On the very surface, Niraj Singh’s startup story might seem like one you have heard before. The IIT-Delhi graduate is the CEO and Founder of Spinny — the online platform for people to sell and buy second-hand cars.
You know this already.
But behind the scenes, nothing about Niraj’s journey is familiar; his grit story long preceded his entrepreneurial days.
Studying with his textbooks and a Hindi to English dictionary side by side, attempting JEE exam for the second time in secret to switch from B.Arch to B.Tech, a few entrepreneurial stints even before he hit 30, and the loss of a loved one — Niraj has accumulated significant life experiences at a young age.
In a conversation with Anand Daniel, Partner at Accel, Niraj talks about how he built one of India’s most recognisable startups, sheds light on his journey from a small town, his two trysts with JEE, and how his formative years shaped who he is now.
And, there’s more:
- His venture into the Indian startup ecosystem in 2007 — the differences in attitude, the infrastructure, and the experience of building something even as the industry was just getting started.
- Starting TechMonkey in 2011 — a content platform to serve content in local languages — the learnings, losing funding at an important time because of their plan to pivot, and more.
- Coping with loss while trying to helm an organisation where people were depending on him.
- Building a supportive core team, and how that helped his journey.
- What it means to be receptive to feedback.
“Speaking to founders is the central tenet of what I do. But it never ceases to surprise me — how I almost always walk away with a new story, a fresh perspective,” Niraj says.
To know more, listen to the podcast here.
03:17-5:26: Tough beginnings, and what shaped Niraj
05:33-7:25: Grit to get to IIT-Delhi
12:34-13:42: The support from the Indian startup ecosystem
14:53-17:23: Lost his father, but bounced back in three to four months and started his second company
31:42-33:51: Going with the full-stack model although the new investors pulled the term sheet
35:22-37:37: Restarting with the new business model: What happened after the investors pulled back?
39:43-41:28: How the team stepped up during tough times?
52:46-53:57: Being open to feedback and its importance.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YS.)