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Get ready for an exciting episode with Susan as she chats with Indus Khaitan, a remarkable tech entrepreneur and the CEO of Quolum. Indus has achieved incredible success in various fields, from enterprise marketing to product management and VC portfolio advising. With his wealth of experience, he is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Raw And Real Entrepreneurship with Indus Khaitan

Topics covered in the interview

From idea to having a beta product

Silicon Valley myths

Expanding and cultivating network

From introvert to extrovert

Indus Khaitan’s Bio

Indus is a dynamic and accomplished tech entrepreneur. Throughout his career, he has assumed diverse roles including enterprise marketing, product management, VC portfolio advisor, and growth officer. Presently, he serves as the CEO at Quolum. His prior venture in cloud mobile security was acquired by Oracle. Currently, Indus is dedicated to developing Quolum, an all-in-one SaaS Management and Security platform catering to the SaaS requirements of Finance, IT, and Procurement teams within tech-savvy organizations.

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Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:00
Hey everyone, Susan here. I am so excited about today's episode, this founder has already had a successful exit. His previous company was acquired by Oracle. He is now building a new business. And if you are familiar with Wayne Gretzky, the great Canadian hockey player who once said, you have to skate to where the puck is going, his founder started his business and went through the pandemic, and definitely was skating to where the puck was going. And you're going to learn not only how he had to stand true to his vision, but also how he overcame being a severe introvert to creating a place and a process where he could be a situational extrovert, which has helped him network, which helped him raise funds for a startup. And he's just a super cool guy, we are about to have an incredible conversation, I'm excited for you to join us. And just to let you know, if you are a person who is high stress, dealing with a lot of life, you work out, you're wondering, you know why your workouts aren't feeling as good. Maybe you're feeling a little sore, or maybe you're just not feeling very motivated, then I want you to check out Aim7. Aim7 is an app that I personally use. It works on an Apple Watch, it works on your garmin, and Aim7 allows you to use your biofeedback and have it customize what you need for that day. So maybe it's not a day to do CrossFit. Maybe instead you should go for a walk, maybe it's a day you can go out and hammer or maybe it's a day you need more sleep and Aim7 is going to tell you that and much more. And it combines two of my passions, AI and health and full disclosure, I am an investor in this company. So check it out, and then put in the code rawandrealAIM7 to activate your free trial. So with that, let's get started with this episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

Susan Sly 02:06
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 02:20
Well Hey, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you are having an incredible day. And like many times before, this particular founder and I started a whole bunch of conversations. And I was like, Ah, I need to hit record. We've talked about everything from China's social credit score to India's attempt to implement that 20 years ago with micro loans to all sorts of things to his ex account, and I thought we better start a new interview here. So my guest today is a dynamic and accomplished tech entrepreneur. He's also a lot of fun. And throughout his career, he has assumed diverse roles including enterprise marketing, product management, VC portfolio advisor and growth officer. Presently, he serves as the CEO of Quolum, which I was all over the website, his prior venture in Cloud Mobile Security was acquired by Oracle, which we're gonna talk about what it's like to be acquired. And Currently he is dedicated to developing Quolum, an all in one SAS management and security platform catering to the SAS requirements of finance IT and procurement teams within tech savvy organizations. And when he isn't contemplating world domination, he has very interesting opinions on X, which I still call Twitter. So I will get there, Elon, I will. And my guest today is the founder of Quolum, the one and only in this Indus Khaitan. Indus, Thank you for being on raw and real entrepreneurship.

Indus Khaitan 03:48
Hey, Susan, happy you know, Thursday and great, great, great being on the podcast.

Susan Sly 03:54
Okay, so we're not even going to talk about entrepreneurship. We were talking about how Korean Air is going to start weighing passengers, you tweeted, it's not called tweeting anymore, what is it called?

Indus Khaitan 04:07
X-ing as in really an X and you know, it cut things down.

Susan Sly 04:12
There are some there are some people I'd like to be X-ing out of my life.

Indus Khaitan 04:19
You publicly tweet about or X about them and you X them out of your life?

Susan Sly 04:24
I guess I guess so. So let's let's jump in and talk about that. What the heck!

Indus Khaitan 04:32
I think it's fair to say that they're doing it for a reason because you know, planes have to fly up in the air, they can carry only certain amount of weight. And there is an assumption that a passenger weighs, let's say 150 pounds, and that assumption is now 20 years old. We have become obese, done enough sugar and carbs. So they wan to retest the assumption, so I think that's the fair way to say this. But the way they implemented it was absolutely shocking and disgusting that hey, come to the airport, we're gonna weigh you and I'm gonna put you on the plane. I mean, are you sure I'm a passenger? Is that what you're gonna do. You threw my cabin baggages, you threw my backpacks? Now you're gonna throw me on a scale?

Susan Sly 05:26
Yeah, t's interesting, because it leads into this concept of quantifying human value. Right, we were talking about the social credit score. And when you think about what Korean Air is attempting to do, it's like your value to us as a passenger decreases with how much you weigh, and whether one you know, wherever you're listening in the world, you agree or disagree with that sentiment. But then we look at to the extreme, and we look at China with the social credit score, and how they're quantifying human life and controlling human life. And you, you and I were talking about how in India, they attempted to do this 20 years ago, and could you could you share that? Since we have many listeners in India, they'll probably say, oh, yeah, we remember that.

Indus Khaitan 06:17
So this whole concept of micro lending or micro loan came into existence 20 years ago. And just to give a prologue India doesn't have a credit rating or a mature credit rating, credit profiling system, risk management for an individual nor for a business, it is starting to happen, but not as mature as United States. Of course, I can complain about the other dark side of the credit scoring system in the United States, there's a different topic. So what happens in India 20 years ago, of course, people need money, they want to spend more, they want to build a business. So if you needed $1, who's going to underwrite that dollar? So what they did, they say, oh, let's go to a village. Let your cohort of villagers underwrite your dollar, which means if you do not pay back on time, or pay back at all, you will be named and shamed in that cohort in in that village you live so your colleagues, your father, your mother, your son in law, whoever it is, they will be called upon saying, Hey, Joe hasn't paid. Joe is a bad person. And it starts with a positive attitude. But when money is involved, all emotions are down the drain. And that's what started happening in India. And as a result of that, and this is a shocking part, people committed suicides, because they're not able to pay. And many such programs when they were called out, they got disbanded, government intervene, and so on, so forth. But it's a very long story. And, unfortunately, that's the outcome, which is now being implemented in China, as you pointed out, and we know some of the stories that came out of it.

Susan Sly 08:06
And it's not, and thank you for sharing that. It's not just in China, or just in India, even in the United States, and I'm originally from Canada, when you think about Uber ratings, right? Or Airbnb ratings. So when I stay at an Airbnb, I always tell my kids Indus, I'm like, leave it better than when you found it. And we had rented this cottage in Maine over the summer. And I actually went out, I made sure they had, my kids had cleaning supplies, and I'm like, you vacuum, you. And the property manager, she's like, my cleaners have arrived, and it's spotless, you put all the laundry through. I said, I did everything, but wash the sheets and make the beds. And because I am craving that five star rating, because if I want a property, I know they're gonna gauge my rating over someone else's. It's the same thing with Uber, they'll pick me up or they won't, or Lyft. And we're seeing that here. You're in Silicon Valley. And you know, whether it's someone's credit score, it's whether it's someone's rating, or if they have a blue checkmark, it's starting to permeate here in the United States. And do you think that that type of thing is also potentially going to start to play a role in terms of who gets funded and who doesn't with their startups?

Indus Khaitan 09:28
That's a great question. And I'm just thinking deeply, I very much remember the goal of ratings was to remove fraud from the system, you know? Absolutely. You know, the reason credit scores exist because they don't want to pay the fraudulent person who's going to take the money and run. In tech, remember, I am old enough to remember eBay. And eBay was the first major internet platform to come out with ratings because they were either fraudulent buyers or fraudulent merchants, and the rating system removed the fraud that happened on eBay. It has been, like 20 years. And I think we have taken this concept of rating way too far, you know, Uber rides. Yeah, if there's an unhappy conversation because of something that driver did, he's going to rate me that one star because I didn't like the way he was speaking to me or he had cigarette smoke in the car or whatever you. And I pointed to him, and you've now rated me at one star. So this is no longer fraud, it has become an emotional rating outcome. I think that's what it has become. Silicon Valley has been, I would say, to a large part, meritocracy. You know, this, I know this. I grew up in India. And I tell you this, nobody would fund an entrepreneur in India with the credentials that I have. Silicon Valley is ready to fund because they don't care about credentials, they care about, are you changing the world? Again, I'm exaggerating. Are you building something useful? Do you have chops to build it? Do you have charisma to get more people involved? Hence, I'm gonna give money to you, they don't care who I am, where I grew up, whether I had running water or not. And I feel that the same thing that is happening to Uber and Airbnb, very likely, it's gonna happen to venture system, because the number of investors have grown from 1000 funds 20 years ago to 10,000 funds now. So there are systems that rank and rate founders, oh sorry, the investors, I am sure, sooner or later, somebody's gonna say, Oh, this entrepreneur did this in his previous startup, let's not fund him. So the pedigree becomes, quote, unquote, a proxy to the rating. And 10 years down the road, we'll have a formal system. Indus has four stars from his previous startup, let's not give money to him.

Susan Sly 12:07
Yeah. And it's, I love how you broke that down Indus, because where my brain went, is what's happening in the insurance industry with AI, or even in podcasts. So there's AI that will rate the podcast as for advertisers, should they advertise or not. So the NLP will scrub the podcast, and if it's too left or too right, or too purple, or pink, or whatever it is, that then it rates it on a scale on whether advertisers should advertise. And then we see it in the insurance industry, we're seeing it, you know, with all sorts of things, and I think it's a matter of time before if there isn't one that exists for VCs, that it has a variety of inputs, you know, including the founder, social media there, you know, it could be their credit score, could be all sorts of things that it pulls to create that rating on whether they're investable or not. And I see that as something that is coming if it doesn't already exist, because we've you know, we've in 2023, depending on when someone's listening to this, we've heard, you know, on this show that it's the year of, no funding is down. It's a lot trickier. And even for founders like yourself who've had successful exits it's a bit of a challenging environment. So let me ask you this question. In your current company, Did you go for funding or did you bootstrap it? And if so, how is it funded and where are you at now in your funding?

Indus Khaitan 13:43
Yeah, we started in 2019, Summer, just an idea that, hey, there is a requirement for buyers to better manage their software stack. So they don't know who has paid for, who bought it, is there a security gap, is there compliance gap. And with that, we started in summer of 2019, bootstrapped it for six months. And then we got lucky to get Sequoia and Nexus Venture Partners as our seed investors. And our journey continued from there. So 2020, January, we raised our seed round. We are planning to go raise the next round of our Series A but the macro conditions are not that great. The market has shifted from a mindset of show me the momentum and I'm going to give you money to show me the deeper bench of customers. So we are in the market, but kind of waited this out for another six months before we go out and raise money. Exactly knowing what you just described, there is a season of no right now.

Susan Sly 14:50
Yeah, I sat down for lunch with a friend of mine who's an LP fund, and they were going to disperse 90 million, it's a smaller fund this year. They've dispersed $0. And he said exactly the same thing, you know, they don't know what the the climate is going to look like. And they're not anticipating anything turning around until maybe Q2. And because it's the Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, you know, we're having different, you know, economic thrusters that are either going to be favorable or unfavorable. And it's almost like Roman gladiators. Like if you can survive this season, then you can grow a company. When we look back at the great recession Indus and you know, look at the companies that came out of there in terms of Uber and Airbnb, as mentioned, and Instagram and all sorts of unicorns, and they were able to survive. So I see exactly what you're saying, and VCs are asking you to run leaner. One of the startups I invest in, that founder is paying himself $40,000 a year. They are at revenue, but he's operating so lean, all of his people are working mainly just for option. And I'm seeing VCs wanting that. It's almost like Fight Club, they're like, Okay, if you can survive this, you know, we'll invest in you as soon as you hit these amazing benchmarks. And it's like, wow, okay.

Indus Khaitan 16:19
I think there's a, there's a counter thesis to this as well. And you pointed out very rightly, that the best startups that built the Ubers, the Airbnbs of the world, the boxes of the world, the Dropboxes of the world, they came out at a time when there was no money supply and nobody was investing any money. So on the contrary, the best companies, not just those that are going to weather the storm, but also the new ones that are going to come out are getting built right now. And we will see their names five years down the road. But I think this is also a great time for gritty season domain experts to keep building and get started.

Susan Sly 17:04
Yeah, definitely. And I love that you said that. And it was the catalyst for this question I want to ask you is, you know, we, in the show, there have been hundreds of founders who share their stories. Some have had access for 400 million, 600 million, even billionaires who've been on the show. And one of the things that is always a point of curiosity is going from you have the idea to actually have a beta product to put out. So how did that happen for you? What was the length of time? How did you get the right people on the bus, so to speak, in order to get to that beta? Like, I'm so curious about that.

Indus Khaitan 17:47
If I tell you the answer, it's a shocker that we didn't have a product market fit. And I'm going to use the industry lingo, until January of last year. So if you see, we started the first lines of code in summer of 2019, the some working version, January of 2020. We didn't have a product market fit until January of last year, so two years. Now, here's the crazy part. We knew that this is gonna be needed. We knew that there are 200,000 individual SaaS applications. We knew that we no longer are buying only Oracle, only Microsoft but buying from hundreds of midsize and smaller SAS companies. So our thesis was right but our market was not ready. And because COVID happened, people said hmm, I don't need to clean my kitchen. I'm going to just buy whatever I want to buy, come back to you later. So the CFOs would give us a proverbial middle finger, the IT guy would say, Hey, I'm busy right now. You know, it's growth, growth growth. I'm not looking at my back office. We were heads down. We knew this was going to happen. We continue building. And of course, thanks to COVID the money supply the desert economy we lived in, you know, nobody cared about the back office. January happens last year, stock market goes down, DocuSign stock gets haft on their stock price. And all of a sudden people wake up saying, Oh, I gotta clean up the kitchen. I got to remove unwanted products. I got to look at security of these products. And people started responding to our messages, responding to our calls. So it was essentially, I will not use the word sitting out, but knowing that this is going to happen and building towards that goal, and that's what we did. And now we have 50 plus customers, people use our product every day. We are on a mission to reduce software cost. We are on a mission to Improve software security. And our journey continues.

Susan Sly 20:04
That's incredible. And it takes a tremendous amount of faith and belief to that point, it's like, we know this is gonna come. And for 3, well, almost Well, three and a half years, you're, you know, building code. How did you go out and pitch it to Sequoia and other VCs before you had actual customers? And how did you share the vision of that?

Indus Khaitan 20:28
So two things we got lucky with, so we pitched in, we pitched where the market was going. We pitched the fact that SAS is no longer on the fringes, SAS is mainstream. Today, smaller companies are adopting, sooner or later large companies, 1000 Plus employee company, is going to adopt it, and in across in all verticals. So that was the thesis. And as a result of that explosion of SAS, these are the five problems that need to be addressed. Finance is going to be in dire straits, you know, IT is going to worry about all these accounts that are going to be left idle. And hence somebody has to come in. So the bought into that thesis of what's going to happen, then the SAS explosion was already kind of a visible on the horizon that's coming. We had a few beta customers who were testing this. But you know, that thesis and a few beta customers convinced Sequoia and next is to come in.

Susan Sly 21:32
Yeah, that's incredible. And did you know people at those firms because there's this one of my friends who's a very young founder, he had Andreessen invested. And he, from start to exit, it was only two years and he was a first time founder solving something very specific, but he had a low valuation, low burn. So it was a very straightforward exit. But did you know people there, because part of this whole concept of who do you know, who do you know, who do you know, right? And he started to build his network in SV. So he, these were warmer introductions than just pitching cold.

Indus Khaitan 22:11
So I had known both these firms from my previous startup days or acquaintances through, you know, meeting them at industry events, they have known me from the previous exit that I had. So that definitely helped get those warm introductions. And this is the tale about Silicon Valley that most of the investors are at least one or two hops away. And those warm introductions, even if you don't know anybody helps in, end of the day, they're betting on the market, the product that you're building and the capabilities of the individual. If they know you, that risk is adjusted, saying, oh, yeah, this guy has done something. If they don't know you directly, somebody else is saying, Oh, I'm introducing you this founder, he sold his previous startup or started a business or is doing some incredible. That takes you the same level as some knowing somebody from the past.

Susan Sly 23:16
Speaking of Silicon Valley, we were talking before we went into recording, and you mentioned something about Silicon Valley. So we have people listening all over the world to the show. So what is one myth about Silicon Valley that is not true and what is one that is true?

Indus Khaitan 23:34
Great question. So one myth about Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley equals San Francisco, the city. It is a myth. Silicon Valley is an expensive 50 square mile neighborhood. And I use the word neighborhood because people are connected. They work in common companies and all of that. So it is not San Francisco. San Francisco is a small part. I live 35 miles south east of San Francisco, the city. And the city I live is a, it's called Dublin, Dublin, California. It has the headquarters of the largest SAS company Snowflake. Now, when you think about Snowflake, people say yes, Snowflake, San Francisco Bay Area based, and they think they are based out of San Francisco, the city. No, they're based out of the suburbs of San Francisco far removed from the downtown. That's the myth. And you know, we are like factory workers, you know, living in bedroom communities. And then our factories are all over the neighborhood. That's the myth, not the downtown but the whole 50 square mile radius. The second one which is true, is this huge amount of money and anybody can Go get that and get their startups funded. It is very true. You have an idea, you know you can build something, you can go find someone who is two hops away, an angel investor or an entrepreneur or an investor. You get a meeting two weeks out, you go pitch into the fabled offices of Menlo Park on the Sand Hill Road, and you raise your seed round or Series A. Happens more often than not.

Susan Sly 25:33
It's really interesting because some of the people I know, who've had an easier time getting funded, it's because they're in those Fabled 50 square miles and even extending, I, not that long ago was that Nvidia's head office, because we do a lot of business with Nvidia. And I call it the mother ship, it literally looks like a bit of a spaceship. And that's in Santa Clara, which, you know, I fly into SFO, and then I drive and, you know, to your point, you're going to pass all sorts of amazing companies, by the time you get to Nvidia and then Intel has a big campus also. There I go running past there to hotel I stay at, but it's this expansive area and growing. And because of the cost of housing and so forth, I mean, that it's not just one area, but people again, to your point, who I know get funded, it's like, oh, yeah, well, that I go to my kid plays soccer with that person's kid. And you know, they work at you know, Andreessen, and they just, you know, help fund. And there's a lot of relationship building. How important has expanding your network and cultivating your network been to your success?

Indus Khaitan 26:51
I think that network is very helpful. It helps you validate your thesis of what you're working on, the idea that you have. Somebody will tell you, Hey, you're building an IT product, go talk to this person, he's a CIO at, you know, ACME Corp. Just the fact that you have a network, you can navigate to a potential customer. So that proximity definitely helps. Network also tells you as an entrepreneur, and that you can do sales, because sales is about can you engage, can you talk to someone? You cannot be sitting in a 10 you know, square, you know, room like this and hope that conversations happen. It did, in the last two years, thanks to COVID. I think we're back to normal. So I think, my desire as a founder, so I am an engineer, and you'll laugh at this, absolutely Susan, I'm an engineer, I grew up writing code. I was the introvert you would see as a textbook example, 15 years ago. If you came and approached me, I would say, Okay, thank you bye, in the words that would make you feel to go away, that this person is not interested because I was an introvert. But over the course of 10 years, I trained myself to talk, come on a podcast like yours. If I'm at a get together, I'll be the first one to shake your hand. That was not the case 10 years ago, that was not the case 12 years ago.

Susan Sly 28:26
How did you train yourself to do that? I love that you share that because there's another myth that all founders are natural extroverts. And there are a lot of founder personas, right? You know, they, whether it's a certain outfit they wear or you know, whatever, there's all sorts of different founder personas. How did you train yourself to do that?

Indus Khaitan 28:49
Can I tell you something, and it will shock you. At this moment. One part of my brain is telling me, Can this podcast end and I should go away? But the other part of the brain is telling me what a lovely conversation, I can do this all day long. And that part of my brain that is telling me to get this podcast ended was the dominant part for many, many years. And I have now learned to train it to Hey, shut the hell up. I am not interested in talking to you. I am talking to Susan. I'm expressing myself. I'm having a great conversation, having great time. I think it first became a practice. I'll give you one fine example. Let's say 10 years ago, I would go to an event saying oh, I'm going to meet people but my introvert self will stop me on the edges of the event. I'll be standing at the corner of the door, just watching from the sidelines, probably grab a drink. And as soon as the event ends, I will run away. Thinking nobody's interested in talking to me, but I didn't make any gesture, I didn't initiate. I overcome that using one simple technique. The moment I walk into an event, I go to the center of the event in the middle, within first minute I have to greet someone, say hello, start a conversation. I basically practiced that as a physical exercise to convert me, to train myself. And now it has become a second nature. I walk into a vendor Hey, Susan, how's your day, we have never met, this is Indus, how's your day going? Wouldn't have happened 10 years ago.

Susan Sly 30:36
You just healed 1000s of people around the world Indus, for sharing that. And that's why we call this Raw and Real Entrepreneurship because people think like you. That they would think Oh, Susan's a natural extrovert. I've had times, I remember one time I was in Las Vegas, and I was speaking on stage in front of 20,000 people. And afterwards, I went backstage. And you know, everyone's like, Oh, that was amazing. And I literally took a shot of tequila, gave everyone a hug. Because I was shaking, I went back to my hotel. My husband was with me. And I didn't speak to him for three hours. Because it, I had to, it was like, it takes a lot of energy. And even for the show, when I was, in 2020, I had gone back to school at MIT. And I was like, I know I need to network, but we're all locked in. So you know, what am I going to do? And I used to do media a very long time ago, and I was like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna start my show. And I'm just gonna have conversations with founders. And I really don't care how many people listen to it, I just want to have a conversation. Like, it's two of us having coffee or cocktails, with this whole notion that anyone can be an entrepreneur, regardless of what the roadblock is. And so thank you for that. I feel like, you know that was just so healing It was like that, the beautiful like, I don't know that that beautiful sound heard around the world. Thank you for that.

Indus Khaitan 32:10
Absolutely. I'll just add one last sound bite and you'll love this. I face exactly the same thing as you're facing after a large event. And so I come home any day and my wife is gonna say, hey, go take a shower and remove that theater from your head. Basically, there's, so much anxiety gets built in because we are not naturally extrovert. Now we have trained ourselves, but we need to unwind ourselves in that hot shower or removing the theater as my wife calls it. That brings us to a natural state.

Susan Sly 32:52
I love your wife. What is her first name?

Indus Khaitan 32:55
Jyoti, J-Y-O-T-I, Jyoti.

Susan Sly 32:58
Jyoti. Well tell her that is wonderful wisdom. I will come home and I'll get on the peloton and I'll just like spin and spin and spin and just not talk to anyone. And you and I were chatting prior to going into the show. And I'm about, the day I'm doing the show, I'm about, I'm doing three shows and then I'm leaving to go speak at the Voice and AI Conference in Washington, DC then I speak at the Women in Tech conference with HPE in New York City with Nvidia. And then I go the following week to Austin to speak for Lenovo. And then I go somewhere else, somewhere else. And then I go to Toronto for the women in AI awards. And it's like, I just go back to my hotel room. And I just put on like a cooking show. And I just don't talk to anyone. And shout out to the Food Network. Thank you for my therapy. And I'm a big fan of therapy. Let me ask you this, what do you do in addition to the shower at the end of the day, but what do you do in the morning? Do you have a morning routine to get your head on straight to go into the day because obviously as an engineer, you're very involved in the you know, the all sorts of aspects of your company from the technological state of how the tech is delivered, to patches, to we could go on and on and on. And then you know, you're the founder, so you're overseeing sales and marketing and the vision of the company. So how do you, do you have a morning routine that sets you up for the day?

Indus Khaitan 34:39
I've done a fixed routine. I basically get guided by my calendars. My day begins at 830, like my calendar begins at 830. My day begins roughly around seven. Three days in a week I attempt to go to gym, some days it's two days in a week, some days or three days a week. Keep it flexible. And the reason I say that because if I put it on a calendar, I'll find a reason to not go. I don't put it in a calendar, say, Oh, I didn't go to the gym this week, okay, let's go. And that fragility of that appointment makes me do it even more rather than the rigidity of that appointment. So go to the gym three days a week, get up in the morning, lounge around the house, chat with my wife for like 20, 30 minutes, you know, general, you know, doing random things at home and get on the calls, do the sales meetings in the morning, find a break in the calendar, go grab a cup of tea, talk to her again. 11:30, we don't do breakfast. So we had a two meal family. So we do a brunch at around 11:30, 11:40. And then my second shift begins in the afternoon. So more stuff to be done, more meetings, things that I have assigned to myself, work on those, and then take a break at around 4:35pm. This is our family room by the way. Again, if you're recording this, I have two little boys. We have a TV on the left here. So they sometimes hide behind this table underground and play Playstation, nobody sees them. They have air pods on. I'm working, I'm doing a zoom call, they are enjoying the game. And 5:30 she comes here we grab a cup of tea, enjoy our time, she has something on TV, she watches, I kind of contribute to it. And the second shift ends at around that time. And then my third shift begins which is I'm a cross border team in India, around 8:30 for a couple of hours in the day.

Susan Sly 36:53
I love that you went through that. And just because it is raw and eal. Like, you know, when people hear Silicon Valley founder, they're like, they're you know, they think about movies. And you know, you're in like a, you know, a $78 million mansion and you know, all this stuff. And that's as raw and real as it gets and having the kids during the pandemic. My daughter was having a really hard time with being at home and school. And I moved a desk into my office and I was doing her grade five math with her and then I'd be like on a conference call. And I'd be like, okay, and I said she's getting a PhD right now. She has an MBA, she's getting a PhD, she's learning about edge computing. She is learning edge to cloud, she is learning IoT. She is learning AI, she is learning everything in addition to her grade five math, you know, like she was learning it all. And I love that you said that. I have a final question for you. You know you, you've have this exit, you're building this new company, and Wayne Gretzky, great Canadian, I'm from Canada. I know you love cricket. So I'm going to use a hockey analogy, because I can't think of a cricket one. Wayne Gretzky said you skate to where the puck is going. And you talked about that, like you was, you knew where things were going, and you could see it so clearly. And yet hindsight is also 2020. So if you could go back in time, is there something that you would have done differently, you know, give advice to entrepreneurs, whether they're in Nigeria, they're in India or in the UK, wherever they are listening, what is something you would have done, or you wish someone would have told you like Indus, do this and you wish you would have known?

Indus Khaitan 38:39
I wish I knew COVID was coming. I would not have started during COVID. I would definitely, I would have done.

Susan Sly 38:46
You and billions of people wish they do that.

Indus Khaitan 38:49
I would have just happily taken time off, work remotely, you know traveled around the world and not worry about the startup that I am. Jokes apart, respect it's a great time to start. I think one thing I always struggled in, and this nobody told me earlier is figuring out whether you're building a product which is in a brand new category, or in a category that already exists. To simplify an example being is, is my product a better banana, or a brand new fruit itself?

Susan Sly 39:29
So good.

Indus Khaitan 39:30
And I struggle with it initially. Now I have a rationalization in my head. Because what you try to build is going to be your destiny, whether you will be able to raise money, how you're going to acquire customers. Do you as a founder have resilience to survive because a better banana? Anybody could want a new fruit. Nobody knows about it. I don't even know how it's gonna taste, how it's gonna look, how much skin cost. So be ready for that risk you're going to take, you know, the relationships you're going to test, and your family that's going to endure with you. And if I had known, I would have taken a slightly different path, even for the current company.

Susan Sly 40:18
What a great analogy, it's so resonated with me. And that's why I love these conversations like, we came in to computer vision, the company in Delaware C was signed, late 2017. So we started computer vision in 2018, with multi camera tracking. And then in the retail sector and very specialized sector that were in, to your point, no one had heard of this. And then now we're, you know, there are a lot of people saying, well, we want computer vision, and we want AI but we just don't know what we really want. And you know, there was this, to your point, it wasn't a banana, it was a new fruit. And people were not sure that they even wanted this fruit. And now they kind of know they want the fruit because they've heard that the benefits of the fruit are fabulous. But you know, it's like how do they, and so I so get that and, and category creation for a founder is tough. And I know if people are up for a challenge like you are, it's a wonderful thing. But for people who don't do well with challenge, to your point, and use the word risk, it can feel really risky because you have to out-market anyone. And one of my mentors said Susan, you have to out habit anyone. And in category creation, you have to out market everyone. And so Indus, that is beautiful wisdom, I can't thank you enough for being here. Hopefully you won't need a shower after this. Give my best to Jyoti. She is an angel and a saint for putting up with her founder husband because it takes, it takes, I've been with my husband for 23 years and it takes the right kind of person to put up with people like us.

Indus Khaitan 42:04
Hats off to her. Absolutely.

Susan Sly 42:07
Well, everyone, follow Indus on X. He's absolutely fabulous. It's 1ndus. And all of his social and Quolum social will be in the show notes. If this show has benefited you, especially if you are an introvert and it's giving you courage, and especially if you have an engineering mind like Indus does and can really benefit from what he shared, we would love a five star review. I'm going to be bold and ask for that. And please share the show, tag us, we're active on LinkedIn and X, sometimes Instagram when I'm in the mood to be very candid. But anyway, with that Indus, thank you so much for being here.

Indus Khaitan 42:45
Thank you, Susan, thank you for those questions, you know, really brought out some of my thoughts. Appreciate that.

Susan Sly 42:51
Absolutely. Well, thank you. I feel like you have a best selling book that could really help a lot of people. So, folks, you heard it here on the show. Indus you really do, that so many people struggle with that, I can't even tell you. So after you exit this one, just maybe a pause and a book would be a really good thing. So just a pro tip as a new friend. Anyway, everyone, wherever you are in the world, thank you for being here. I still appreciate you. And with that, God bless. Go rock your day, and I will see you in the next episode.

Susan Sly 43:24
Hey, this this Susan and thank you so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Eeal 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 read a five star review where ever you listen to podcasts. After you leave your review, go ahead and email Let us know where you left a review. And if I read your review on 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 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 44:17
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while and you're just not sure where to start? Well my course Employee to Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook. And that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it, take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Employee to Entrepreneur.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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