their employees. And they realized very early on that payroll and compensation is a very, very important part of what they are going to handle. However, what we have seen is where they miss out is usually on finding out the best solution that can grow along with that business. And that’s where, for example, the payroll complexity can grow very quickly. Initially, when you have just a few, four or five employees, that’s okay. But when the employee size count keeps on the payroll complexity grows by leaps and bounds. So it’s best for founders to invest in payroll automated solutions, right at the very start. So they have one less thing to worry about.


Siddhartha 21:09

Thank you, Prashant. Dear listeners, you will find more about the Zoho payroll in the show notes. Now, let’s further continue with the podcast.


10 years ago, for every enterprise software, or even software, the target market was enterprise. And even that you did with Nutanix, you went to enterprises trying to say there’s a better solution, a cheaper solution,use us. Today what I’m hearing is a different thing. You are not going to enterprises, you’re going to startups. If I told a VC five years ago that my target audience was going to be startups, they would laugh at me. And still today, VCs laugh, if I tell them that our target audience is that building a software or software platform is going to be startups. Why are you targeting startups, are startups not more vulnerable? Because any startup can shutdown, and 80% of your customers won’t exist tomorrow.


Dheeraj 22:09

Yeah, I mean, look, there’s Darwinism in anything, the important thing is that the cost of sales is minimum. And if they can make your product, and you can evolve your thinking with these young links, then the larger segment of the market is more accepting. This is true, but mid market and enterprise volume, you initially never build a company directly for the enterprise, you build up the mid market. And then if you have the ambition, you grow into a large enterprise, this happens with pretty much every company. I mean, you look at how AWS is doing, probably 70 billion now. And I think when they started, they were just working with companies that were willing to take this path less traveled. And some of them just happened to really become the black swans of the business.


And I think that’s always going to be true, or you start with enough saplings, I mean, you start to see, it’s not every seed becomes a sapling, and you nurture some of these saplings, and you become plants and plants become trees, and enough tree becomes a coil. So it definitely is a time tested strategy. The question is, are you evolving fast enough with these growing businesses? And at the same time, are you bringing enough configurability because that’s what the enterprise needs configurability, all that you hear about security, including the idea of different roles, and role based access control, and things like that.


So if you build for that, eventually we get to the enterprise. But I think it’s always smart to actually start with something smaller, whether you start with startups and go to mid market, or they could start from mid market go to the enterprise and before ending up the largest enterprise. Because these larger companies, they’re also by definition, paid not to take risks. And you also end up making a very lumpy business that is very hard to predict, which is why many of these lumpy businesses never go public. Because it’s so hard to predict your numbers. And you’re at the mercy of a very consolidated unfragmented market.


Ideally, as entrepreneurs, we all want a highly fragmented market. But there’s something to be said about 80-20. I mean, the best ones will eventually go and get 80% of business from 20% of their customers. And even within that day, the Pareto of 80-20. Where 4% will actually do 80% of that or something. But you really need to know whether you can build a product for these big customers over time. And some companies cannot get from SMB to the mid market, because they just didn’t want to engage at the mid market level to get the requirements for products and things like that and it won’t happen just through the internet. It has to happen with product managers and maybe some semblance of field reps and things.


Siddhartha 25:02

But what you talked about product lead growth is very different from what enterprise or even mid-market, market and enterprise except somebody to be in a sales role and account role to reach out to them.



I think you’d be surprised like Adobe, we do almost $11-12 billion in the DME business, digital media business. And we should not confuse users with buyers. So even in the PLG model, and you look at this in Atlassian, and Stripe and data dog, and every such company that went on to do PLG successfully in the enterprise, they had to connect to the end users first and really create this grassroots rebellion, which then rose to the top of the sea level. IT, CIOs and procurement people said that what’s going on, we have 50 credit cards 50 cost centers, this must be a really popular thing. So you want these mushrooms to develop, so mushroom clouds. And then over time you deal with procurement with an enterprise rep who goes and consolidates these 50 cost centers into one cost center.


But that is basically a very complementary activity. Initially, all these companies, they just mushroom by saying, Look, we have to go and build a direct connection with the end user, rather than go through a buyer and three years of a sales cycle. And who knows whether the end user will even engage and use the product or not. So that’s what’s flipped in this model. PLG doesn’t obviate the need for enterprise rates, because eventually, you have to box it into the budget and deal with procurement and all that. But the precursor to that. And by the way, it’s a rite of passage to be there. And when you really have 50 cost centers, you must be a really big company for them. But the precursor to that is to build these mushrooms where each of them is individually using it, and maybe they’re not even aware that there’s so many different cost centers in the US.


Siddhartha 27:10

So let’s talk about the history of product led growth. I think somewhere it has to start on the seeds of AWS, how developers started using AWS, then companies like Atlassian came up. And what you’re describing, the developer was so huge within each enterprise that you said hey, take away your credit cards let us pay for it. So if you can go and describe it because you would have observed it very closely.


Dheeraj 27:40

Yeah. I mean, in fact, we all did. AWS succeeded, because they were learning from their retail business, because retail is sort of the epitome of PLG, in some sense, where there’s no salespeople, and everything is happening through the app, through the website. And I think the reason why AWS succeeded is because they looked at it with a childlike innocence to say, Look, why can’t we build an infrastructure business? We’re selling through credit cards, if anything one of the biggest things that Jeff and Andy argued about was, do we ever have reps, eventually, they did put reps. They put reps a little later than when Andy would have wanted, because Azure was going and really winning the hearts and minds of Europe and places where they don’t have as many makers there’s a lot of people who are buyers, as opposed to makers in the US, you’ll still see a lot of people who do software development, but most companies in many verticals, they don’t go build software and buy software, and they operate software. So it’s a different kind of model for them.


But I think it all started out with the idea of thinking about cloud computing as a retail business. And then going and doing this well for the early stage startups and so on. But PLG has a few things now, as you look back at the last 15-20 years of not just these cloud computing companies, but also companies like Stripe and Datadog and Figma, and Adobe for that matter. I mean, as I mentioned, procurement doesn’t come in initially, it’s just one user who starts to use your product, and then it becomes a little workgroup, another workgroup and then eventually consolidates. I think the idea that you could use software, even a single person without having to go through a mega decision is at the core of PLG.


The second one is SEO. I mean, the fact that you can intercept the intent of a searcher and bring them to you is a really hard problem. And obviously, Google kind of made it a formal sort of way to think about awareness and discovery, but discovery is a big deal in SEO as well. It’s really important to be discovered by someone who’s not explicitly searching for you. But searching in the adjacency which is the intent, and how you intercept the intent is basically how you solve this chicken and egg problem discovery itself. So I think it’s a really, really important piece of the puzzle of PLG discovery. And I think last but not the least, is doing more things through the app. What does it mean to really go to in app pricing and in app promotion and in app placement and in app training, and education, and so on. So you don’t need lots and lots of salespeople. I mean, even the way sales should work in PLG and again, this has been tested in the last 5-10 years that, snowflake and MongoDB, for example, in many ways, are also PLG companies, even though they have Enterprise reps, because the reps go and knock at the doors of companies that have already invested some.


So it’s a warm seat, as opposed to a cold seat where you like going and opening up a slide deck and saying, This is how you spell my company’s name. So I think it’s the idea of digging from both sides, you dig on awareness, grassroots up. And then if you have larger customers, you get your salespeople to go after warmer seats, because now it’s really, cold, a really hard problem. And this is how things used to be in Oracle, IBM SAP days, cold start, and two, three years sales cycles and implementation costs and things like that to where things are right now. Where you can actually let your salespeople go after things that are already warm, and even marketing, I think if you look at marketing and the funnel of marketing.


In the old world it was all about prospects leads who have never heard of you, people who threw their business card in event where they were just window shopping and wanted a free T-shirt in your hand, you’re just going after a lot of vacuous, noisy leads to now there’s a world where you need to market the freemium user who has already shown or intend to use your product. So why don’t you go and market to them and spend more time in the middle of the funnel rather than the top of the funnel, which is full of noise and full of lurkers who probably would never have ever used the product.


So PLG is really shifting things to the middle of the funnel including for salespeople, and I think it’s going to be more efficient, because you’re letting leads come in, have them sign up with no questions asked, no need to ask for money up front, hook them into this, and really create an opportunity where they used all your features, if possible, and maybe in a limited way, because obviously, you have to make money and keep your lights on as well. But then you go and market to these people and really have them discover what this thing could be for them.


Siddhartha 32:51

For our listeners who want to deep dive into Product Led Growth, can you describe the first principles, how they should think about building with that philosophy?


Dheeraj 33:03

Well, the word product lead says a lot about where it all begins, it begins with the product. But actually even before that it begins with engineering because if you don’t have an honest engineering behind PLG, you will never be able to do PLG. And I’ll give you an example for this. So if spinning up a new tenant or a new prospect is going to cost you 1000s of dollars of customer acquisition, within six months something then you will never be able to do this across lots and lots of free customers. So you need to make sure that the sliver that you give out per tenant is probably no more than $5-10 for the whole year, because then you can live by all this stuff. And then you can go and eke out 200 bucks a year from them as opposed to $100,000.


But if you need to really eke out $100,000, you need salespeople. Nobody’s going to give you $100,000 in one lump sum, unless there’s a human to human conversation and a six month proof of concept and so on. So the idea is to atomize your product to a point where each tenant and the cost of acquiring a tenant is low to mid single digit dollars in your cloud costs, including any of your marketing costs.

So that’s where it all begins, then you make sure that you open this up like a retail site would be open for any and every consumer and you don’t have too many gates upfront for what it means to sign up and use the product and so on. And then you need the nudges to start coming in because changing habits is not easy. So just because you open them up for free signup doesn’t mean that they’ll come back to you. So the way you get nudged when you leave a shopping cart unchecked out is the way they have to be nudged on things and again, small dopamine small victories, defining like, if you did these six steps like the way LinkedIn profile says, Oh, you 80% done now 85% done and 90% done, you need to apply those kind of, virtuous cycle things where you do a little thing and you find the dopamine, do one more thing you find the dopamine. Is the consumer thinking of the E-commerce engines that you’ve applied to your product as well.


And lastly you do everything in the product, where, even though you might actually have a go to market strategy that includes some commercial reps or inside sales, you try to enable as much as possible by left shifting into the product. Because if all these things like pricing, promotion, placement of new features, discovery of new things is all gonna happen to a slide deck, you’re not building the PLG product. Now speaking on the other side of go to market, just because you’re doing PLG doesn’t mean that you might not have inside sales.


But that inside sales team is user aware, the clicks of the user, like who’s doing what clicks that I can then go and call them rather than calling somebody who is barely logged in, so there is a marketing team that will go and nudge them to log in more often. But then let the inside salespeople not waste bandwidth on folks who are higher up the funnel versus those who are lower down the funnel. And only if the inside sales is looking at users activity and product activity, will they be able to go and be more efficient. So the point here is that there’ll be a hybrid world, the product will actually take the user to a certain point that becomes interesting for humans to call them. And only if you do this well is your sales marketing cost gonna be such that you can really build a highly efficient sales and marketing business.


Siddhartha 36:56

I Think there’s nobody better to lead a masterclass on PLG than you.


Dheeraj 37:01

Actually, I tell you what, to be honest, Nutanix was all SLG, we were spending a billion dollars a year to go get a billion 6, and so on. And so I feel like I built a business, which didn’t take risks in distribution, so it was my first startup, Nutanix was my first startup. And what we’re doing now is the opposite of that. So I’m learning as we speak. And the real goal is, if whatever you’re learning is being codified in our software, nothing like it. So at some point, if you want to succeed, hopefully, we’ll create an operating system around PLG, which is not a deck of slides, it’s really, software and templates. And where do you begin when you’re writing new code? And how do you really go and support customers? How do you really go and grow your business?


Siddhartha 37:50

So in essence, DevRev tomorrow will also be a CRM for PLG products.


Dheeraj 37:55

Absolutely. I mean, if you were to succeed, I mean we are taking one step at a time, but identity is a big deal for us, and not just the identity of the developers and the product managers and support people, but also their customers, so if they want you to think about end users, there is no system out there, and because the CRM tools are built for salespeople, and honestly, it’s not customer relationship management, it is salesforce automation. While CRM means customer relationship management, and that includes their clicks, their interests, their biases, what they do on a day to day basis and that is now stuck in product tools and analytics tools and user analytics tools, which has nothing to do with CRM. A good CRM will actually know about all those things and give it to the support people, give it to the customer success people, give it to the product managers and inside sales and so on.


So I think we’re in the very early innings of what this could look like in the future. And it’s fun to really think about it on an empty canvas. And yet, I think we have a lot of mistakes that we will actually make along the way. And we have to learn from that.


Siddhartha 39:07

And Salesforce being the largest company in this space, it’s almost like a 200 billion company today. 200 billion market cap, 20-30 billion revenue.They function not based on user data, they function on data entered by the sellers. What do you say it’s such a huge opportunity?


Dheeraj 39:30

Yeah, I think if you look at b2c companies today, they don’t buy CRM tools, they build CRM. And that’s because the end user database doesn’t exist. And I think it’s a great opportunity to think about how a b2b developer thinks like a b2c developer without having to reinvent the wheel of many things about identity of the user and the clicks of the user. And the biases of the user, and the billing systems of the user and so on. It’s all built from scratch in b2c companies. But many of these things have to be standardized over time. And I think there’s a great opportunity to think on an empty canvas like that and build something from scratch, rather than really do it the way it was done the last 30 years of CRM.


Siddhartha 40:25

What are the risks of failure that you’re mitigating right now.


Dheeraj 40:27

I think I said this before, you need to think about a single use case. And you’re really focused on how you build software and how you support software. And if you did this right, then we can actually go and help grow businesses over time, which is where CRM really comes in. So the idea is to go walk to the developer and the product manager and then walk with them to where we want them to be. We can’t be sitting here and saying, you have that CRM, they’ll be like
What are you talking about, I don’t deal with CRM, that’s someone else’s job.


So we have to walk out where they are, talk their language make sure we pass the Meijer test, speak the languages of software, engineering software, building products, and dealing with product managers, that alone if you can just converge product managers and developers in one system so that PMs are not planning in a planning tool, the moment they come out of that off site of planning it’s there. And then real work is happening in someplace else within Slack or JIRA, or someplace else. So I think just converging the product manager and the developer in one place will be a great success in the coming two to three years.


Siddhartha 41:39

Now going back to building an entrepreneurial culture within a company, you’ve been a champion at that. I can attest to that because three of the LPs in my funds are founders of the company that Nutanix acquired.


Dheeraj 41:54

Yeah, I mean, we were about learning. It’s this childlike mindset to continue to learn. And there was a lot that we learned from many of these. I mean, you talked about Aaditya Sood at Calm, Vijay Rayapati at Minjar and Botmetric, they brought cloud-like thinking and the developers and DevOps thinking to Nutanix. And I think the rest of the company learned a lot from them too. But what made them stick around was autonomy and mastery and purpose, things that Dan Pink talks about motivation, as opposed to getting acquired and moving on within a year or so. But I think, by and large, I mean, and you see this, many of the companies like, Adobe, when we acquired Omniture, back in 2009-10, is when we learned what SAS is all about, because before that we were bot software company, and we were still early very, very early in our traditional subscription.


So when you acquire such companies, I mean, right now Microsoft acquired Github. They’ll learn about open source and developers and embracing developers of all kinds, not just windows, but also Linux and AWS, and AI Ml developers who will never use Azure, but might end up using Google Cloud products, and so on. So I think you may acquire these companies because they help you evolve, and keep you relevant.


Siddhartha 43:20

How many companies did you acquire during your journey?


Dheeraj 43:22

I think four.


Siddhartha 43:23

One was by Minjar, Botmetric. Second one Aaditya by Calm, third was,


Dheeraj 43:29

That was a very small company. But there were a couple others there was one called Netsil, which in the world of observability, was a US based company. And there was one called Frame, which was a Serbia based company, and they were cloud computing of a kind that we had never done before. So we learned a lot from them as well.


Siddhartha 43:48

And the most difficult part of an acquisition is the integration. The founders we acquired, they leave. How are you able to integrate them so well? You talk about mastery, autonomy, but a whole bunch of other things that come along with integration?


Dheeraj 44:05

Yeah, I mean, I look at it like an hourglass, if you treat the founders and that team as a customer, just the acquisition itself, which is like an event of sales is not good enough. Once the thing settles down, on the other side of the glass, that’s customer success. You have to really go and do a good job of customer success. I think I’ll give ourselves a 5 on 10 because it’s that hard. And remember, you’re dealing with rebels. They don’t want to be having their hands tied at their back in a larger company. The reason why they did what they did is because they wanted autonomy of a kind that they never got and working with someone else. So you have to continue to evolve for them. And there’s a lot of form of rejection too, many a time when the body which is the incumbency tries to reject it, and I think you have to make sure that you cut down on the bureaucracy, make sure that they’re not like five levels away from you and keep them really close and make sure you have them heard.


And also, I think really go back to the body and say, Look, this is a good org and we can actually be a healthier body, you have to solve them. So I think that it’s a penance. It’s not easy. I think it’s the word that the Japanese use, Gaman, Stoic endurance. So when you integrate this stoic endurance of the new idea with the existing idea, how do we have the meld and become a better idea.


Siddhartha 45:38

Dheeraj, now I want to go back 20 years or maybe 25 years and talk about your own journey.

Can you tell us more about your family, your roots, the city you came from?


Dheeraj 45:52

Yeah. And for that you have to go back almost 40 years, because I’m 46 right now and I grew up in Patna. And when I was 16, almost 17, I came to do my undergrad at IIT Kanpur, I pursued my undergrad in computer science from IIT Kanpur and when I was 21, almost 22 I came to the US. And basically at an age 21 at a fork in the road, I could have joined Unilever here in India, I could have gone and done IT consulting at Deloitte because in 1997, this was the first year they had come directly to hire out of campuses in India. Or I could have gone and pursued PhD at either UT Austin, Urbana Champaign, Columbia, Southern California, USC and so on. I talked to one of my seniors, who was two year senior, his name was Gokul Rajaram. And he’s another really accomplished person in the Bay Area. He was very early at Google, was the product manager for AdSense for like seven, eight years and went to Facebook and built their entire ad business and then was at Square for the longest time and so on.


So I spoke to him and he’s like, you need optionality, don’t commit to anything but a PhD. And I ended up in Austin because I had a fellowship so I didn’t have to go work. UT had basically said, Look, we’ll pay for everything, just come and be a PhD student, which is exactly the same opportunity that Gokul had as well, and there was a little chasm I had to cross about buying a ticket to get to the US and that’s where Jane Tata endowment and KC Mahindra trust actually helped me get there. So I landed in Austin, Texas. Within a year, I actually got to do my internship at Oracle in Redwood Shores, California.


And that’s when it was the height of the bubble in 1998. Nothing can go wrong, just like six months ago, imagine and I figured timing is everything. And I said, I’ll take a leave of absence for my PhD. And I just finished my master’s and Glenn was a mystery. So I ended up doing that, I started working for a company called trilogy in Austin, Texas, even Vijay was at trilogy, by the way. But almost 10 years later, after me, I worked there for a year and a half. And I think I had this itch to get to the west coast and add a fork in the road again, I take a left turn, come to California, take a right turn, go to Microsoft. And I ended up taking the turn towards a smaller startup rather than going to a large company like Microsoft. So I ended up in California and we weathered the storm.


The bubble had burst in 2000. And yet, we were working for a startup. This is one of Vinod

Khosla’s companies when he was still at Perkins back in the year 2000. And we were building a distributed system to really disrupt some incumbents in the space of data storage, data management. The company didn’t go anywhere, but we learned a lot of lessons. In fact, five, six of us young folks out of that company also went and created at least $15-20 billion of market capital with prime as well. So we were very stubborn. And even though we were not senior people, we can learn what not to do, which is build a top heavy company that may not have product management that is relevant, because it’s really hard to get product management In most companies. And you could see what not to do. I mean, most experiences don’t tell you what to do, but they’ll at least tell you what not to do and learn that . Then four years, I took a hiatus and ended up at Oracle building database software. That’s where I met Vipul Sinha, my partner in crime who gave the first check for us in 2009.


And a couple of years after oracle, I started building a data warehouse, which is like a snowflake of its time. This is when there were no clouds. You still wanted big data warehouses that could be much less expensive than Oracle and Teradata. So I built a lot of those things for like 10 years of work for someone else and there was this itch to go and do something. So the three of us knew each other, Ajit and I knew each other from Kanpur days and Mohit and I knew each other from my startup days, this company, which I joined in California in 2000. And we were impatient, and we wanted to go do something, and we didn’t have an idea as to what we would go buildl, we just knew that we wanted to follow our gut. So we quit our jobs. And this was 2009. And the economy was still mushy, but I think there was a conviction to go do something and the rest is history.


Siddhartha 50:33

Why did you choose to start in a downturn? You could have waited a couple of years more, let the economy get back?


Dheeraj 50:40

Yeah, I mean, looking back, we didn’t know what we know now about what happens to companies when they start in recession, and there’s a certain correlation, maybe even a causation about starting in a recession, because people are driven by fear and paranoia, and a lot of, it’s becoming a defensive market, but nobody buys anything, that’s the best time to build a new product. Because by the time, greed takes over and people are feeling a little bit more optimistic. There’s pent up demand, the post things open up, and people want to go and buy again, and experiment again, and tinker again. And that’s when ideas flourish. So I think it was just right for us. By 2011, 2012, things were opening up again, and people were feeling cheerful, like, yeah, we can start out with new ideas. And I think this pattern has actually held on for very long even in the early 1990s recession, or the 2000s, after the recession.


So I think we were lucky to have actually started at that time. And I think the thing that I told my wife, in 2009 was you need to have your significant others also be part of this, looks like it’s true for you and Nansi as well, is that independent, whether they’re really part of the company or not, they’re still part of the entrepreneurship journey, in many ways and she and I talked, and I thought we were like, what’s the worst? The worst is, could we get back to a job? The worst is not bad enough. You basically jump in, that’s what we did, we jumped in. I think we were good at being stubborn and listening at the same time. And obviously, there was luck. And all those things come in as well. I mean, we had almost three near death experiences in the first three years, and we didn’t give up on them.


I feel like that is the walking on fire that the market actually does with you for you. Because that’s classic Darwinism. And if you can walk on fire, then you deserve to survive and thrive. And if you give up and obviously there’s nothing. So when people say, there’s luck, I feel like you need a lot of hard work, and then luck to really make something work.


Siddhartha 52:51

You have to be prepared for the right place at the right time.


Dheeraj 52:54

Yeah, I mean, even to survive requires a lot of hard work, and then some luck as well. I mean, I said our first thesis was that this product will work on top of VMware, and it was a wrong assumption, because they were not ready for something as sort of demanding in our software. And on top of that, nobody had run what we’re running on top of VMware. And then when we went past that, they went from being a partner to being full, you have to compete with somebody, you basically work on top of, how do you deal with all that stuff? And how do you compete with that?


We felt cornered, very similar to the way Apple felt cornered by Google, when it came to location services. They didn’t have Maps and Google had maps, and they were demanding every ounce of flesh from Apple. And that’s when they said, Look, we’re going to do our own maps. And it was clunky to begin with. But I think it was a very similar moment for us as well, because VMware looked us in the eye and said, We’ll crush you and kill you, and figure out a way to survive. And eventually, I think that moment helped us liberate and that’s what the market loves to devote to mechanics is the fact that they can really get out of the clutches of incumbency, and use something that’s much cheaper and much more delightful.


Siddhartha 54:07

And can you describe some of the milestones that Nutanix had achieved and what it took to achieve them? For example, it can be the first million in ARR, the next 10 million and the next 50.


Dheeraj 54:21

Yeah, well, we didn’t have ARR back then. This was still, we had to shrink wrap our software into commodity hardware, because that was a solution that was a way to plug and play. Just the way, Apple insisted they’re not going to do software, they will do an entire solution. We did that even though the shrink wrap was commodity hardware. And we had become really good at solving problems for people very fast and quick and, but still start small, it doesn’t have to be big. So our first million came in our first quarter of selling actually, this was late 2011 early 2012.

So within two years, after two years of building a product, we went out there and granted hardware, there was no still no margin back then, because it was still very early and willing to actually say, look, it’s almost free if you just buy this thing, and so on. But then we did 3 million and 5 million, these all quarters, not years, 1,3,5,8,13, 25. So we were probably the fastest to half a billion. Now, it was still hardware but to get to those many people willing to pay for it, it was still not easy then we got rid of the hardware. So we almost gave up 30-35% of our revenue. But in 2016, when we went public, we were doing more than 800 million, still as a hardware software combination, and we were still growing 70-80%.


And I think if he had not given up hardware we would have been two and a half billion plus in revenue, but then we gave up hardware, and then we gave up these big five year deals and seven year deals, I mean, Japan, we’re doing seven year deals, because that’s what they want, and then really started to move towards smaller deals, I mean top 300 customers at Nutanix, probably had paid us almost 3 billion over a course of 7,8, 9 years. And I think it was great to have served the large enterprise, but you also realize how the flywheel only comes when you have really small initial consumption, which is what the public cloud was all about. Like, look, you don’t have to commit to anything, pay by the drop, not even by the shot or something.


And I think eventually, that wasn’t a big epiphany moment . Wow, this thing is moving to something even smaller than what we had built, because what we built was really small compared to the hardware incumbents that were there. But we were still selling $50,000- $100,000 worth of things, when the public cloud was doing $50. Like our AWS bills, till very recently was 1000 bucks a month or something you couldn’t have done that by shipping things on prem and having people go deploy it and store it because it takes in humans cost money.


Siddhartha 57:08

And you mentioned that the recent revenue of Nutanix is $1.6 billion. Do you think there is a possibility in recent years, in the next few years, it can be a $10 billion revenue company.


Dheeraj 57:19

I think if they were to transform to a true cloud business, because, we thought we were invisible infrastructure. But the cloud was even more invisible. Because I think the thing for me was that, look, we’ve not made it invisible enough. People still need to ship it and rack, stack and mount it. And yeah, we’ve taken three, four different hardware products made into one solution, but it’s still quite visible. And you still need to go through channels and to deal with distribution and some level of professional services. So there’s a lot of visible stuff going on and invisible infrastructure. But it was the most simplest invisible infrastructure on prem, where if you had to build your own datacenter. I think the public cloud and the idea of streaming as opposed to owning, has just gained immense ground in the last five years. So for Nutanix, we’ll go down that path and figure out what multi cloud means and how do we have people provide the optionality of multiple clouds, I think that is going to be a homerun.


Siddhartha 58:32

So becoming a public company. Does it really change your life?


Dheeraj 58:36

I don’t think so. I mean a lot of people, I enjoyed it, I mean, for almost five years, even though we went through massive transitions in business model and things like that, but I felt like it is basically a milestone in the overall journey of any company. And you take a view that what has to be done has to be done, had we not been a subscription company, by the end of 2020, we probably would have been a whole lot less relevant. So at least for me, I feel like going public is a means to an end, it gives you better branding, or better enterprise recall, brand recall, because large enterprises actually want to look at your books and see how much money you make? And are you relevant and going public helps a lot.


But I think by and large, being balanced between Wall Street and Main Street, because Main Street pays the bills. I mean, in many ways, you have to look at them as the first customer and then look at your employees and look at Wall Street demand. How you balance the three legs of the stool. I think it’s a lot of fun, and for many people it’s like a power to zero sum game. If you did too much for main street, you won’t do enough for Wall Street. If you did too much Wall Street, you would forget Main Street. I think it can be done. And the best companies will actually do that really well.


Siddhartha 59:57

And what’s your aspiration for DeevRev, do you want to build a better company or a bigger company than Nutanix?


Dheeraj 1:00:04

I think the aspiration is to go build something that’s delightful. So rather than go put an outcome,

or a number or size, I think it’s too early. I mean, in fact, who knows, maybe we were wrong and a few things, we’ll learn about those things. But if you can bring delight, then I think that’s the karma that will pay the bills. And basically, the customer love will be there. I mean, we did a really good job of customer love at Nutanix but our cost of distribution is high and that’s just basically me not taking risks of what distribution meant. And something like when Tesla said, you can do direct to the customer. It raised a lot of hackles, you can bypass the dealership. And the public cloud did exactly that. They had a direct connection between the user and the end user in them. So I want to be able to apply some of those consumer grade lessons to DevRev and see where it goes.


Siddhartha 1:01:04

Public cloud is one of the reasons why entrepreneurship blossomed.


Dheeraj 1:01:07

Yeah, in fact, there’s a really good read, maybe a couple of pages that you might have remembered from the book “Sapiens”, Yuval Harare talks about the discovery of fire. And he basically conjectured as to why homosapiens really became the more intelligent species. This is obviously a hypothesis, but he says, Look, there’s two parts of the body that absorb the most amount of energy, the gut and the brain. That’s it, more than 80% of the energy actually goes to the gut to the brain, to digest food, or to really make you think, and before fire, there was raw meat, and you need much longer time to digest the raw meat. But with fire, you had cooked meat.


So evolution basically said, Look, you can get rid of sound, the length during testing, it can actually be shorter. And with that he conjectures that the brain started to get more energy. The public cloud is not raw meat, it’s cooked meat. So it has basically resulted in developers focusing on bigger, better things, because they have a better brain and more mindspace because a lot of on prem was actually raw meat. And I think it will be basically the reason why there’s so much more people trying things out and really tinkering with things, ideas, because it’s $10 a month or $10,000 on it.


Siddhartha 1:02:29

And Dheeraj, in your personal life. What kind of person are you? You have to describe yourself.


Dheeraj 1:02:37

I’ll tell you what I aspire to be, I aspire to breathe more, breathe well, because with breathing, you can actually control your automatic behavior, which is whatever it could be. I think I want to sleep more, sleep well, and I want to smile more and smile a lot. I mean, on some level, these three things are very disarming. And I want to do a lot of that. And I want to keep reminding myself, I need to breathe well, sleep well, and smile more. I actually like the word paradox a lot. Because most things in life are a balance. It’s a yin yang between two opposites. So I tend to rationalize things as like, Oh, this is the way things are in life.


If you’re walking a tightrope, and you lean too much towards one side, you’ll fall and the goal is to really figure out how to do this tightrope walk. And we, my wife and I, have three kids and enjoy traveling. And I personally enjoy history a lot. So I mean, big history buff, I do a lot of Wikipedia, free falling. And watching the History Channel and remembering stuff, I remember I mean, I have a way of remembering and really stashing things away in my own library. So I can go back to the wars and the people. And I really believe that history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes, as someone said very famously. So you can do some pattern matching and learn from the past to really go and make some decisions in the future. So yeah, history plays a big role.


And I think in the last 15 years, I’ve learned and respected a lot about design. I was an empathetic person even before that, but I think growing with Apple since 2009, has made me appreciate many more things than I ever was. I think I had a good taste for things. But I really honed a lot of these things around me about what good looks like. That’s why at DevRev, we have a tonne of designers and I mean, only the design can be going to change the ecosystem that’s so siloed.


Siddhartha 1:04:42

And what do you do, if you can describe your day on a technical basis how much time you spend in DevRev, your family and your hobbies like reading?


Dheeraj 1:04:55

Yeah. So on the side we have a family office that’s run by our chief investment officer and his team. We have a Family Foundation, we just gifted $10 million to UT Austin, Texas, Austin, not just for gratitude, but also learning being a fly on the wall, with researchers doing competition oncology, so we try to converge people there as well there is Dell Medical School, the researchers there, they’re the Machine Learning Lab. And then there are these biophysicists who have been recently working on simple statistical models around cancer research.


So I feel like we can be a fly on the wall and learn about how to age well, and what it means to learn from the cutting edge research that’s really going to blur the line between computing and biology. I mean, if anything, what we saw with the mRNA vaccine, is the fact that 3d printing of the mRNA, which is really computing at large, and what biology lines upload, and those things are happening, and other sensors like Car T, where you can programme the cell to know which tumor cells to kill or not, I mean, even CRISPR, that was a big innovation in terms of editing the gene. So there’s a lot of those things that we are really interested in. We’ve invested in quite a few life sciences companies and biotech companies.And yeah, so I think that that’s a whole lot. I mean, DevRev still takes up 90 plus percent of my personal time.


I have started to code again at 46, I’m learning JavaScript, TypeScript, react, and even go and because that’s one way I can actually show to my own people that look don’t get tribal, in your comfort zone, or I’m just the backend person, just a front end person because what really matters is the nation and that nation is the company. And you need to really think top down about the customer and the end user experience rather than my little thing. And we really created this movement on microservices and this net, but eventually, it’s a very bottom up way of thinking about things. And you ended up fragmented a lot of engineers to just think about their little thing, which is a tribe called microservice. And then you kind of delegate everything to PMs and designers.


So I think being a full stack person where you can be a generalist and be a single threaded owner of a feature. Amazon talks about that quite a bit about single federal ownership, but the way to really get it going is having full stack people. So I’m actually doing full stack development to just be sure when people we’re having a rally right now in Bangalore, where 70-80 people, including 20 interns are actually working on things but it keeps me really fresh, because then I can know how hard something is.


Siddhartha 1:07:41

And then how do you figure out time for reading or for other stuff?


Dheeraj 1:07:43

It’s like breathing, you don’t think about those things. So I still read a lot, and I still stash a lot away. One of my favorite apps on iOS is Pocket. I’m sure you probably used it, but I use it, like, really diligently. Like, every day, I have, like 10 pieces that I’ve read, and then I forwarded to other people, but that’s the way I remember the county really connected.


Siddhartha 1:08:07

Thank you so much. And the last question, when you’re looking to invest in Vijay’s company, and some other company, what are you really looking for?


Dheeraj 1:08:16

It’s the team and I mean, it’s a very cliche way of saying this, but I feel like if they have a sense of design and empathy, then they’ll figure it out. And design would mean that they’ll reduce friction with the end user, but also they’ll think about design of the organization and design of the Salesforce and design of marketing and all. So I think anybody who’s very design centric, but at the same time has the worldliness of dealing with people and, highly just learning skills like fast learners. So they’re actually evolving faster than the company because many times founders start to get pushed by the company, because they’re not evolving fast enough. And yet, there are others who actually pull the company and grow the volume faster than the company. So you look for some signals from that.


Siddhartha 1:09:04

Thank you so much Dheeraj. It’s been a pleasure.


Dheeraj 1:09:08

You also brought a lot of this sort of push me to think through this conversation. I appreciate that. And thank you to the audience who actually listened to the very long in our last hours.





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