‘I believe it is the duty of every start-up to scale’

Ambareesh Murthy, CEO, Pepperfry

An avid trekker who enjoys the journey as much as the destination,Ambareesh Murthy, CEO, Pepperfry, carries that philosophy in his start-up, online furniture marketplace Pepperfry too, which is known for its intense work culture. An engineer and an MBA from IIM-C who conventionally joined the corporate world with stints at Cadbury, ICICI Prudential and Britannia, before jumping headlong into dotcom joining eBay, he broke new ground with Pepperfry which he founded with Ashish Shah in 2012. His take on:

Qualities an entrepreneur needs to strike out on his own

First is to have belief in oneself. However, this belief needs to be accompanied by a healthy dose of paranoia that there might be a better business, a better way of doing things and so on. Second is one needs to be an eternal romantic and see the good in people. That’s something that not all of us have. It’s an important criterion while building a business to believe that people fundamentally want to do good things. Third thing is you should have failed early in life. If I had got thousand rupees for every failure I had, I would be a millionaire today!

Practices that an entrepreneur needs to follow in order to achieve success

Get to work early. I am a big fan of this. In the amount of time I get alone in office in advance of everybody else I get a lot of work done. Change one’s mind often. It’s okay to change your mind, and it is a good thing if you change your mind often. So we start off making a decision but as we learn new things, new facts, it dawns that perhaps the decision we made is not correct, so it’s good if you keep a flexible mind.

The imperative for an intense work culture and its impact on work-life balance

Both are not necessarily mutually exclusive. You have to look at the context of our organisation. The typical start-up person and start-up employee has a high sense of pride in the organisation and wants to create a legacy, perhaps create thousands of jobs. You keep wanting to continuously do better. There is no division between work and life. I believe it is the duty of every start-up to scale. It’s not that I don’t take breaks. I go on treks.

Where disruption is coming from in his vertical

I am hoping we will be ones to disrupt ourselves. 3D and gamification in merchandising is changing our business. It will give the customer far more control over choices.

A management book he would recommend

A lot of management learning comes from books that have nothing to do with management. There is a book called Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, an epic fantasy fiction. The take-outs from the book are related to every aspect of management. For instance, how the journey is as important as destination.Setting basic goals, etc. I quote from the book often.

Key learnings from MBA years

You get used to the idea of working with really smart people as you are surrounded by them at the campus. You get used to a certain rhythm, a certain level of discussion and projects that test you a lot. I have carried forward some great friendships from my MBA days.

Published on June 19, 2019

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