Tete-a-tete with the man behind SLI – Saurabh Saha

Mr. Saurabh Saha is a product professional with close to a decade’s experience in product development,product management,project management and entrepreneurship. He has been a part of the startup ecosystem for close to a decade in intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial roles.He also heads the entrepreneurship and innovation cell for SLI a think tank on Sustainability that operates across India and Europe.

1.From a senior software engineer, how you thought for going into entrepreneurship?

Well to be very frank when I stepped into engineering I was absolutely clueless about the technology world let alone entrepreneurship. Though I did have computer science as a subject in school I wasn’t quite exposed to the world of technology and the business of technology. However there was always an urge to do something different. It was during my professional years I discovered I had some leadership traits and a bent of mind hinging on curiosity. At the same time I had reasonably good communication and business skills. I understood the technology market quite well. It was only after a decade when I could no longer work at a corporate setup and felt suffocated that I decided to take the plunge. Since then every day has been a learning experience.

2.How has been your experience as a head of entrepreneurship and innovation at sustainable leadership movement? What has been your role for the same?

Well SLI happened out of serendipity. I shared a flight with Aleksander Protic once from Boston to Paris and we talked a lot about India and by the time we reached Paris we struck a friendship. Alex in turn introduced me to Umesh Mukhi who is a doctoral student at Audencia Nantes and who wanted to materialise an event dedicated to sustainability in India. Since it was again something that I believed in I joined the movement that Umesh had started and helped get eminent speakers from across the nation and also helped design the program for close to 6 months. Luckily for us the Sustainable Leadership Summit that happened in Mumbai last March turned out to be a huge success and we had active participation from media, academia and industry that came together on a common platform to discuss issues related to sustainability per se. After that I decided to handle the entrepreneurship and innovation cell for SLI (Sustainable Leadership Initiative) a think tank we created right after the summit and we are into organising workshops for Universities, Colleges and Corporates for training people on various aspects of sustainability. Apart from me our team comprises of Umesh Mukhi who is based out of Paris, Tiago Ferreira Lopes based out of Finland, Sameer Nawani based out of Mumbai. All four of us handle different issues as we have specialisation in different areas and take care of SLI leveraging on our competencies.

3.What is turisys and how it will help the next generation? What is its business and revenue model?

Turisys is my startup, which I launched in the year 2013. I created the startup to use disruptive innovation to the fullest and develop revolutionary products that could change the way market works. Well after lots of failures and pivots finally we are launching our first product Talentpeg a first of its kind Job Search Engine that has a high chance of being a first mover in the recruitment space. We will use a SAAS based model and charge for monthly subscriptions which again would be segmented into different price segments depending on recruiter demands comprising of posting jobs, finding candidates etc.

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4.How have you funded your venture and what’s your future plan to raise capital?

We have bootstrapped till date burning our own savings and we might continue doing the same till we start making revenue. As far as raising capital is concerned that is always at the back of our mind and we might wish to raise capital when we have some expansion plans going ahead.

5.What’s your future plan for turisys?

As of now we have touched recruitment space but I wish to touch every space possible and use mobile, social, cloud and IOT to deliver innovative products in different spaces which will eventually happen as we scale up and achieve some amount of stability.

6.You have worked as a senior software engineer. How it has helped for you in your current start up?

Well I am quite passionate about technology and equally passionate about the business of technology. Since I was at the helm of business and technology in my corporate experience I understood the product market quite well. At the same time since I was a developer for close to 6 years I know the intricacies of product engineering which helps me in my current startup whenever we are about to make a technology based decision. But yeah since I am handling product and business and my co-founder manages the technology arm of the product I focus less on technology as of now but more on the product and how we can build a sustainable business on top of it.

7.You have taken many guest lectures including many reputed B-schools. Can you please share some of your memorable moments? What is the motto behind that? (I was fortunate to listen to you during your guest lecture at IIM Kozhikode and I enjoyed it a lot)

I have taken many guest lectures at various B-Schools and Technology schools across the nation and its a pleasure every single time to interact with students and listen to what they have to say about different things related to careers, entrepreneurship, technology, management etc. I love the enthusiasm and the adrenaline rush. Reminds me of the time when I was a 22-year-old guy with big dreams and I’ll conquer everything’ kinda attitude. It makes me nostalgic.

8.You are recently selected for Stanford Ignite program. What’s learning objective for that?

Well that was a surprise as I had applied for the program earlier and got busy with my stuff so it slipped out of my mind. Recently I went to Jaipur for conducting a startup workshop where I got the news that I was selected to attend this year’s program slated to take place this March. Well I have spoken to people who have attended the program earlier and they seem to praise the program and so I am looking forward to being a part of it. At the same time since I am running my own startup it would make more sense as I delve deep into learning things that I would be able to relate to in real time and apply it while building my startup.

9.What will be your advice for all the budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t think. Just take the plunge. There is never a perfect time to startup.

10.What’s your comment on “Things you shouldn’t do for your start up”?

Don’t procrastinate on developing an MVP out of your idea. If you have an idea try to figure out how you can create a working prototype in shortest possible time and in the process discover your co-founder and your team. The most important thing while building a startup is execution and which is what separates a successful company from the lesser successful ones. The Apple or Google that you see today all started from a small garage based setup and were able to execute on their product idea quite effectively with the help of an able team and persist despite of several failures. Its actually quite important to fail a couple of times before you pivot our product idea to a state where you get it right. Always keep in mind the fact that no matter how good your product is, it won’t sell unless there is a lingering demand for such a product. Listen to the customer carefully because you get to understand a lot if you patiently listen and observe. End of the day its all about filling in a gap that really exists and delivering a product that can fill it up quickly before someone else does.

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Tete-a-tete with the man behind SLI – Saurabh Saha

by Dushyant Bheda time to read: 7 min
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