From TV Reporter to Startup Specialist: A 14 Year Career Building Tech Startups

Hello There! I'm Vrishank Chandavarkar.

An endlessly creative and curious person, a career in Tech Startups seems to have been a perfect fit for me. Having grown up in a Military Family, the early years of my life were filled with adventure and constant change. My career in Tech Startups followed an unconventional path with multiple challenges and learnings, I've been privileged to observe some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time build mammoths in the Tech world has been one my career's greatest rewards. And so I follow in their footsteps, with the hopes of  building and scaling some of the most influential Tech Startups across the Middle East and India. Extremely energetic, adaptive, innovative, and frugal would be the best way to describe my key traits as I've built a career spanning 14 years across different geographies and industries. This is my story so far.  

Starting my Career as a Start-Up News Reporter

Having been selected from the best college for Journalism in India, I, unfortunately, found myself completing my post-graduation in 2009 a year after the Global Financial Crisis. With no one hiring political journalists at the time I began my career as a Business News Reporter for the recently launched Business News Channel ET Now. A year into covering Corporate Law and Pharmaceuticals I eventually found myself covering the increasingly growing Start-up and venture capital industry in India. And thus began my foray into the world of start-ups. From interviewing multiple famous entrepreneurs like Vinod Khosla (Founder of Sun Microsystems), Sabeer Bhatia (Founder of Hotmail), and Dr. Karlheinz Brandenburg (Creator of the mp3) I learned firsthand from these great men what it took to create and build in the modern world of business. I spent the next 3 years interviewing and featuring multiple start-ups, venture capitalists, and investors thus building a deep love for this industry. I knew what would come next I would have to leave my first love, that of TV and journalism, and pursue my passion for startups by working for one.

The Voice Author

My foray into Startups with BookMyShow

Interviewing for multiple start-ups however, I quickly realized that my skill set would only suit a position in marketing something which I wasn't too keen on as it didn't titillate my curiosity of building business models and building Tech products. Of course, I had to start somewhere, in the style of a true entrepreneur I convinced my founder to allow me to take on failed and incomplete company Projects. As a Startup BookMyShow was a team deeply spread out due to office space constraints and so building a company culture and reputation was the need of the hour. And so I took on the responsibilities of External and internal communications along with building the company's CSR initiative called BookASmile. Taking multiple initiatives like building an internal company newsletter, along with having the Start-up featured on multiple Major news channels I was not only able to study and learn the culture, business model and tech infrastructure of a startup but also what it took to run a startup like BookMyShow at the time the largest Ticketing platform in Asia, second only to Ticketmaster in the World. A year later I was ready to begin to swim in the deep end and take on a challenging venture. Thus came Dubai calling me for an adventure. 

Zomato UAE: A Colossal Venture in 2015

A fantastic opportunity for me as I was hired to lead a Team of 25 Sales and operations executives to Launch Zomato Online Ordering in the UAE. Starting with Sales in Dubai my team joined the larger sales force to blitz the market bringing on a thousand restaurants in just 3 months to meet the minimum threshold of launching a nationwide food delivery operation. Having achieved our task my team and I broke into our specialization of deploying physical tech assets, training restaurant staff, and eventually account management ensuring that the restaurants were always operational and delivering to our customers with the least amount of friction. In true start-up spirit, we launched with an MVP encountering multiple challenges along the way which led to multiple challenges among the team and other stakeholders. The dynamics of working in an agile framework began very quickly, a trial-by-fire I made many mistakes learning the hard way when more than 2/3rds of the staff were let go due to lay-offs. While my number came 4 months after our first round of lay-offs, I learned how to deal with the ill will created as an unfortunate part of building great start-ups. My time at Zomato will always be cherished as a time of great learning both professional and personal. Having completed my primary objective of launching a successful food delivery business in Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sharjah, I thus moved on in the search of my next venture.

Building Mr. Usta in a Changing World 2020

Moving away from Food and beverage, I began working with MrUsta, a Pre Series A Startup in Dubai that dealt in Home Services. Online Home Services was quickly becoming a very popular industry in the region with big money pouring into this sector in India. Near 5 years at MrUsta was one of the best experiences of my life learning firsthand the struggles of launching a start-up with limited venture capital funding and more importantly no proven business model Globally. There was no Uber/Amazon equivalent to inspire the company's regional business model. With no other option but to test the market, MrUsta launched as an Open marketplace simply acting as a broker between Customers and vetted Home Services SMEs. Catering to more than 25 different services from Home Cleaning, Moving, Plumbing, House Painting & large Home Renovations, MrUsta was the first iteration of a Super App. With many successes and many failures, I eventually grew up the ranks to take charge of the company as a Director during the COVID-19 pandemic.  After analyzing multiple strategies and Business Models I knew our answer lay in pivoting to a managed marketplace where MrUsta would need to work with exclusive partners, build a recognizable brand, and take control of quality of services. Having been largely successful, we built multiple partnerships with Carrefour, Justlife, Careem, Dubizzle, and Meraas. We eventually had to sell the company to a Turkish conglomerate who grew the startup into a successful enterprise in Turkey.  After 5 years I bid adieu to take the reins at my next venture.

A Brief but Insightful World of PUDO

With great enthusiasm I began as Chief Business Development Officer of FODEL, the MENA's largest PUDO (Pick up & Drop Off) network. Changing consumer trends in the UAE thanks to an ever-demanding and tech-savvy e-commerce customer led to many innovations in the last-mile delivery space. FODEL was one of them. The start-up managed to create Pick-up and Drop-off Hubs across 5 countries in the Middle East allowing customers the option to pick up their e-commerce purchases from their favorite retail stores be it laundromats, Groceries, or Quick Convenience stores rather than having to miss their deliveries when not available at home. Having a presence in Saudi Arabia, was my first experience of dealing with the Saudi market allowing me an insight into the e-commerce trends over there. My prior experiences with E-Commerce Ventures made me realize this start-up would need a large pivot and a lot of funding to grow any further. Not being convinced of my ability to contribute here, I decided to take a year-long break to embark on a major exercise of upskilling and documenting what I'd learned till now. Stay tuned for what's next.

My Personal Interests

Chasing Guilders

Pursuing an obsession to travel the world looking for Guilders.

Born out of a passion for learning about the world and the people that live in it, Chasing Guilders is a platform aiming to make travel planning easy. A new take on the institution of the travel agency, CG provides highly customizable travel guides ensuring travelers do not miss out on the gems that every destination has to offer.

Voice Author

A One-Stop Shop for Everything Voice Overs.

The Voice Author is the platform for the voice of Vrishankaditya, a Voice Over artist who specializes in a range of services for the narration of Audiobooks, Advertisements, and Radio Jingles.