“It was definitely a challenge, not just for anyone…but for myself. Because I had to first rewire my own frameworks. Although I was seeing that we have to think long term. But quite honestly, in action, I was not taking actions which were long term in nature.” – Ankur Joshi

India GameChanger welcomed back Ankur Joshi, the Founder and CEO of Nuclei to discuss the evolution of the company and the strategic shifts that have occurred since their last conversation. Ankur delves into the importance of building a trust-based relationship model in business, rather than focusing solely on immediate sales. He also shares insights on fostering a long-term team culture and the personal growth that has informed his leadership style and company ethos.

Some of the big topics that we covered also included:

  • The sacrifices made by his parents to ensure he received a good education laid the foundation for his relentless pursuit of excellence
  • How the entrepreneurial itch led him to leave the traditional banking world to explore the uncharted waters of starting a business, much to the disbelief of his family and peers
  • Nuclei’s mission of infusing traditional banking with a digital-first DNA, catering to the changing behaviors and expectations of a new generation of consumers
  • The importance of global thinking and diversity within teams to truly innovate and meet the needs of a global customer base
  • The transformative power of education, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of innovation

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

Michael Waitze 0:04
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to India GameChanger. Ankur Joshi, a founder and the CEO of Nuclei with us today. Thank you so much for coming back to the show. I don’t know if you remember this. But I checked in the last time we recorded was made 2022. It feels like 700 years ago, but it was just about two. And it was episode number five. So you were kind of like earliest people on the show. And I really appreciate you actually coming on, particularly when the show wasn’t that old. And we talked a lot back then about redefining banking for the digital age. But it was still early in the life of Nuclei. And I’m sure that as a lot has changed. But first of all, how are you

Ankur Joshi 0:43
Can’t be better, Mike, we’re extremely happy, extremely glad to have you back on your show. As I told you the last time, as well as again, just a few minutes vibe that I absolutely love having a chat with you. It’s like so much fun. 10 on 10 points for your sense of humor. But it’s a honor to be on your show. Again, thank you so much for having me.

Michael Waitze 1:07
Thank you, before we kind of jump into the main part of this thing, right? Are there things when you were building back then that you thought were important that you thought would play out that like maybe you got right or got wrong that you kind of want to cover first before we kind of dive deeper into you don’t I mean, when you look back and you think we spent a lot of time thinking about X, Y and Z? And actually we really should have been thinking about this thing. But we learned along the way kind of thing?

Ankur Joshi 1:29
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things which we focused on and has actually a couple of things that you focused on that have turned out to be absolutely right at least until now. One is the focus on our team, to building the right team, bringing in the people with the right attitude and the culture, rather than this focusing on the skill set. Yeah, so I think that has paid back really, really well. Well, that focus maybe we suffered during the initial few years, because we were bringing in the people with the right attitude and not necessarily the right skill, because of which you know, it took us some time to build up the skill set within the team. But bulk of the team right now is very, very long term focused. And those dividends are getting paid up right now, the second thing, and it’s essentially kind of why we also started building the team with a long term focus was essentially focusing on the long term always. So whether it came to people, whether it came to focusing on what clients to work with, whether it came to which products to build, which industries to go after not taking a short term view is now ending up paying some dividends, right, I think it’s still early, we aren’t seeing the exact impact of it. But I think in the next five years, so we just completed five years as an organization, I think in the next five years, we will see a lot more impact of thinking long term across every aspect of the business. So how

Michael Waitze 2:51
do you balance this though, right? This is really hard. The investor timeline versus the management timeline, right? This type of thing is really hard to build and hard to manage. How do you do that?

Ankur Joshi 3:00
So very good question. It’s a very difficult thing to do. Yeah, there is a constant pressure from an investor side to provide them an exit. And that was exactly the reason why we completely bootstrapped.

Michael Waitze 3:13
Was that a conscious choice? And I’ll tell you why. Because I have this conversation with my co founder all the time, we can raise money, we’re profitable, we have good revenue revenues growing, we have really great clients. But do we want somebody else like standing behind us going? It’s not fast enough all the time without really knowing what we’re doing? Was it a conscious decision for you guys as well.

Ankur Joshi 3:30
So it was a conscious second order decision. Now the first order, the first order decision was that we want to build a long term business. Yeah, that was the first guiding principle that we are going to build a long term business and underlining the long term twice, or thrice or 10 times the consequence of that decision. Was that do we want investors who are short term focused? Or do we want investors who are long term focused? Yeah, so it was a very clear, obvious choice that investors who are looking who may look for an exit within let’s say, three to five years, are not suitable investor for us, because you can’t really build a business in five years, right? It takes a much longer to anywhere, you can bet it takes a much longer time. So it became an obvious choice that we shouldn’t raise external capital right away, right. That also drove a lot of other choices in terms of industries. We went after whether we were a b2b or a b2c company, what kind of talent we brought into the company, because if you go in the market, if you look at people, there is a set of people who are excited about b2c companies. Generally speaking, these are also the people who are very, very impatient. They generally like to see success within a year or two. If they don’t see success, they move on to something else. But we wanted to build a b2b company, we wanted to build a long term business and also therefore wanted people who had a lot of patience. So the characteristics or the attitude of people we went after to add to the team was also very, very different. I’m not saying which is right or wrong, because it is right from the perspectives. But I’m just saying from our perspective, we wanted people who are long term focused both on the team, as well as, as our clients, and therefore our clients are banks, because they are also generally very, very long term focused.

Michael Waitze 5:07
We spent a little more time talking about this, if you don’t mind, I feel like you can like there’s a cost of customer acquisition in the b2c space that’s relatively well understood. And again, I’m generalizing too, and I’m making up numbers, because I don’t know what they are. If you pay $100 and spend this amount of money, you’ll get a two and a half percent conversion rate. And those people will come with you know, how long they stay with you is a different story. But in the b2b space, I know this from my own business, it could literally take like from the first conversation of I love what you do, how can we work together to actually doing something? And I’m not exaggerating, nine to 12 months, but and that’s a fact. But once you’re done, you’re there forever. Well, for a while at least, have you found the same thing as well?

Ankur Joshi 5:45
Absolutely, yes. And I’ll slightly give a long winded answer, please. So b2c is fairly well understood right there SCAG, the CLTV. Hopefully, the CLTV is higher than the CAC and therefore the business makes sense. That’s a short answer for b2c b2b. Of course, it is a lot more complex. Our view on it is that if you’re trying to build a short term business, b2b is not the play b2b is absolutely not a play, because every decision which you will take will be short term in nature. And relationships are not built, keeping short term view now and b2b businesses are primarily based on relationships. And it is not that I know that person. Well, that’s why I’m buying from that person. No, it is because I trust this person to come good on their promise. And therefore I will do business with that person. So b2b is less about sales. So we don’t even call it a sales cycle anymore. No, no, you have actually eliminated sale. It’s like a trust cycle. Absolutely. So a stage in our pipeline is a trust stage, where we question whether the client or the people we are engaging with or building a relationship with, do they trust us or not, right, there are multiple metrics on which we measure that. But that’s a stage in our pipeline, right revenue pipeline, we also have eliminated a sales team from the company, we now only have a relationship team, because this is our view, an individual who’s working as let’s say, a product manager in a bank today. Yep. So that individual has five years of experience that individual, we want to work with that individual for the next 20 years. Yeah, today, that individual is maybe not in a commercial decision making position, maybe that individual reaches that position in 15 years from now, or 10 years from now. So today, maybe that individual takes a decision on a $50,000 product, we want to build that relationship out, we want to build a high trust relationship with that individual Three years later, that person will be let’s say, not in India, maybe in Middle East in some other bank enable to take a decision of $200,000 product annually, five years from then let’s say that individual is Chief Digital Officer in a European bank now is unable to take a decision of $3 million, we want to be with that individual at all steps of their career progression. And that also drives a product strategy. So today, if our products are $50,000, or $100,000, or $200,000 a year product, we want to be in a place in seven years from now, where our products have matured so much. And we are having such a big impact that they are now a 5 million $7 million ARR products. So we go along the way we grow along with them, as a company and products also progress and our relationships also progresses. Does that make sense?

Michael Waitze 8:16
It’s a great strategy. And do you feel like most firms that are doing this in reverse, like they try to get to the most senior person and just work so hard to try to get like this big senior deal. When in reality, if they went down like two or three levels, they get a guy or a gal, like you said they buy a $50,000 product a year, but internally, their cache raises because that product works, you work with them, you make sure that they’re like the champion inside their own company of your products, you don’t have to sell it all to the people above you, you just build this great relationship with like, Lisa. And as she gets promoted, everybody underneath or almost by definition has bought into the product, because that’s what’s made her successful. And then as she increases or moves to another bank and gets promoted by definite, she’s like, where’s my nuclei product? How come you guys aren’t using that? You’re laughing, but that’s the way it works, right? They then they call you again. And she’s like, Hey, I just got promoted to SVP. What we need here is different than bigger. Can you give us that she hires two people from the previous bank, they all do the same thing. And now you win, because you’ve been there for three or four years and helped her get promoted. So you win. Right? Does that make sense?

Ankur Joshi 9:19
Absolutely. But let me put this this did not make in the first three years, for sure. Because this did not happen in the first three years. It happened the first time in the fourth year of our company. And we were surprised because a banker who worked in a bank did not close the deal. Move to another bank after four years and we had not interacted with that individual for I think more than a year and that individual absolutely loved our product move to another bank right? Within the first couple of weeks. Calder’s said that this is the right bank for your product. Please come in. I’m going to get you in got us through probably the one of the fastest deal we signed within three or four weeks and you’re in a And then we saw a host of search deals happen over the last one and half years, where bankers who are working at our existing clients moved to another bank and got us in there, right. So point is, if we take a short term view, we don’t see the impact of it. And we believe or start believing or start realizing that you know what, you’re not seeing any empirical data, and therefore, this will not work. But as with any exponential curve, it takes time, it takes time for it to build up. But we are a big believer in this. We are a big believer of building relationships, long term relationships, rather than just doing a single D or single sale with a particular individual auto bank.

Michael Waitze 10:37
I want to spend a little more time on this, did it require a mindset change internally, and maybe even like a re staffing, right? Because when you’re young, you think meaning when the company is going you think we need a sales team? I just want guys and gals that are out there selling when you had this realization that we know what I mean, you use this terminology, right? When you move from hunting to farming, you need to get some farmers. And they’re different than hunters. Right? So did you have to do some hard work internally and say, We need to change our mindset and where we do this? And if you’re still happy to do that, then you can do that. Or we need to retool, like, how was that? And was it a challenge for you?

Ankur Joshi 11:10
It was definitely a challenge, not just for anyone else. But for myself, because I had to first rewire my own frameworks, although I was seeing that we have to think long term. But quite honestly, in action, I was not taking actions which are long term in nature, right? Because, right at the same time, from a company’s perspective of selling, but on the other hand, I was also the finance head of the company. So I also had to make sure that all the bills were paid on time. And there was that pressure of making enough money to make sure that salaries were going on time, all the bills were getting paid on time. So there was a dual pressure. So on one hand, I was thinking and believing in my mind that I need to do it long term. But on the other hand, maybe the actions are not in the same vein. So first, I had to retool my or revise my frameworks. Once that was done, it was definitely a challenge with the rest of the team as well. But getting the right people in, I believe was the way to go, where we got people who had experience of running their own companies, we had people who are very, very long term focused from an attitude perspective are extremely fit for our culture, and thinking long term. And once we have the right people, then everything is was a piece of cake, I did not have to train them, or change their mindset a lot, because they bought into the idea that we have to build relationships, long term relationships, and that’s how the business will flow. So we don’t have sales targets. We don’t have like, in at the end of this year, we need to achieve these many billion dollars in revenue, we don’t have those because for us, it is the amount of revenue we make over the next 20 years, not in this year. In particular. That’s the way we are building the business.

Michael Waitze 12:44
I think I’ve just changed the way I’m gonna manage my own company. I want to go back to the beginning of this conversation, because you talked a lot about team culture. And I want to go back as well to like when I was at Goldman Sachs, if we asked an interviewee 10 questions, probably two of them were about like who you are. And eight of them were about what can you do? Like, what skills do you have? So how do you then and it was pretty easy to judge what the skills were like, if you saw this in the market and saw that, like, what would you do? What kind of trade do you make that stuff was pretty easy. But the cultural fit was really hard to tell. Right? And again, an existing business versus startup business is different. I get that. How do you try to not measure but judge or understand when you’re working with people that you think about hiring, that they actually have that long term view that they’re really saying, because that’s really it’s very nuanced and hard to test? I don’t know how else to ask it.

Ankur Joshi 13:27
Wait a few ways to judge that. And by the way, this is a two way street. It’s not just No, it should be good for both. It’s not just hiring the individual. It’s also the individual choosing to work with us, we are not the best company in the world. But that individual should believe that it is for their good that they come and work with us. So one of the easiest things to do is that not have any time limits on the interview. And we don’t call them into

Michael Waitze 13:50
I hate that word. I didn’t want to use it. But I didn’t know how else to contextualize it. Sorry, go ahead.

Ankur Joshi 13:54
We just call it conversations or in meeting it generally a meeting. Yeah, fair enough. So we just call them a conversation or a meeting. And generally these conversations with me particularly go on till like three hours. Now the advantage of this is that people who are impatient, who want to get done with such conversations very, very fast, become very impatient after 45 minutes or an hour. And you can feel it. Yeah, that starts showing up in their answers. And if an individual can’t speak for three hours about a decision, which is going to have a significant impact on their life, then it’s very clear that that individual will not be able to have a difficult conversation, let’s say with peers or colleagues or like a client, and therefore that’s a very big red flag, but people who are genuine and the other thing is you also can’t lie or your brain can handle it. Anyone is not being genuine about any of the answers and from different angles and over a period of three years, you get to a realization that that person is not being genuine. So people who are genuine over a good conversation and have the ability to hold a good conversation or the Three years or so, earlier, I remember when I was in investment banking, people used to say that you know, what, hire people who you go and have a beer with, I’m okay, not having a beer with an individual. But I want to be in a place where I can have a good conversation with that individual. And individuals who are able to have long, intelligent, smart conversations with us. I think they are a good, that’s just one of the parameters to check the other parameters, also, of course, how they think, what are their mental models? What are their frameworks in terms of how do they see themselves growing? What is their definition of growth? What are they passionate about? Right? These are important questions, to understand if I want to always work with people and surround myself with people who are at least passionate about one or two things about something. Yeah, but something right. I don’t surround myself with people who are not passionate, who are very good. We’re not using any term for it. But I want to be surrounded with people who are passionate, who have the high energy,

Michael Waitze 15:53
Can I just jump in for a second? It’s weird, right? If you say to somebody, like what’s your favorite band, and they’re like binary, listen to music, you’re like, Okay, what’s your favorite team? And they’re like, I don’t watch sports, like, okay. Like, what’s your favorite movie? Like, I don’t watch theater, you’re like, Okay, you’re not hired, because I can’t talk to you about anything. Sorry, go ahead.

Ankur Joshi 16:11
So again, that also reflect start holding a conversation with anybody, I think, for people to grow in life, they need to be interesting, a grid, and they need to be in a position where they can hold a conversation with any topic, at least for 1520 minutes, they may not be a doctor, but they can talk about medical science for 15 minutes, they may not be engineers, but they should be able to talk about structural integrity for 15 odd minutes. And that’s exactly the kind of people who you would want to lead the company who you would want to represent the company. Because there when you’re building a relationship with bankers, or any client for that matter, you’re not going to talk about product at all times, and you’re going to meet different people with 100 different interests, you need to be able to have a chat around chess, you need to be able to have a chapter on European history, you need to be able to chat about the whole ring of fire around Indonesia and stuff like that. But you have basic 20% knowledge about a lot of things. And when you have long conversations on a variety of topics, instead of asking questions around skill sets, you have conversations around variety of topics, that’s when you know, this person is interesting, this person is willing to learn. And therefore if another skill set has to be acquired, they wouldn’t shy away from it.

Michael Waitze 17:19
Yeah, they can get it. Look, I love to say a great sort of job interview as like a great date. But I think about it, I really do think about as I remember when I was much younger, ready to go on a date. And like I knew that if the staff was like sweeping the floor, and I was still there, and they were looking at us, like really like we’re going to turn the lights off here. Like this was a great day because neither one of us wanted to leave kind of thing. But it’s the same thing. You’re right, if you’re not engaged, if you’re not doing that, and I say the same thing about my podcast, right? Like, I want to make sure that my guests get to tell the listeners who they are. Because if I can get them to connect with who you are, then I can get them to connect with the business way easier. I always talk about that people are compelling businesses are easier. And I agree with this concept. And it’s a great way to explain like how you go out and hire people. I’m making a lot of mental notes today. If nothing else, I’ve learned a lot. Talk to me about products. Now. Again, I always like to know the difference between what you were thinking about for product building three years ago or two years ago and what you think now and how that’s changed in the context of all these other changes that you’ve had in that you’ve seen.

Ankur Joshi 18:21
When we started self funded, we were very clear that we have to diversify, we have to diversify, because we have to survive. Yeah, diversification was the theme from Day Zero diversification we always thought will be across three different metrics. One would be geography, second would be industries, and third would be products. So we’re very clear that we have to build multiple products, because our core product should always be our team, the rest of the technological products, which we build. as technology progresses as market changes, our products could actually die could go out of fashion. At that point of time as a team, we should not die. Therefore we cannot rely only on one product to earn this revenue. We need to have multiple revenue sources a couple of years back when we spoke, I think we were in the midst of that journey we had at that point of time, we only had one product, the way the philosophy kind of shifted was we realized that banks are a client for us. And they have an extremely diverse set of customer base. Yeah, on their side, that customer base is corporatized across multiple segments, you have your expats, which are very valuable for a particular bank, you have your senior citizens which are again, a lot more valuable because they hold most of the wealth, you have your millennials who are barely young, more digital savvy, etc etc. You also have your retail customers as well as your SMEs and corporate customers right. So, there are multiple cohorts and then you also have more thinner slices like just CXOs or founders of companies who bank with that particular bank. So we started building products, keeping these customer segments in mind and have created now ecosystems or multiple products for each and every customer segment and therefore our product first product which was focused on massive retail are now next products are focused on SMEs CXOs experts, employee banking and stuff like that, right? So what we have done is that from a bank’s perspective, we want to be a one stop shop from an ecosystems point of view that if they have to create multiple ecosystems from multiple customer segments, we deliver all of those to them. So that’s how our product strategy has evolved.

Michael Waitze 20:22
How do you handle that though, if you want to keep your team lean, here’s the thing you have this balance you’re always trying to make when you’re young company is that in the earliest stages, I’m guessing, right? That your margins are really high, because the team’s really small. And if you sell the product, you get kind of scaled right away. But then how do you balance this idea of do I need more customer relationship or relationship building people? Before I have another customer? Do you really mean? And how do I know what products they want? Like? How do you find that balance of I know that I want to go after this cohort or whatever, but how do I get close to them? Because like, I’m 40, and they’re 25? Like, there’s a bunch of stuff to think about there. How do you do that if you’re staying lean? Though?

Ankur Joshi 20:59
So very good question. This is a question we struggled with for a year or so for sure. And I absolutely want to keep a lean team for a reason. Because the moment our team starts inflating inefficiencies come in, people start becoming a bit indifferent towards what he’s doing. And we don’t want that in our company, we want people to get really, really there. If they like something, they should love it. And if they don’t like something, they should have the courage to hate it and be open about it that this company policy we don’t like at all, or the company product. Yeah, whatever it is, as a product we don’t like at all, because at the end of the day, none of us are perfect, we are all going to make mistakes. But we should have the courage to point out that mistake. And make sure that as a team, we improve team we are today, the next year, we should be a better version of ourselves, the way we do it is we’re lucky that we have a lot of good banking clients. So whenever we come up with a new product, we essentially just go to the bankers we know take the feedback on that product, speak to the right team within the bank, take their feedback, and then go and build the product. Now for us building the product has become much easier, where we go and speak, get the feedback and then accordingly build the product, which we know will definitely get bought on the team side, we were very clear that we don’t want to have in great teams. So what we did was for each and every product, we have a very lean team, not more than 15 people per product is the number okay. So each product has its own business lead, who is responsible, she or he is responsible for taking all the cost and revenue decisions. And then there are certain themes which are horizontal in nature, right? So relationship building team is horizontal, finance, people, team, technology r&d team, all these teams are horizontal in nature. But the business team analysts, success team, product team, etc. They are completely verticalized. We also have tech teams, which are dedicated to each and every product itself. That way, they remain lean, they don’t inflate out of control. And they are completely focused on making sure that their product succeeds. They obviously care about rest of the products, obviously. But primarily they are focused on their own product. And I think this strategy of dividing across multiple verticals has worked well. Now, of course, there are a lot of challenges and a lot of problems and issues still to be sorted. But I think in good time, we will figure those things out as well.

Michael Waitze 23:13
So the product stuff I understand the industry is I understand if you’re in one country, you’re in one city, it’s relatively easy to kind of make the trip over to the automaker to the phone company or to whomever you’re trying to work with. Right. But once you start talking about different geographies, you’re also adding in different cultures, different time zones, all these other kinds of complexities. When I first spoke to you, where were you living by the way? I think I was in Bangalore, or something like that. You were in India for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Where do you live now?

Ankur Joshi 23:39
So I moved to Lisbon, Portugal. Yeah. So

Michael Waitze 23:42
I’m just saying like, the geographical expansion, I think is one of the hardest things to understand, right? Because if you’re not from Lisbon, and I’m just gonna use Lisbon as a metaphor for anywhere else that you’re not from, right. Like there’s so many other things to get your head around, as well. You have the industry knowledge and the product knowledge, but all those things have little nuances to was it harder to expand geographically than it was product was?

Ankur Joshi 24:03
To what I mean? Yeah, definitely harder to expand geographic wise and riskier. Yeah, the V I look at risk is slightly different. I think the risk not taken carries a lot more risk, sure, than taking shorter shorts that I agree with completely. And the way I look at geographical expansion and the cultural nuances, it’s amazing learning experience. I come from a country and I grew up in a very small town in a very conservative background where the worldview was extremely narrow, then going to bigger city like Bombay and Bangalore and then going across multiple countries and getting exposed to those cultures. I think it’s an extremely rich experience, not just personally but also for the rest of the team to come across so many cultures. Now, the good part is that I know that we are all honest, in terms of accepting that we are not perfect. Also accepting that every culture is different and has its own richness. We are not going to understand cultures which we are not naturally from 100%, but we will try our best. Why? Because it will only help us in expanding our worldview, coming to Europe or going to let’s say, Indonesia, or UAE or Qatar, for that matter, learning worldviews of different people, different nationalities, deaf people have grown up in different cultures. It’s an amazing, amazing experience. And if, as an individual, you’re open to learning about their culture, I have been surprised that people are so helpful. So helpful to teach you about their culture to coach you about their culture. And then that’s how you build relationships, we are again…

Michael Waitze 25:38
Back to the same thing, yeah?

Ankur Joshi 25:40
we are not there to sell No, we are there to build relationships. And if we are genuine about that, I think automatically people are those people, like people who are from different cultures, they are also excited about learning about our culture. And therefore, it’s much easier to build a relationship with them, rather than trying to go and sell a product to them. So we don’t want to sell to them at all. Initially, we just want to understand their problem. We want to understand their culture, we want to build a relationship. And we are clear that if even if you’re not able to sell to them over the next five years, it’s fine. If we build the right relationship, build a high trust relationship, the business will figure itself out over the next 20 odd years.

Michael Waitze 26:17
So I used to say a lot when I was younger, right? Like, why don’t they teach you that in school, whatever that thing was that they should have been teaching you. But this relationship building thing, I think, is just the bedrock bottom line key to running any business. And even you said this earlier, like it took you a couple of years to figure out like we’re not selling, we’re building relationships. And once you figure that out, it’s almost like you’re unlocking something. And I’m just wondering myself, why when I was at Morgan Stanley, and when I was at Goldman Sachs, and these are two of the premier, like I was proud to be at both of them. Nobody ever said that ever. I didn’t insert the word I want the answer. But you saw the look on my face. But nobody ever said that once. Like we said, did they expect you to learn that on your own? Because it’s the key to everything. And you’re right, I believe this so strongly, I never want to sell to anybody, like explicitly. And if you can just get them to build a relationship with you later on. Years later, it could be they could come and sign like a $25 million contract with you merely because you’ve built that trust. This is what you talked about before you should teach this in school.

Ankur Joshi 27:14
They should definitely they should teach this. They should teach a lot of things in school.

Michael Waitze 27:20
Maybe not the stuff they’re already teaching, but some new stuff like the stuff you were talking about me? This is a little bit off script. But do you feel like you personally like in the past couple years have just grown so much? Do you feel like the world has become clearer if that makes sense? Where like, if a new issue arises, you have like a different frame of thought process framework to be able to look at it and think, Oh, I think I can handle this now. Because of all the things around me that have changed that I’ve changed myself. Yeah,

Ankur Joshi 27:45
Well, shortly and again, on a personal level, right? Like, as you grow older, and I’ve grown a lot of white hairs. You come you can see my bike, my bike, you shaved I did. Okay, but yeah, I shaved I though, but my beard is fairly white, right? You go through life events, not just you yourself. But I have seen a lot of people in my team go through critical life events. And after a period of time you build a muscle for it. Let me put it that way. You build a muscle for it, you Stop panicking. When such life event happens, it still hits you, it hits you, but you Stop panicking. And when you Stop panicking, your decision making is definitely better way better. You also start realizing that there are certain truths in life that you can’t run away from, which are bound to happen, and you can’t wish them away. You can play them a client

Michael Waitze 28:38
But, you can’t run away from them. They’re gonna follow you no matter where you go.

Ankur Joshi 28:40
Yeah, exactly, you have to become used to them. Those things definitely in the last three audios emotionally have made me a lot more stronger person, but at the same time, have made me a lot more kinder person. Right, because I’m able to empathize with a lot of people, which probably I was not even thinking about earlier, when you asked me that. Have I grown in the last three odd years? I don’t know what of course, as you practice your skill sets, you obviously are the kind of unbound but have to single out one thing for sure. I’ve become a much more kinder person. And I’m not saying like any sort of arrogance, but I feel at least I feel that I have the kind of person and more just because of the experiences over the last three years and I think that’s good enough.

Michael Waitze 29:28
I think it’s hard not to do that right. In other words, it takes a really insensitive and and self aware person to not become more empathetic as you get older as you go through more experiences. But also, as you walk through life with other people having experiences that even if they’re not yours, you can see the impact that has on them and you think okay, I get it. In this case, I need to do this thing or that thing not to be what’s the right word, excuse weakness, per se, but to understand that, like life has all these ups and downs, and if you can be there when someone needs the support to pick them back up again. Again, it’ll just be better for everybody in the long run. And that’s a simple have occasion for sure. You know what I mean? Right? Yeah.

Ankur Joshi 30:02
The second thing is I think it’s worth mentioning is dropping hunger. Yeah, it’s have absolutely no value.

Michael Waitze 30:08
It’s liberating, in a way.

Ankur Joshi 30:10
Yeah, it’s absolutely no value in your life. I’m not saying that I’ve been successful dropping it 100%, but probably at least 90%. Yeah. And you suddenly feel so much free, when you would get angry even on small things. So I think over the last flight, expanding the horizon over the last three, four years, that’s also been a very, very big liberating change for us. Good stuff. Okay.

Michael Waitze 30:33
Before I let you go, I do think this is important, right? I want to talk to companies that are doing things differently. I want to talk to people that have a different mindset and a different thought process. And I want to talk about team ownership and why it’s so important to you and to the team itself, to have so much of the equity internally owned by people that are working there. Does that make sense? Yeah, yeah,

Ankur Joshi 30:53
I just said, we started with the repeating myself, but we started with the long term focus, one thing was very clear that me and maybe four or five other 10 other people won’t be enough to build the business. Yeah. And if we have to bring in smart people, if you have to bring in people who will be committed towards the team for the long run, it’s only obvious that the skin is in the game. So one of the thumb rules we created was that grow the business to a level where our company stock is the biggest asset in each individual’s portfolio, and everybody wins. Yeah. And then everybody wins. Because then it’s not that they are employed here, it’s that they’re working here, because that’s their biggest asset. Yeah, they need to raise the value of an asset. It’s like, if I, in my portfolio, I own shares of a particular company, which accounts for 90%, or let’s say, even 50% of my portfolio, it only makes sense for me to go and work for that company and help increase that asset. That’s the theory, obviously, it has evolved over a period of time. But that’s the theory. And obviously, it helps to have the right people in the team. Today, quite honestly, if I’m not even there, the company will survive. And I think we subconsciously, have been building towards that for the first three, four years. And now we are consciously building towards that, yeah, that we need to have people who can lead their own verticals, we need to have people who are good leaders, who are well rounded personalities who are generalist who can depending on whatever is required, what is the problem statement of the day, they can use the right frameworks to resolve that problem, and more leaders you have in the company, the better for the team?

Michael Waitze 32:28
So yeah, look, I mean, I remember I remember when Microsoft was in its earliest stages of its earliest growth, the magnet that the ownership and the company had, for people that went to work, there was so powerful, read the so called the Microsoft millionaires, and it’s not about the money, but it’s not really right. It’s about the ownership, that I actually have the agency to change, and to make things better inside this company. And if I do, it’s not just that I benefited that everybody else here who takes the agency to make it bigger and better also wins. And I think it’s back to this idea for the culture that you talked about right at the beginning, which is if we’re all taking a long term view, then we kind of don’t care what happens today. And tomorrow, we kind of care what happens 10 years of tomorrow’s away. And if everybody’s working in that way, and they all benefit because they own like, the worst possible thing you can have in reverse is you’ve just like three guys own 90% of the stock. You drive a Ferrari to work every day, and everybody else is like, wait a second, I don’t understand. Like, we’re all working hard here. And only three guys are benefiting. It just feels bad anyway, no, and it doesn’t fit into the culture. You’re talking about building and maintaining? Yeah,

Ankur Joshi 33:30
I think it takes a lot of maybe it also that maturity also comes with age, you have definitely definitely culturally dependent. I think India as a culture, lays a lot of value on money. Most of the people work hard throughout their life, or money. And when they are 70s, or 80s in the 70s or 80s. That’s when they realized that they didn’t live their life. Exactly. And I think that’s a culture which we are trying to change internally in the company that money is important. Money is definitely important. I’m not saying that it is not important. You have to not buy you happiness. It can take away some of your pains, but it cannot buy you happiness and give money its place in your life. Don’t make it your life’s cool.

Michael Waitze 34:14
Yeah, exactly. That’s also part of the whole culture you’re talking about.

Ankur Joshi 34:16
Yeah, that cultural shift is something which we’re bringing, but other than like to the previous point, I probably forgot to mention, we also are seeing a reverse hiring happening, where people who left us in 2019 2020 2021 are coming back and joining the company 100 Is the core reason for that is the culture. Yeah, the ownership that you were speaking about that they have the agency they have the ownership to take decisions and the freedom to fail, which they probably were not provided in other organizations or was suffocated of opportunities, and that we are very clear that we have to have to provide if we have to maintain our edge as a company which slightly operates differently.

Michael Waitze 35:00
Yeah, look, I want to say this and then I’ll let you go. But I think it’s so hard to explain to people this idea that people really are willing to trade agency for money. Most all cases, people want to have impact, they want to make a difference. They want to feel like at the end of the day, they weren’t just like taking something from pile a and putting it into pile B and going home and having dinner with their family. They want to be able to go home and say, today, I accomplished something, I had this long term goal, and I did it and I affected it. And even if they make $10, less, they don’t care. Because the joy that comes with actually doing that thing is has more value than $10 could buy you anyway.

Ankur Joshi 35:31
Yeah, to be honest, that $10 is not going to buy you anything because that $10 Extra $10 go into a bank account or a mutual fund and stay there for the rest of your life. That money is never going to be put to use in buying an asset or doing anything. Yeah. So quite honestly, 50 years from now that $10 has absolutely no value because it has not given you any joy. Zero. It has not given you any joy at all.

Michael Waitze 35:55
Okay, I’m gonna let you go. I love this conversation. Ankur Joshi, a founder and the CEO of Nuclei. I’m so glad you reached out to me. You said I have some stuff I want to cover with you. A lot of things have changed. A lot of things have changed. And you have to promise me that you’ll do this again. Oh, that was definitely it can be a year later. I don’t care when but whatever you want. You just call me ping me and just go on coming on the show here. The three things I want to talk about. We’ll definitely do it is that cool?

Ankur Joshi 36:16
Most definitely. Absolutely would love to do that. It’s a pleasure as always to be on the show. Thank you so much.

Michael Waitze 36:23
Thank you


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