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A Bridge with India: Adi Patil of StartItUpNYC

Adi Patil

Starting with exposure to 42 nationalities at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, American-born Adi Patil now bridges the US and India as Co-CEO of StartItUpNYC, an established mobile app and IT company with teams in both countries. Adi discusses how teams operate in India; differences in both countries’ marketing appeals; luxury vs. mass marketing; cross-cultural team building and team interactions; each country’s communication styles with each other and with The Boss; taking (or not taking) responsibility; the six-day work week; and many suggestions for start-ups, including major mistakes to avoid. He also offers some hours of free consulting with young companies that have great ideas but are lacking in research and identifying market gaps.

Highlights:

Adi’s background

The casual work environment in India

Hierarchy in Indian business

Holidays and religions in India

Marketing differences between India and the USA

When you disagree with your boss, in India, and in the USA

Russian culture

Adi Patil Bio:

Adi Patil was born in Shady Grove, Maryland on October 24th, 1989. Born to Indian parents, Adi grew up in India, Russia, and the US. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and works in web-marketing.

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Full Transcript

Hello, and welcome to Global Gurus! Every Friday, we explore stories of international business and speak with industry leaders operating around the world. I’m your host, Philip Auerbach of Auerbach International (www.auerbach-intl.com). Thank you so much for joining us. 

As you know, we start each podcast with a running segment called “Faux Pas Fridays,” where we explore a funny blooper or mistranslation that does not quite convey the professional image that your organization wants to project. And since today’s guest was educated in Russia, I will use a blooper from the magazine Soviet Weekly which was published during Communist times, and the blooper will demonstrate how one small word can have a dramatic change in meaning.

A sign in English in a Moscow hotel room said, “If this is your first visit to the U.S.S.R, you are welcome to it.”

So with that, today’s guest is Adi Patil. Adi is a seasoned digital marketing and software development executive. He is a frequent keynote speaker and a prominent figure in the US tech marketing ecosystem. He was schooled at the Anglo-American School of Moscow and has a company in India that provides web and mobile app development as well as IT and IoT (Internet of Things) services. He is the Co-CEO of StartItUpNYC based in New York. Welcome, Adi. Thank you for joining us. 

Thank you, Philip. Thank you for having me.

So perhaps you could start by telling us a bit about your background, how you grew up and your schooling, and then how you gained some of your global experience.

Yeah, thanks, Phillip. happy to share., I’m one of those kids that moved around quite a bit. You’re aware of what I’ve been through. I believe there were five different school systems until I graduated from high school—five different schools. Some have completely different curricula.

I was born in Maryland, in Shady Grove on the Red [Metro] Line, close to DC, and a few years later, my dad moved back to India and started his own IT company that at the time built customized CD-ROMs. If you’ll believe it, this was in the 1980s. 

After a while, that didn’t quite work out for him, but eventually you know that something surprising happened. In the ninth grade I got a chance to move to Moscow in Russia. I never lived in or had been to that part of the world at all; people didn’t encourage it, but I knew my experience would be different because I was about to go to this amazing school called the Anglo-American School of Moscow. It was run by the British and US embassies and had children from 42 different countries, so you know what’s good? Preparation for a future like this. I was fortunate to grow up in such a diverse environment at such a young age. And after I’ve finished, you know how school goes from there. I was back in the US and did my undergrad in Virginia at George Mason and my master’s in Washington, DC, at Georgetown.

And yeah, life just kept moving; I moved to New York after that. Again, a very diverse place. The melting pot. What better way to get to know New York than to meet all the people you know from all over the world who come in and live together? You know, cultures are mixing. And I worked with two big firms. Of course, Verizon was first, followed by Yelp. And I was done with corporate life eventually and started my own company with a buddy of mine, Nico, who was my roommate at the time. And we lived in this loft in Brooklyn. And I came up with this idea of starting a company that does development and marketing for start-ups, and that’s how Startup was born. And it’s been five years since then. Yeah, we’re still going very well.

It’s fascinating. And when you lived in Moscow, I assume your family was there as well.

Well, Dad was working for Coca-Cola Eurasia in that region and was a VP for the department. My mom was with us as well. So yeah, it was family life after school and experiencing Russia without knowing the language at all but at the same time living in a bit of a bubble. With all the kids from other countries present, we’re experiencing the same thing.

Yeah, it’s a wonderful experience. The incredible international experience that way. 

You essentially own an IT firm at this point, correct? and your IT company, according to my understanding, has branches or conducts some operations in India. Is that correct?

Correct, we do technical development in India, as does our development team. It’s a mix of things. So, we understand that design-wise, the US market, and the western market are very different from what it is like here locally. Our UI, UX, and design teams are in the US. Our content teams are in the US, followed by our development teams. Only our tech teams are in India, so we somehow managed to get all these guys working together and producing for our customers.

And your US employees. Are they primarily Indian or American? Or is it just mixed?

Are there any other US employees besides myself? I mean, I’m also an American by citizenship, but I’d say, like, other than that, they’re all Americans, and then our employees in India are all Indian, of course.

And what are the interactions like? Of course, as you know, Indians speak English, sometimes with a heavy accent that Anglo-Americans don’t understand very well. But what are the business interactions and communications like, and what are the expectations? Americans, as you know, are very punctual and deadline-oriented, whereas India, with its 5000-plus year history, is much more relaxed, shall we say. Except in the IT field, I imagine.

It’s intriguing. So, the culture is different, and everyone on the team has to work together and understand that, and I think that’s where people like me come in because we’ve bridged the gap having been exposed to this culture and then being cultured in another culture for another culture’s life as well. 

We kind of have to continuously bridge the gap. Because there are some misunderstood delivery terms. 

Although the team in India speaks English, accents or simply the language itself can come into play, as you pointed out. You know the lingo in America and India is different. You’re aware that the lingo in America and India differs. 

When things are on paper, such as e-mail, communication, or any of the task management systems that we use, any communication is usually crystal clear and without issue, e.g., notes. So yeah, if they don’t write them down, there can be misunderstandings. 

They get used to working together; usually, when there are new members, there’s a learning curve. 

Usually, yes, cultures are relatively conservative. Also, you know what the work mode itself is like. Fortunately, you are also familiar with the development field, which is really casual in India and they may do more because they are constantly exploring, but they are also trying to do better. But you know, it’s sometimes necessary to pull them back and be like, “You know, we’ve got to look at the hours. You have to look at the timelines, you can’t make those decisions on your own. It is somewhat dependent on the client.” The style will differ if something is somewhat dependent on the client. And everyone on the team has to work together and understand that, and I think that’s where people like me come in because we’ve bridged the gap by having the experience of having lived here or being exposed to this culture and then being exposed to another culture for like half of my life as well. And making up for that. 

But other than that it’s a lot of fun, a great exchange and I would say to you both cultures. You know, we get to learn a lot from each other. They respect each other, holidays, and they respect each other’s religions. So that comes into play, right? Because India is a place with a lot of religions. A lot of cultures, a lot of holidays that need to be respected. You know the teams and other things, and similarly in the US, but more so in India.

I would say it’s a little laid back as you pointed out, sometimes. So that needs to be understood at the same time India works six days a week at the very minimum, sometimes even seven, and then the guys in the US usually you know, on a Friday afternoon they’re like, OK, we’re getting done for the weekend. You know, we’ll circle back Monday. So there are those pros and cons, yeah? 

Give me some examples of the type of casual work environment you’re describing, such as how the Indian staff occasionally goes off on tangents. Can you describe it? Do you have any examples of what they’ve done in this manner?

Yeah, definitely.

So, there are projects where the timelines are stretched, so one of the projects I was recently working on went by one week in two, three, five, six or perhaps eight weeks, and there’s not a single doubt that I’m here. I spend every week talking to my teams to clear up any doubts that they may have regarding the project. I’ve been in development Phase I for about two months. This team has no doubts, and everything, according to them, is going smoothly.

So, you know, when it comes time for someone like me to test any application or process before delivering it to the client, I suddenly find things that aren’t as precise as they should be. So, I start asking questions, and, I have to kind of ask questions for them.

The reason is that instead when they are given a brief, they tend to make assumptions. They are hesitant to ask their seniors their doubts because they can almost see it at times. As you know, they don’t want to look stupid, or they don’t want to look like they don’t want it to show. It surprises me that they are unaware of something, so they’ll just make assumptions about that. You know a “brief” means something and takes care of that task.

So that’s something I’ve not seen in the US. My team is always asking questions, maybe even more questions than needed, but they’re making sure that the communication line is clear. Whereas teams in India tend to pause and don’t want to ask you too many questions until much later in the project. So, you have to be behind them and find the doubts for them. Or, ask tricky questions so the doubts come out. So, bring it out of the team. 

You know, that’s a cultural difference. Like in the United States, people there are not afraid to communicate with their bosses and let them know that they are aware of their problems, whereas in India they are more shy. 

That’s what I’ve noticed, and it’s been a source of contention in the past. You know, I’ve been very clear with my team that the communication line is open every single day 24 hours, and you need to just tell me—it’s not like I’m going to get mad at you if you don’t understand something.

Yeah, that’s fascinating. 

In India, there’s a very strong sense of hierarchy, both of the class and caste systems within a company. I’ll give you an example that I experienced, which I thought was culturally interesting. 

You know I have a language translation agency, and years ago we used a company in India to provide our translations. We don’t do that anymore. And the woman who ran the agency invited my family and me to her daughter’s wedding, which was extraordinary, and I casually asked, “Are you inviting other employees of your company, like the people that I was communicating with? – meaning her secretary and other managers.” She reacted very strangely. Basically, no, of course not. Why would I even think of that? Whereas in America, if you have weddings or family events like that—christenings, whatever—you will often invite your coworkers because those are the people you associate with each day. 

So, do those kinds of issues arise in terms of hierarchy and what people will or may not say or do, or, do they look at you as the big bad boss or something? Or even though you try to break down the barriers, do they still perceive the barriers?

Yeah, for sure. 

Yeah, for sure they do. I think you know they’re easy with me now that the time has passed. The ones who have been with me for a long time, but I know they share things among themselves that they do not share with me. You know, from my point of view, I don’t like it. I’m not very typical in that sense, because I’ve had a lot of international exposure, so my thought process is different. I don’t see any inequality. It’s just two different professionals on my team and myself, and that’s it. 

But they consider me a boss and someone senior, and you know they want to. They want to keep that, and you recognize the distinction. To a certain extent, I’m very comfortable. I like to ask about my team and other things like that from time to time. You know how I am, right? What are your plans for the weekend? Did you enjoy going out? I can also sense that they’re not even comfortable sharing too much regarding that, because they don’t want to be judged by me, although I’m not here to judge them at all, right?

 

Exactly, and that’s fascinating too. 

You mentioned meetings that you have. When you put something in an e-mail, you know it’s clear. But when you have internal meetings with your American and Indian teams together, does someone write a summary? – who agreed to do what at the meeting, and so on. So, it’s then clear what each person is supposed to do.

Yeah, so we use a couple of task management systems, and one of them is Asana. So, we have somebody that, once we decide on any tasks that are divided in the meeting, they immediately put the task on Asana with the description and assign it to that person, and then I usually go in or my business partner goes and then verifies that information, and so on, to just keep things straight and clear

And what we’ve done since then, such as realizing that a lot of things are kind of like that, trying to keep the communication lines open regularly through us, not directly because if they talk directly without my involvement, there could be miscommunication, you know, verbally, if they just have a casual meeting. 

So yeah, between the design teams and the tech teams, it’s just usually as—I or my business partner—who can weigh the messages and the tasks. and the issues and everything else, so when I’m in India, I speak the local language as well, just like some of the developers do. If they have trouble comprehending things in English then I have a conversation with them in Hindi.

So, does everyone speak Hindi, or do people come from other states? Or do you know their other regional languages?

I mean, people come from other states, but Hindi is the national language, so it’s most commonly used. So, most people who have studied and gotten educated have at least learned Hindi at some point. So yeah, I would say that 70 to 80% of the country speaks Hindi, yeah?

Or at least understands it.

Exactly, yeah. 

Yeah, that makes sense. You mentioned India and Indian holidays. The US has six primary holidays, possibly followed by another four to six what I call secondary holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Veterans’ Day, Presidents’ Day, and so forth. 

With India, does the office simply just close down on the holidays, or does the office stay open and each person might take off depending on what his religion or beliefs are?

Yeah, so it’s a little complicated. 

I mean a lot of holidays the entire office is closed. Aside from that, some people leave because of their religion, because you know how important religion is. India has Hinduism, and then within that, as you mentioned earlier, a lot of castes with different things they follow, and then we have Jainism in India as well.

We have Buddhism up in the north. Right, and we have Muslims. A good enough Christian population as well. And yeah, you’re right. So, too, for the Parsis. So, yeah, there are holidays for all of that, as well as for religions, festivities, and important dates. 

They take off for all of it, so there are a lot of holidays. I mean, aside from weekends, there will be a couple of holidays every month. Wow, yeah. 

Yeah, so I guess that’s why people work six days to help make up the holidays.

Exactly, yeah.

And is it typical throughout India that the workweek is six days? Or is it just in your company?

No, it’s pretty typical throughout India. Some companies alternate Saturdays, and then alternate Saturdays are off, but, you know, most people work six days.

What about other differences, such as marketing? Do you have clients in India for whom you might develop an app or something, but you would market it very differently for the US or Western world?

In India, simply because of the way our business model is structured, we wouldn’t make margins on it or on whatever service we provide there. 

But yeah, in terms of marketing to address the earlier part of your question, it’s very different marketing in the USA and India, and, once again, the reason is the consumer. The consumers are different. The marketing lingo itself is different, and what people respond to is also different. So that’s the reason we don’t have a marketing team in India that works for US clients at all because it’s very difficult for them to understand and prepare content according to that market, even if their English is amazing. You know, they have something like an honors degree in English like that. Language is not the issue. You are aware of which issues affect the American consumer and which Americans are most knowledgeable about them. 

So yeah, we’ve kept that separate. You know, all of our American content is created in America.

In American marketing, the general appeal is price, but also efficiency, some service, and so on; in other countries or industries, price is less important or is downplayed. In Japan, for example, price is downplayed; what counts far more is quality … the quality, longevity, the reputation of the company, etc. 

So, in India, when you market, what are the primary benefits that one would emphasize versus what one would emphasize in the United States?

Yeah, so obviously in India the numbers are really big, right? I mean, it’s a big population, so generally, products with a really low price could even make billions just because of the population. You know something that’s, like, worth $0.05. You know, it just has to reach a very small percentage of the population to be like a billion-dollar company. 

So, the difference between advertising and marketing is that the consumer here responds to a lot of emotions. As a result, whether someone is selling insurance, a car, or chocolate, you will see a lot of emotional advertisements. Most commercials are overly emotional and cheesy. You know what they’re all like emotionally getting families together in the ad or, you know, a lot of ads about people falling in love or whatever. It’s like that.

Whereas I see American ads as very real. Let’s get right to the point. And get the direct message across to the target audience exactly how they want to hear it, and you know it’s to the point. That’s how I see American advertising. It can also be fun. It can be humorous and all of that, but it’s direct. 

And in India, it’s indirect. You know they’ll be selling chocolates, but they’ll treat you like a whole family. That’s like having fun together and all that stuff, so you know. It’s based on emotion. You know, and they’ll work it as sharing joy with your family with this chocolate.

That’s fascinating because, you know, American advertising should tug at the heartstrings as well. Beliefs, feelings, excitement, and joy—love, as you mentioned, is a good one. Often fear: don’t let this happen to you. As a result, get our product, whatever it may be. So, while American advertising is emotional, you’re saying that Indian advertising is much more family oriented. I suppose it’s more indirect, like being family- and group-oriented … as you gave that wonderful example of sharing family joy with chocolate or something like that.

Yeah, yeah, it’s not very direct. I would say, and you’re right—I agree with you. American ads are emotional as well. I’ve seen similar advertisements that scare you or get you excited, so those feelings are still there, but they’re focused on the product, right? 

I know there is a market for luxury goods in India because people have massive collections of luxury goods, and there are millions of extremely wealthy people. 

So, in terms of pricing, do you a price based on perceived value in general, or does it depend on whether you’re trying to reach a mass market with a low price, or do you price based on capturing market share, or do you price on perceived value of quality, excellence, or something like that; the sort of boutique rarity of something? Or does it depend on the product? 

Yeah, it’s true. Honestly, it purely depends on the product, and then the marketing strategy is kind of conducted accordingly. But in terms of luxury goods, now there are brands that all of us know right away, and Indians will buy those brands because they’re yours. 

You have to understand they’re so family- and friend-oriented, and you know there’s a culture of groups, but that also brings competition,  which means that if I buy a Mercedes, then my cousin wants to buy a Mercedes. You know his cousin wants to buy also, just like everyone wants to be at a certain level in society, and they are. Even if their friends and family are pitted against them, they are still competing.

So, you see Indians nearby, even if they’re twice the price because these cars are extremely expensive, even more so in India, but you know people. A certain class of people will buy multitudes of them, right?

But if you’re a new brand entering the luxury market, you have to establish yourself first, right? So, it’s kind of a reverse-engineered process where what you want to do is first get in with the people that can afford you at the price that you want. You know, get your target audience in, and then, if the product is good, you will make so much business just from word of mouth. Once you get in the right circles of society, It’ll work out in the most organic way you can think of. 

If you want to do something on a large scale, you know you have to consider the competition. Price yourself appropriately, and all of this will tell you whether you’re a luxury product or not. But if you’re a luxury product, then you don’t need a large scale. You know you can have a small volume of sales and make millions. Then you just have to get in the right circles, do marketing very organically, and make sure your products are good, and people will do the selling for you. People are looking for new stuff all the time.

Are these poor people as well? We’re talking about the middle class.

I’m talking about the upper middle class and above.

Right, OK, and do they rely on social media as people do here? Or is it more word of mouth?

And, uh, social media is a big one. 

But there will be a lot of word of mouth because they will be doing well. For example, I see an advertisement for “Product X,” which you might like and want to try. However, if a friend of yours shares it with me, or, as I put it, I share it with you, then my thoughts will shift to buying it right away.

So, it’s more convenient. I work in the more affluent classes of society. It’s more word of mouth through social media influences, but the final purchasing decision is always made by people. Consider getting a second opinion because of a large number of people present. And people are messaging each other in the same way that I am. I saw this ad. Should I buy it? They always need a second, which is you. In my opinion, they won’t make that decision right away. Most of them.

In India, you mean, right?

Yeah, yeah, in India, yeah.

You reminded me of the expression “keeping up with the Joneses.” I don’t know if you’re too young to know that expression.

Yeah, yeah, no. I’ve heard that expression for sure, but I probably don’t relate to it as much as you do. But I have heard it.

Right, well, I don’t keep up with the Joneses. I personally don’t care what the Joneses do, but it’s what you were saying about keeping up with your neighbors and your cousin. Your cousin has a Mercedes, so you have to get one, and your friends have one, so you all have to look at the same level. I guess so you rise equally. 

It’s fascinating based on what you said. Again, back to the hierarchy. If a boss suggests something, are most people likely to do it, or is there going to be a lot of pushback?

In this country, there would be more pushback. Well, it depends on the companies. Of course, the company culture matters. But if people don’t agree with the situation, they would likely push back or they would give other alternatives or something like that. 

Is that more common in India, or is it much more common that the boss said something, and we just do it?

It’s mostly because the boss said something, so we’ll just do it, but some guys like it. I mean, I have some people that work with me, and they give me alternatives if they think something’s better, they will share that. 

But at the same time, eventually, they’ll be like, “But hey, I’m happy to do it the way you want it.” And these advantages and disadvantages are sometimes desirable. It is the best way, but sometimes it’s not. Then, later on, they don’t have to take responsibility if things go wrong, right? They’re like, “You said this, so you know.” So, it’s something that people do as a liability. They want to bear less responsibility for problems that have come up. So, if it’s something complicated that they’re not 100% sure of, then they’ll let me do it my way because then all the liability of it not working is on me.

The responsibility, yes.

Exactly, yeah. If the guy is convinced that you know his ways better than he does, or if he or she insists on doing it that way, they will not undertake it if they believe it is complicated, they’ll let me do it my way. And you know to mess up if I do and have me take the blame.

Yes, I’m very familiar with that model; it’s very common in other parts of the world as well. 

I don’t know if you were exposed during your years at the Anglo-American school in Moscow, but did you observe Russian marketing or Russian behavior? I don’t mean among your students because they were international. But you know who they are. The Russiansback then were still emerging from this extremely top-down situation at the time, a Communist society and there was a very rigid system during Soviet times.

In Communist times there was very little personal responsibility, you could be shot or your family could be imprisoned, especially if something goes wrong, of course. But did you make any observations about how people behaved in terms of hierarchy, marketing, or how they responded to what appealed to them?

Uh, yeah. I noticed that there were only two classes of Russians, right? So, I had some Russians attending my school, but they were from a very rich class like they were politicians’ kids. One of my friends was the sports minister’s daughter, and you know what I mean.

Right. 

The Elites: 

Yeah, one guy is coming to school. We’re like 15 years old. He’s coming to school in a massive Hummer and just parking it himself and getting into school. So, I’m like, “This is a different class.”

When I went to the malls or went out to dinner, I would see the common public, and I found them a little aloof at the time, like they didn’t interact much with me. Or if I had any questions at a mall then or anywhere on the street, fewer people were receptive as if they didn’t want to deal with me. They were in their world, and so it was a complete contrast to the people that I saw. 

But the general public that I saw during my time there—I’d like to tell you that I found 90% of them to be quite aloof about conversing with people from outside. You could tell they didn’t want to interact much, even if they did know a little English. They didn’t want to make the effort to say it or help.

Was it a language issue? I assume you didn’t know much Russian. Was it a language issue or, do you think, a cultural issue?

It was both, and I don’t want you to doubt that some of them genuinely had a language barrier to interacting with me. And I made the effort to speak Russian on the streets, but I didn’t get the accent right, and you know it’s difficult. It was difficult. 

But for a large number of them, I would say it was a cultural issue, and they just didn’t want to bother interacting with someone who isn’t from there. I wanted to make the effort to have that conversation, even if they only understood a little bit of English. They just wanted to go about their own business.

Yes, very interesting. What lessons do you think people should learn from your experience to thrive in international business?

Yeah, so that’s a good one, and you know, I’m still learning mine, but be open to a lot of communication; there’s a lot of bridging the gaps; understanding and respecting the culture is one of them. 

You know where to find people who can mediate well within your team, and I think giving them those roles is truly important because you need someone like me, for example, in the middle. It just makes things easier. It makes things run more smoothly and processes run more quickly.

You can utilize technology; undoubtedly, you are aware of all the task management systems that are available. Any technology that can make your work easier to complete so you can connect the teams for more fun activities. Simply talking and communicating as well as team-building activities is really important, because if you can just make the work process more efficient using technology as well, then you don’t have to worry about things going wrong and you can focus on the team bonding. 

The gathering is critical, and I believe travel will be necessary at the end of the day. You have to go and see the people in their setting to understand them fully, no matter where you’re from. I feel like my business partner, Nico, he’s a Swiss-American guy, but he’s come to India. He’s gone north; he’s done Yoga camps and you now have a sense of the past, which is comparable to a silent camp for you. You don’t talk for like two weeks, and you experience the culture and the people here.

So, he’s returning. He’s in Hawaii now. He’s currently on his way to Los Angeles, so his travels are slowing. So now we’re dealing with the teams you’re aware are present. It’s easy for him because he’s done all the local stuff here and lived like them. You know, he’s lived like he didn’t come to the US from abroad and lived in luxury; in India he took the local buses and all of that, so he’s experienced life like them.

So, I think that’s also something if you have a long-term international business, you have clients in other places and teams in other places, investing in those cultural exchanges helps you understand them fully, and you’ll probably have more long-term experiences with them and probably run a successful long-term international business with all that.

You talked about team building earlier in the podcast. First, you used the example of asking your Indian employees, “How was your weekend? What did you do?” Many people would be hesitant to respond because that is not something they would normally discuss with their boss.

But if you were out of it, if you would take yourself out of the equation or out of the room, would your India team talk about just daily life issues with your American team? I am going to this cool restaurant. I had this great experience. I went on this trip over the weekend. I went on a hike. Whatever the case may be. Would they talk like that in ways that would not involve you, and would they talk differently in front of you?

Yeah, 100%; there are still some of them that would talk freely in front of me. But yes, there are many that would not work. However, when they have exchanges, they are constantly discussing things like the prices of goods here and there. They’re comparing rents and, you know, having those exchanges to understand what life is like there and what life is like here, even some personal stuff.

They have those exchanges and I know about it because my U.S. team has open exchanges with me, so they sometimes tell me stuff about the team in India that I don’t know; Which is funny because, well, I’ve been here for a while, and, as you know, I also travel back and forth. But I do spend a part of each year in India. So, yeah. They have those exchanges because they feel like they’re all on the same plane, and they can correct you and say those things.

I assume the Americans tell you so you know who’s engaged, who’s getting married, and who’s getting divorced. The India team may not share anything with them that they do not wish to share much but they would share that.

Oh, usually when there’s good news the India team will tell me if they’re getting married; that’s pretty big news. They will, but not for things like dating and dating life; we don’t get into that. 

The dating scene?

Sure, they’d share that. They’d exchange those kinds of things with each other, or if someone they like or whatever likes those kinds of personal things, they’d share them.

What about your personal life? What gets you excited outside of work?

Yeah, it’s interesting. I got married in 2020, so the wedding was quite an accomplishment. And with the pandemic’s restrictions, rules, and regulations, there were limited guests and all that. 

It’s cool because my wife is an architect and was working in Chicago. She has worked mostly on skyscrapers, the Chicago Airport, and similar projects, so she has global experience as well. 

She also has projects in India. She builds houses in India, as well as large apartments with plunge pools on the balconies. That’s why she’s also having fun in her field, so I believe she’s having fun outside of work. It’s mostly my wife and me, you know, traveling; we love traveling, so we’re going now, on the 10th of August, to Paris. 

So, we’re going to work from there for a month, and then we’re going to Italy, and we both can work remotely, having projects in the US and India both, but we have enough power to do so everywhere to ensure that everything is taken care of, and we can simply lead them. So yeah, most of my time goes into it. I spend time with my wife and go traveling, that’s why you’re getting to know the world even more than I already do. I already do things that are very important to me, and I’ve started my own business. I don’t want to be stuck in an office, and neither does my business partner and I have set up our business models so that we can get a lot of personal time in.

So my entire focus is on my wife and me and what we do in our free time. How far do we travel each year? How many things have we gotten to see together besides work in the last two years?

That’s wonderful. Do you enjoy sports, reading, or hiking? Or other activities? You live in New York right now, so there are museums and concerts.

I’m constantly changing, so right now, it’s more like me working out, but I was in a phase where I was playing doubles tennis with my business partner and a couple of other guys, and before that, it was soccer every Sunday.

Before that, it was similar to a little bit of working out and going to saunas and such. So, I get into different stuff, but I always have some activity going on. I don’t get much time for reading because I have to read a lot for work right now, so, I just get kind of tired with that itself, so I think I should take a break on the weekends from any kind of reading, being in both the content and development spaces at the same time. It’s a lot of reading. You’re aware in either case: I’m reading code or I’m reading a lot of content and, you know, figuring out how to optimize it for search engines.

Right. 

Listening to music and doing general things like going to concerts have all been reduced a little since COVID. I enjoy going to concerts and other similar events, but I also enjoy seeing live bands. I love seeing live jazz, so whenever I get the time for those things, it’s live jazz or comedy shows.

Ah yes. 

I enjoy comedy shows because I can relate to the characters. I try to separate myself from everything and focus on the first thought that comes to mind. You know, they can pick on me.

That’s great, and I’ll call you up to the stage and mock you as an example.

Yeah, definitely yes. I love, to be honest, the attention. I don’t mind accepting that because I kept wondering why sometimes people sitting in that first seat get so shy and offended because of it. I feel like when you sit in the first row of a comedy show, you almost expect the comics to pick on you, so it has to be a willing decision.

That’s wonderful. Before we close, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Yeah, I think this is just one thing because most of my experience and work in the last few years have been in this area of working with start-ups and app development for start-ups.

In short, I would say that a lot of people come up with ideas and immediately start executing them. In the start-up space, without any market research, we cannot see whether this is the case because you can have a great idea, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a great business.

There are a lot of young people that are getting into the start-up scene. I just want to share that message with you: You need to understand that a great idea is not always a great business. And, dumbly, 99% of your ideas have been executed somewhere in the world. 

So, you have to do your market research in terms of the marketing up front and costs to see how you’re going to acquire users or customers. And you know if the math adds up because you put a lot of time into a great idea, but the math might not add up to the point where executing is pointless. So, yeah, if you want to consult people like me, I’m always available and free of charge. If a start-up just wants to talk to me a couple of times and bounce around an idea, you know, just get my or my business partner’s opinion on whether we think it’s formidable or what changes can be made. 

Because we’ve worked with so many start-ups, we’re happy to share our thoughts on how start-ups should be executed in the most cost-effective way possible. We’re happy to share our opinion at no cost or anything like that. But apart from us, too, it’s important to talk to people more and more before you start executing and spending your money on something, even if it’s yours or someone in your family because people do family investment rounds. 

Family kind of just blindly supports you. They’re like, “OK, you have a great idea, and we’re happy to support you if they have the money.” Right, you know, don’t take such a risk because we’ve seen clients come to us after spending $500,000 and receiving no product or sales, and there is no finished product and no sales, so I could go on and on, but I think this is important, and I think the young founders or even if you know older founders who are thinking of new ideas, they need to know that you don’t just go on executing any idea of finances being involved or taking loans.

You know, there are a lot of private lenders just waiting for you to take out loans. So, you know, don’t do that. Do enough research and talk to enough people to make sure that there’s a market gap for this idea that you’re coming up with. That’s the only message I’d like to give as we are parting ways. 

Well, it’s extremely generous of you to offer your services …You and your partner’s offering pre-consulting services to young start-ups, and your website is indeed startitupnyc.com.

That is correct, yes.

Thank you, Adi. It’s been a wonderful pleasure meeting with you and learning your wonderful insights and ideas, so thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you. Philip, thank you for the opportunity to meet you both. I hope to stay in touch.

So, this has been Philip Auerbach of Auerbach International. Please join us again next week for another edition of Global Gurus and their stories of international business. 

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