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My experiments with working in a R&D squad

Written by Lalit Bhise & Nikhil Chhaochharia

The last time I worked closely with engineers was long back in 2017. At that time we felt that me heading sales, engineering apart from being CEO of the whole organization was untenable and we needed more leaders to take responsibilities of a few of those tasks. Luckily we found Nikhil who was a great culture fit with great skills in scaling engineering teams. So after handing engineering over to Nikhil, I moved out and focused on business.

As tech pioneers in CPG, we have always been at the bleeding edge of technology. Apart from launching a retailer app to facilitate omnichannel operations back in 2016, we had another large initiative going on which was code named “Eagle Eye”. Eagle eye started as a place where all our research in AI, ML, Computer Vision, big data analytics, industry trends was put together. We have been trying to build some products around the research with varied amounts of success.

Somewhere in June 2020 at the height of Covid induced lockdowns, a few key members of the Eagle Eye team decided to move on. Nikhil asked if I could help with engineering management in Eagle Eye at least for a short while. In my mind, I was scared since I had not managed any engineering teams since 2017, but Eagle Eye is very close to my heart. This is a tech platform that is helping us build a “smarter Bizom” to grow to a $100m and beyond company faster.

After some debate, I said ok and started participating in the daily/weekly meetings with the Eagle Eye squad around July/August 2020. My first decision was to ask the team to make weekly releases from their fortnightly ones. While everyone said ok, the first weekly release happened after 2 weeks. The same happened with the 2nd and 3rd releases. By now all the seniors in the team were rebelling saying doing weekly releases is impossible. Some of them were planning to move on around this time so I started talking with the next level of engineers to understand the underlying real problems.

Following were the main problems highlighted

  1. Our database was hard to maintain and table structures were sub-optimal
  2. Our code was non-modular and more like a bunch of scripts thrown in together which need to be run separately without a flow
  3. Our APIs were poorly designed and structured.
  4. We had non-existent dev-ops and debugging skills/ expertise

Then came the dreaded question. Shall we rewrite Eagle Eye? The answer was a unanimous yes. Engineering bravado suggested that it could be done in a sprint or two. More experienced heads suggested that it can surely be done in 6-8 weeks. With that in mind, guys got to work.

Planning

This stage was possibly the most important for our re-write. The team put in their suggestions about improving Eagle Eye in a Google form. For every squad, it’s a must that the team feels ownership of the tasks ahead. If you need ownership from the team, you must give them the authority to define the roadmap. This step of asking for suggestions from everyone helped a lot in getting the buy-in. With the feedback as a base, we created sprint plans for execution.

Designing

It took us a couple of weeks to have the debates around design but were well worth it. This is where we collaborated. Designing the database restructure was owned by Rohit, Surya, and Utkarsh. The algorithmic redesign was mainly owned by Ankit with support from Surya. API code restructure was owned by Shubham, Sanyam, and Utkarsh.

The biggest debate around the design was regarding which database to use. Some of us were of the opinion that MySQL was best simply because we have a lot of expertise in the team and hence it’s easy to maintain. They also argued that MySQL keeps adding more and more features anyway to help with our roadmap so experimenting with unknowns is not needed. Some others argued that Postgresql had better geospatial capabilities or NoSQL databases like MongoDB were more future-proof. What we did was to have an evaluation criterion among all database options and then choose the best among them. This helped a lot to resolve disputes or a sense of unhappiness towards our eventual choice. I suggest all squads who are debating the right methodology or tools or vendors use a transparent evaluation criterion to resolve the dispute,

Like in life, there is no guarantee that the final decision will be right but the least you can aim for is that the whole team is convinced about the decision.

With the plan in place and design structure in our heads, we were ready to execute.

Coding

This was the phase where I started letting the team take more responsibility and lead. They did it really well. The biggest outcome of this phase was that not only we merged our algorithms as a workflow from the original bunch of scripts but now with the new architecture, we could have pan India data refreshed over a weekend. (Earlier, it would take 48 hours for 1 city, pan India was out of the question). The coding phase took longer than we estimated, but it was finally over in 3 sprints. One experiment we did around this time was to allow everyone to code everywhere and break the coding expert myths. We wrote code in multiple modules and tech stacks during that time sometimes even with 0 prior experience in that specific tech. Whenever we were badly stuck, suggestions from Nikhil/Aravinda helped us to move forward. By the end of this phase, we had a team of people where almost everyone could code across the stack. My learning as a leader was to trust the team more in execution and refrain from giving too much Gyan and get external experts involved as needed. 

Release

While we finished coding, the team was extremely worried about elevating this to prod. The main concerns were the dependency of the Retailer App squad on Eagle Eye. We were all worried that change in data models along with the complete architecture change may break some of the semantics of the interface between Eagle Eye and the Retailer App. This is where I took the reins in my hand and decided the day as release day. People had to work backwards to meet the release day, to keep all data ready, keep code tested on dev and staging, etc. When the day came, I still remember the standup. Aravinda (our architect), Ankit, Surya, everyone basically said we cannot release since 3 dependencies are still not fixed / we are not sure. Our original design for the rollback was not viable. I was obviously unhappy. This is when Aravinda suggested we create a document on things we will need to do if our deployment failed (rollback checklist). Surya owned up the document. With this new information on how we will roll back if the deployment fails, we geared up for another deployment. The 2nd time, when we started deployment, we again faced a myriad of problems, some due to our lack of preparation, some due to our lack of skills, some purely outside our control. But knowing what all we will have to do if the deployment fails (Surya’s document) meant we had to push on to complete. We dreaded rollback knowing how hard it was 🙂 Sourabh, Suryam Utkarsh, Shubham, and Ankit spent almost 48 hours straight without any sleep/break to ensure that it was successfully done with almost no interface breaking between eagle-eye and any other module dependent on it (retailer app, bourbon, and one view). In a lot of ways that was the night that built the character of the team and its leaders. Writing down what would happen if we failed removed failure as an option entirely 🙂

What I learned from trying to be an engineering manager again

  1. The team already knows what needs to be done, give them a voice, and take their advice on the roadmap
  2. If there are disagreements on direction within the team, use transparent evaluation criteria to make decisions.
  3. If you are taking too long to get out of difficult situations, take expert advice but the implementation still needs to be done by the team.
  4. By taking combined ownership of the success/failure of a mission and the deadline, you get a team of leaders, not just 1 leader.

I am truly proud of Utkarsh, Raj, Shreya, Sanyam, Saurabh, Shubham, Anoop,Harsha, Surya, and Ankit who made me feel better as an engineering manager during my short stint. We all have our insecurities, these guys helped me slay some of my own daemons about managing engineering teams.

Thanks, EE team. Keep rocking whichever squad you guys move on to next. Am sure there is a leader in you!

Lots of love,

Lalit

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Bizom Journeys: Chitraangi Sharma

Written by Chitraangi

What a ride it has been so far with Bizom. Sharing my journey of the last 4 years and how it has helped me grow as a person and professional.

Well, it all started with the exciting job post that I came across ‘Entrepreneurial Acceleration’. I had always wanted to work in a work culture that provides an environment of trying and experimenting with new things that challenge me. The job post made me so curious about the company that I applied for an Associate Business Analyst (ABA) role even though I came from a technical background (yes, I was a backend developer).

I think most of us remember our first day at work, but in Bizom, there were many such moments that made my journey memorable as well as exciting.

Persistence

After an initial call from Bizom, I didn’t hear from them for a really long time. But call it my persistence or eagerness to make a difference, I persisted and persisted. Finally, Archita had to take time out of her busy schedule and meet me at a client’s office (a story for another day), a couple of more discussions with Rohan and Lalit and I made it in the North Sales team as an ABA. Proud moment!

Algorithmic Jugaad

Coming from a technical background, I had very little experience of handling customers and being the face of the company at the client site. Within 10 days of my joining the company, I was at a customer’s location to address their queries, and resolve all operational issues for them. This is where I put my technical skills into practice along with learning more interpersonal and entrepreneurial skills to solve and handle situations. Being from a technical background, I was able to figure out an issue faster and hence solve it. 

Being Ambitious & Fearless

Working with Prarabdh and Nishu has taught me to be ambitious and push myself and others around me for it. Be it sharing the first insight, acquiring industry knowledge, and connecting with CXOs in all the accounts. I see my transformation from just being an operational personal to a business analyst and actually driving outcomes for the customers. It feels phenomenal to make a difference in the customer’s sales journey and at the same time connect with them to share ideas as well as understand their point of view. 

It has been an exciting journey over the last 4 years, with every day being a new challenge and a new opportunity to learn something new. 

Leadership

Well, the best part of working at Bizom is the work culture. Everyone in the management team has been so approachable since my first day here. I have learned to be humble from each of them. 

When I was given the role of leadership, Prarabdh made sure I understood what is expected and what needs to be done, and how, and I took it as an opportunity to grow further. This experience over the journey strongly influenced my attitude also. Looking at my fellow team members getting out of their comfort zone to try something new influenced me a lot and made me fearless. The team funda for 1 quarter last year was, “Punch above your weight and see the magic happening” is still followed and helped me push towards contributing more.

Work Culture

One thing that I love about working here is that honest dialogue is always encouraged, be it internal or external with the customers we handle. I have learned so much from Lalit, Shree, Archita, Prarabdh & Achyut about how to get the job done. They have truly trusted in me, encouraged me to dream bigger, and always helped me to learn and grow. 

Work hard party harder

We do take ‘work hard, party harder’ literally and I love our weekly catch-up meetings in the North team. It’s not just a party but discussions, learning from each other’s experiences, and how we can do better to handle difficult situations along with fun activities planned. Cheers to everyone in the North team!

Attitude as a person

Working with Bizom and constantly learning along the way has grown me as a person. Though we always look to grow as a better person, I believe I have become more disciplined (professionally as well as in taking care of my health). This has made me more empathetic with my team as well as with the customers. All kinds of engagement have taught me perseverance and persistence, as well as made me assertive to make decisions. Solving challenges has broadened my horizons and has helped me to visualize things better in general.   

I must say, the ‘Entrepreneurial Acceleration’ that made me join Bizom was all worth it.

Looking forward to more learning and growing at Bizom. 

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Bizom Journeys: Syed Asim

A bit over 6 years ago on the 5th of May, Syed walked into a Bizom different from the one we see today, as a Customer Delight Executive. It’s safe to say that he was unaware of the fact that he had found a second home amongst people crazy enough to change the world!

Be that as it may, the ones that are driven enough to make it need no external motivators (though it certainly helps)! Such has been the case with Syed, who has lived the journey and has gone from Executive to Leader, and even after half a dozen years; is consistently one of the best performers in his team.

Reflecting on the last 6 years at Bizom, he feels that he has always had a clear career path ahead of him from the time he came in. Over the years, he has made himself available to customers at all times while also building a great rapport with people within the organization. He has also donned the hat of a mentor and has shaped plenty of minds in the CCD team. 

When it comes to his involvement in Bizom, Syed has gone to the extent of even sitting with developers and fixing problems right at the grassroots. Today, he knows Bizom like the back of his hand and can understand software problems just by listening to what developers have to say. He credits his leaders for this and goes on to say that he has been able to grow within the organization because he has always had the freedom to experiment, and has known what his professional progression would look like.

This being said, no growth story is complete without a set of challenges faced (and overcome), and it has been no different for Syed. If it isn’t clear enough from the fact that someone from CCD fixed tech problems, challenges were in abundance during his initial days at Bizom. But, like a true-blue Bizom team member, Syed has managed to get past them by successfully implementing the one thing that lies in all of our hearts – Algorithmic Jugaad.

One such instance, Syed recalls, is when our then largest CMRR client required software that would ensure that their employees were marking their attendance at the brand’s outlets. At a time when such software was not available at Bizom, Syed came up with a plan whose beauty lay in its simplicity. He, with the help of his team, simply tracked the user’s location (at the time of marking attendance) to the outlet’s location. As long as both locations came back with the same coordinates, the users were safe. If not, Syed’s team could track the discrepancy and report it to the client. 

The result? Over 5,000 users went live! Well, if that isn’t Algorithmic Jugaad personified!

Syed’s biggest asset has always been his humble nature and the ability to get the job done. He doesn’t in the least hesitate to acknowledge and appreciate his ‘gurus’ – Srinidhi, Sadha, Bhupi, Anoop, Abhishek, Archita, and Lalit for his success at Bizom and (no surprises ahead) is looking to take things up a notch in the next quarter by adding more fuel to the company’s growth! 

If he were to pick the thing he loves most about Bizom, Syed says it’d have to be the organization’s culture and leadership – hands down! He goes on to say that the leadership has a habit of placing trust in their employees and allowing them to learn and grow, while also ensuring that they are encouraged to dream bigger.

Here’s to wishing Syed the best of luck, along with many more years of dreaming, learning, and growing with Bizom!

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Humans of Bizom: Srinidhi Shastry

They say that curiosity, doubled with the will to persevere against all odds, is something that takes people places. Such is the case with one of our very own – Srinidhi Shastry, Head of SME Sales at Mobisy.

A typical introvert hailing from Krimanjeshwara, Udupi, Srinidhi has come full circle by going from the “shy guy”, as he calls it, to the Regional Sales Head for a company that works with over 500 brands! A professional journey for which he wholeheartedly credits his parents, leads & colleagues.

Srinidhi walked into Mobisy in 2013 – a time when the company barely had 20 people. And this too, was at a time when professionals preferred the better-known employers because start-ups were looked at as risky career investments. Initially, neither did he have a great understanding of what a start-up is nor did he know what supply-chain was, but when he read up about them, he was inclined to be a part of both. He recalls how he was overwhelmed by challenges such as the long work hours, clients delaying payments, language barriers (the clients preferred speaking in Hindi), as well as performing multiple functions – all things good or bad, depending on your opinion, that come with working in an early stage start-up.

Just to bring in some perspective, Srinidhi was a part of the team (in 2014) when Bizom’s Monthly Recurring Revenue was roughly 1/1000th of what it is today. The time period also marked the start of digitization when it came to retail and supply chain, and those were certainly some tough times. So much that Srinidhi has even had days where he found himself waiting outside clients’ offices for over 4 hours, just to secure a small deal of Rs. 60,000. Fortunately, that isn’t a problem that exists anymore because the shoe is now on the other foot – clients now ask for Bizom!

Having spent many a late night in office working till 3 AM, Srinidhi also reminisces about the camaraderie shared with his fellow teammates – when they spent the rest of the time playing table tennis and carrom, and eventually sleeping in the office itself.

Brought in for Support & Testing, Srinidhi ensured that he didn’t let his role define him. It is the path that he chose that shaped him into the professional and the leader he is today. Apart from what he was initially brought on for, Srinidhi has actively been a part of Bizom’s product development, Delivery Management, Customer Handling as well as Sales, where he has gone on to be the Regional Head. Today, Srinidhi says that the challenges he faced at Mobisy have enabled him to foresee any slip-ups that might happen and fix things beforehand.

At the same time, leadership is also something that Srinidhi has grown into. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, he believes that growth happens when we surround ourselves with good people – a true Algorithmic Jugaad that Mobisy has always followed. He looks forward to contributing towards making great memories with his team, while at the same time motivating them and positively contributing to their professional development.

His advice to those that are just starting out – To be open to new professional experiences whenever the opportunity arises and have a genuine learning mindset, for growth to follow. At the same time, he says that you may have to accept some tough love that comes your way from customers or even your leaders and colleagues. But taking it in the right spirit will always help.

“Considering that the world around us is changing so quickly, I don’t like making long-term plans but prefer to stay agile”, says Srinidhi when asked about his goals for the future. However, he does add that he would love for his team to grow and come up with amazing things for our SME clients over the next 3-5 years. The icing on the cake for him would be to see his clients go public!

Over the years, Srinidhi has grown with Bizom and has played an integral role in scaling existing teams in the organisation. A modest group of 20+ in 2013 has now become a solid 250+, and the numbers continue to rise. As the Bizom family continues to grow, he hopes to see more such stories arising from youngsters in the organisation.

The Handpicked!

Written by Vibha

I remember the day when someone [one who must not be named 😛] just asked me if I knew what a Catalyst does. The only reply which came to my mind was:

But I obviously had to give a sophisticated answer to that question, so I did just that. To his/her surprise, it turns out – I knew what might be expected from a catalyst – all thanks to Wiki Bizom. That, along with my curiosity to learn about this role as soon as Bhaskar introduced me to then Catalyst Surya (in the Cafeteria on my 2nd Day at Bizom). 

Needless to say, I was already fascinated by this role, but the fact that I had left my last job and changed my career to become a Product Manager made my inner self say – “No Vibha! You can’t afford to get distracted or wooed by any other role or path which you have no idea of.”

So, I decided to do nothing about it and simply let it go to focus on the learning that I came here for in the first place. But every time Lalit would write about a catalyst, I couldn’t help but go back to Wiki Bizom to read the description once again….and again….and again! Why was this role fascinating me so much? The fact that it gives you an opportunity to become a Jack of all trades? Again, my inner self said – “Naaaa…..maybe I am just overthinking. Let it go Vibha!”

Then, one fine day in the middle of the pandemic, I got a call from this fine gentleman [ who shall not be named :D] Who asked me to become a catalyst. To be precise, I was given this option along with some very convincing statements. All in all, it was clear that it will be a great opportunity for me to get to know Mobisy better and the journey might give a kick to my role as a Product Manager.

I took a day or two to give it a thought before I could say yes to this. Little did I know the rollercoaster ride which was about to begin. Not sure if any other catalyst felt this, but I was really scared for 3 months [during Manasa’s tenure] waiting for my tenure to come and what if I end up disappointing the CEO of the company. 

To my surprise, I was not just working with a CEO but a buddy. Those 3 months were a Mentos Zindagi!!!!!!! If you know, you know.

There was just 1 simple rule – THERE WAS NO RULE!

To start this journey, we set some tasks and responsibilities for me. To name a few:

1. An initiative – SFDC migration to Bizom

2. Building a Bizom platform for a Management Persona [the one which was planned but will be taken care of in my current journey] 

3. Organizing The Demo day for Bizom Startup Connect | Cohort #1 

4. Ssssshhhhhhh! – soon to be launched exclusively for the Mobisy Janta! 

To know more about what exactly I did in each task, feel free to reach out to me as I won’t be getting into details of these tasks here. It’s just, there is so much I can talk about all these that I would rather talk about in person than writing.

PS: I don’t want to summarize them… they all have been awesome experiences and apparently I am bad at writing interesting stuff. PRDs aren’t supposed to be interesting so I am doing just fineeee in that area 😀 

To sum up my whole journey…

Yeh Hai Aam Zindagi



Aur Ye Hai Catalyst Zindagi

To Lalit and Nikhil,

I was fortunate to work as a catalyst under your guidance. To work with great minds such as you guys is to experience a journey filled with ideas and execution.

The fact that you both trusted me more than I trusted myself has made my days in Bizom. I am glad this happened. And I am glad that I was chosen. Chosen to be a part of such a journey which leads to becoming more confident and enlightened as a person and a professional.

Thank you!

The longest 6 hours of my life

Edson at his usual exuberant self was imploring us to finish our dinner of pancakes. Geoffrey, our cook, had made pancakes for dinner thinking that those were our favorite. He wanted us to have a full meal before the summit night. But, 5:30 p.m. is a strange time for having dinner especially if you have finished lunch just 3 hours back. We nibbled a bit dutifully. Our small dining tent could barely fit 4 of us. But it was cozy. This was where most of our conversations had taken place over the last 6 days. This was our family Katta!

Asseno is a tall, strong African man. He commands respect when he opens his mouth to speak about climbing Kilimanjaro. He rarely jokes. He is also undoubtedly the best climber in our group. No wonder he was our group leader and main guide. Saidee on other hand was a short affable person. Always cracking jokes, always smiling. As both of them entered the dining tent, Saidee said “Look the shisha gang has reached basecamp, ha ha ha” this was his favorite joke. Every time there was a lot of mist around us, Saidee would say that people were smoking too much shisha !! Asseno was more serious, he started the briefing for summit night “ Guys, if you thought the last few days were tough, those were nothing. Tonight is going to be very very hard. Among the 4 of you, I think Malhar and Anu have the best chance of making the summit. Lalit, about you and Shree, am not so sure about you guys but we will see. It’s not unusual for people to freeze and vomit on summit day. If you get too sick to continue, we will bring you back.”. Saidee tried to lighten the mood “ Guys, climbing Kilimanjaro is mostly in the ‘head’. If you gather enough mental strength, anyone can climb. Any questions?” We mumbled a few silly questions like how many guides we will have. What happens if we take more than 7 hours to climb? Is it a 5-kilometer climb or 6 kilometers and some such? All of those were addressed by Assesso with a simple line like “ we will do what’s best for you. Kilometers do not matter, can you keep yourself from being exhausted and cold is the question.” I could see in his eyes that he was treating us like ignorant kids who had no idea what’s in store for them.

We returned to our tents to catch some sleep before midnight. Just as I was getting in my sleeping bag, Shree coughed “Lalit, I don’t think I will come with you guys” Malhar overheard that in his tent. He went, “Mama, you have to at least try, Let’s start climbing and if then you don’t feel up to it, you can come back a bit at least try it.” A feeble “Ok” later, Shree started snoring. This was something new for me. Shree never snored but 6 days of constant rain, cold, and cough meant that she had started snoring while sleeping.

I lay wide awake. I was feeling guilty. What kind of stupid adventure had I got ourselves into this time? How can I be so insensitive towards Shree and Anu? I should have known they couldn’t handle the cold. Will I be able to make the summit? What if Asseno is right and I am too unfit to climb? How would I face the kids again and tell them to love mountaineering as I do? What can I tell Shree that she gathers enough strength to summit along with me? I tried to sledge her, I said “How can Assesno insult us like this? Who is he to decide if you and I can make a summit or not? We will make it just to show him wrong” It evoked no response from my better half. A big bout of cough later she was fast asleep again.

2 years back, after we had just finished a cycling trip around the Maharashtra coast, Girish had floated this idea of doing Kilimanjaro. Girish is my childhood adventure buddy. We have done numerous (mis)adventures over the last 30 odd years. The first one was when we were both just 13 years old. We rarely believed in preparing / training for our cycling/mountaineering adventures. Most of the time we would just turn up and do it. I remember our first 200km cycle ride done in 45-degree hot sun or a 3-day hike which turned to 5 because we got lost, sick, and almost died. In between, we took a break for almost 10–15 years tending to our respective families and careers but then reignited the old flames in 2019 by repeating a 400km cycling trip we had done as 21-year-olds. After that, we were hungry for the next adventure and Girish suggested Kili. I loved the thought! This was a unique opportunity to climb the highest mountain you can just walk up to !! This was the highest one could reach without learning the technicalities of rock climbing/ice climbing. We decided to do it in Dec 2020. We also decided to train this time. At the ripe age of 41, it was clear that we could no longer just get up and do adventures. The bones were creaking now. 1 year sounded like a good time for prep. I asked Shree if she would be keen to join us. She showed a bit of concern about the cold weather but otherwise jumped on it. I bought books, read everything there was to read about Kili, found a tour guide I thought would work, started training, and then the pandemic happened.

In August 2021, after almost 2 years of the pandemic, it felt like life was just passing us by. Call it impulse, one day I just decided that I was going to Kili in Dec 2021. Whoever could join me would join whoever could not, would not. I was tired of even thinking about the 3rd wave. Fortunately, Shree, Malhar, and Anu agreed to join, and now this Girish&Lalit adventure had turned into a family adventure !!

In spite of all the promises to train hard, August -Dec went with almost no training. In fact, I had gained a few kilos and an uncomfortable paunch. I had also developed chronic knee pain along with my usual back pain. Finally, when we turned up in Moshi Tanzania for a climb for Kili, I was the most unfit I had ever been in my life. After the first couple of days of the hike, I recollected some of my old tricks like getting in a rhythm of walking for long times, dealing with rain and cold better, etc. By today, apart from recurring knee pain, I was actually ok. I was raring to go to the summit and felt extremely confident that I should be able to do it. I was still angry that Asseno did not agree with my assessment though.

“Hello, Papa” Shouted Edson in his deep spooky voice. He had this weird way of saying “Hello” we loved him for that. Also, after the first few days, he started calling us Mama and Papa like Anu and Malhar. That was quite cute. I checked the watch, it was 11:30 p.m. I had wasted 6 precious hours of sleep in over-thinking. I was hoping I will have the strength to stay up all night to make the summit. It sounded even tougher now.

I started changing into Summit day cloths,

  • Knee guard for my dodgy knees
  • 2 socks along with Hiking shoes
  • 4 layers at the bottom (thermal inners, track pants, hiking pants, and waterproof pants)
  • 5 layers on top (thermal inners, 2 t-shirts, fleece, down feather jacket)
  • Hand gloves along with hand warmers
  • 4 layers on the head (Neck Gaiter, cap, balaclava, and hoodie)

While I was getting ready, I tried to nudge Shree to wake up. After a couple of tries, she finally woke up and started getting ready herself. A cup of tea and a couple of biscuits later, we were set to leave. We had 4 guides for the night; 1 for each person. Saidee was leading with Anu, then Mussa with Malhar, Vasco with me, and Asseno with Shree at the end. By the time we left our basecamp at Barafu, it was 1:00 a.m. The temperature felt sub-zero and with windchill, it felt very very cold.

As usual, Saidee picked pace with Anu. Malhar and I followed and we left Shree and Asseno a bit behind. This was our usual routine. Shree totally believed in the “Pole, Pole” (slowly slowly) way of climbing and we could not keep up with it cause at that speed none of us would even warm up so we always went ahead, leaving Shree with the best guide. The first climb started immediately out of the campsite. We had our headlamps on but visibility was still low. I was just following Malhar’s footsteps. I started with my usual method of counting steps. Over years there were many “hacks” I had developed for endurance. The best way is to build a rhythm in breathing. I could achieve that by counting from 1–100 or even singing a song in my head. In our briefings, Saidee would keep emphasizing how it’s important not to think about the summit but just to take it as a “walk in the park”. I tried to compare the summit hike to our hike to Nandi hills. The elevation gain was actually quite similar approx 1.5 kilometers. The only difference was that I was trying to do “Nandi Hills” at an altitude of more than 5000 meters with sub-zero temperatures and extremely windy air. As we kept climbing, the bodies started warming up a bit and walking did get a bit easier. After some time, we seemed to have completed climbing the very first hill. Saidee stopped and asked everyone to drink some water. All the guides gave us fist bumps with a smiling “well done”. It seemed like the first hurdle was behind us. Apparently, at least 10 more such hills lied ahead. The water in our bottles was freezing cold. While I drank some, I could feel it burning through my throat to my stomach. “It’s a sign of dehydration, Papa” informed Malhar. I got further worried but kept quiet. Right at that time, we saw Asseno walk up to us. After congratulating us on the first hill, we asked “Where is Shree?”. “She is too unwell to continue and wanted to return. I agree with her decision. She wants me to help all 3 of you complete the summit. I hope you will fulfill her dream.“ Malhar and I looked at each other. We both realized it’s for the best. For the last 3 days, Shree had been showing signs of severe cough and altitude sickness. She finds it hard to deal with extreme cold as it is. Being unwell and exhausted on top of it was very hard on her. We did not say anything. We hated calling these things like “dream” and all. But Asseno loved to put that pressure. It’s was amazing to see how contrasting our 2 lead guides were. Asseno would say, “Let’s Summit for Shree”. Saidee would say “Think of it like a walk in the park !” I preferred Saidee’s way.

We now had 4 guides among 3 of us. Saidee again set the pace which was not too slow yet not too fast. According to him, we would freeze if we go any slower and would develop altitude sickness if we went any faster. Most of the other guys from basecamp had left at around midnight. We could start seeing their headlamps in the distance now. We were catching up with the slowest among them. Now the speed of walking was unable to keep us warm anymore. The cold was seeping through all our gear. Especially, my face could feel the full brunt of the cold. It’s funny. When I would keep my nose covered by a balaclava or my neck gaiter, breathing would get tougher and my glasses would fog up making it hard for me to see. But if I did not keep my nose or mouth covered, it would get very very cold very fast. Just covering and uncovering my nose kept me busy for some time. Thinking about Nandi hills was not helping anymore. I started thinking about the best times in my life. That’s another thing that works for me when doing endurance adventures. Thinking about random stuff like best moments in life. Lots of them I shared with Shree. Turns out a couple of the first such moments that came to my mind were at least 10 years old! That made me worried again. Was I not enjoying life recently? I started thinking hard about finding happier memories from the recent past. That kept me busy for some time and Saidee stopped again for water and some food. This time we took out our protein bars. But they were frozen in cold and even biting into them was hard work. I just put mine away after a bite. Focussed on drinking a lot of water. I did not want to be dehydrated. Tried to think if I am getting any headaches but decided that I was not. In extreme conditions, I often find it hard to decide which part of my body is in pain because almost everything from toes to the nose was extremely painful. Then I made a cardinal mistake. Took out my phone and checked the time. It was past 3 a.m. Asseno noticed that. “Do not check time” he shouted.” Now you know that we have only climbed for 2 hours and there are 5 more hours to go. That can be extremely disheartening. Henceforth, DO NOT CHECK TIME. Ok?”. I mumbled “ok”. Both Malhar and I again looked at each other. Our guess was that we were anyway going much faster than most. We assumed we are going to the summit in 5–6 hours and not the usual 7 so 2 hours out of that means at least 1/3rd of the hike is done. This is the first time we felt that we are going to make it after all.

We restarted climbing after 2nd break. In between, all our guides would suddenly break into songs. These apparently were Kilimanjaro songs. They were singing to keep our spirits high whereas we just focused on putting one foot ahead of the other again and again. We overtook many familiar faces, people with whom we shared campsites, shared some jokes. There was Steve from LA, Manny from South Africa, and many others whom we only knew by faces. None of us had the energy to share any pleasantries apart from a feeble “hi”. After a while, I could see that Anu was not able to walk straight. Whenever it seemed like she would fall, Malhar would hold her hand. I asked Vasco to stay behind Anu ahead of Malhar. I knew it’s was barely enough that Malhar was taking care of himself. Additionally taking care of Anu was hard on him. Vasco went ahead of Malhar and literally created a railing around Anu with both his hands so Anu could not fall again. These guides in Kilimanjaro are lifesavers. They just keep doing it again and again. Just having Vasco around was not enough. Anu was clearly freezing and exhausted. She just stopped in between and said the dreaded sentence “ I want to go back”. All of us stopped. Saidee was Anu’s best friend on the mountain. He first gave her some water. Then Asseno force-fed some glucose to all 3 of us. Both Asseno and Saidee removed their top jackets and gave them to Malhar and Anu as additional layers. Saidee spoke “Anu, Stella point is only an hour away from here. Do you really want to go back or can you continue?” Anu to her credit said, “yes, I can continue” and then we started again. Fifteen minutes later, Anu again collapsed of exhaustion. We again stopped. Now Malhar was getting jittery. He was freezing due to these frequent stops. I asked Asseno if Malhar could keep walking along with Mussa while we all bring Anu up. Asseno felt that was ok. So Mussa and Malhar started walking again. We again gave Anu some more glucose water, some sweets to eat and got her going again. Now Saidee and Anu were walking together so if Anu collapses somewhere, Saidee is there to hold her. Asseno stayed behind Saidee and Anu. He also asked Vasco and me to proceed ahead of all of them.

I had no clue of the time but I was counting and walking. I was worried about Anu but with both Asseno and Saidee with her, I knew she was safe. In Kilimanjaro, I had created my own distance measurement technique. I decided that my 1 step is approximately 1 foot and whenever I was tired, I would decide that I will walk at least 300 steps before I take a break so that way I would have walked at least 300 feet or 100 meters. I told Vasco that I am going to take a “short break” every 300 steps to drink water and gather my breath before continuing. So now every time I would pause, Vasco himself would say, “Short break, Lalit?”. I kept walking and walking. By now I had lost sensation in my nose. The hands felt frozen, the hand warmers I had put before the beginning of the hike had lost their potency. I was losing balance on simple steps. When you are that exhausted, you just keep losing balance even on a simple step. It’s quite like being extremely drunk. Suddenly I felt someone catching my down-feather from behind. A booming voice of Asseno said, “Walk straight”.” Where is Anu?” I asked. “She is coming” came a mechanical answer. He then started literally pushing me while holding my jacket. I gave an angry look. “Did he not know I was trying my best?” “Did he not know I was exhausted? Did he not realize there is no strength left in my legs to move anymore? What an arrogant prick”. About 10 minutes of this pushing and I saw a bunch of guys sitting around a board that said “Stella Point”. “Ah” I chuckled. That’s why Asseno was pushing me. He must have known Stella point is so close by. From here, Summit is only 300mtrs. I saw Malhar jumping around (I assumed it was to keep himself warm). Around the same time, the first rays of the sun came up. Mussa handed me a cup of hot ginger tea. By the time I finished my ginger tea, we saw Anu walk up. We were thrilled. Especially for Anu. Anu cannot handle cold. Our family joke about temperature is if it’s above Anu degrees or below Anu degrees. Above Anu degrees, there is no one perkier than her. She will be taking pictures, playing pranks, singing, dancing. But as soon temperature drops below Anu degrees, she goes extremely quiet. She will sit in her tent or in a corner without talking with anyone. Just by looking at Anu, we can tell what the weather is. This night was far below Anu degrees and the way she had fought her fears and body composition to climb up to the Stella point was just phenomenal. Cheers and hugs followed along with a lot of Pictures. After a hot cup of ginger tea Anu even took a video of Stella point. “Anu must go down from here” Asseno thundered. “She is too exhausted. It’s another 1 hour to the summit and she cannot do it.” He looked at me, I looked at Anu. I asked, Anu. “ Do you want to continue?” My exhausted brave girl hesitated a bit and said feebly, “yes, why not?”. Then I looked back at Asseno and told him, “You are the leader, it’s your call”. He said, “Nothing doing she is physically unfit to climb ahead”. We sent Anu back to camp along with Saidee and Mussa. Before leaving Saidee said, “ Lalit, from here there are only 2 steep climbs and then you are there on the summit, just go ahead and do it !!”. This was the first time Saidee had spoken about the summit.

Now it was just the 4 of us, Vasco, Malhar, Asseno and Me. I was a bit rejuvenated after the tea so for a minute I started walking briskly. Assenno reminded “Pole, pole”. I was back to counting 100 steps. This time around I realized that my body was so drained that even taking 100 steps was hard. I think I did many 50 steps and breaks before I saw the view I was waiting to see. The Summit point of Uhuru peak. I think I ran the last 30 meters or so. Don’t know where the energy came from. Malhar and I just drowned each other in hugs and we were jumping and shouting and did not know how to express our happiness. I started crying. This was one of the craziest ideas I ever had, the people I love the most stood with me even with such a silly idea and we actually made it. It was by far the hardest thing I had ever done physically. Malhar is an 18-year footballer with great fitness levels. Even for him, it was physically challenging. At the summit it all seemed worthwhile, we felt alive. And I asked myself the same question I ask every time we do a stupid adventure “Why do we do this?” The standard mountaineer’s response is “For the views, dear for the views!!”

From Right: Malhar, Asseno, Vasco and me

P.S:

If you are planning to go to Kilimanjaro don’t miss these 3 simple things

  1. It’s expensive: You must have at least $5000 budget per person including flight tickets
  2. Be extremely fit: While they say standard fitness is ok, it’s a myth. Be as fit as possible so you can deal with weather, altitude, etc other challenges better. I found this to be a good benchmark for any age group.
  3. Stay warm: I underestimated the cold on Kilimanjaro. Don’t do that. If you are thinking about taking that extra fleece, extra woolen socks, extra thermal inners, or extra ski pants, just pack them. Pack everything in dry bags so you do not get your packed clothes wet in the rains.

3 things that make a perfect squad

Over the last year and a half, I got a chance to work very closely with at least 5 squads. Finance, Marketing, Customer Expansion (erstwhile eagle eye), Midmarket hunting(technically it’s a POD/tribe), and Inside Sales. Happy to report that all those squads have done phenomenally well especially after I stopped working with them :-). They have found multiple leaders within the squad and have been consistently meeting/surpassing their goals.


Here is what I learned while working with them in terms of what made a good team / what made squads work well in Bizom

Have a granular weekly plan

People think that big things need time and longer plans (quarterly, yearly, etc). While it is true, if you cannot break these big things in weekly/daily achievable bytes, it’s a failure of leadership.

In marketing we had a daily/weekly content calendar, in inside sales it’s prospecting meetings and in customer expansion, it was the mini-sprint plan. In every successful team I worked with, we had a daily/weekly achievable plan to track progress.

Daily standup (How can I help?)

The weekly plan was followed by daily standup. One of the things I insisted on in daily standups is on “help needed” rather than a status update. While the status update is a good self-tracking tool, the help needed section, helped me as a leader.

Weekly review/ retrospective celebrate the success

In all these squads, weekly once we learned to unwind. This could be an elongated retrospective where you are sharing what you learned (simple format what worked / what did not work). It could even be a game/activity (the finance squad does that well). But weekly once meet as a team and do something outside day-to-day work and share notes with each other. Helps the teams bond better and understand teammates point of view.  

Bonus: Aim high

This sounds obvious but in almost every squad I have been part of, the ambitions I set out initially were ridiculed by the squads as ludicrous. The marketing team told me those kinds of content plans were idiotic, the inside sales team thinks my closure targets are stupid, dev teams told me weekly releases were impossible and mid-market teams told me that 2 closures per month per hunter were not possible. All of them achieved those and more in 3-6 months !! I strongly believed in those ambitions. For me, they were data-driven obvious expected outcomes, and once I was able to instill the same belief in the rest of the squad we automatically achieved those so-called ambitious goals. The trick was to convert those lofty ambitions into daily/weekly plans. So never aim low, aim high and achieve

I have seen most squads elevate themselves organically with some discipline like this.

Lots of love,

Lalit

Learning vs Being Taught

I hated attending class in school, during my undergrad. Even in my jobs I typically just bunked the training sessions. I still managed to do pretty well in school, engineering, and later in jobs. 

It’s not because I am somehow more intelligent(Yuval Harari Argues that all humans are equally smart/dumb). It is just because I love what I learn. It’s just that I do not like anyone teaching me. I prefer to learn on my own by reading, trying, and failing. This way, I think I understand and remember most of what I learn to use it when needed.

I think this deep-rooted notion is why I hate “teaching” but I love “learning”. In classroom teaching, the onus of whether your audience learned anything or not is on “teacher” but in “learning”, the onus is on the student.

We have many mentors in Bizom. Some external subject matter experts like Arvinda, Nats, Sridhar, Sameer, Ashwani, or Dhingraji. We have many internal mentors who are happy to share whatever they know as well. What we can do better though is having the hunger to learn and patience to fail.

For example, in January Apoorv mentioned to me that many people at Bizom do not know how our product works in detail. He also suggested we should have formal training for the same. I was baffled cause for the last 2 years we have run the CCM program with everyone in the organization just for this purpose. So whoever Apoorv was referring to either did not do the program or did not do it seriously enough. For me, this just points to a lack of hunger for learning.

When I started working with the hunting team I realized they were not confident making cold calls / cold WhatsApp contacts. Digging deeper I realized it was just fear of failing or fear of rejection.

If you want to learn, you have to get over your fear of failure and demonstrate hunger by proactively learning from mentors/books/videos whatever works for you.

Learning is a continuous process and I just recently learned more about selling in this awesome Coursera course. I highly recommend sales teams to take the course (it’s free too). Holding powerful meetings, objection handling, asking powerful questions, and storytelling is relevant to everyone outside sales teams as well.

Just remember it’s not someone else’s responsibility to teach you, it’s your responsibility to learn. Hope you enjoy learning as much as I do to keep getting better and better each day.

Lots of love,

Lalit

Bizom Journeys: Manasa KR

At Bizom, we have a concept wherein employees get opportunities to become ‘Catalysts’. Here, the employee is a part of the CEO’s Office for one quarter and will work closely with Lalit, our CEO.

The Catalysts do pretty much everything Lalit is supposed to do tactically or strategically but does not have time, skills, or motivation to do. Ideally, employees that have settled in at Bizom are allowed to apply for the Catalyst position with a Statement Of Purpose that explains why they want to become a Catalyst.

Coming to my experience in the position, since I was a part of our Human Resources team (which is a small team at Bizom), it must have been an application that caught Lalit by surprise. The idea was to view the organization not only from an HR angle but also from a business angle.

When I got started, the most common question people asked me was – “How is your Catalyst tenure going?”, and “How is it to be a Catalyst?” 

Well, here is my answer to all those questions.

About 6 months ago, when Surya was the Catalyst, he reached out and asked me to apply for the role. My instant reply was ‘NO’ because we did not have enough bandwidth in the HR team, especially with the financial year-end activities being just around the corner. But somehow, my name made it on the list and Lalit asked Shalaka, our Head of HR, if the April-May-June (AMJ) quarter worked for us. Due to the financial year-end commitments in the HR team, I could not opt for the AMJ quarter and Shalaka had to talk to Lalit and push this ahead to the July-August-September(JAS) Quarter.

As per the initial plan, the previous Catalyst, Oliviya’s tenure was supposed to end by June 2021. However, it got extended till mid-July. 

Later the same month, Lalit scheduled a call with Shalaka and me to check whether HR has the bandwidth. As Shalaka and I were already planning the move from HR to Catalyst, we decided without a second thought that my Catalyst tenure will begin as planned. 

In hindsight, I feel that this was the best decision I made! And thus on 12th July 2021 began my “Catalyst Tenure at CEO’s Office”.

How was it to be a Catalyst?

My journey as a catalyst can be summarized in 3 phases – Learn -> Unlearn -> Relearn – post-which learning became fun again; Finally!!!

I believe that learning is the only constant thing that can keep oneself both updated and motivated. These three and half months have given me a lot of new learnings and Yes, I did manage to unlearn a lot of outdated things and smartly relearnt the same. We at Bizom believe in Self-learning which is an important part of our culture too. There can be no other Mentor/Guide/Coach than yourself.

What did I do as a Catalyst?

I will not be going in-depth about the tasks handled. But I would like to cherish a few wonderful learnings.

* Working on Fleo – The OKR Tool:

 I am thankful to our Startup Connect program for bringing so many early-stage start-ups with wonderful products to Bizom, Fleo being one of them. Even though Fleo is in an early stage, it has helped us structure our OKRs.The Brainstorming sessions with the Fleo team have been very insightful. I am sure that Fleo will help us track and monitor our Goals.

* Helping brand our Algorithmic Jugaad Culture:

 I was thrilled to collect and read our Algorithmic Jugaad stories. Big thanks to Mohit for giving life to all our Algorithmic Jugaad stories. Hoping to see many more stories going forward.

* Organizing Sales Boot Camps:

It was nice to work with Krishna and Oliviya. Shout out to our sales team for being cooperative and for helping us run this event flawlessly. And hats off to all organizers and volunteers. 

P.S. Thanks to Shree for approving the extra budget 😉 

* Attending Lalit’s Meetings:

 I was part of a couple of Lalit’s meetings. It was a great learning experience, but I feel sad to have missed many of his other meetings.

Gratitude

How can I end without thanking people who were with me throughout my Catalyst tenure? 

Firstly, Thanks to Lalit for allowing me to work as his Catalyst. I would be happy to reapply again.

Many Thanks to Oliviya for the quick KT and for being available always whenever I needed it. 

Thanks to all Department Heads, Team Leads for always making time for me.

Mohit, without your help I could not have accomplished many of my tasks. As usual, I would say that I’d give you 1001 AOB points for this. 

Thanks to all our ex-catalysts – Simran, Apoorv, and Surya for clarifying my doubts.

And finally, thanks to my HR Team, Shalaka and Ojaswini this would not have been possible without your support and love. You both have burnt your midnight oil for these last three and half months. I would like to give my whole appreciation to these two Superwomen. ♥

All the best to Vibha and Abdullah (the next Catalysts). You guys are gonna rock it!!

Algorithmic Jugaad Folklore – Rohan Desai

Written by Rohan

In early 2014-2015, things were very different from the way they are now – there was no JIO, and data was expensive. Android penetration was low, and technology adoption was a challenge. 

Companies had to invest a lot, and that included providing phones to the users. Hence only large organizations (who would invest millions of dollars) adopted solutions.

In those days, we had to focus on SMEs / MSMEs since Bizom was new & we were still in the brand-building process. Driving these SME / MSMEs was a huge challenge since these were largely promoter-driven, and looked at quick ROI instead of investing in tech and then driving value. 

Our focus was to onboard these customers with a small set of users (we didn’t get User Guarantees while we closed) and show them value so that they invest more, and we could onboard more users. 

We realized that our rollouts were extremely slow and hence we were losing revenue due to a low user base even though setups/deployments were done successfully. At the same time, if we didn’t scale up quickly, customers were likely to churn. Hence the main problem was to complete rollouts quickly. 

Now, one of the biggest problems that our customers were facing was slow adoption rates by the users since these companies didn’t have the know-how on driving adoption.

At that time, I handled the Hunting & Customer Relationship part in Mumbai, and Nilesh handled the customer support from Mumbai (we didn’t have a centralized support team then and regions managed the entire onboarding & customer support). 

We had onboarded a client in the food industry and were struggling to drive adoption due to which the customer was on churn risk. We were discussing this issue when Nilesh suggested that we drive this adoption problem ourselves. I agreed, but the important question was – how do we drive it? And more importantly, how do we manage expectations?

We analyzed some data to find out the root cause of complaints since owners came back most of the time saying things like, “Bizom was not working”, and to those, we found the following:

  • “Data not getting uploaded” -> Most of the cases, the internet pack was exhausted and users didn’t know about this. Hence there were complaints of Bizom not working
  • “Beat is not visible” -> In these cases, the data shared by the manager was wrong
  • “Users can use Bizom & enter data” -> The knowledge issue was on using Bizom

There was a common trend, and we realized that most of these issues were unrelated to Bizom and could be solved easily. The problem was that these issues weren’t proactively reported, and at the end of the month, promoters saw just the usage. When this happened, managers said that the problem was that “Bizom doesn’t work.”

Nilesh and I thought of changing the support model and making it proactive by calling users since this issue seemed simple to solve. We decided to drive adoption ourselves, and in turn push for more users to roll out and get some additional revenue for this service. 

At that time, I was interacting with a few consulting firms & found their pricing model was KRA-driven. I thought it would be easy for us to go to the Customer and sell this as a KRA-driven service. So, we jotted down the KRAs that would help manage customer expectations, improve adoption, and also those that are easy to execute to get more revenue. We came up with parameters such as:

  • Geotagged Outlets in a beat / Universe tagged
  • Attendance 
  • PJP Adherence
  • TC per day
  • Time in market 

I created the pricing with a base price to drive 100 users & additional incentives basis KRA achievement for slabs 70% -120% & got it approved internally. 

We wanted a good name for this service. We checked with different people, and finally, with help of Shree’s suggestion we named it – “Evangelization Service.”

We went to the aforementioned client and got them to agree on this pricing. Nilesh drove this service brilliantly, and we not only saved the account from churn but increased the MRR to 50k in 4 months (50k was huge in those days 🙂 ). We did this for many more accounts after making minor refinements. That gave us an edge over the competition as well.

(Check out the video –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlN_Z5lBJ5A)

Today, Evangelization Service continues to be used and is a standard model followed as a part of onboarding. The seed we had sown in 2016 has, somewhere along the line, made us realize that “Adoption is key” as a part of customer execution is a key matrix / KRA for Sales & Customer Delight.

Algorithmic Jugaad Folklore – West Sales Team

Written by Smitesh Save

It was towards the end of 2015 when we had a new implementation for a client in the commodity vertical. Things went well, and we kicked off with the implementation, setup, masters collections, etc. However, for enterprise clients or those of a new vertical, it’s never too straightforward. 

A few days before the go-live was scheduled to take place, the Sales Head had a new requirement. The requirement meant that the field team would have to take orders in kilograms and units. While we were well aware that Bizom never supported the ‘kg’ unit, the client was particular about it and wasn’t comfortable going ahead without it.

For a business like Bizom, not going live for a long period is a huge risk, and in such an outcome, we stand to lose clients. What’s worse is that word gets around quickly, and the business also tends to get a negative image in the industry.

Coming back to the matter at hand, we now needed to develop support for the kilogram unit in a very short period. It, of course, required all hands on deck, and we began to brainstorm. Upon doing so, we found a few key points that played a crucial role in our next steps:

  1. Usage of Case for conversion of units to kilograms
  2. Challenges and impact of using case
  3. Our Go-Live plan
  4. Our Phase 2 DMS Go-Live

Using these points as a frame of reference for what we needed to work on, we had our work cut out for us. Eventually, we came up with a few solutions to help the users. 

We used cases to add in the quantity with case conversion into the kilogram unit, but of course, it wasn’t to be that easy. This option would only serve as a solution for values above 1kg. Not only was this a problem, but to have to explain this to the client without a solution was another challenge.

We instinctively decided to train users to punch in orders in kilograms only for SKUs above 1kg, while the other SKUs would be in units. We then trained MIS to properly maintain the product master.

Finally, upon researching how orders work in commodities, we were ready with our configuration. We had a plan of what could be sustainably supported, and what couldn’t be. We also had a solid plan of how we were going to present this to our client.

In the final demo session with the client, we explained to them in detail how things would work, and how this would help the users. Orders for SKUs with heavier products would be supplied in kilograms, while orders for SKUs with light products (such as pouches, sachets, etc.) would be delivered in packets or boxes. Things went well for us, with the client giving us the thumbs up for our Go-Live. 

However, this was not the end, as we also had the Go-Live for their DMS. The same workaround, if used, could lead to a mess in transactional data. But now that the client was out of churn risk, we took the time to do our research, figured out the business use, and worked on development and execution plans, and how to customize it to Bizom. I would say that this was our ‘Algorithm’ in Algorithmic Jugaad.

After multiple discussions, we rolled out features wherein Bizom could support the kilogram unit, and also other units like the liter. Ever since then, these have been available in all transactions and configuration schemes.

Underdogs: Step Up

In a professional career, we are often put in situations that are far too challenging for us to cope up with. Our skills and experiences are nowhere near enough for coping up with situations. These are exactly the times for us to grow up and be noticed on global stages. When everyone and everything around you fails, it gives underdogs the opportunity to showcase to the world what they are made of and create new legends! Let me tell you a story you possibly already know.

The year was 2002, I was in the UK first hand experiencing an Indian cricket team’s tour of England named “Indian Summer” by British media. The tour started with a one-day tri-series between India, Sri Lanka, and England. After a few boring group matches came the final between England and India. India was expected to win the match easily but England batted first and put up above par score of ~325 at more than 6 runs an over. In 2002, anything beyond 300 was considered an absolutely winning score. 

At the halftime mark, no one gave India a chance. During the Indian batting, Sehwag and Ganguly scored 100 odd runs quickly in less than 15 overs to make us believe India could win. Then followed the familiar collapse. India lost 5 wickets including those of Ganguly, Sehwag, Tendulkar, and Dravid for 30 odd runs in the next 10 overs. We all lost hope, switched off our TVs, and got back to our work. But it was not done yet, a young wiry player from Kanpur called Mohammed Kaif was at the crease with Yuvraj Singh. 

At that time Kaif was known more for his fielding than his batting. Kaif steered the innings to victory with composure and self-confidence far beyond his experience. This was also the match when Ganguly went shirtless on the Balcony of Lord’s. I remember one instance of the match vividly. Yuvraj Singh was hitting boundaries for fun and Kaif was more measured and was rotating the strike with singles. At one point Kaif played a couple of dot balls. Yuvraj as a senior player came up the crease animated and told Kaif to just tap the ball and take a single. Kaif sent the next ball for Six as if to tell Yuvraj and the world that he is in the team as a batsman due to his talent and no one can treat him like a “junior”. 

Do watch the highlights here. That win ensured Kaif’s place in the Indian ODI team at least for 2-3 years to follow. 

The irony is that Kaif would have never gotten a chance to do such heroic stuff if top-order Indian batsmen would have done their job in that match to take us closer to victory. We remember Kaif because more celebrated batsmen failed so miserably, giving almost a Mission Impossible to a young inexperienced lower-order batsman. The reason why Kaif is such a hero is that odds were stacked against him so much.

Coming back to Bizom – I have seen many such challenging situations. Important feature releases and deadlines in R&D, important closures and go-lives in sales, enterprise onboarding in CCD, audits in finance, events in marketing, and so on. There are times when our more experienced heroes are not able to contribute due to some or other issues. Every time such a thing happens, more often than not, we have had a “Kaif” (in other words – a young rookie) standing up to make the team win and thus birthing a new hero at Bizom.

A large reason for that, I would say, is the way we operate. We believe in making entrepreneurial hires. Fundamentally, these are people who come in and hit the ground running. They’re capable of taking charge of their responsibilities from day one and go above and beyond their role descriptions without the need for handholding or constant reminders. (To know more on what exactly we look for at Bizom, I think this job posting that I had written does justice)

We also believe in challenging our people, especially our youngsters, with tasks that professionals with their experience wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to work on. What this essentially does, is that it propels the rate at which these young professionals learn, and at the same time teaches them how to handle such situations with ease as they go further in their careers.

Not to mention, it also prepares them for leadership positions earlier in their careers. Case in point? Many of the leaders at Bizom, such as Debayan Das, Shalaka Kothawle, and Noman Waghu (to name a few) are some of our very young leaders.

Part of growing up in a career and stepping up in a team is to take every such crisis as an opportunity to showcase your talents and skills to the world and make your team win! Will you take the next opportunity?

Lots of love,

Lalit

12th Oct 2021