Zainab Bawa on lessons in building the HasGeek community

What’s the best way to build communities that last?

“Do nothing,” pat comes the reply from Zainab Bawa, the CEO of HasGeek.

Bawa’s inspiration is Masanobu Fukuoka, a famous Japanese author of bestselling books including “The One Straw Revolution” and “The Natural Way of Farming.” Fukuoka is famous for his “do nothing” philosophy.

In this episode of Outliers, I sat down with Zainab to learn about building communities and handling conflicts. She also discussed the need to take the diversity debate beyond just gender, and include the trans genders too.

And if you want to learn more about Bawa and Kiran Jonnalagadda, you can read this longform: Meet India’s geekiest couple: Kiran Jonnalagadda and Zainab Bawa.

Lessons Amit Ranjan learnt building SlideShare

Consumer Internet products are tough to build, and even tougher for them to survive on their own. If the product is good, it’s more likely to be gobbled up by a large software dinosaur. And if it’s not adding millions of loyal users at speed, a slow, painful death is the only way forward.

In June this year, Microsoft said it’s shutting down the company’s file sharing service because its recent $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn brought in a rival product, which’s far more superior. The product, SlideShare, was acquired by LinkedIn in 2012 for over $100 million.

I sat down with Amit Ranjan, cofounder of SlideShare, who now spends time working with the Indian government on building next generation digital products.

In this two part Podcast, Ranjan discusses lessons in building SlideShare in the first part. In the second part to be published on Thursday, we focus on his experiences in working inside the government machinery.

Makemytrip founder Deep Kalra shares ‘the founder’s mentality’


In many ways, Deep Kalra’s 17-year-long journey in building India’s biggest online travel company, Makemytrip, parallels the country’s internet journey. Over two decades, Kalra hasn’t only helped solve the internet’s early problems in the country, including lack of trust in online transactions, but he has also seen the rise and fall of many online commerce entrepreneurs.

In this episode of Outliers, Kalra talks about lessons in building Makemytrip and his views on letting go, and finding a successor.

While talking to Kalra, I also realised the critical role of “the founder’s mentality” in shaping the future of companies, both small and large. Kalra is also an example of why companies need to be led by founders through their long journeys, and not give up on the traits that define the founder’s mentality.

As Bain & Company said in its July report last year, “Companies that maintain these traits as they grow tend to move and adapt faster, be more open-minded, and anticipate and adapt to the future better than those that lose the Founder’s Mentality as they age.”

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