My experience has been that I’m not really building a business. I’m building a better version of myself for the first few years and then five years and then ten years and 15 and now 20 years. And so if you look at entrepreneurship as that, as a project to build a better version of a founder or entrepreneur for yourself? I think the earlier the better. I’ve met some people that dabbled in businesses in high school or in the start of university. And of course they look silly and they’re embarrassed of the version of themselves from back then. But now I look at them now and they’ve got a decade head start on everyone else.- Rachit Dayal
-Rachit Dayal is the Founder of Happy Marketer. Born in India, educated in NUS Singapore and based in Singapore. Rachit Dayal started his marketing agency out of the gate of University with minimal funding before growing it to $10 million in sales in 9 years and later acquisition by Japanese media conglomerate Dentsu. Happy Marketer is Singapore’s most awarded digital agency, clients and partners including Google, Singtel, ING, Grab and BCG. He now serves as APAC CMO of Dentsu’s interactive division Merkle.
Rachit is Singapore's first Google certified advertising and analytics professional, he help brands in Asia drive significant results from their digital marketing by using the latest technology and creativity. At Happy Marketer’s Consulting Practice, he handles all business relating to Search Engine Marketing, Web Analytics, Website Usability and Online Marketing Strategy. Rachit is also a Master Practitioner of NLP certified by Dr Richard Bandler, the founder of NLP. He is also an Advanced Communicator in the Toastmasters International Public Speaking program.
Jeremy Au: (00:30)
Hey, Rachit, excited to have you on the show – a bootstrap founder, been acquired and now a proud dad! I’m happy to hear your journey and what it has for all of us.
Rachit Dayal: (00:44)
Thanks for having me, Jeremy. I think we have a lot of common friends who have been asking us to speak and that moment’s finally here.
Jeremy Au: (00:50)
So, Rachit, for those who don’t know you yet, how would you introduce yourself professionally?
Rachit Dayal: (00:55)
My name is Rachit. I founded a company in Singapore called Happy Marketer, which is in the marketing world doing marketing services specially on martech and analytics and data in Southeast Asia. And then I ran that company for about 15 years before we sold it to one of the large groups in our industry called Dentsu. And now I actually took up a job in the acquiring company and that’s kind of the professional history.
Jeremy Au: (01:22)
Why did you found Happy Marketer
Rachit Dayal: (01:24)
It was a very happy accident. Actually, the company I wanted to found was called Rachit Dayal Communications. That was a cool thing then to name the company after you, I’d read Ogilvie’s book and McKinsey seemed cool. And the reality, after a few years was I wanted to bring on business partners and employees and nobody wants to work for a company with someone else’s name on the door. So we found a cool name - Happy Marketer and the original mission was actually not marketing. One of our common friends and I, we dabbled in the world of NLP and hypnosis and I was into meditation. And so my goal was to build a company that focused on happiness for marketers and salespeople and entrepreneurs and businesses. And then after we ran a few workshops, it turned out all the questions were about growth and marketing. And this thing called Google and this Myspace, which turned into Facebook. So we just dived into it. That’s what the market wants. And so we got started in Happy Marketer.
Jeremy Au: (02:16)
What was it like to build it right out of university.
Rachit Dayal: (02:18)
It was great. I was burdened with nothing. I’d heard somebody a little bit through my journey that said it’s very hard to be an entrepreneur. You’ll struggle financially, but I don’t know any entrepreneur that’s been in business for 20 years and is poor. So in my head there was kind of a timeline, OK, if I just survive long enough, it's going to be fine. We'll figure it out. And so my mental rule was I need Maggi noodles. I need some eggs. I need some vegetables, and I can survive if I can do that for 10 years, I’m sure I’m going to figure it out. And so out of university, one of the benefits was I didn’t know any better and I could just survive on a very low cost phase. No great desires, no plan for vacations, no family to support. And so that part was great. What was not so great was you don’t really know anything about the industry. So there’s no contacts to lean on. There’s all the knowledge that you get is books off Amazon. And so there was a lot of stumbling around, which is a plus and a minus. It’s frustrating when you end the day without a sale or revenue or a project deliverable, but it’s joyful when four days later if something you try works out and then you feel like, OK, I’m going to build my own playbook. This might actually work.
Jeremy Au: (03:28)
It’s crazy because being a student founder is the hottest thing. The cooler thing is to be a dropout, and of course there’s a lot of folks always making this decision. How would you think about being a founder while being a student?
Rachit Dayal: (03:40)
I think I’d support those folks. I mean, in my experience has been that I’m not really building a business. I’m building a better version of myself for the first few years and then five years and then ten years and 15 and now 20 years. And so if you look at entrepreneurship as that, as a project to build a better version of a founder or entrepreneur for yourself? I think the earlier the better. I’ve met some people that dabbled in businesses in high school or in the start of university. And of course they look silly and they’re embarrassed of the version of themselves from back then. But now I look at them now and they’ve got a decade head start on everyone else. So I think I’d be I’d be all for it and why university? Why not? High school? Why not even younger? Why not the lemonade stand? Go for it.
Jeremy Au: (04:25)
Yeah. And how about dropping out?
Rachit Dayal: (04:28)
That’s a little bit more difficult, particularly as most of the listeners here are Asian or have Asian connections, and parents and grandparents, and I’m sure many people like me had no business in their family. My dad is an engineer, my mum's a teacher, and so the whole world of businesses is an alien, murky, troubling place where you don’t want your kids to go. And I think there’s something good about maybe respecting that value. And if your family and friends and ecosystem really feel strongly that you should rough it out for four years, it’s a bit like an ask, you do it and then you have that thing and you've done your bit for the family or whatever the social pressures are. And then, in return, you get their support much sooner because you did the thing that they wanted. When you do want to take the leap, you’ll remind them and they’ll say yeah, OK, fine. I’ll support you.
Jeremy Au: (05:17)
Oh, interesting. This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone mentioned the implicit social contract as the reason to continue, you know, university versus like a more like economic perspective or career perspective. And I think there’s a lot of truth there, which is that it’s not necessarily a binary trade off being in school and being a founder. And if you can finish school and continue being a founder on the side and ramp it up like the way you did, it’s a nice way to also discharge those obligations to your family and community. One of the interesting parts is that people often say get a job first, because they are worried that if you are first time founder where everyone’s kind of amateur, including myself as a first time founder, but you’re also very young then you tend to get screwed in the business world or cheated or taken advantage of, etc. So how do you think about that?
Rachit Dayal: (06:07)
Yeah, I didn’t do it. I resisted the pressure, and it did lead to some fractures, maybe in dealing with my parents or my friends and family because they were all looking out for me. And in the world construct that they knew, a job is a safety net in a bad climate. It might take you a few months to find a job. In a good climate you could get one easily, but at least you can find something and pay the bills. And in my case, I took the leap and I said no. I won’t do it. It’s a difficult one. But I would say for most people, if you feel that urge and you’ve taken little brave decisions before that point, you can take the leap, but just know the cost, the cost of that is you probably can’t really support your family for the next 5 to 10 years. It’s going to take that time to get the financial stability. The cost of that is you’ll be a little bit alienated in your early 20s where maybe your friends and your family and you want to go on trips and you want to do things together. You may not have the bandwidth or money or time for all of that, but as they say, you know nothing worth having comes easy. If you can pay that cost right out of uni in your early or late 20s. The benefits of that from me and other entrepreneurs who’ve been through that are immense in our 30s and 40s and 50s, we gain disproportionately because we got a few years head start into that venture.
Jeremy Au: (07:24)
Little brave decisions early. What were those for you?
Rachit Dayal: (07:28)
I think the first one for me was deciding to come to Singapore. So I’m originally from India, like I said, engineer, teacher, education and studying hard, was the kind of thing that was touted. And in my social circle in my school, if you’re really smart, you either went to one of the top universities in India or you went to the US and you kind of set yourself up almost as a next home. And for me, the weird thing is. I had come to vacation to Singapore two years before that, and it it's weird because this year, you know, Matrix four is coming out. That year was 1999 and Matrix One was in theaters and I sneaked away from my parents and I went to Shaw in Orchard and I saw that movie and that few hours of escaping from my family, going to a theater. Enjoying and walking around afterwards, that sense of freedom was so strong that something got in me and I said, OK, I’m gonna go back to Singapore. There’s something there. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it doesn’t quite have the well defined American dream that you talk about the US, but I think there’s something in there for me and I felt at home. So, you know, starting from there. Little decisions maybe picking slightly different courses in UNI. For me I really got intrigued by some entrepreneurship classes and some film history classes and later on I got interested in NLP and hypnosis. So I think for anybody who’s listening, if there’s some stuff that you’ve done that makes you weird in your group or maybe you wanna do, I think those little decisions about what you learn, what you invest in, the person you become. Those will amp up. Over time, they’ll give you the courage and muscle and aptitude to take the big leap.
Jeremy Au: (09:05)
One interesting thing is, of course, the fact that the Matrix was part of your decision to Singapore. I think that’s hilarious. I guess at NEO, the one. Keanu Reeves is responsible for this happy migration, I guess. You moved to Singapore and you build Happy Marketer out of university. And what’s interesting, of course is that you built it out over the years and you bootstrap that without using venture capital. Of course, you start this company before much venture capital was available in the scene. So tell us more about what it was like bootstrapping.
Rachit Dayal: (09:51)
Yeah, I think like a lot of founders, I come from a middle class background and I didn’t really know the rules of business in my early years. I got some pretty rude shocks in business, like, why is the validation of a business idea the fact that they could raise a funding round ‘cause I could see my friends and colleagues who pursued this part. They were getting fame and fortune. Recognition from the profs and the university, when they managed to raise a funding round, I was maybe six months in making revenue and profits. If I continue eating Maggie for a while. But there was no glory in that. So I think, for me, on a personal basis, I would not borrow money. I would just live in the means that I have and that’s the middle class thinking like don’t buy that toy if you can only afford to buy it once a year, you buy it once a year and you live with it. And I felt like that's the value I brought to my business in the beginning. If I'm not super confident that I can be profitable or valued properly or return the money I’m borrowing from someone I don’t want to do it. How am I gonna look that person in the face? Like you said, there wasn’t that much funding available at that point in time, so I would literally have to go in and make promises to those VC’s and investors. Yeah, I’m gonna make that money back for you. We’ll do something with it. So for me, it was sort of a value thing, which if I can’t make this business work, conceptually, it’s not the right time to raise money. The challenge at that point was many businesses that were deserving and needed money to scale, maybe product businesses, maybe platform businesses, the funding wasn’t available for them then. Now it’s the opposite. Those businesses that deserve it can have access to funding. You do 10 meetings, you can raise your round. But even the ones that don’t need it, I see services, businesses which are very people heavy. I see many other businesses where the founders don’t really seem to have the confidence of how they’re going to make money, make revenue increased evaluation swinging to a place where a lot of the businesses that shouldn’t be funded are getting funded and we’re not alone in that in Singapore or Southeast Asia. I mean, of course there are bubbles that exist all over the world and it blows up and it comes down and so on. For me, no funding was a good decision. It forced me to learn core business and profitability and cash flow and surviving within our means and finding other ways to compensate employees which worked out well for me.
Jeremy Au: (12:06)
Let’s contrast that. You’re part of the bootstrapping community here in Southeast Asia and what’s the difference between that and the Venture Capital game?
Rachit Dayal: (12:37)
I think it’s just a difference in the timelines available to the founders because if I didn’t bootstrap I could imagine this as a lifetime business. I could build in contingency plans if I fail in the first five years. In the first ten years in the first 15 years and as a first time founder with a social pressure, or maybe going back to a job, it was useful for me to say that if it’s a bad day in a bad period, I can make that call to either exit or buy myself another five years and all I need to convince is maybe my spouse and my kid, whoever is dependent on me, whereas the VC cycle, you know the timeline. You invest in a certain time and within the life of the investor or the fund that’s invested in generally somewhere between four and 10 years they will need to exit or up sell their shares. And so there are all these milestones forced on you, which can be good for truly scalable businesses where it’s all about execution. Do you have the idea figured out and you can scale up and do it? In my case, I didn’t have the idea I had more of a focus on people like here are the people I want to come to office with and work every day and that’s the team I want to enjoy working with and I can do that for a long time. And for people who have businesses like that where the product or the service itself doesn’t scale massively, but the team is amazing. I think having a longer timeline helps. We could pivot, we could turn, we could do votes and get out of industries altogether and come back to new industries. And you know, there’s a joy to work for 15-20 years in a business like that ’cause you get to define your own terms all the time.
Jeremy Au: (14:08)
What does it mean to define your own terms?
Rachit Dayal: (14:13)
At the end of the day, a group of people are working together. You need to make enough money to pay the bills. You need to have enough respect in whatever you're doing. A little bit of recognition. Let's say there's a mid sized business which is funded very well. You've got series of angels and early stage and mid stage and late stage investors who have their own agendas. And apart from the commercial realities of building something, selling something, retaining those customers there’s a whole other side to manage. And of course that’s going to require much more firepower and brainpower which could be focused on customers. It could be focused on the market; larger companies have it even worse. Now we’ve been acquired by a large company, the pressures of hitting the numbers each week, each fortnight, each month for retail investors is a whole different ball game. So for me, I think the joy comes from building things, selling it to customers and retaining them and keeping them happy and getting referrals and things. If I’ve managed to find a few people that gel within this market where talent is so rare, I want to use 100% of that on customers and not not have any part of our day that’s distracted by non customers or non product. And that’s for me. I’m a single tasker and that worked well for me. Some people are way better at it and they can manage multiple stakeholders and that’s the cue for them to go all in on funding.
Jeremy Au: (15:35)
So, Happy Marketer was acquired. It’s not so much on your own terms anymore, as you’ve just mentioned. What was that transition like?
Rachit Dayal: (15:51)
Yeah, that was a bit of a leap. Like I’ve said, I expected to do this forever. I guess there are people who’ve done that when the moment came, some of my business partners and some well wishers nudged me and push me and said you should consider this. You’ve gotten some people who come to the table and who asked and I’m sure if you put the word out, you will get more people who are interested and you should at least try to play this game. And it was a very good nudge for me because I was also getting stale in my game. 15 years of doing the same thing. I needed to build new skills and so this skill of speaking to potential acquirers and mergers and learning about valuations and road maps and the financial and legal side of things which we didn’t have to deal that much with. Those were great cues. I love that two to three year journey of acquisition, we grew our business in that time 4X in those two years. Which we were acquired because suddenly I could see what the world wanted and that coincided with what customers wanted. Overall, I would say that whole acquisition path was fantastic. I’m glad I took the pressure and me and the partners and the employees kind of took it upon ourselves. You are right, now as part of a larger firm, the learning is - not everything is on my own terms. So there are some markets, some parts of our business, some products and services which are still run by us, those obviously we know very well because we built them, but then some parts of businesses, particularly financial are alien to us, budgeting and then planning and resourcing. So all of those things are a little bit of a struggle. That silver lining is they acquired us because they thought the way we do business is good for the group and so they pull us into all of those places. They give us a seat on the table, sometimes to the seat at the head of the table. For example, happy marketer was very well known for its culture. We won a lot of awards. We had great retention rates and very happy employees. And so they, they use our team to define what the group priorities should be how they should run things. We were very profitable and they liked that about us and overall this industry is not so when it comes to business planning or services planning, they pull us in. So for me, I’m still enjoying that bit. I’m getting to apply some of the lessons I learned in a $10 million business on maybe a billion dollar practice and see if they actually work out. So far so good. I’m enjoying the people I work with. I don’t get to control everything, but at least have a seat on the table and a voice.
Jeremy Au: (18:17)
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of selling?
Rachit Dayal: (18:36)
I’m sure anybody who sold will have the same sort of points, or I might be repeating some of your other guests. I guess the first rule of the game is you don’t have to sell. You want to be selling when your business is in a place that it doesn’t need to be sold. And so if you’re not in that place, if you’re in a crisis and you need money, or you need to get out of the business or the team is burnt out, the core problem is something else. And if you try to sell at that stage, it’s going to be not a very pleasant process. You might not even get money out of it for you and your investors. So use your limited energy to try to fix. One or two of the core problems, whether it’s the team problem or the product problem, focusing on the sale at that point might be counter intuitive. I knew it was for us when we considered at various points in time, so that be the first thing which is try to sell when you don’t have to sell. If this sale had fallen through and many sales fall through, we got lucky with the first company that we engage with. And the first time but I have friends who went through the process for 10 years, three or four different cycles of getting onto the table and getting to the boardroom and some negotiations breaking down or market conditions changing or one of the parties losing a key client or a key product or IP infringement. There are a lot of situations that can throw an acquisition, often it's Murphy’s law. It probably will happen. So you gotta make sure you’re never out of the customer game. So if the sale falls through, the business should not now go down a Cliff. In our case, what happened was my business partners took over affectively as MD and CEO and Chief Client Officer and CFO and I could focus completely on the sale which meant that if this deal fell through. Our business would still have been in a very good position. I’m very fortunate. I think that happened with us, but yeah, that be my primary advice, which is you don’t have to sell and this sale probably could fail. So make sure you’re OK even if it doesn’t happen and there’s a solid path thereafter. And I guess the third thing for the founding team. This is an emotional decision. It might be freedom, or it might be liquidation, or it might be validation for the acquiring company. It’s almost always a financial decision somewhere. They’re borrowing money from someone else and explaining that if we buy this business, it’s going to fill this gap or it’s going to add this much profit or revenue and we will have these financial projections thereafter. So while founders might be emotionally invested in it, I’d say work with, if you’ve got, VCs that have seen the process many times out. If you’ve got advisors and investment bankers, work with them. In the end, for the acquirer, it’s just a financial decision. How much money will I pay for what and what do I get in return? And that was the part I had. I knew nothing about. It was fun to learn and it was really interesting, but that was all of the learning in the two years when we decided to sell.
Jeremy Au: (21:23)
That’s the technical nuts and bolts of the acquisition process. What about the human side of it?
Rachit Dayal: (21:35)
So we had a couple of offers and we chose the one which we felt was best for our employees. We had a few offers, which would have given us significantly more money, maybe 20-30% more money. But I’m not sure there would have been a career path for our employees thereafter. We would probably just still shuttered our office in River Valley, Singapore, where we were. Whereas in this case, employees feel like they joined a larger group. There are career plans for them. The HR policies are nicer when things like COVID happened, somebody knows what the heck to do. I had no idea how to deal with offices and staff and issues when cases come our way? I think we chose to prioritize the team which, for the founders, we could do because we didn’t have investors. If we did have investors, we probably would have had to pick the most financially lucrative deal, the one that gave the most money on day one. So for founders who are kind of dealing with this, the human side of it is a business is just a collection of people and it’s your people, your tribe, your employees. So do what you can to protect them, test, talk options, their incentives, their job security, their titles. If they decide to leave at some point, optimize for that. And if you do that. Most acquirers will recognize that that’s good for the win-win situation.
Jeremy Au: (22:53)
How did you and your co-founders come together to make that decision?
Rachit Dayal: (23:03)
I think in our case we said we will not run this like a democracy. The way the shareholding was, I had the largest set of shares and between the partners and I, we shook hands and we said we’ll trust Rachit’s word and what the best offer is and what we should go for. And I said I will not interfere into the business operations. If you want to pursue a client or a service or a product or dump a client or a service or product, I’m not sticking my nose in it. So I’d say it is an important decision, but if you can try to get to a place where you have explicit ownership between the team, that’s a much easier process. ‘cause getting everyone aligned is nearly impossible.
Jeremy Au: (23:41)
Awesome. So, you made the final call. Starting to wrap things up here, could you share with us a time when you had been BRAVE?
Rachit Dayal: (23:53)
Yeah. Obviously many little stories that build up to something big. On the personal side. I married someone from a different culture. So I’m Indian and my wife’s Japanese. And that was a lot of adjustment and a lot of convincing friends and family in that that took a little bit of a leap. But on the professional side, I would say the bravest moment was actually selling. Because by that point we sold, we were very profitable; the partners didn’t really have any money needs. We’d be fine. We could afford a good lifestyle. There are of course downsides for the next couple of years after the sale. Life is a little bit tougher for the whole team to adjust to a new environment to meet new colleagues and so on, but we knew that there was something at the end of it. It’s when we go through this step, we learn something cool about ourselves and most of the people in the company were in their 20s or 30s and for them it was maybe not even mid point in their careers. So for us, we knew that things could go wrong. Maybe we won’t get paid anything or much. Most of the stories we’d heard of acquisition in our industry ended up with people angry and lawsuits and things of that sort. But still we knew for us that we are early in our careers and to get this under our belt, we’ve got several more innings to go and we could do a second or third or fourth round in our 40s or 50s. So with that support and kind of the team saying, OK, let’s give it a shot. Let’s see what happens. That’s kind of what worked for us, but it was for most founders, I think it’s brave to give up a comfort zone and then hopefully you’ll know. I didn’t really know that life after acquisition is just day zero of something brand new. So gotta start
from scratch and learn the next version again.
Jeremy Au: (25:32)
What’s it feel to let go of your life’s work to start over at day zero?
Rachit Dayal: (25:57)
Yeah, I didn’t notice anything through the acquisition process because it’s so busy and there’s so much negotiation and hundreds of pages of legal documents and tons of Excel files and financial audits and so on. So I felt nothing for those two years. It just felt excitement. I’m learning something new. We’re optimizing for a new goal. Maybe the goal was revenue at some point. Profit at some point. Now it’s valuation. So there was a lot of highs there and then the acquisition process itself was also a lot of highs, a lot of handshakes and high fives and media coverage and all of that. And then I did take a vacation after things died down a month or two later and it took like three days before my wife just kind of sat me down and said you are being real douche just snapping at us. And you know you’re waking up grumpy and there’s something wrong. And that’s when I realized that sense of loss. I mean, I still had my title. I still had my team. We were still working out of the same office. But that loss of life? The mission. It was there and I didn’t really realize it, even though I’d heard about it at some point in the past. So it is there. It’s a necessary part of it. I think for me, I went through it and if I had a chance to do it again, I would do it again for that chance to reinvent myself. But it is the early days of founding are very much like the early days of post selling. Thankfully, I’m still working with my team so I could come to office and have a few good hours to see them. But if I had like exited the business, I don’t know what I would have done without the people I love and see every day.
Jeremy Au: (27:27)
Interesting. How did you get through it?
Rachit Dayal: (27:45)
I mean, I’m an extreme introvert. It takes a lot of energy to go meet people and fill and expose myself. It was very easy in the professional circle. You know, you get good at pitching or you get good at meetings. So I could walk into a meeting in a suit and a PowerPoint and do a good job. But actually opening up was really hard and it took a long time. Maybe once every two or three weeks, I’d had the courage to call a friend out for a beer and just vent what I was feeling and you might relate to this if you managed to run a successful business, and especially if you manage to do a sale, you are in the top little percent of privilege. You’ve got money you probably live in a great place, you’ve got family. I have my parents who are safe during COVID. Like a lot of things are right. And so there’s a lot of guilt about even venting in about saying something about it. And I’m super grateful that not a single person I’ve vented with had any judgment. They were all with open arms, just listening and supporting. Even people who aren’t normally listeners who are usually talkers kind of recognized that this is maybe once in a life where I might say something. So what is it…today or yesterday was suicide prevention day. I think step one is just say it. Or if you can’t say it, type it. If you can’t type it, think it like at least just getting the frustration out of your head into some sort of structure. That’s what the process was for me and it took a few years.
Jeremy Au: (29:06)
Yeah, I think saying it and asking for help is such a key part. When you think about all of that, how would you advise other people to go through all that and process that?
Rachit Dayal: (29:47)
So the day before we were to go in into the lawyers office & all the documents my dad sent me an email to me and my partners and he said you might be feeling like heroes right now. But just remember that there were two main shareholders at that point. Both of you had loving families. You had mums who are interested in the art. You had dads who were professionals and engineers. You didn’t struggle for food. You went to decent schools and more critically, in your entire lifetimes, you saw us, your parents have the hope of a better life. If you take five years snapshots, your families did better. You had more things. And so your success, even though you may have started with zero money or contacts. It was already on that trajectory of life is going to be hopeful and good. And so I would say for anybody else just maybe recognize the privileges in your life ‘cause in the moment. We tend to forget everything that went right and everything that has come together because the pain of the one thing that hurts us a lot. Once you do that and you zoom out, I think we realized that 95% of life is amazing. And five percent hurts a lot, but it’s like stubbing your toe. It’s gonna hurt a lot for a little while. And then the next morning, when you wake up, or maybe the next month when you wake up, that stuff will be gone, and you’ll still remember everything else is going fine. And then a few more months later, you’ll finally get to realize the potential of your new life, the money, the skills you learned along the way of building, growing. And if you manage to settle selling, the point of view that you get to learn from going through this process. I am at 10 times the person that I was before that process, so there’s a little bit of pain in that process, just like there is for athletes just like there is for anybody who achieves something good. But you would not trade it in and I would not trade it in. I’m glad I had the chance to leap.
Jeremy Au: (31:43)
Now, looking back on everything, what was different before the acquisition and after the acquisition?
Rachit Dayal: (31:55)
I think when I started out, maybe the lessons in my first ten years were all about people. I’m an immigrant in Singapore and Indian and so actually attracting staff was extremely hard. I not only had to convince my mom to let me do a business, for every employee that we tried to bring on, we had to give them good enough reason so that they could explain to their parents why the hell they're going to Tanjong Pagar and working for this company nobody knows about. And through all of that I think I because I’ve gone through that myself. I realized that specially building a young team that has a good runway that can learn all the different skills takes a lot of effort. And so, in return, you have to look out for them. Hopefully life will go well. They’ll do well. They’ll get married, they’ll have kids. They’ll have things in life. But stuff happens as well. Some will have health problems, some will have family issues, some will need to move countries somewhere. Just need to leave. So learning the patience to deal with building a team. I think that was my entire entrepreneurial journey where it just building a team. But through the acquisition process, I finally got a light back on some of the other aspects I’d ignore. For example, financials. I had mostly left it up to our corporate security to file the numbers at the end of the day, but now I finally needed to dig in and see you know, there’s this 800K of revenue we never recorded because somebody forgot to forward the invoice to the accountant or this office rental is counted twice, our profits are not that big and so digging into that pit was really helpful in figuring out the competitive and industry landscape. But is the industry growing faster than we are growing. So, what are we doing wrong because the acquiring companies need to make really strong cases to their bankers and their teams. I’m glad I got to learn some lessons and every entrepreneur will have learned different lessons in the early stages in the growth stages and then hopefully in the exit or liquidation or investment stages. I’m very grateful. I’m attention deficit. So every few years if I didn’t get to learn something new, I’d be out of this game. So hopefully you also just challenge yourself and say this is the last year I do this job and next year I’m going to find some new challenge and somebody else in the team will take up my old job of being the team leader or the financial leader.
Jeremy Au: (34:09)
Amazing, Rachit. Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate that. I like to wrap things up by paraphrasing to three big themes I got from this.
First is, thank you so much for sharing what’s it like to be a student in terms of being an immigrant and how The Matrix turned out to be a catalyst for you to move to Singapore and also where you decided to also become The One and choose to be a founder at the same time as being student, and I love the advice and think about what the implicit social contract is about, why you should graduate amongst other reasons, but also thinking about how you did it yourself and became a founder outside of university.
The second thing is thank you so much for sharing about how you bootstrap yourself to $10 million of revenue. It’s quite amazing to hear that journey and I appreciate you contrasting how you have that approach versus people who are raising venture capital. And I do appreciate the advice you gave to people about how they should think about it and what the difference is, what the time scale is especially and what does it mean to be building a business on your own terms?
And lastly, thank you so much for sharing about the advice you have for people who are selling or having the companies being acquired. It’s quite amazing not only to hear but see the nuts and bolts strategy and tactics about how to do so, especially about making sure you still have economic upside and growth even while you’re going through the process to make sure your optionality and control of the process. But I also find it quite beautiful to hear about you, about how you came to terms with that process, even though you went into the process knowing that it was the right thing to do intellectually, financially and personally, because you wanted to do something fresh. That being said, accepting that grief and how you came to terms with that, with the help of your wife and family and your parents, especially your father and your co-founders, is quite an amazing journey and I think it’s a underappreciated side and dimension of it as well. So, thank you so much Rachit, for coming on the show.
Rachit Dayal: (36:12)
Thank you so much for doing the podcast. I’m sure many people are benefiting from all the stories.