Neil Patel

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Anshu Prasad has already raised tens of millions of dollars for his tech startup that is working to transform the dynamics of the transportation industry. 

On the Dealmakers Podcast Prasad shared his approach to accelerate your learning and understanding of startups and business building, finding product market fit, and how he’s helping big companies solve big problems. Plus, building a remote first company. 

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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    Learning & Challenging The Status Quo

    Anshu Prasad was born in India. Along with his two siblings and parents he migrated to the US at nine years old. 

    They landed in Queens, before moving to Flushing, NY. In many ways this phase of his life was an entrepreneurial journey of its own. Launching yourself into new territory, figuring out new languages, meeting new people, and solving things on the fly. Including surviving snow and freezing temperatures for the first time. 

    Partially inspired by his father, and drawn by his own interests, Prasad went on to study biochemistry at Cornell. 

    It was during this time that he saw some seniors jumping from their doctorate programs to get into biotech startups. While he kept up with the academics, Anshu says that he saw getting involved with startups as a great way to accelerate his learning. 

    One of the big takeaways he gleaned from his father as he grew up was taking ownership of problems. Beyond just intellectually figuring it out, that also meant making the solution work too.

    This is something which Anshu put into practice at the first startup he joined, Tigris. There he put in a good amount of time as he kept finding interesting problems to solve and ways to expand the company, with new offices and markets. He found the work meaningful and engaging, and the talented colleagues he worked with inspiring. Even if it sometimes meant mustering all of the tools and resources they could in order to execute and deliver results. 

    Part of this work was on the supply chain, logistics, and freight. Helping companies with this area which was often one of their largest expenditures, and one of the most impactful and pivotal over the long term. 

    On the other side he got to see how the brokers and trucking companies operated. Witnessing many of the same challenges from Europe to Asia, and Latin America. 

    After Tigris, Anshu spent some years in consulting work. Yet, kept on running into the same nagging issue. Which was centered around the inefficiencies in these logistics. The same things were being done again and again, in hopes of getting different results. Which of course never happened. 

    Anshu set his mind on rethinking these dynamics and practices.

    Set on learning as much as he could about it, and in building a successful company in general he went out to talk to everyone. Colleagues, past colleagues, those who had already been building venture backed companies, former clients and more.

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    Helping Big Companies Solve Big Problems

    Anshu’s learning and conversations led him to launch Leaf Logistics. A platform focused on the planning and execution of resilient transportation. 

    Leaf helps brokers, shippers, and carriers leverage network efficiencies to reduce waste and costs, and CO2 emissions. 

    They help companies like Coca-cola and Nestle buy transportation. Without thinking about it, you might wonder why they’d need help. Anshu points out that transportation is just a fraction of their business. They have to make the product, work with retailers and wholesalers, and fight off giant competition every day. They may spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it every year, but they have a lot more to focus on. They need transportation to ‘just work’, so they can focus on the things that make them great companies.

    Anshu sees Leaf as a startup which can really focus on this one problem. Effectively playing air traffic controller for trucking companies and manufacturers. He says “Coca-cola focused on something that makes them pretty unique and very successful, and did it brilliantly. We have the luxury to focus on something different.”

    They knew they really hit on a real pain point and problem that was begging to be solved when they reached out to big companies like this and asked them for their data. They shared data in order to help build out the models, to create their systems. 

    Then once it began to work and deliver on the promises, and provide results their customers hadn’t seen before, they knew it was time to get serious about their go to market plan. 

    To date Leaf Logistics has already raised over $60M through three funding rounds. 

    Not only have those investors brought in a lot of capital, but Anshu says that as seasoned experts in building large, sustainable companies, they’ve kept helping the company stay ahead of where they need to close new business and support growth. 

    Though, perhaps the one thing these investors who are used to following patterns of success didn’t see was the value and advantage of building a remote and distributed business. 

    To date, Leaf Logistics has already raised $60M through a Series B round.

    Storytelling is everything which is something that Anshu Prasad was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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    Not only have those investors brought in a lot of capital, but Anshu says that as seasoned experts in building giant, long-running companies, they’ve kept helping the company stay ahead of where they need to close new rounds of funding and grow.

    Though, perhaps the one thing these investors who are used to following patterns of success didn’t see was the value and advantage of building a remote and distributed business.

    Building A Remote First Business

    Unlike many entrepreneurs, Anshu Prasad led his company to be all remote from the start, well before COVID lockdowns hit. 

    Some of his investors weren’t too excited about it. They didn’t understand how you could build a successful startup culture without huddling together in an office. Of course, we’ve recently covered many others who have built big and even billion dollar businesses with completely remote teams. 

    Of course, when the lockdowns came, everyone was happy that they were way out in front of this. Though they did get to meet in tents for occasional get togethers where they could still social distance. 

    Listen in to find out more, including:

    • Building company culture in a remote business
    • The future of transportation and logistics
    • Anshu Prasad’s top advice for launching a business

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    Neil Patel

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