Rahul Yadav, CEO of fledging real estate startup Housing.com, has been surrounded by controversies over past few weeks. Earlier today he did a AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. Many people were looking forward to this AMA as many were expecting it to be as controversial as the previous ones.
However, in our assessment, Rahul Yadav seemed quite toned down and surprising calm and yet brutally honest in answering some pointed questions about earlier controversies. We bring you some selected questions and answers that give you a peek into his thought process.
Question: What are the 3 most important things that contribute towards a startups’ success in the Indian startup ecosystem?
Rahul Yadav: I think currently it is:
- Validated and copied idea from another market
What I think it should actually be:
- Solving Indian people’s problem
- Great product and innovation.
- Great teams and culture.
Question: What was the deal with Sequoia Capital? For science, Can you tell us what ‘other bad things’ were you referring to in your email to the VC?
Rahul Yadav: We decided a slided deal between 10-15% (depending on performance)for 1mn$. After 2 months of due diligence, when they realised we were running out money, they said they want to do a flat equity deal. I said ‘Okay. Let’s do it at 12.5%. They said 14.75%. When I requested more, they said “Let’s not waste each others’ time.” We were left with no option.
I came to know they have done it with lots of other ventures (TFS, Ola, Dexetra, LetsBuy..)
So to cut it short, I think they’re culturally a very cutthroat VC and sometimes I think that’s why they’re more successful than others. But I still condemn their practises because I feel they’re inhuman and for me, people are the ‘why’ for everything I do.
Question: Hi Rahul, couple of questions.
- Don’t you feel that your efforts should be more concrete in building an image that is fitting of a CEO of a growing organization instead of indulging in unnecessary shenanigans?
- Since when did abusive language become a part of corporate communications?
- I think whatever issues I have raised are very important for the Indian startup ecosystem.
- The way boundaries between emails and chats are fading, I see professional diplomacy and frank conversations merging together. That’s the future of conversation: quick and efficient
Question: With due respect to your achievements, do you think you actions are going to be harmful for young entrepreneurs as VC’s might now believe young Indians can’t handle success.
Rahul Yadav: I think the market should wait before passing a judgment on whether I am helpful or harmful for the young entrepreneurs.
Question: Hi Rahul Are you afraid of anything or Do You think what others think or write about you?
Rahul Yadav: Perception matters and does have impact on your success but i think i can handle all these things smoothly. So not really afraid.
Question: how about some tips for entrepreneurs on self-promotion, pitching to VCs and the right way to do PR?
Rahul Yadav: Be Obsessed about solving the problem, Work hard and Be Optimistic. Surround yourself with great people, rest is just a cake walk. VCs, PR etc will automatically follow if you are doing good.
Question: What made you ask Bhavish of Ola and Deepinder of Zomato to ask them to allot half of their shares to employees
Rahul Yadav: Success of a venture is a team work. Although all startups give ESOPs to their employees but the problem is it’s not PROPORTIONAL to the value creation. Value is being created at x rate and is being given to the employees at y rate. x not being equal/proportional to y is the real issue. So these two names came up in my mind and I just nominated them.
Question: hey rahul, do you think that you own the world? your arrogance and attitude shows that you are the only savior left in the world and without you the world of housing was dying?
Rahul Yadav: Even the US market players (zillow, trulia etc) have not really solved the problem. Yes we do think that we are the best bet to solve this problem. Arrogance and attitude comes when people poke and distract us from solving this problem.
Question: Hey Rahul, I have a couple of questions for you:
- Do you think your actions are distracting for your employees?
- Do you think startups in India are currently overvalued? Do you think it is indicative of a bubble? How long do you see these valuations lasting?
- Yes, it is distracting. But it’s actually fun if it’s there only for a few weeks. Beyond that, it’s really distracting and does not help.
- Indian market is an elephant. It’s gonna run/grow slowly. People/companies with patience over a period of 5-10 years will be able to leverage the opportunity. Companies which will survive in this period, for them the current valuations are nothing, given the opportunity size.
Question: Great work for sticking it up to the investors. Do you think investors your back your next startup after all the controversies?
Rahul Yadav: I think they will but it really doesn’t matter.
Question: Did you pick yourself as the CEO amongst the 12 co-founders ? Or they unanimously picked you as CEO ?
Rahul Yadav: I was the class representative and institute secretary, so things just got carried from there :)
Question: Hi Rahul, Why did you decide to drop out of IITB in your final year?
Rahul Yadav: I think I mentally dropped out of IIT in 2nd year. Physically in my 4th year. And on papers, I think I’m still an IITB student. :)
Question: What you would be doing, if you have left Housing.com ?
Rahul Yadav: Never thought about it. But I love animation and visual effects and wanted to pursue it from Vancouver Film School but couldn’t afford their high fees at the time.
Question: Hi Rahul, Why do you claim to have beaten Common Floor and Magicbricks based on site visits and app downloads? Aren’t they bullshit metrics?
Rahul Yadav: Yes I believe these are really bullshit metrics. But the market (brokers, builders, investors, media) somehow cares about all these things. And perception matters. So unfortunately, we have to play by THIS (India) market’s rules.
Question: You’ve mentioned that there are very few Indian start-ups that have your respect. Which are a few of these?
Rahul Yadav: Flipkart, for maintaining relative quality (in product, service and culture)
Question: In another comment you mentioned that you detest how most start-ups are validated and copied ideas. Isn’t flipkart one too?
Rahul Yadav: They have earned respect in terms of implementation and execution and not because of the idea.
Question: Hey Rahul, Just wanted to know your opinion on Myntra going app only and shutting down their website. Do you think its a wise decision and why? Would you recommend new startups to focus more on their site or app?
Rahul Yadav: Key people’s focus in the company is very important, so its great that they have decided to go app only. Thumbs up for their bold decision.
Question: Hi Rahul, I am 26 years old engineer and people like you have made lives of likes of ours a living hell. Every single time your name comes up i am told by my family “Arre us rahul ko dekho.. he Is a crorepati at your age”. Could you please tell me what should i reply to them???
Rahul Yadav: Tell them, he’s not anymore!
- Why Indian companies hardly allow remote?
- Why Indian companies hardly contribute to open source?
- Does Housing.com has any policy for employees to contribute back to OSS, say for 5 hours in a week?
- Indian startups/companies are always stereotyped as having bad security practises. I have read about Ola and Freecharge on this sub. So what do you say about this? Do Indian companies really ignore security practises?
- Why Indian companies don’t have bug bounty programme? Does Housing.com has one? If not, why?
- What do I do, to improve hacker culture in India?
- Which is your fav programming language and why?
- What are your favorite books? and which book you read recently?
- Work ethics in India is a big issue. I like how professionally Americans work. There’re issues with employers and also with employees. It’s an ecosystem problem.
- We Indians do not have the luxury. We are always working hard to have the basic things for ourselves. The same is true for the Indian companies as well.
- Our tech team has complete freedom and they have their own culture as well. And they actively do contribute from time to time. One of our co-founders, Neeraj Bhunwal sleeps, eats and breathes open source!
- Indian companies are built in hurry to capture the market. So some critical pieces are often missed out.
- I’m unaware of other companies, but yes we do. We had a very active programme just last month.
- I’ll talk to Neeraj (our co-founder) and get back to you.
- I was just a front end coder and loved JS.
- I have never read any book in my life (except the course books, and that too rarely)
Question: Do you still code?
Rahul Yadav: No, Left almost three years back.
To be honest, we were quite underwhelmed with this AMA – There were no firecrackers or burst of emotion or even rash answers…Was this an attempt to revamp his image?
What do you think?
You can check our the complete Reddit AMA here."Rahul Yadav's Reddit AMA Gives A Peek Into His Thought Process",