Emerging Entrepreneurs

What hiring the right leaders can do for the growing start-up

Jessu John | Updated on January 13, 2018

Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn.com

Edu-tech Simplilearn sees better success rates with a ’strong management team in place

This column has attempted to take a closer look at automation in the edu-tech sector to how prepared India is for the transformation machine intelligence will bring, from keeping ‘lean’ while doing ‘social good’ to growing both offline and online sides of the business in a balanced manner. The successes of some edu-tech names can encourage and inspire any of the country’s entrepreneurs. However, can good business acumen without a knack for building strong teams be beneficial in the longer term?

Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn, says, “A philosophy that Simplilearn has followed... if you look at our management team in India... we’ve hired very strong profiles.”

Team muscle

It’s fair to say that investors are wising up on start-ups in India and VC funds have become careful. But if Simplilearn has managed one of the strongest success stories around, is this only because it had no trouble finding funds at the right times?

The company has taken the acquisition route for growth, thanks to which it formally entered the enterprise segment and firming up its foothold in the US. After Simplilearn acquired Market Motive in 2015, the acquired brand too has a place in the consumer segment worldwide. What’s clear, though, is that Kumar didn’t think ‘markets’ and ‘expansion’ without thinking ‘leadership teams’ and ‘long term’.

Speaking of a couple of his hiring decisions, Kumar says, “Someone to head my enterprise business in North America who has experience building such enterprise businesses in the past for many other companies... (and) a Chief Marketing Officer based out of the US who heads our marketing operations across the globe.”

Concrete outcomes

With a strong management team in place, Kumar is able to “spend more time and energy on accelerating growth through new business opportunities that are in tandem with the company’s mid-long term goals.” He says Simplilearn will continue to expand its impact in markets such as EMEA and APAC, while staying strong in India and the US. With popular start-up names either shutting down or admitting they took an unhelpful turn in recent weeks and months, it’s worth asking if start-ups that focus on strong organisations are seeing better success rates.

While VC firms have always claimed the leadership or founding team is a key factor for their investment decisions, has weak decision-making from investors too led to some of these ‘failure’ stories? Are start-ups that are consistently strong on fundamentals – even astute organisation building – the ones receiving further rounds of funding? Can these collective errors be corrected in the shorter to medium term?

Published on March 06, 2017

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