Discover the incredible entrepreneur journey of Pratik Thakker with Susan Sly on the Raw and Real Entrepreneurship Podcast. From humble beginnings as a janitor in Israel, learn how he transformed his dreams into reality. Gain valuable insights and motivation for your own entrepreneurial ventures.
Topics covered in the interview
How INSIDEA was born
First steps in starting the company
Getting the earliest customers
Keeping the motivation
Pratik Thakker’s Bio
Pratik Thakker is a digital and tech entrepreneur based in Israel, who has gained immense recognition as Israel’s Tech Ambassador to India and Israel’s #1 LinkedIn influencer with a staggering 200K followers. As the Founder and CEO of INSIDEA, he has been revolutionizing the global hiring process by assisting companies in recruiting remote talent across various domains. Pratik’s contributions to the industry have earned him numerous awards, including the Indian Achiever’s Award and a spot on the Times 40 under 40 list.
Follow Pratik Thakker
Pratik’s Social Media Links:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/pratik-thakker
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MrPratikThakker
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MrPratikThakker
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mrpratikthakker
INSIDEA’s Social Media Links:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/insidea/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/InsideaOfficial
Twitter – https://twitter.com/InsideaOfficial
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mrpratikthakker/
Susan Sly 00:02
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host Susan Sly.
Susan Sly 00:17
Well, Hey, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And my guests and I were having such an amazing conversation that I thought, oh my gosh, I've got to put us in recording. And if you've been a longtime listener of the show, you know, I say that often because all of my guests became really good friends. And we just bought in and I thought, oh, we need to be recording this but I'll tell you a little bit about him. He is a digital and tech entrepreneur. He's based in Israel, which is one of my favorite countries. He's gained immense recognition as Israel's tech Ambassador to India and Israel number one LinkedIn influencer with a staggering 200,001 followers because I have followed him. And as the founder and CEO of in INSIDEA, he has been revolutionizing the global hiring process by assisting companies in recruiting remote talent across various domains. His contributions to the industry have earned him numerous awards, including the Indian achievers Award and a spot in the Times 40 under 40 Less. My guest today is Pratik Thakker,who is live from Tel Aviv. I just want to say that, Pratik, live from Tel Aviv. And Pratik, it's so great to have you on the show. Welcome.
Pratik Thakker 01:33
Thank you so much, Susan, for having me here. And definitely we are live because Tel Aviv is like you know vibrant city with so much to offer. So I'm really happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Susan Sly 01:45
Well, Pratik, I'm so excited to talk to you for so many things. And firstly, I want to, I want to jump in, you know, state the obvious, when people think of Israel, they're not thinking about a tech influencer who's from India. And so can you share with the audience like, how did you end up in Israel? That's the first question.
Pratik Thakker 02:11
So it's quite interesting. Firstly, when I was growing up, and never knew that there is a country named Israel. Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of Indians still, if you tell them what is Judaism or Jewish, or what is Israel, still people are not aware, right. So I was in 11th, which is like first year of college in India. And that's when I met Nancy, high school sweetheart. So she was my first girlfriend. We dated for a while. Her name is Nancy. So after three years of dating her, I thought she would be Christian. But then she said, I'm Jewish. I said, like, okay, it's the same, I guess. Because in India, you have caste system, right? So one caste can have multiple different caste levels. So I'd said like, you know, you must be like something in different Christian groups, right. But then I discovered about Israel. After a few years of dating, she was working in a lot of airlines in Mumbai, and she should travel a lot to Israel. And I was doing multiple side hustles, figuring out what I do want to do in my life, right? I was in like 20s, early 20s. So she like, kind of inspired me that we should like, you know, pursue our careers in Israel. Because I was passionate about entrepreneurship, she said, let's take a chance and go to Israel and see what Israel has to offer. But it's quite really uncommon for Indians to come here and be in the tech ecosystem. There are like few 1000 Jewish Indians here, I would say approximately 20 30,000 maximum, but they are not into tech ecosystem so much. Maybe merely 0.01 person, I would say. So on top of it, are non Jewish. So coming here as non Jewish person, and growing in this tech ecosystem is incredible. And I must say like, you know, I thought initially that people will be racist because I'm not Jewish. But it was completely opposite. People were so amazing to help me. And now like, feel that I'm so thankful to the people who were like, you know, part of the journey. So people portray that Israel has certain mindset or what you see in the media, it's completely off. Opposite, what you see in the ground. So yeah, this is like fascinating story. Maybe once we move forward with the conversation, I'll share a bit more on the personal side of things in terms of my experiences here.
Susan Sly 05:01
It's incredible. And as a sidebar because for people that haven't traveled, EL AL is the most secure airline in the entire world. So I just want to put a plug in for EL AL airlines, most secure. And the, something you mentioned, which is so interesting about Israel, when we were there in 2019, Priatik and I were talking about, Chris and the kids that I were in Old Jerusalem, and you have like, one side, it's all these, like, people speaking Hebrew. And on the other side in this little tiny corridor, essentially, everyone's speaking Arabic and it's like, Hey, good morning, good morning, and everyone's friends. And the world would have us believe this polarization that everyone's an enemy. And I love that you share that Pratik because this conversation around inclusion, or you and I were talking about a world without borders, where you essentially work from anywhere and we'll talk about INSIDEA and hiring from anywhere. And the power that really lies there. So you come in, Israel is getting to be known now, and we spoke about this, the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. And there's this thriving tech scene, but you were one of the first people there. And I guess one of the questions that I have for you is, how did you come up with this idea for INSIDEA? Because you know, there's Nancy, she's like, let's move to Israel, you're like, Okay, let's move to Israel. But half your family didn't even know where you were moving. They're like, what are you doing? And here you go fly, you know, to Israel.
Pratik Thakker 06:48
By the way everyone in my relatives asked me not to. So they stopped me from going. They tried, like, you know, whatever they could. And it took me almost one and a half year to make that journey, like, you know, visa application and everything happened. But finally everything was done. But, you know, there is a story, like, you know, how INSIDEA was born. So, I'll start with the personal side of things. So when I landed in Israel, I was welcomed with a bomb, okay? It was summer, war going on. It was siren at the airport, and we have to rush to the emergency room that is like, kind of safety room that I would say. So first day in Israel, like, I was in emergency room in the night because of anxiety attack. And this continued for two years, like you know, every other month, I used to have that feeling because, you know the, firstly, I was away from family for the first time I was leaving country and I moved forever to Israel. So that feeling was kind of like, you know, feeling of depression, feeling of loneliness, being away from parents, family, everything, where I actually belong to, right? So I was thinking like, you know, there are so many people in India or anywhere else, they go abroad in hopes of building their careers. But the price they pay is tremendously huge, I would say. So, let's say we have 50 hours of our life that we have parents with us, now I have to pay that price. I'm away from them for 10 years, last 10 years, because of building my career. Now I can basically do it without moving anywhere else in the world. Right. So the idea of creating the borderless world was born because of being away from the family. So sometimes whatever happens happens for the good. INSIDEA name, it's like kind of is a combination of insight and idea. While growing up, I was like, you know, got a lot of ideas as an entrepreneur. I was always passionate about like, you know, doing business, because my father is also a businessman. And I was seeing him. So every time this entrepreneurship is inside me. So how to bring these ideas into reality was a big question mark. Right. So taking action and moving into right direction was like something, question mark for most of the early stage entrepreneurs. So I chose this name, bring your ideas into reality and have that freedom to work from anywhere in the world and create that borderless world for you. You don't have to leave your family, friends or location you're at. You just need a laptop and internet connection and I'll make this happen for you. You can work for any global company you want. So this is how the idea began of like INSIDEA.
Susan Sly 09:52
I love that because the greatest businesses are born out of a singular problem that is often very personal, right? and like, you know, when you think about the companies that become so successful, and there are nine figures, multiple nine figures, they become unicorns. What was that one problem they were trying to solve? So how did you get it started? One of the things I always ask entrepreneurs, there are a lot of people that have a lot of ideas, very few actually execute. What were your first steps in starting the company? And how did you get it funded? And how did you get the earliest customers?
Pratik Thakker 10:27
Firstly, I was, so when I started my journey in Israel, first month, I was working as a cleaner to survive. Israel is a very expensive country. So in order to find a first high tech job, I was doing cleaning for three, four hours in a day. And I actually messaged in like, there's a secret Jerusalem group, and still there is, so I messaged like if somebody wants to build a website, I know, and I can do it for free in return for video testimonial. And then there were three inquiries, right. So I built two websites, out of that two websites, within a week, I did that. And the lady that I build website for, she recommended me for the first full time job. That's how I landed my first position. So my father always taught me one thing, that if you add a value, this is like, you know, you go to any SAS platform, there's a free trial. Everyone wants that, right? If you add value upfront, people trust you. And once people trust you, it's like word of mouth will actually build credibility for you. So few years, I was actually working full time so that I can build my site as well. And I was consulting for marketing website related stuff. But again, the idea was not there. Because I was not satisfied with the agency model, because there's hundreds of agencies, how would I stand out? And what is something my USP, what is something that I can add value to this tech ecosystem here? Now, one customer who I was like working with, he said that he wants to hire an SDR in India, because salaries here were expensive. And he was like early stage entrepreneurs starting is SAS based product. Instead, boom, I got my first chance to like, do something different. So I asked my sister to leave her job in India. And she joined my company. And I said, like, you know, you have your first SDR. And that's how like, the outsourcing started. So first person was my sister. And then my wife joined the business. My brother joined the business. And then we expanded. So last six, seven years, we were building agency model of outsourcing. So anything related to tech, or digital, we can outsource. But I wasn't satisfied with the outsourcing because again, it's an agency, you cannot scale it to the big thing, right. So, but the best part was, I didn't need any funding, right? So completely bootstrapped. And you know, agency can make the money from first day. So we were profitable from day one. And we are still are. So I said, like, you know, what I can do to scale this and solve the bigger problem, which I was actually facing. At the first place why did I come to Israel was to grow in the career and achieve the dreams that I've seen for myself. And how can I enable people in India to work for any global company that I wanted to? So we are like, you know, launching a marketplace for full time remote employment. Again, there are marketplaces which enables you to hire freelancers, but our USP is to get a full time remote employment hiring done from our platform. So from hiring, to paying salaries, managing the payroll and everything. So all in one platform. Again, I would like to emphasize one thing, right? So companies have this question about like, it's easier to hire remote talent today than before. And again, the big jump came after the COVID came in. But there's also one problem with hiring remote talent is most of the Freelancers you hire from marketplaces, they're working with 10 different clients, the quality of work is in there. You want somebody who can be part of your team, and still like you know, wants to grow in your organization. So dedicated focus on both ends. It's a win win win situation for everyone. So yeah, that's how we are building this.
Susan Sly 14:32
That's amazing. And a lot of the remote hiring places too. You mentioned those employees, because I have employees in the Philippines and Turkey and India, that the employee might be working for multiple people or, and one of the reasons they are is because they don't see upward mobility and I think the emphasis has to be on the employers as well, to see the the employees that are overseas as human beings who also want to advance their career. And that is a, that is one of the things that we have done at Radius is there's, it doesn't matter what country you're in is that there is upward mobility. And I love how you put everything in one platform, because for startup founders who are listening, and they're saying, Well, I have an idea, I want to execute, I need DevOps, or I need someone to manage the product, or I need a beta created of my product, that the problem is they don't even know how they would pay overseas employees. And I think it's just, I think it's brilliant. So you said, we bootstrapped it, we've been profitable from day one, what has been one of the biggest challenges you've had?
Pratik Thakker 15:49
So firstly, think about, so for me, because I'm a marketer myself, for me, generating demand is not a challenge. The challenge is finding the right talent, right? So if talent is amazing, customer wants to work with them. Now, if you go to marketplaces, you won't find top 5% talent, because top 5% of talent doesn't want to freelance, they want to grow in the career, they want to have a roadmap, right, so. And also, additionally, they don't want to risk their stable income. If you are into freelancing, sometimes you have clients or projects. And again, you have to now hustle to find new one. So it's challenging, it's running a business on its own. And top 5% doesn't want to do that. So this specific problem statement for talent side was something that I identified. Before INSIDEA, I was also like, co founder of a platform called Testlify. This was a talent assessment platform and still is, and it's one of the successful top 10 products in the category, then I said talent assessment platform. So at the end of the day, India has, like, you know, recruitable talent, for example, let's say 100 million, okay. 100 million is a huge number. How do you like, filter down good talent out of that? So when people, when I open a position in India, I have a minimum of 1000 plus applications for each position. Now filtering, that is really a big deal, right? So we have assessment mechanism in place, which enables me to identify talent, which are actually top 5%. And then there is a manual process for that 5%. So in that way, we are able to provide talent, which are exclusive international ready. Talent. Yeah, and this is has been working. Again, it's not something that happened in one day. It's seven years of journey and outsourcing and understanding the hiring needs for the customers and the talent side.
Susan Sly 18:01
And then there's, there's a lot of complexities there. How do you handle it when you have a customer who's hired someone for you, and that person either doesn't show up, doesn't do the work? Because you mentioned trust, Pratik. And for Radius, we only have two core values, trust and wow. And that really loses trust. So how do you handle it? Because you strike me as a person who strives for excellence. So what do you do in a situation like that?
Pratik Thakker 18:34
I'm so glad that you asked this question. You know, I have customers working with me since I started my business in Israel. And why is that? Whenever I go to any sales call, or even like, you know, have a demo call with the customer, and tell them one thing, and it's on our sales deck, it's on our website, 100% success guarantee, right. So if they decide after one month of working with us, Pratik, it's not working out. And either you replace the talent or either they can just part ways, without paying us anything. If we don't add value to you, we don't get this. We don't deserve to get paid. And that's my policy from day one. Because think about like, I want to build an MRR system, which actually continues to pay. And if I'm not adding value to this customer, and I'm not bringing results, the business won't be sustainable. And I need to create this experience, right? So because I understand marketing very well, the most powerful marketing that you can do is word of mouth. And how do you create word of mouth is to experience that you give to customers, even though if they had like a bad experience with one of the talents. Either you replace it with good and don't charge them for that specific time because it was wasted time for them as well or you don't just start them and that's how you can win them.
Pratik Thakker 19:56
I love how you've built what your father taught you into the ethos of INSIDEA because that is that lesson to offer more in value than you expect in compensation. That's what makes a successful entrepreneur.
Susan Sly 20:10
So how do you, you know, one of my friends Karthik, I've
Susan Sly 20:16
had him on the show twice. And we've talked about fundraising, you know, and what it's like to, to go through that process or to get rejected or do all of those things. And as entrepreneurs, even for you, who hasn't, you know, needed to do a funding round or anything, I know, you face rejection.
Susan Sly 20:34
I know there are customers who say, no, there are customers who quit. So how do you keep yourself self motivated?
Pratik Thakker 20:43
So firstly, I'll just go back to the previous question, this one thing, like, you know, my father taught me about customers. He said, like, let's say, if a customer is giving you $10, give him $100 worth of value. And that customer will never ever leave you. And even though if you don't understand he will come to chase you down and want to work with you. Because that is something no one else will do in the market. Because at the end of the day, think of you on the other side, right? So, and sometimes, like, you know, I faced rejections so many times. But I've, what I feel like, you know, there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there, when I listen to all the other stories of other entrepreneurs. It's quite common, like you, we see 99% failures and 1% success. But this 99% of failures that we see, that enables us to optimize of what is not working, and then speak it out one like, you know, a magic bullet that actually works. So, for me, there's a video that I did for TEDx. And I said, like, you know, I accept failures as an open arms. Because more than success, I enjoy failures, because that teaches me something. Maybe sometimes, success makes you having a higher ego, but failures makes you humble. That's what I feel.
Susan Sly 22:14
Failure makes you humble. And it's, it, I call them WKMs, Pratik, The Wall kicking moments. And sometimes, like I need to, for me,
Susan Sly 22:26
because I'm a CEO, and you're a CEO. So you, you have to be strong for your people. They're borrowing from your belief. And so sometimes for me, you know, I had one yesterday, so it's like, Okay, I gotta get on the Peloton, or I'm gonna go out for, it's really hot in Arizona right now. So it's like, you know, but I'm gonna go out anyway, or I'm gonna go hiking, or I'm going to go and pray and meditate, but I'm going to do something. Because as successful entrepreneurs, we don't have the luxury of taking ourselves out of the game for a day, we have to get back in the game really fast. So
Susan Sly 23:03
what is your strategy if something you know, is frustrating you? Like how do you get back, so you're on and who you need to be super fast?
Pratik Thakker 23:13
So sometimes, like not, sometimes there's so many days, in a month, where you feel that you're going to tear your hairs, because sometimes you do certain things in a way, but let's say your team members do it, but it's always going to be 60 to 70%, you cannot expect to have 100% commitment. This is your baby, right? It's not their baby, although they're part of it, and helping you grow this. But as much as you're gonna care, they will care to an extent because they also have some other dreams and desires, right? So maybe setting up the right expectation is important, although I forget that every single day, and then keep on reminding myself, but there's one thing that I do, which actually, you know, calms me down and brings me to the right direction is my wife. So we have this daily routine that we go for a walk, right, so every day, we are working remotely. So I have an office in my home and she has her own office. And hardly we get time to talk to each other at home. So we go for a walk for one hour, and then we discuss what is something going on, like where is something that I have problem and where she has problem. So in that way you are able to like kind of, okay, go back to like, you know where you were from all of the diversions that you get because of running the business, and it's not an easy game. But if you are passionate and you have that fire in you, then you kind of take it as a video game, and then you will see that it's so magical. You won't feel like, tired. I remember in my college days, I was playing Counter Strike. It's a game, CS. I'm not sure if you're aware. But that time I didn't have computer at my home, right, so I used to go to cybercafe. Cybercafes' like place where people play video games, and he used to play for like more than 14 hours in a day. And that was crazy. So I feel the same like, you know, I don't feel tired when I'm working on my business. This gives me like adrenaline high, yeah.
Susan Sly 25:21
Yeah. I love that. So you and your wife go for a walk, she shows a challenge, you share a challenge, you get that fresh insight. And I love that. Chris and I do the same thing. And it's because we work together. He's the CFO in Radius so, and sometimes we're at the office, we have growing offices, but sometimes we're both at home but we don't get to talk during the day. So I completely understand. You're the, in hundreds of interviews I've done, including with founders who created gaming companies and exited, you're the first person who said treat it like a video game. And I love, Pratik, I'm never going to forget that. I love that analogy. Because when you're playing a video game, you can, your play, and then when you're done playing, you're done playing and then you pick it up again and you play. It's such a beautiful analogy.
Susan Sly 26:10
Pratik, I think what you're building within INSIDEA is so inspiring. And you know, I love, and I want all the entrepreneurs all over the world to hear this. Pratik bootstrapped it. He took a job as a cleaner. And Jorge Purgly, who listens to every show, he's in New Zealand. Jorge, see, someone else just like you, Jorge, he emigrated from Brazil to New Zealand, his first job was as a janitor. And to be humble, and to continue to offer more value and offer more value. Another lesson from this show is
Susan Sly 26:43
that putting yourself out there and hey, I'll do this in exchange for a testimonial. I've said that as a longtime marketer, like do your first three for free. So you get those testimonials and you iron out the kinks in your offering. And so Patik, I love that. So people every in the shownotes you have the link to all of INSIDEA's social media, you have a link to all Pratik's social media, go follow him on LinkedIn. I
Susan Sly 27:07
messaged him, he messaged me back. He's like me, he's on top of his own LinkedIn. I'm not paying someone else to do mine either. And Pratik, I can't thank you enough. I think it's incredible.
Pratik Thakker 27:18
Like thank you to you. Because I didn't feel that we were actually doing this podcast. I felt like you know, I'm talking to a fellow entrepreneur who understands this ecosystem very well. So I was really like, enjoyed every single second of it.
Susan Sly 27:37
Well, thank you and when we come back to Israel, so what the listeners didn't hear about, what they could hear in this show, Pratik and I, longtime vegetarians, but we had a whole discussion about shawarma.
Pratik Thakker 27:53
Yeah, and this is what Israel has to offer and you change your like, you know, when you try something new and sometimes you fall in love. Yeah, so it is really good sometimes. So yeah.
Susan Sly 28:06
Yeah, I'm gonna give, and so for our, for the team that does our Instagram for the show, I'm giving a shout out to Hummus Plus, my kids ate there every single day when we were in Brazilia, and I'm giving a shout out to Tulip Vineyard because I still order, if kosher wine, forget Manischewitz. Tulip Vineyard is like so amazing. And I've ordered their black tulip wine. Everyone who works there has a learning difference. And it's so awesome. So Shouts out to both those businesses in Israel and to INSIDEA. Pratik, you're awesome.
Pratik Thakker 28:44
You are awesome, 10x.
Susan Sly 28:47
Thank you so much. Well with that, my friends all over the world, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If you haven't yet, we'd love a five star review. Just go on, I read all your reviews. If I read your review on the air and you email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will give you a $50 amazon gift card. And so with that, go rock your day, God bless and I will see you in the next episode.
Susan Sly 29:14
Hey, this is Susan and thanks so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If this episode or any episode has been helpful to you, you've gotten at least one solid tip from myself or my guests, I would love it if you would leave a five star review where ever you listen to podcast. After you leave your review go ahead and email email@example.com Let us know where you left a review. And if I read your review on the air, you could get a $50 amazon gift card and we would so appreciate it because reviews do help boost the show and get this message all over the world. If you're interested in any of the resources we discussed on the show, go to Susansly.com That's where all the show notes live. And with that, go out there, rock your day, God bless, and I will see you in the next episode?
Susan Sly 30:06
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