Neil Patel

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Swapnil Shinde and his twin brother are now on their third startup venture. Their first two companies were both successfully acquired. Including one by AMEX. Their venture, Zeni has acquired funding from top-tier investors like Elevation Capital, Sierra Ventures, Amit Singhal, and Neeraj Arora.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Making fundraising simple
  • Why raise outside capital when you don’t need the money
  • Swapnil’s top three tips for building a team and who to hire
  • Top-down versus bottom-up hiring


For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

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Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

About Swapnil Shinde:

Swapnil Shinde is the CEO and Co-founder at Mezi, an AI-powered personal travel assistant. He previously co-founded Dhingana, a music startup that was acquired by Rdio. At Rdio, he served as the VP of Product for international markets. Prior to working at Rdio and Dhingana, he worked at Yahoo as a Senior Product Manager, leading the overall vision for Yahoo’s web performance optimization products. He received a Bachelor’s of Engineering from the College of Engineering Pune and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California.

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Connect with Swapnil Shinde:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro: Alrighty. Hello everyone, and welcome to the DealMakers show. Today is one of those episodes that is probably the first one that I’m going to do where we’re talking about identical twin brothers doing everything together at the same time, and you name it. This story is mind-blowing. Before actually going into it, just for those of you that haven’t see it, last week, my latest book came out called Selling Your Startup. Over 20 founders that have sold their companies for over $500 million each and over a billion are getting behind it. It’s a roadmap to help you understand how you get to the exit, to that end goal, to the finish line, and I don’t think this book is for people that are already thinking about the M&A process because the way that you think about the beginning needs to also come with the end, especially when you’re thinking about raising money. Money-in comes with expectations of money-out with returns. So that’s the purpose of this book, which is to really take you through that journey. When I got my last company acquired, and I was trying to get educated, nothing was really out there to guide me in that process, so this is a tool and guide to help you in that regard. Selling Your Startup is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere else that you want.

With that being said, today’s guest, I find, is going to be an incredible conversation. He’s been there; he’s done it multiple times: build, scale, finance, got his companies acquired, you name it. So without further ado, let’s welcome our guest today. Swapnil Shinde, welcome to the show.

Swapnil Shinde: Thank you so much. I’m super excited to be here.

Alejandro: You’re originally from India, from Pune. Is that right?

Swapnil Shinde: Yes. We were born in Pune. Then we were raised up in [3:04] and did our schooling from there. Then we came back to Pune to do our Bachelors in computer science.

Alejandro: I’m sure where you were born, you and your identical twin brother were like the most popular people in town. I’m sure there were not a lot of identical twins there.

Swapnil Shinde: Yes, I think twins always have the advantage of getting noticed easily. I think that comes as a part of being twins. You get some attention automatically.

Alejandro: Tell me the truth. Did you guys swap each other for taking exams back in high school, or going on dates, or stuff like that, or not?

Swapnil Shinde: [Laughter]. Definitely, not going on dates, but we did some areas of his manager saw me walking around the campus, and she was shocked. She was like, “You are supposed to be in the meeting right now. There are ten people in that meeting, and you’re roaming outside.” I was like, “I’m not Snehal. I’m his identical twin brother, Swapnil.” [Laughter]

Alejandro: That’s amazing. In your case, the two of you got into computer science. What do you think triggered that because I know that there in India, the culture really pushes you for education and for getting a top degree? But in this case, it was the two of you following the same course, the same path. So why computer science out of all things?

Swapnil Shinde: I think the credit goes to our mom, who was into computers. When we were growing up, she ran her own computer academy. She knew 20 to 25 languages, so we started playing with computers in the 5th or 6th grade. I still remember that when we were in the 6th grade, we wrote our first program and built a game to entertain ourselves. So that is where our love for programming really started, and it just kept building from there.

Alejandro: Let’s talk about when right after getting the degree, you land in IBM. What was that process of being in an American company, but in a company that would lead you and be your segue into coming here to the U.S. as well, so tell us about that?

Swapnil Shinde: Both of us graduated from a very famous college in Pune called Burla College of Engineering. I think the students there were very sought after by all of these big companies who had big offices in Pune and other parts of India. So they came for the campus interviews to our college, and I was one of the ten people who were selected, and that is how I ended up in IBM. It was a big brand at that time and had a lot all around it, so we were all excited to be working at IBM Software Labs.

Alejandro: One thing that is really remarkable out of the story that we’re going to go through is that you and your twin brother went through the same thing, worked for the same companies at the same time, built the same companies at the same time, everything together. What do you think was the trigger of the two of you having such a special bond?

Swapnil Shinde: I think Snehal just keeps following me. I don’t know what to do about it. [Laughter]

Alejandro: That’s amazing. It’s amazing because, as I was sharing with you, I have twin daughters, too, and they’re identical, as well, and it’s super strange because if one gets sick, then the other one gets sick. If one gets a cavity on one side of the mouth, the other one gets the exact same cavity in the same location.

Swapnil Shinde: Wow!

Alejandro: It’s mind-blowing! What was that for you guys? Did you experience some crazy stuff like that, or what do you think developed, Swapnil?

Swapnil Shinde: I do believe there is that invisible bond genetically between twins like both of our personalities, to some extent, are similar. We are good at the same things. We have the same, I would say, choices and likings and inclinations. Both of us love to paint because our mom was an artist, so we started painting at the age of three or four. So even until today, we do paintings and sketches and stuff like that. We like the same sports. We are both equally strong, and both of us took product roles. I think even in our startups, you can interchange our roles, and nothing will go wrong. We are similar to each other when it comes to our personalities. The only difference is that maybe I smile a lot more than he does. [Laughter]

Alejandro: My twin girls, for example, are very similar but also very different when it comes to personalities. One is more outgoing, the bigger character. The other one is higher emotional, like you. I think in your guys’ case, how would you say that you were different personality-wise, or why do you think that you blend so well together and make such a good team?

Swapnil Shinde: We complement each other when it comes to our skill sets. If you look at our personalities, our mom used to always tell us that I was the naughty one and Snehal was the more sincere one. I always had this easy-go attitude, whereas Snehal used to take things more seriously. Even in our studies, he used to sometimes be a bit more stressed than I was, and I was always taking it easy. But, yeah, apart from that, when it comes to our skill sets, it’s like the way we build all of these key startups is that we widen the rules. If I’m looking at something, Snehal doesn’t need to worry about it. And similarly, if he’s looking into something, I don’t need to worry about it. I think that is huge because that’s co-founders. You can balance the weight on both sides and can run faster.

Alejandro: In your case, you went to do your degree in Southern California. Then after that, you did a bit of jumping from—you started at IBM, then you went to Symantec, and then you ended up in Yahoo, and Yahoo was like the lead way for you guys to start your first company together. Can you tell us, what was the sequence of events that helped in bringing that first initiative to life?

Swapnil Shinde: After USC, both of us were at Symantec, Norton Antivirus. We were there for almost three years. We always knew that we wanted to build a startup, and building a startup in the best location was Silicon Valley. We wanted to move to Silicon Valley so that we could meet up with the right folks and be in the community that is teeming with startups. Snehal initially found a job at Yahoo. Then he moved to Yahoo. He worked there for six months. He loved it, and he referred me to another opportunity. Then I got interviewed, and I got into Yahoo as well. But Yahoo, as a company, used to prefer people joining them who used to have some entrepreneur mindset, who used to work on projects, side projects during the weekends, etc. So that worked in our favor when joining Yahoo. But that is where, for the first time, we saw what scale was. I was driving the vision for web performers’ optimization products, and we were building tools that would render the pages in less than one second. The scale that we were building these tools for was more than 100 million consumers. Snehal was on driving product management for a lot of Yahoo properties like Yahoo movies, Yahoo News, Yahoo FrontPage, etc. If you look at our skill sets, they were very complimentary and were focused on building platforms that could scale to more than 100 million consumers. And then how you personalize it, that skill how you build a product that can morph itself into something that the consumer really wants, loves, and engages with. Yahoo gets all the credit for giving us that experience and that tech know-how. We then used that to build. We chose like Spotify for Indian music. We scaled it immensely to almost, I think, to around 10 million consumers used to listen to the Dhingana every single month from more than 100 countries around the world. The entire userbase was, I would say, organic. It was always word-of-mouth, and it became the biggest Indian music streaming service. I wanted to enter India, so that is when they acquired us at the start of 2014.

Alejandro: How much did it take from the point where you came up with the idea to the point that the company got acquired? What was the entire timeframe?

Swapnil Shinde: We actually thought about the idea when we started working at Symantec because we were both big fans of Bengaluru music, and we couldn’t find a way to listen to it easily at that time because there were no streaming services. What we did was that we hosted a server in our own home. We put some songs in there, and we started listening to the songs from our office. That is how the idea was born. Then we worked on licenses. We started moonlighting on that idea, and before we knew it, in the next two years, we had a million users listening to our [12:42]. That is when we decided it was time to raise some funding. So we raised our first round when we already had a million consumers listening to music.

Alejandro: How much money did you guys raise prior to the acquisition.

Swapnil Shinde: We raised Series A, which was, at that point, $1.2 million. Then we raised our Series B, which was $7 million, and then got acquired.

Alejandro: Was it tough for you guys to raise money? I mean, especially for people that are coming from a different country. I’m a foreigner, too. It’s coming to a new country, different people, different ways of thinking, a different culture. Was that whole adjustment tough, and raising money, and all of that stuff?

Swapnil Shinde: For us to raise money wasn’t the problem because we had done a lot of hard work. We went to VCs when we already had a million consumers using the product, so we had the product/market fit. VCs could see the scale; they could see the growth over the last two years. Our first round was [13:47]. The same thing happened with our second round, as well, and when we were trying to raise our third round, we had four or five acquisition offers.

Alejandro: Tell us about the actual process. How did the M&A process go from the beginning all the way to the end? An M&A process is definitely 100x tougher than raising money, so how was it for you? Because I think this culminates a fantastic journey, already, with your first company, which was about three years from the beginning to end. I guess this also gives you full visibility to the full cycle that it can be done. So how was that M&A process for you guys?

Swapnil Shinde: In that process from start to end?

Alejandro: Yeah.

Swapnil Shinde: I think it was super rewarding. The outcome, the whole feeling that you built a service, a platform, a team that could scale, and we had more than 10 million consumers, and all of them using daily and weekly. I think that whole feeling of building something that could touch so many lives and so many consumers was extremely rewarding for us. Then when we got acquired, we looked at three or four ventures partners who were interested in acquiring us. Some of them were local in India. Some of them were here in the U.S. We were lucky that I was already interested in acquiring Dhingana because Rdio already had the same philosophy. It was a very product-focused company. They had a tight following in Silicon Valley. It was started by the Skype co-founders. We love the CEO, the executive team, the Chief of Product, and everyone there. Our regions aligned a lot, and the acquisition went super smoothly. Even after the acquisition, I became the VP for product initiatives across all international markets, so I helped launch Rdio in 35 countries around the world. Snehal became VP of emerging markets, and India and all countries around India were reporting to it. I think, at that time, we learned how to build and scale businesses globally, and that was super rewarding for us. That is something we did for the first time.

Alejandro: Here, with Rdio, you were there for almost two years from beginning to end. People call it the vesting and resting. I’m not sure there was a lot of resting given what you’re sharing now, but definitely the vesting. It’s interesting because, in the second company, you decide to do it again with your brother, so at what point do you guys realize that it is that time for you? As they say, once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. In this case, you had already seen the full cycle. You already knew it was possible and what that journey looked like. At what point does the idea of Mezi come knocking on your door. We’ll soon talk about your latest baby, but you’ve done three companies, all three completely different segments, and here you are, looking at launching another company in a completely different segment, so tell us about the incubation process and what were the sequences of events towards bringing it to life?

Swapnil Shinde: You bring up an interesting question that all three companies are in very different segments. We believe that if we have lived [17:13], and if you want a solution for it, that is probably the best way for us to think about starting a company. We started our first company because we were Bengaluru music fans, and we couldn’t find an easy way to listen to music, so we solved our own problem. It happened that several of millions of other people had the same problem, and that product took off. In our second company, the experience was pretty similar. We used to go to San Francisco to work at Rdio. One day, Snehal’s wife came to pick him up, and they were driving back. She was “Can you take any orders,” because she was driving and he was just sitting there? “Oh, man, now I have to do all this work. I wish there was someone who I could tell, ‘Please go plan my travel. Please order this for me.” So that concierge was missing. Then when Snehal came back, we were discussing it, and we thought that all of us are going to live an extremely busy life, and it would be amazing if all of us would have a concierge who has our back and simplifies our lives on a daily basis. Hopefully, if that person does that, then that person can help us transform our lives in a better way. We thought that the best way to launch this concierge service would be to help people complete their shopping activities. We wanted to focus on shopping initially because that includes commerce, instead of doing things that don’t include payments, etc. When we launched it, we were carefully looking at the data in the first three to six months. To our surprise, we saw that in the first six months people who bought travel from us came back and bought something else in the next 30 days. People who spend on travel actually spend $1,000 on each transaction where they were spending less than $100. So we realized early on that if we double-down on travel and make that our key vertical. I think this can go a long way. That is when we started building AI, which was vertically focused on travel. It was focused on helping people plan and book their flights, hotels, and all the sites and activities when they’re traveling. Then the next phase of the game that we saw was that people who were traveling for business used Mezi every single month versus those who were traveling for [19:32]; they used us once or twice a year. That is when we realized, “Let’s focus on business travelers and go all-in on business.” Then Mezi transformed into this travel assistant for business people. Then we partnered with American Express. They were like, “This platform is amazing.” As you might know that platinum culture is one of the best concierges, and it focuses on helping people plan and book their travel. So, for Amex, Mezi was a great partner to start with. But once they saw the engagement that Mezi was driving for their cardmembers, they were like, “We want to own this.”

Alejandro: That’s very interesting. Especially for the people that are listening, what was the business model of Mezi? How were you guys making money there?

Swapnil Shinde: We were licensing that platform to business partners like American Express, a lot of travel management companies. The way it worked was, the platform was completely white-labeled for them. So for Amex, they were now providing a chat-based concierge to their cardmembers. Their cardmembers would come to the app and chat with a travel expert, and that travel expert would plan and book their entire travel, all in a simple messaging interface. But the beauty of the experience was that 70-80% of the time, the full experience was all of our artificial intelligence. So cardmembers actually thought that they were talking to a real human, but the AI that we built was so realistic and so real-time that it gave the perception that a human was chatting with them, which means that the whole experience can be highly scalable compared to just using humans on the other side.

Alejandro: Typically, when one of those companies thinks about buying out another company, it’s like the buy versus build type of question whether it makes more sense to just build it themselves internally or to actually buy out that company because it makes sense from speed or whatever impact that’s going to have. But in this case, Mezi was just a two-year-old company. It sounds incredible. It was reported by the press that the acquisition was $150 million in cash. That level of money for a company that is so young, why wouldn’t Amex have just built it internally?

Swapnil Shinde: Amex is a financial services company. It’s like even if you compare Amex to other credit card companies, it’s a bit forward-looking when it comes to technology. But what we brought to the table was a team that was extremely focused on building AI human-assisted platforms. It was in our DNA. We were living it every single day. We built a product, partnered with Amex, and we saw firsthand for the next, I would say, six to eight months of how it was performing with their customers. So when they decided to acquire us, they just didn’t do it based on an idea of where they actually saw the partnership working wonders for them. Their customers were loving the experience. And they clearly saw that “If we scale this to 40, 50, 100 million cardmembers, this can save them millions of dollars every single month, and they won’t need to keep hiring all of those finance concierges and experts internally.” Then there was also the opportunity to extend Mezi beyond travel into servicing and other parts that have already happened at Amex today. So if you go to the American Express app and click on the chat icon inside it, that entire experience is by Mezi. You actually see Mezi inside Amex, which is phenomenal.

Alejandro: That’s incredible. What an impact, and also the best acquisitions that they’ve done to date. Is that right?

Swapnil Shinde: Yes. They frequently talk about it. Everyone is super happy about the acquisition.

Alejandro: You were alluding to it that you guys were having that partnership for about six to eight months, and then all of a sudden, they realized that it was better for them to just own this thing. So how did the conversation transition into that type of approach?

Swapnil Shinde: The key executives from New York flew to Silicon Valley and came here to our offices. We met over dinner. That is when, for the first time, they expressed their interest of acquiring Mezi. For us, Mezi was working out so well at that time that there were so many investors who wanted to lead our next round. Literally, investors were throwing out valuation numbers over 15-minute calls even before we were ready to pitch them. “Please come raise your next round with us.” I think we had that opportunity on one side where we could keep building Mezi into a much bigger platform and scale it. On the other side, we genuinely saw that because we had worked with that same executive team and that extended team at Amex for the last eight months or so, we knew exactly what our future might look like if we were part of that team, and we believe that those executives would give us all the liberty and the freedom to build Mezi the way we want to. And because of their focus on travel, we knew that with that Amex partnership, we could actually scale Mezi 1,000x in the next 12 months while doing it ourselves. So there was a clear threat between both of the companies, and that made it a no-brainer for us.

Alejandro: The transaction happens. Obviously, I’m sure that you had quite a big celebration because it’s an amazing outcome in just two years alone. Then you transition to work on the integration. Then, here you go again with your conversations with your identical twin brother, which are dangerous. Here you go with the next business. And the next business is Zeni, so tell us about Zeni. At this point, you guys were already two companies, two successful exits, and now doing it again. Tell us about this.

Swapnil Shinde: This actually came up when I was walking with one of my best friends on a beach. I think we were there for an offsite, if I’m not wrong. When you’re walking on the beach, I was thinking about the problems that we have faced while building these two previous startups, and there were two problems that I thought about. One was legal, and one was finance. Every startup needs to outsource their legal to a legal team who will then charge them a lot of dollars, and the experience is very manual. On the other side, there was this finance experience where we saw repeatedly ourselves in the last 10-12 years of building startups. Every time you want to build and start a company, there are so many different finance functions that you need to worry about. You might see it in your own business that you will need to have an accountant or a bookkeeper to manage your books who will then use QuickBooks online to do your books. Then you will need someone to manage your bill payments and invoices. You might need someone to work on your financial predictions. You will need a CPA to file your taxes at the end of the year, and the list goes on and on. You will need to handle and deploy the expense. Clearly, you realize that your stocks are getting your company. There are all these different finance people that you need to hire who will then use all of the different finance tools to manage your finances. It becomes extremely complex and fragmented. Human events have been slow, and you don’t have any ideas or insights into your finances until the month ends, which is when your accountants start working on your books. Then they take two to three weeks to close your books and present you with Excels as an output for your PNL, balance sheet, and cash flow. So, as a founder, we felt that we were always flying blind. No matter whether we work with partners, bookkeepers, accountants, or we outsource it to a finance, the experience was the same. Because we had successfully built an AI human-assisted platform in the cloud vertical, we thought that if we just stayed that blueprint and applied it to the finance vertical, especially the travel experts and finance experts, and create an experience that is 10x faster, then I think we can really impact businesses and startups around the world by building a global platform. That’s how the idea was born.

Alejandro: Tell us about how you actually make money. What’s the business model of Zeni?

Swapnil Shinde: We charge startups based on their total monthly expenses, and the lowest plan starts at $219 a month. We have a bookkeeping plan, which is for any funded startups, a full-service plan, which is for seeded-funded, series-funded startups, and a professional plan for high-growth startups.

Alejandro: How much capital have you guys raised to date for this?

Swapnil Shinde: We have raised close to $48 million.

Alejandro: I understand that you were given your first trench of money without even a website. Swapnil, what’s going on? What’s going on! Is it because you and your brother, now that this is your third company, it’s like investors feel that now the money is truly going to the execution, not to the education and that now it just feels like they’re just throwing the money at your face? Does it feel like that compared to your first company?

Swapnil Shinde: I think it’s definitely way easier to raise money when you have done it before. With Zeni, it was easy for us and a no-brainer for our investors, as well, because we actually have the same VC-fund investor capital that leads our Series round with American Express, which led our Series round at Zeni. So they knew us for the last several years. They have seen us execute. They know the entire team. The same team that built Mezi is now building Zeni. So the risk is drastically reduced. You know the entire team. You know that they had built the Mezi platforms. You know the founders really well. We not only didn’t have a website; we didn’t have a product; we didn’t have any customers, and there were zero full-time people in the company. We just had an idea and discussed it with the investors, and they were like, “Let’s do it.”

Alejandro: That’s incredible. Even in your latest round, it took like ten days to raise. It’s unbelievable. You don’t even see that in the movies, Swapnil. That’s amazing.

Swapnil Shinde: Thank you. We are super lucky to have very credible investors backing us, surrounding us, helping us, and guiding us. Even the latest round was led by Elevation Capital. Robbie, who is the key partner who led the round, is very close to our current investors, [30:26] have worked with each other for years. Robbie had seen our journey in our previous startups, and he has deep conviction about what we are building at Zeni, so it was easy for us to make that decision both ways and quickly wrap up the round.

Alejandro: At this point in time and in life for you and your brother, you guys have made quite a bit of money on the last transaction, so why did you want to raise money from outside investors?

Swapnil Shinde: Initially, in the first round, we, ourselves, put in $2 million of our own money because we wanted to have major skin in the game. But you raise money from investors, not just because you need money, but because you want amazing partners working with you every single day, giving you their expertise, extending your network with their network, help you hire, add more credibility to your company. I think there are so many advantages of working with the right partner, and everything goes great if things are going amazingly for you as a startup. But it is the days when things are not going well that are when you need these pillars of strength surrounding you and helping you make the right decisions.

Alejandro: In this case, for Zeni, how big is the team today? How many are there of you?

Swapnil Shinde: We are close to 70 people now.

Alejandro: That’s incredible. Now, I’m sure you’ve learned a bit about building teams, so as you’re building and you’re hiring the first 100 people, even the first ten are going to be making the culture of the business.

Swapnil Shinde: Yeah.

Alejandro: What do you look for in people?

Swapnil Shinde: There are three things I would say that we look for, which are cultural fit, mindset, and skill set. Cultural fit is important because the percentage goes a long way. I use someone who is extremely open, extremely transparent, who loves to take risks, who loves to take ownership because with ownership also comes a lot of risks. When you’re hiring your initial people in a startup, then you give them so much responsibility that if they fail, then you fail. But if they succeed, then the sky is the limit. So you need people with that particular mindset, as well. I’d say that mindset is the second important thing. Do you have that mindset and the courage to work on products that are futuristic and forward-looking? If I explain what we are doing, say, to normal people in the finance world or the traditional world, they would say it’s very hard to solve this using artificial intelligence and machine learning, and we completely understand that. This is not a two-to-three-year game; this is a long ten-year game. We are in this for the long haul. So you really need people who can see that future, believe in your vision, and keep pushing until you actually get there.

Alejandro: Imagine you go to sleep tonight, Swapnil, and you wake up in a world five years later. Obviously, you’ve never slept like this. It’s a tremendous snooze. You wake up in a world where the vision of Zeni is fully realized. What does that world look like?

Swapnil Shinde: I would say that world would be an amazing world. It would be a world where the human touch required to manage finances for startups is extremely low. I would say, more than 90% of the things that are happening are automatically driven by machines. You will only need to talk to a finance expert if you want to discuss anything of strategy; otherwise, we would have successfully created clones of bookkeepers, accountants, and controllers, like digital clones of them, tax advisors who can actually handle the majority of the network and there would be billions of dollars flowing through the platform every single month.

Alejandro: Wow. I love the sound of that world. Good stuff. Imagine I put you in a time machine, Swapnil, and I bring you back in time, and I bring you back in time to that moment where you were still working at Yahoo with your brother, and you have the opportunity of sitting with your younger self, and the younger self of your brother, and you’re able to give your two younger selves one piece of business advice before launching a company. What would that be and why, given what you know now?

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Swapnil Shinde: That advice would be how do you build teams like you have to build teams top-down and bottom-up at the same time? When we were at Dhingana, we were building the teams bottoms-up. The difference is that when you build teams top-down, you quickly hire a head of finance, head of engineering, head of design, head of architecture, etc., and then you build teams below them. The ground-up approach is when you actually hire a lot of people who are individual contributors. Then they might bubble up to become managers and then play in bigger roles. If you take a bottom-up approach, that means that as founders, you have to play those multiple roles; you have to be the head of engineering, head of product, head of finance. You have to play those roles yourself. As your team [35:39] becomes ready to play those roles. I think that is one mistake that we did at Dhingana where we were spreading ourselves super-thin but playing all those roles. That is something we corrected at Mezi, where, within the first six months, we had a VP of Operations and a VP of Product helping us out and building those teams. Then we amplified at Zeni. In the first few months, we had 10-20 people. We have a VP of Operations, a VP of Engineering, a VP of Communications, a VP of Finance. So we have surrounded ourselves with several leaders. We have several seniors that direct our finances at Zeni as well. Surround yourself with leaders, and then building the team bottoms-up is probably the fastest way to build a team that can help you execute 2x faster than you would otherwise do.

Alejandro: Amazing. Swapnil, for the people that are listening, what is the best way for them to reach out and say hi?

Swapnil Shinde: Just connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message.

Alejandro: Amazing. Swapnil, thank you so much for being on the DealMakers show today.

Swapnil Shinde: It was my pleasure. Thanks for making it so exciting.

* * *
If you like the show, make sure that you hit that subscribe button. If you can leave a review as well, that would be fantastic. And if you got any value either from this episode or from the show itself, share it with a friend. Perhaps they will also appreciate it. Also, remember, if you need any help, whether it is with your fundraising efforts or with selling your business, you can reach me at [email protected].

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Neil Patel

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