Shubhankar Srivastava is a true entrepreneur. In November of 2020, we hosted him on the Asia Tech Podcast to discuss his previous venture.  This time he was joined by another incredible entrepreneur, Divyansh Saini, a co-Founder at houseware.  houseware converts metrics into data apps for everyone. 
Some of the topics the co-Founders covered:
  • The entry into the startup world
  • How risk-taking plays a big role in life
  • The different cultures of corporates and startups
  • The why and how around the founding of houseware 
  • How their previous experiences help them to build and scale company culture
  • Deliberately retaining a certain amount of ambiguity while scaling
  • The necessity of understanding the problem they are trying to solve right to its core
Other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. I Wanted to Lead From the Front 
  2. Allegiance Is Not to the Problem but to the Solution
  3. Taking Risks All Day, Every Day
  4. The Creations Have to Sit Closer to the Outcomes
  5. It Was Always a Means to an End 
  6. I Love Building Products
This episode was produced by Isabelle Goh.

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:32
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to India GameChanger. We’re not sure what we’re going to get today, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to get something good. Today we are joined by Shubhankar Srivastava and Divyansh Saini, co-founders at houseware. Shubhankar, you’ve been on the show before. So you’re a little bit out of luck with a little bit of a self-introduction, but Divyansh. Thank you so much for joining this time. How are you doing?

Divyansh Saini 0:58
I’m doing very well, Michael, and thanks a lot for having me on the show. Excited to be joining you.

Michael Waitze 1:03
Yeah, it is my complete pleasure. We’ve been waiting for this for a while. And before we get to the main part of this conversation, whatever that’s gonna be. Let’s get a bit of your background for some context.

Divyansh Saini 1:14
Absolutely. So as you rightly mentioned, I’m one of the co-founders of houseware, what we do at houseware essentially, we are building a solution for revenue operations teams to figure out like how to build data applications, how to make them creators of data. It’s been a little over nine months, and Samantha and I have been working together on this problem statement. Prior to that I have been in the data space myself for the last five years or so now. I was previously the first head of this company called Aslan, it’s a half a billion dollar company in the data catalog market. And as the first time in that company in joining at a pretty early stage, you pretty much do anything and everything. So sales, marketing, account management, data stuff. And more importantly, I embedded myself with a bunch of our customers as a data person. So these are companies like fortune 500, CPG companies and the depth to startups face company in the FinTech ecosystem. And this is where I really came across the problem that we are solving today at houseware and Sumangala. And if you go back now close to five years of knowing each other, and yeah, that’s our house, they came to me. So that’s a little bit about me.

Michael Waitze 2:19
Yeah. Just a couple of quick questions. So you’re working for this half a billion dollar company? I presume it was, if you were the first hire, right? It was a startup in and of itself. What makes you join the startup world? Like, have you had a corporate style job? Or did you just go straight from university into like, small, agile startup companies?

Divyansh Saini 2:40
Yeah, so that’s a great question. I think, very, from the very beginning of my internships going back to like my freshman year of college I’ve been just interning at startups really have, yeah, so I think the motivation to build something of your own and to build something which can drive meaningful impact, and where you can lead from the front has always been there for me. And I didn’t have like a bunch of corporate exposure by the virtue of like almost being a consultant to our customers, the half a billion dollar company that was mentioning, so I pretty much spent almost a year working inside a fortune 500 from their offices, and get to experience that as well, which helps me sort of figure out like who your customers are and what they will need. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 3:19
I mean, I’ll get back to that in a second. But I’m much more curious about where this look, if you go to a university, if you get into one, right, you must have done well in your school prior to that. There’s always this family pressure, right? Whether you’re in India or in Connecticut, to like, just go get a job, don’t let the family down. Like don’t do something risky, right? Why not do something? Not easy, right? But easier and stable? Is there entrepreneurship in your family as well? Like what your mom and dad like? Look, dad’s never had a job. Dad’s always been an entrepreneur or mom’s always been an entrepreneur and you followed kind of in their footsteps? Or did you kind of do this on your own? You know what I mean?

Divyansh Saini 3:55
Yeah, and again, that’s something that I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about, like, Where does this, I would say, come from right. And the convincing answer that I was able to find was that it was quite the other way around. It was not that I did have any many entrepreneurs in my family, it was the other way around that I’ve seen my father working for the Indian government, I’ve seen how hard it can get and when you don’t really control the environment and the kinds of things that you want to do. How do you really break through from that is by building something that you really want to do? And which is where I think the motivation really came from by looking at the environment of how typically the mainstream job so to say our and not to not to say that it’s anything bad that I would want to do that sometime maybe in the future, but that’s something which made me realize that hey, this is something that I want to do I want to create an organization which people love working at which creates an environment and culture of trust and equality between people.

Michael Waitze 4:49
Do you take risk and other parts of your life? Do you know what I mean? Like a lot of people that are entrepreneurs will do like helicopter skiing or they’ll like big wave surf and or skydive or something like that. Is that something that you do as well? Or do you like take all of your risk in this format?

Divyansh Saini 5:07
I think I’m taking this all day every day. It’s part of the job in general. But jokes aside, I think, yeah, I’ve been quite big on the side. And it really started from the fact that I went to school to study engineering. And I dropped out of engineering, I just like graduated in four years thinking that, hey, I don’t really need a degree which validates what I am, who I am, I can just like make my mark in the world by working at places by proving what my military is inside an organization. And it started like, much back when I was 1817. Aside doing that, taking these small risks, eventually, which compounded into joining and starting houseware. And yeah.

Michael Waitze 5:50
So I want to get back to this being embedded in big corporations, right? Because I do think and you’re talking to somebody that means Michael, who spent his whole life like getting his soul destroyed inside of big companies, right. And I think it’s different than being embedded. We can talk about that if you want in a moment. But do you feel like like, what do you think you learned from being inside those companies? And did you always kind of get the sense that that was your only way into experience that like a lot of the entrepreneurs that I talked to consider themselves in quotes like unhearable? In a way, right? Because they do want to lead from the front as opposed to have kind of following from the side or from the back? You know what I mean?

Divyansh Saini 6:32
Yeah, yeah, I think my experience while I was embedded inside this large fortune 500, for more than a year was, I would say, quite eye opening. For me, there were a lot of good things about it. And the best part was that you get the best of both worlds, you’re working in a startup, which is pretty fast paced, doesn’t really have any, I would say dress code. So to say that people are just like coming in walking into the office and working on like, really cool stuff. At the same time, there’s this organization, which is everyone is doesn’t formals and dress shoes and whatnot. And you’ll see like a lot of people working in the office coming in into elevator, and sort of making this large big machinery work. So it almost like was a I would say paradigm shift for me when I used to work from the startups office versus when I used to work from this fortune five minutes office. I do think that did you do

Michael Waitze 7:24
differently, do you not? I mean, like if you if for that year that you were going to this other company did you have to put on like proper trousers and a proper shirt, and like some days, you’d go back to the startup and they’d be like, dude, way to dress up for this kind of thing?

Divyansh Saini 7:36
Yeah, I guess when you’re the customer facing person, you do have to dress differently, I guess, to your dress for who you’re meeting? And yeah, in most cases, so I did. In fact, as funny as it sounds, it’s a lot of learning experience from him, because I had never experienced what a fortune 500 How do they operate? What is the decision making? Like? How does top down follow as an approach from a strategic point of view? And also how does bottom up really play out? Who are these individual contributors in different parts of the organization who can eventually rise up and like really change something inside an organization? So a bunch of interesting phenomenon is human behavior, which you see happening in these organizations, just because these are like small pots are people who are working towards a very large machinery that’s working bunch of interesting learnings. They’re around what makes people think like what makes people not think alike? How can you really channel their thirst in certain direction and things like that, which is, I think, super helpful as an entrepreneur, because you’re always telling your story. You’re always telling your story about why people should be working with you why people should be investing in you, and more importantly, why a customer should find the value that you are looking to showcase them. Yep.

Michael Waitze 8:47
You said something really interesting before, right? You said when you were 18, or when you were in school, you were studying engineering, and you decided to stop doing that. And it always reminds me of this funny story that a gentleman from India said on stage when I was there for a startup event, it must be now in like 2017 or 2018. And he was I think I’ve actually said this to Shubhankar. But if you haven’t heard this, if you want, you should you should hear it and just tell me what you think. He was making kind of a presentation and just talking about the company that he was building, which was an edtech company. Right? And his parents were not proud. And he said the reason why is that, you know, he said, for me, at least in my family and in India at scale, like there were really only three professions you can have. Right? One is a doctor. Two is an engineer, and three is a family disappointment. And I just love that it just I cannot stop thinking about it when you say this, and that’s why I always ask this question. Like, you know, my mom and my dad wanted me to be a lawyer and my brother to be a doctor. That’s just a fact. Right? And my brother’s a neurosurgeon. So good on him and a very successful one and kind of a famous one to be Fair, I was never a lawyer. And you can laugh, but like, there was some disappointment. And there was always this like, that’s what you’re going to do really? And I’m just curious, right? Because you said your dad worked for the government, which is the ultimate sort of, it’s hard. Like, that’s super hard work, right? But it’s the ultimate and conservative, right? Because that jobs never gonna go away. Was there some concern for you when you were just like, yeah, nevermind, I’m not going to be an engineer. I’m just going to kind of do what I want to do kind of thing. You know what I mean?

Divyansh Saini 10:28
Yep. I think Michael, we have much more in common than we thought earlier. So my sister is also a radiologist, by profession. And I think my parents also wanted my sister to be adopted me to be an engineer. And I ended up being in the third category, as you rightly mentioned. But yeah, interestingly, I think one thing which I started doing and telling my parents very early on as my ambitions, so when I just I was graduating from my senior school, and this was when you enter college into engineering, I told them, hey, this is the last time I’m studying. And they thought it this guy’s joking. That’s what probably everyone says when they’re entering college, right. And I entered the college in my freshman year of college, the first semester, the results come, and they’re like, Oh, this guy’s really serious. He’s actually not gonna study. And by that time, I’d already started sort of making some moves into the startup ecosystem. I was already interning this is, as I said, like when I was 18. So they were they’re, like, pretty happy that at least I’m doing something. Yeah. And that keeps them going. I guess, like, over time, like they found like enough convincing material that, hey, this guy is up to something like just leave him to do whatever he wants. And they’re pretty supportive in that way. And they’ve never really sort of tried to push me into one direction or the other. Yeah, but as you can understand, like coming from a family where government job is probably what people value a lot as the at least in the previous generation. They do feel that, hey, there’s a little bit of uncertainty in this new way of how startups are they inform startups also, there are a lot of layoffs happening in today’s seasons, right and recession going. So there are those blooming things, but at the same time, like they believe in me, hopefully, hopefully they do. And that’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps them going.

Michael Waitze 12:11
I’m sure they do. I want to talk about Atlin just a little bit, right? Because as employee number one, you said, You’re the first person hired into there. Now you said it’s a half a billion dollar company, at some point they must have known like, these must be your friends or people that you knew from somewhere, right? They must have known, this dude’s definitely gonna leave at some point. Because like you say, you want to lead from the front, and you cannot lead from the side like, it’s, it’s almost not possible. I’m sure they were supportive. When you did leave, like, yep, we kind of knew this was gonna happen. And maybe we’ll also be a client kind of thing, because he can help us do this out of the other thing from his own perch. But what was the trigger for you? Like, what was it where you said, I got it now, like, I think I’ve learned enough. I’ve experienced enough from the corporate side. And from the startup side, and I’ve seen a little bit of UPS, a little bit of downs. But now I want to do this on my own. What was that trigger? Do you know?

Divyansh Saini 12:59
Yeah, absolutely. I think it had been CEO when I was a data lead, seen like a full circle of journey going from no product, just an idea in people’s minds. Having a team of like, almost like 60 people working now towards the idea, many customers were fine, like really good value out of it. Investors validating it visually. It’s important. So I left Atlanta series A in around March 2120 21. And the trigger for that was actually that had spent three years at this company, doing zero to one with really good founders, really good investors. And like you rightly mentioned, I had always wanted to lead from the front in an organization that I’m setting up in the ways in the form that I wanted to be. And people knew that I think the one thing I say often to people is that I had joined Atlanta to leave. Obviously, someday, I just didn’t know when at some point, I stopped thinking that, hey, I got a startup, I was not really actively thinking that, Hey, I gotta quit one day, I was putting all my effort into building this company, which is now a great company. And, yeah, the trigger point, as you mentioned, so I think it was December of the end of the year 2020. And this is the time when I was thinking what next in the next year, I’m going to do from an admin perspective and what I’m going to be working on and I was at that point leading alliances and Technology Partnerships, and in this company in this role, and realize that I’m at a comfortable place, the company is growing people are doing well. It’s gonna keep growing from here. And maybe I was 25. Back then 24. Maybe, maybe at this point, this is not what I really want to do. This is not what I always wanted to do. So it was always a means to an end. And I think at that point is when it became clear to me that hey, I should probably start exploring and good thing that was happening was the kinds of problems that we’re solving today at houseware. Avoid the kind of problems that I never stopped talking about to all the people that I used to meet. So it was almost like a natural extension to the problem that I was seeing in the class. Some ways that Atlin was working with, I was seeing this problem. I was talking, talking to people about it, including people like Sri Lanka. But I was co founded eating a bunch of people and figuring out like, hey, is this ad a problem?

Michael Waitze 15:12
So let me go to Sri Lanka for a second, right? Because I feel like he’s lonely in a way like it’s really the conversation. He’s about to applaud, actually. But where did you two meet each other? Did you? You may have mentioned that already. I don’t remember like, where did you get to meet each other? And why did you decide to found this together? Because Trivago This is not your first time starting a company from scratch? Yeah,

Shubhankar Srivastava 15:34
yeah. So both of us went to the same college in India. And we were one year apart. We knew each other from college days, I used to build side projects. I’m a computer science undergrad. So I loved building products. And what I used to do was with a bunch of friends, push out one product, and launch it with a group of friends. early customers maybe even put it on Product Hunt. At that point, they want us to come in at that point of time, launch something on product time you dated a hunter, and the reaction, I kind of had that relationship where he used to help us launch products. And we started talking about what we’re doing with data or what we’re doing with startups. After that, as well. I moved to Singapore, to build a startup called radically where we were building compliant SAS. And this startup as well, we were doing a lot of data pipelining, we were building algorithms and machine learning models to understand regulatory content. But behind all of that, essentially, you’re building a bunch of data pipelines. And I used to be in touch with developers because I knew he was building something cool at Atlin, this data catalog product. When I started to realize the pain of revenue teams and non technical users, non technical people like growth engineers, salespeople, not understanding what data means. And I was facing that because I was solving their ad hoc requests on a day to day basis. When I started to talk with the branch about this problem, we realized, oh, shit, there’s something here. At that point, I was moving on from radical a and thinking of my next step. And deviance actually came in at that right moment where this light bulb moment created a bunch of cycles in my head. And I decided this is worth giving everything up. And like giving the next 10 years, this particular problem statement. So yeah, that’s that’s where we met. So

Michael Waitze 17:37
I think a lot of founding teams struggle to find the right balance between a technical founder, like a computer science founder, right, who really understands and we should be clear, right? A computer science founder doesn’t just mean somebody who knows how to code stuff, right? Because there’s a lot of architectural decisions that need to need to get made when you’re building a company from scratch. And when you’re writing software from scratch, that aren’t necessarily coding per se, right, but that architectural, what does this actually have to look like at scale before we get there, and then write the code to kind of build that. And I think people misunderstand this. They just think people, they’ve studied computer science, or just like, they learn how to write PHP, or Ruby on Rails, or C sharp or whatever. And then they’re done with it. But the science part of the computer science part is understanding a lot of the what does the architecture have to look like to make it the most efficient type of thing and I think people struggle. Also with this natural tension between all that’s just the sales and product guy, and the comp side, guys, the guy that knows everything, but I think the reality is that the combination there is really, it’s more than one plus one equals two. Is that fair? Divyanka. Do you know what I mean?

Divyansh Saini 18:46
Yeah, and think, Oh, funny incident comes from mine. So we were interviewing a person who had just come to our office for an engineering role. And it was me Shubhankar. And this other person in the room, we were just like, sort of breaking on the problem statement that they were going to work on. And keep us first I’m surprised to see me there because people don’t expect people expect, like, as you mentioned, the two co founders, okay. Like one person is probably doing sales. Other person is doing engineering, and it’s like a very clean split. That person found me within 15 minutes, I’d pretty much roll my sleeves. I was I open up postman running some API’s. And that was super surprising, like what is happening here? Because I assume that you are the person that’s actually just going out there. Yeah, the other guy, right, like so. People have that perception of the other guy. But I think the reason why and you will ask him like our titles before the podcast itself. So the reason why we call us as co founders, because we are not just engineers or salespeople here individually, we are company builders, and we both have to build that company equally, and sort of contribute to it. And we don’t really have clean boundaries when it comes to some of these things, at least today, and intentionally so. So Shubhankar just yesterday, he was at a customer’s office the entire day long working with our users understanding their pain points, because that empathy has to flow back into the product and the engineering team and And on some days, you would find me being able to sort of resonate with the engineering team understanding the kind of architecture decisions that they’re making. Just because I’ve been in the data space, and there was a long time when an acklins team, there were 25, engineers, I was the only the other guy. And when you’re when you’re the only other guy in the room, you got to absorb everything that they’re saying. And they got to also understand this fact, like what you’re saying. So you sort of work up to that, to build that shared language and shared understanding that people are able to understand and as you rightly mentioned, like build that architecture to scale in the future. So we don’t see that way, in this stage of the journey, especially when we are very early. We don’t try to fit ourselves into titles and that goes across the across the team, I would say today, the website that you have behind you is was again, built by a person who, who actually is not an engineer. And he just like, again, like one day, he just decided, hey, I want to make some changes to this. Can I do it? And we’re like, why not? There’s no one stopping here for anything. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 21:00
How big is the company now?

Divyansh Saini 21:02
So we have seven full time employees.

Michael Waitze 21:04
Okay, that’s good. So you’re still interested, that keeps them makes me happy? Tell me now exactly. What is houseware? Do like what were the problem sets that you were running into you and you are at your other companies, and you thought this actually needs to be its own thing?

Divyansh Saini 21:19
Yeah, so I think the problem that household is trying to solve is been a problem for the last five decades or so. And we believe it’s going to be a problem for the next couple of decades, even, even without as existing or existing. So I think the problem remains largely about the kind of roles that you mentioned. So there’s always this data and engineering team, which is speaking the language of tables, rows, columns, schemas, none of which are the people in the revenue function. Who are people in sales, customer success, marketing, product finance, understand, they don’t really care about which table has what data about my customers, what schema is stored, and what is the database, where is it hosted and things like those, there’s a shared language, which is missing between these two functions, which is the revenue function, which we largely call and the data and engineering function. Now database level is existed and become really, really good in the last five decades. Now, you can spend one up in whatever part of the world without having to sit there. And you can scale it up to multi petabytes of storage. But what is the hard challenge is like building that shared context and learning so warehouse, where it comes in is that it provides metrics as almost like a first class citizen, to anyone inside the revenue function to be able to build applications on top of it. So typically, people inside the revenue function, people in customer success product have always been given dashboards, given reports and saying that, hey, you do your you do your stuff with this. And that’s where you’re limited to the words or I would say converging to a point where these users are also now becoming technical enough to create applications, they have to lead. In a world where you’re working in a technology company, you can’t call yourself non technical, that DNA is already gone. And these users are really dying for an experience, like however it becomes, I wouldn’t say like dumbed down but really simplified to an extent that they’re still able to do super, super user stuff. So things like who are the users on my applications, who invited more than five users in the last 30 days, I’m gonna send them a different kind of an email campaign. Something as simple as this today, it takes them like multiple CSV downloads from multiple different tools, uploading it elsewhere. And then finally writing down an email campaign, then sending it across. It shouldn’t be this hard It takes takes somewhere between like three people getting data access, figuring out like, where to upload it, what, what names and column names and the mean, and then do it. So the way we solve this problem is that we provide them with a one stop solution, which is a metrics to intelligent data as product today. No metrics are the language that these people speak on a day to day basis. So these are daily active users monthly active users join, which is the first asset is an atomic unit on top of which they build applications and the use case on top of,

Michael Waitze 23:46
look, are we presuming and I just want to make an analogy, right. So when I was sitting on the trading desk, we spent a lot of time working with our support teams are you know, there are technical teams, right to be able to write better applications so that we could trade better and understand what was happening with the trades. We were thinking about doing the trades that we had done all this stuff, but we never got to a point where it was. So where was low code enough that we could actually build that stuff ourselves? Right? This is a while ago, but even so like we knew what kind of what we wanted, or we thought we did, but we couldn’t build it ourselves. But what happened over time was that they started hiring people that actually could write but I think what you’re suggesting is that you don’t have to be a computer scientist to be able to understand I need access to this kind of data. I don’t care what it looks like in the in the in the database at all actually, just make sure that the database is valid, cleaned and like relevant to me. And that if I need to do something or understand something that I should be able to spin that up myself, right. Is that fair? In other words, in the same way that like, you know, 100 years ago, if you wanted to make a phone call, somebody had to connect a bunch of wires and press a bunch of buttons and then today we just have a phone in our pocket that everybody knows how to use. Is that the same kind of thing?

Divyansh Saini 24:58
Absolutely, I think In return, the reason for this is largely because all of this creation of insights has to sit closer to the outcomes. It cannot data cannot just be treated as a service function where you read them requests and then they come back with that decision making loop in today’s day and age is to, I would say long for you to be able to take dynamic decisions on your user base. Data is becoming that function now in your organization, which is empowering that. So how do you allow people inside sales, marketing, customer success, and they have enough people who are caused a technical likely like to say, so these are called technical users who are technical enough to build some of these applications. So these might not be your sales reps. But these might be your growth product managers, these might be your live ops folks, even in some cases might also be like functional data analysts, or finance data analysts who really want this data in their hands to build applications on top of

Michael Waitze 25:48
I mean, to be fair, it feels like it’s disintermediated in a bunch of different problems, right? The first thing is that at some point, everything that used to be technical just becomes normal. And everybody knows how to do it, right? A cell phone or a mobile phone, or a smartphone is the perfect example of this, right? Like, if I had told you 20 years ago that your grandmother would be texting you on WhatsApp, you’d be like, that’s never gonna happen. And you wouldn’t believe it either. It would seem like, you know, space talk. But now everybody does that. And they take it for granted. But on the other hand to the other problem is that, like, I may know, in my mind what I want. And if I go to my data analysis team and say, I think I want this thing, by the time they get it back to me, first of all, I may have changed my mind. But second of all, I may realize that I explained it improperly. And then it creates this unnecessary cultural tension between, you know, I always used to say, when I was in Morgan Stanley, that the guys in the equity controllers department were complete idiots. But I knew that the equity controllers thought that the guys in the fixed income controllers were complete losers, until one of us switch departments and then they were your best friends. I’m not kidding, because I saw what happened. But I realized this really early, because that’s the way people talked about five times inside of these big companies like those guys are idiots until you go, Okay, you’re now reassigned to equities. And the like, these are the greatest guys in the world, which they always were. But I think inside big companies, it’s always like that, right? So the data guys must think, Oh, the salespeople are jerks. Yeah, but at some point, those those functions actually merge, because neither one of those things is actually true. Right. Anyway, so I think that’s super interesting. And I guess that brings up something else from you know, you want to lead from the front, right? And if you’re starting again, with seven people, and it’s important to you that anybody can make changes to the website, or that you consider yourself co founders. And I kind of use this terminology before of like, you’re the other guy. It’s a joke I make to myself sometimes, because I’m the other guy. But the reality is, you have to build a company culture that supports the fact that everybody doesn’t have the same skill set. But all those skills are pretty are very useful. How important is this company culture to the both of you? And like, what do you do to make sure that it’s, it’s growing the way you want it to grow? Does that make sense?

Shubhankar Srivastava 27:58
It’s a it’s a question we ask. And we keep discussing on a daily basis. In fact, yesterday, we had a long conversation about it, as to how so we started, the two of us started this September of 2021. We started hiring actively in Jan, the last six months have been fun to say the least. We’ve built bunch of systems that work right now, we’ve built a bunch of processes, some ambiguity that is deliberate, so as to have a system of shared communication so that we all know what we’re all working on. But the next six months are going to be different, how we scale culture is going to be different, right? But given all of that, like your state of the company might change, your role might change. What stays consistent is the values, right? The values of our about how you show up to work, whether you care about what you’re building that has to stay the same, whether it is seed stage series, a stage Series B stage, so that’s something that we’re trying to identify, what’s that constant. And we call this like, how you do anything is how you do everything. This should stay constant, whether it’s your personal life, whether it’s your professional life, whether it’s the smallest bug that you’re fixing a CSS element, or whether it’s the architecture decision that you’re taking for the next five years. How you do anything, is how you do everything. So that’s one of our guiding lines that we go with when it comes to culture. But yeah, it keeps changing. It requires constant thinking, constant, checking in with people checking in with myself, how am I feeling? Do I see that this is going to last for the next six to 12 months? How do I reinvent myself? How do I reinvent my team for the next challenge? But yeah, it’s it’s fun to say the least.

Michael Waitze 29:48
Yeah, for sure. And look, I was talking to a business partner of mine about the same exact thing today, right? Like when there are six of you or seven of you. It’s pretty easy to have your company culture be consistent and to make sure that those values are consistent. as well. And I like this idea of like deliberate ambiguity, we want to leave some things where it’s not like, the only way to do this is step one, step two and step three, because that’s what you’re stuck with. Right? But as long as you have these sort of open lines of communication, you run less of a risk that things are going to be misinterpreted. Yeah, and deviance, I’m kind of curious for you, because you saw that zero to one movement. And to get from zero to one, you have to go from no employees to 60 or 70, or 100, or whatever it is. Did you learn anything along the way? You know what I mean? Were you like, made mental notes yourself? Like, you know, we shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that kind of thing. And I don’t even really care what they are. I’m just kind of curious. Overall, you know what I mean?

Shubhankar Srivastava 30:40
Absolutely. And

Divyansh Saini 30:42
I think a few things that come to our mind, like one of the things that I keep repeating to the team on a very consistent basis, is the fact that allegiance in this market is to the problem not to the solution. What that means is that, hey, we are always be striving for understand the problem in the best possible way, we might not have the best solution, we might build something, but you might also break it, and you might move away from it, just because the market wants something else. And we are learning about the problem. So like this is something which stays true, I guess for the company stage, irrespective of their pre seed or seed, or even like series D companies are trying to find product market fit. It’s just that insulin different Nina, different buyer persona. So how do we keep reinventing ourselves and getting to understand the problem at a very core is something which is very important to us. And something which I have learned in my previous journey as well that if let’s say you’re true to yourself to the market that you’re building for, you will eventually land up at the right solution, as long as the team is good. And that’s the kind of belief that we have that we’ll we’ll do our best to get the best people to build this. And as long as we understand the problem, we’ll arrive at the solution. It might take like two months, it might take like two years. We don’t know that. But when we arrived, we arrived. So yeah,

Michael Waitze 31:52
it’s a really interesting issue. Right? You know, I said, I worked at these big companies for my whole career, and it was kind of soul destroying, but I’ll leave that to the side. I, I struggle with how to create the right level of structure. So that it’s balanced enough so that that ambiguity that you talk about is still there. But that people can get things done because you’ve structured, whatever the environment is in which people need to work so that they understand what they need to do, if that makes sense, while still maintaining that ambiguity so that the creativity doesn’t get slowed down. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a hard thing to do. Anyway, I love this. When you said how you do anything is how you do everything. I was like, Oh, God, it’s like a gift given from the guests always to have the title of the show. And then if you want ruined it by saying allegiance is to the problem, not the solution. Now, what am I supposed to do? I have to flip a coin at some point. Anyway, you guys are awesome. I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I really want to thank both of you for doing this. This was really incredible. And you’ll have to come back, because it’s still early days for houseware. And I feel like it’s not going to be this is not going to end soon. And I want to be part of this storytelling journey so that people can understand not just what the struggles and the challenges are, but how you’ve attacked them. I really appreciate it. Shubhankar Srivastava and Divyansh Saini, co-founders at houseware. Thank you so much for doing this today.

Divyansh Saini 33:18
Thank you so much, Michael. It was an absolute pleasure to be speaking with you. And yeah, I look forward to being back again soon.


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