Product Career Spotlight: Nikhil Vimal

ERIC: Hey guys, it’s Eric from and I’m so excited to have Nikhil onboard with us for our career spotlight. Nikhil, thanks so much for joining us today.

NIKHIL: Pleasure to be here today, Eric. Thank you so much for the invite.

ERIC: I know you’ve been building startups and you’ve been in the industry for some time so love to hear more about your story.

NIKHIL: My story starts back quite a few years now. I’ve been in tech and startups for eight years now, I think a little bit more than that now. I really got started actually from a web development standpoint so I was a self-taught developer. I did Codecademy and all the resources that were around back in 2012, 2013, got really excited about the potential of, actually at that time I was very interested in open source. So my background is literally in working on open-source projects and working with companies as an open source advocate, as an open source developer, you know, I had, an early, you know, like freelance gig that I did was I was literally helping a company get involved in open source and giving back to the community that they were a part of. So a lot of it was a really interesting start. Can’t say, I know a lot of people who sort of make some leaps from that to startups necessarily, but what it did was it sparked my interest in so many different opportunities, like, you know, working in open source and you just going through GitHub and you’re finding, you know, crazy products online.

You’re finding you know, you’re finding different people are building literally, you know, machine learning algorithms out of their garage, like literally. Like time and working with hundreds of other contributors and people who help them you know, work on this project. So, it’s incredible at that time, I remember, you know, to like, I was doing I was doing the open source web development stuff for, I’ll say like roughly four years. And then by accident, I stumbled upon a, actually not one, but multiple different AI, like machine learning, resources that were revolving around chat bots. So right around the time where I had stumbled upon those on GitHub, that was, that was actually before, Facebook messenger even had chat bots, but I remember there were different platforms like Rasa AI, and there was, I think it was called

There were there different frameworks that essentially empower people to build, you know, Virtual assistants. Right and at that time that was all the hype and you know, through learning about those, I got really interested in, you know, what would what it would look like to be more involved with that industry and actually ended up, you know, I spent some time in back then. I spent some time in San Francisco, went to all the early meetups, you know, around this topic. And what ended up happening was just because of my interests and my proximity to understanding more than just the development side of that world. I actually joined forces with a friend of mine who I’ve known from the development industry to start a startup that was, you know, specifically helping, uh, you know, empower conversational AI experiences in hospitality.

So things like hotels and hospitals, you know, we were working with working on some incredible pilots and, you know, great experience. It was a, it was a great opportunity to sort of get my get my feet wet in, in sort of that early venture experience after being sort of in a, in a world where things are moving fast, but you know, a lot of the companies that work within the open source sphere were much more established. This is literally a new venture. And, you know, as the story goes, you know, I ran like it was a couple of years working on the startup. We didn’t quite find product market fit. We didn’t really the market that we were working with, was it boosts fairly slowly, works with a lot of legacy software and just, you know, because of that experience and because of the you know, fit, we couldn’t find, you know, me and my co-founder transitioned out and I was sort of, um, you know, once we sort of shut down that operation, I was really inspired to take on a new role in the world of product actually, that’s, that’s what that’d be pretty relevant to today.

I had that, you know, AI experience and understanding of how to you know, build a team around AI and, and work around, you know, major concepts there. But I also love the idea of rather than just being a developer and, you know, sort of like, like coding is fun and stuff, but also managing people hiring, going through that entire process of bridging non-tech and technical aspects in a one for startups, tech companies, companies of any variety, really. It just got me so excited. So I was, I was head of product at a D to C startup at a conversational I startup and I was doing it sort of like independent contracting for a lot of different companies, product marketing, help as well. Just everything I could to immerse myself, after, you know, walking away from that startup experience, but also offering, you know, that technical mind as well.

And essentially all of that led up to, I think, you know, one of my largest, like what I most ambitious, you know, experiences in my career is the company I’m working with right now, You know, I’m a business partner, consulting partner and head of operations there currently helping, you know, we work with anything from tech companies to fortune 500 companies, integrate AI into their sort of like into their, into their infrastructure, basically. So things like the workplace, you know, we work with some companies on, on things that are, you know, more, we’re just doing consulting on how AI can be part of that R and D roadmap and I’d get to work with a lot of incredible people, incredible companies and sort of see the cutting edge.

Our company is a Microsoft partner so we also get a lot of opportunities to work with, you know, obviously Microsoft and, and people internally there and their resources internally, again, going back to open source in some way. You know, being able to utilize their resources. So, yeah, that’s what I’m currently working on. I’m about a year in. I have a lot of other crazy projects that I work on. I’ll touch on briefly. I angel invest a little bit right now. I’m a, co-owner in an e-sports organization. I’m working on some other really cool communities in that realm as well. And in gaming, things like that on my, in my free time, whenever I have it, it’s sort of hard to find, but yeah.

Yeah, it’s, it’s sort of, it’s incredible, you know, being back right now, I’d say I’m sort of back in venture mode, right? Where it’s, you know, it’s, it’s like, the company that I’m currently with, it’s actually kind of been around, but this is a new iteration. So in a sense, it feels like a startup. It has that rush.It has that feeling. And yeah, you know, I get to, I get to apply a lot of what I’ve learned, but I also want to, you know, I know, I know we’re going to, we have some topics to cover today and, you know, I’m definitely, I may not be doing, you know, day-to-day had a product, product management type stuff right now, but I can still, you know, I still want to touch on that and, and talk about, you know, sort of how that’s, um, how it’s all come together. So, yeah, that’s, that’s my answer to the first question.

ERIC: Let’s talk about product because you have so much experience so for our audience that like, let’s say they want to break into like product roles. What advice do you have for them?

NIKHIL: I’ll be honest, like experience is still as cliche as that sounds, you know, finding immersing yourself, like in experiences that get you close to product are really important. And actually, I think those experiences in my humble opinion, a lot of them are around, like, you know, if you’re, if you’re in sales, but you’re asking the right questions and you’re tracking how the product is being built. That’s the way to learn product right on the flip side, if you’re more of a technical person, if you learn a little bit about, you know, the major, how should I call it stacks, right? That people are building their, their products on currently and looking at how people are designing, you know, how people are designing things to better find product market fit.

There’s a lot about understanding in my opinion, the many operations that go into specifically, you know, like tech companies, I think that’s where the most fruitful opportunity for learning is for anyone trying to get into a product is, you know, like I think there’s, there’s big companies that are trying product too, but looking at smaller companies, falling journeys of startups, I mean, that’s an incredible way to learn. And I learned from actually starting a startup, but a lot of that was also from, you know, taking a look around at competitors and other people in the space and things like that.

And learning from how they were growing, what, how they were pitching. Um, you know, a lot of meetups, I think one of my, let me, let me think of like a good example. So product school is my favorite resource in the last few years in terms of, um, product education. Also I think they’re all over the country. I’ve been to them now. There’s like, you know, product management, meetups, like I think those are. In-person talking about product is such a cool way to learn it. I gotta be complete. And I know that it’s missing right now, but it’s, you know, I’ve always been a fan. I’m an extrovert personally. So I love, you know, I love talking shop and, and that’s one of the fastest ways that I’ve learned about like, or I’ve been able to accelerate my efforts in.

Talking to other startup founders or people who are running tech companies, running product attack companies and understanding, you know, a better perspective. And then also, you know, I’ve spoken to people at, at Samsung and Google and, and other big companies, really the big tech that also do products. So getting that, getting that layer of knowledge at things like meetups and, you know, through networking has been, sort of my super power is really understanding sort of the. The journeys of different people and not just companies that go through the product route and then I think the other thing is, you know, there’s a lot of, uh, A lot of incredible resources.

I’m trying to think of a few, but maybe, maybe even better. So I should mention some products that I look up to a lot of notion, notions, a great startup to look at in terms of understanding product Stripe. I mean, obviously that one’s crazy. You know, Plaid, I’ve been looking at a lot of FinTech actually, to be completely honest with you. So there’s there’s, I found a cool one recently There’s just been some, some incredible startups I’ve seen in that space. I think in consumer, I’ll say Clubhouse clubhouse is definitely a cool, I don’t know if my product is inspiration comes from there. I think they still have a lot of work to do, but in terms of how they found product market fit, how they create hype, you know, there’s, there’s definitely specific decisions that are good to look at their, Tik TOK, obviously, you know, the, the concept of doom, scrolling, Instagram, you know, those things, those things might sound like a lot of, you know, different UI and UX inspiration.

But I’m trying to think about trying to dissect some of those products and looking at it from a design decision aspect or how, how different things function when you click on them, when you hover on them. Those are all elements that I think are, you know, really important to understand how it’s bridging together. You know, the different things within the company, right? Product D or design, rather the engineering side of it, the intelligence side of it. If you use, uh, you know, if you use products that are powered by GPT three, right? You can see those are also great. I can’t even, there’s too many to name now.

And I can’t remember one that’s like. There’s one, I’m thinking of, for sure that I think it allows you to help write like articles and stuff like that quite a bit though. Those are, those are awesome because it gives you a sense of how you’re using this really, really cutting edge technology and how it’s merging within an interface or within the way you’re talking to it. And just, it’s a lot about dissecting products. I think like, like I said, it’s, it’s not necessarily too different from being a designer, trying to think about how you would redesign a product or how you, how would, you know how you’d look at UI UX differently, but this is more of like, how do you make those decisions, right? How do you find ways to bridge the technical aspect, the interface aspect of support aspect as well. And I think there’s a lot, a lot to learn from that. So yeah, I’d say, I’d say those are some, some good ones to learn from. Also I’d say actually Mozilla has some pretty incredible, um, you know, like just like, not even necessarily like close to product, but just in the way they, their philosophy behind how they built the browsers and the different tools that they’ve been a part of how they do open source, things like that.

That’s been a great lesson in and Microsoft. Of course I will, I will give a shout out to the company that I worked fairly often with. They have, they have very specific resources for understanding how they make their decisions and, you know, the ever, never ending Azure updates that they do and never ending it’s to all the, all their, you know, office three 65 teams, things like that. If you’re on LinkedIn enough, you’ll find, you know, the PMs are actually posting the product leads, product managers, product designers, they’re all posting on why these decisions have come about and the data behind making the decisions to integrate certain features, make certain design aspects to remove certain things.

And that’s been incredible like lately I’ve been learning from that, like shout out to the shout out to the Microsoft teams. Team, behind the scenes in the product world, because they’ve been literally posting like updates about how they’re doing Microsoft teams for education and why they’re making certain decisions to make their product more, more curated to that. And how, you know, schools, universities can be empowered to better use, you know, that communication too, from within. So yeah, I’ll get off my soap box there, but just wanting to really give the long answer on how to go from. You know, ideating how to find product resources all the way to actually go into these product resources and take advantage of that.

ERIC: That’s great. So speaking of, you know, product, what have you seen for like startups? You know, building their MVP, like work really well, or sometimes even not work really well, like, yeah. W what are some, uh, tips you may have for. Or, you know, founders that are like building that first version and trying to, you know, make those critical decisions, like you mentioned, uh, behind their UX, behind their UI. What have you seen in terms of your experience?

NIKHIL: Yeah. This is a great question, actually. And you know, uh, I don’t want to plug myself too hard, but to give myself a little bit of credibility companies that I am, you know, advising and doing some angel investing for and things like that have been giving me. They’ve been sort of like to put a, generally they’ve been whooping my ass and trying to understand how different people’s backgrounds come together to, um, to create product, you know, structured and frameworks. Right. So I just want to mention that, you know, this is coming from a lot of different perspectives, but I’ll, I’ll try to compile it down to sort of your question.

I think an important part of the MVP in my humble opinion, I know there’s gonna be people who disagree. Don’t think looking at competitors every day, every hour is very useful. I think that understanding the market and the landscape is very important, but you know, trying to copy the exact design, trying to copy the exact functionality. I mean, there’s things you have to do to stay competitive for sure. But also, you know, when you’re in that MVP stage, it’s good to, it’s good to find shortcomings and look to other like, you know, if there’s a product that’s exactly like yours in a certain industry that you’re tackling cool to look at it for a little bit, but look at how other products are doing it too.

And you might be surprised at what you’re finding, right. For that, for that MVP stage and how, you know, they might not be direct competitors, but you know, they, the way that they’re targeting their customers that are probably similar to yours, right. I mean, if I’m an ed tech, you know, targeting educators and understanding how teachers use technology versus how, uh, administrators at schools use technology, you know, where does that come in? You don’t FinTech, how are more, uh, educated financially literate users using products versus, and you know, your product doesn’t have to be a RobinHood competitor, but still look at Robin hood. Uh, maybe, I don’t know if that’s controversial to say, but I was like, I come right out. Whichever, whichever the leading edge they’re like, look at, look it there.

Just look at the way that they’re presenting their product. Right. That’s, that’s really key. I think that is key for an MVP, even if they’re much bigger than you, even if they’re much farther than you and funding team size, obviously. Um, uh, having a clear understanding that, you know, the MVP it’s, it’s not even building it all into an MVP. It’s just creating that backlog, creating that icebox, that, that collection of ideas, talking to customers, you know, talking to investors, just having those, having that vision, having that roadmap. I think one of the most important parts of a product manager, uh, you know, just a head of product in general or, or even, uh, a founder trying to be play that role of product.

It’s just understanding how accurate you can make your timeline. You know, you can, that is something I have to spend a lot of time on. It has to match with your vision. That’s the matter with your resources and estimates of the funding you’re getting, you know, all these kinds of things are all converging in one place and understanding, you know, what could be down the line without getting too distracted and without, you know, getting too lost in trying to be exactly who your competitors are.

I think that’s the key. And I think, I mean, I think founders are rewarded for originality. So with product, you know, from a product mindset. I, the way that I’ve always done product and maybe just the companies I’ve worked with, because I haven’t worked at Google as a product manager, but, you know, working with companies that are few years in or who are just starting experimentation, it’s so important to understand the importance of experimentation and understanding the idea of, you know, measuring a process and, and collecting feedback from users and, you know, breaking things fast or fail fast, right. Even with just certain features that you’re building out. I think all those things are, they may seem daunting, but they are part of the process, right? There’s going to be, there’s going to be trial and error. There’s going to be times that you feel like you’re on top of the world with something you rolled out and then a week later you realize it’s the worst decision you’ve ever made as a, as someone who’s leading product.

If you’re a founder or if you’re someone who’s a product lead at a, at an early stage startup. So, and I think there’s, I honestly think there’s very easy ways, even if you’re working with other co-founders and partners who don’t really get it. I think there’s a pretty easy way to explain that. And you just got to just point to all this, like startup successes that our history, right? Like Uber started as a black car, like black car experiment, right. Airbnb had a, you know, different launches that they did that were all very experimental and. And unique and, you know, they still got to where they are today. It wasn’t like they, they went, you know, it maybe took a little bit longer. Maybe there are ways to make it more efficient, but experiments give you a chance to really, really stand out from the crowd.

Especially in your industry or in your competitive space. So, yeah, those, those are things, some of the fundamentals that I’d like to share that I, I personally haven’t taught, I haven’t heard as many people talk about cause I think a lot more people, I mean, obviously agile and. Roadmapping and having the right tools and having the right cadence with your developer teams, sales teams, whatever, all those things are, are very important, but I feel like. There’s some underrated elements of a product manager’s journey with an early stage company or a founder’s journey building the product that, aren’t talked about. And I think at the top of that is really that concept of how can you, you know, run experiments, measure them and justify them as well. And, and, you know, find ways to actually maybe beat the curve rather than, play it too safe. Right. Finding that balance.

ERIC: That’s great. So talking about experimentation is such a key. What are some good elements of having like a good experiment? Like, is it, you look at the data, do you run different experiments at the same time? What are some frameworks you might be able to recommend for audience there?

NIKHIL: Yeah, absolutely and I got to mention that. I was like, trying to think of that. Maybe I should, I could have maybe answered a minute ago, but I didn’t want to rush it. So now you’re bringing that question back though. cause it’s given me time to think about that. You don’t understand.

So prioritization is very important for an early stage startup as well. Like not to, like I said, not to, you know, discount experimentation anyways, but it has to be a very clear balance and it can’t be all. It can’t be too crazy. Right. It has to be, there has to be structure. There has to be framework.

So it’s understanding it’s having a prioritization model, right? It’s having it’s understanding, you know, where, where, you know, users might be where the industry might be and what you can offer it. And being able to prioritize that in a way that that can service. You know, something that will get you to product market fit, right?

The experimentation tracking, measuring understanding comes down to more you know, it, it comes down to how granular you want these experiments to be, right? Like it’s it’s do you want to take baby steps to get to a bigger experiment? Do you want to run a bigger experiment now? And, and, you know, if you feel like it’s not going to lose you money, or it’s not going to lose your users, like, is it worth it?

it’s elements like that right? It’s it’s trying to. It’s trying to look at your roadmap, look at your vision and have a clear understanding of. How big these experiments can be what their timing is. And I gotta be honest with you. It’s maybe not a, not an answer everyone loves either, but it’s, it is gut decisions there to right on which experiments are run.

You got it. You’ll be in the middle of something crazy. And you’d be like, I swear if we just try this one little thing that could get us more adoption. Like, why not? Right? You are, you’re a startup. You’re supposed to be trying out different things or the fun half. The fun of it is, you know, well, not half the fun, like there’s always raising and then running it and everything.

But part of the fun is being able to control your own destiny a little bit as, as a leader in a startup and, um, being able to manifest something that’s never been there before. So, you know, do that carefully, do that with the right prioritization and do that with the right. Always, it always comes down to look at the users, not necessarily investors like investors, there is importance to pandering to them and there is importance to, you know, working with them. I totally understand that. But your users are the ones giving you money and Hey, if you can bootstrap even better, right? Like there’s, there’s just a lot of different ways to gauge the timing of your opportunities.

And you know what what’s valuable at the time. So yeah, it’s like timing is an important element. Prioritization is important element and also understanding your resources and how much, how much shift will happen if you make an experiment is very key and very important. So that’s sort of where my mindset is on sharing things.

Does that maybe I haven’t heard. And like I said, I could go into like, talking about how you can make better, agile boards or Trello boards or something that’s imagined as well. But I feel like that’s been. Sort of touched upon quite a bit. Like I want to talk more about the, I think there’s lots of ethical aspects of that too.So I’m trying to go after those a bit.

ERIC: That’s a great point or for our audience. So let’s shift gears and talk about like remote work, you know, remote work, you know, obviously, uh, with what’s going on in the world, where do we see, like where do you see AI playing a role in like. I mean, will it work or what’s the future like?

NIKHIL: Yeah. I mean it’s crazy. Like, I think I wish there was just an artificial intelligence. Like I take my calls for me, you know, for pursuit presume, not this call. This call is great, but there’s, there’s other calls in the day, you know, like just kind of twiddling my thumbs writing notes and, uh, parts of me wish there was an AI, so I can get back to doing some of the, you know, like solid work or lead generation or all that pipeline management, all the things that I have to do as an operational lead. So that’s one thing I wish, but you know, we’re still building up the tools for that. So AI, in the future of work is something is like, I mean, that is kind of what I’m working on right now. Chat mode. Most of our projects come down to. You know, building efficiencies for industries that might not necessarily have them, or we work with, like I said, we work with tech companies on, on, R and D projects and things like that, that are, they’re building out products that are going to be AI based for servicing a target or a group of customers that are just not, at like that could use that productivity and efficiency powered by AI.

So you know, that’s, that’s to get a little bit of insight there. So the future of it’s not even like remote work, I will say it’s like even the future of work, I realize. You know, I I’ve said it in a couple of different ways before, like AI can help the future of remote work, but it really is like now that there’s all these hybrid models and everything coming out, there’s so many different ways to empower the type of work that you’re doing at home on the go anywhere, everywhere in the world. One of my favorite products, I, I just. I don’t know what draws me so much to it., right? Where you, you can schedule emails with the help of, you know, you like you write an email and there’s an automated email response that schedules a call between both of you. And they have other really cool features that I think they’re constantly building out, um, to, to better automate that process of like, you know, an assistant for email threads. That’s incredible other products I’ve seen and gosh, I’m losing like the name because there actually is more than one that I’m thinking of. And they’re just kind of all getting jumbled in my head, but there’s literally platforms now where you can. Talk to a voice assistant and that enters a, you that augments your Salesforce or HubSpot CRM pipeline and allows you to send leads just through your voice.

You don’t have to do that, that crazy, you know, process of typing them in going through portals, going through multiple tabs, confirming whatever. There’s so many incredible tools that are there’s, more, more and more tools coming out that are really allowing for these. You know, sort of, sort of shortcut experiences that are just, it’s incredible to see right now, there’s something about, you know, artificial intelligence, you know, empowering a salesperson, a developer, a head of operations, like anybody, you know, a product manager just through the, through the concept of being able to do your work a little bit faster.

You know, superhuman, right? The email app like that has, that has AI. That just makes it feel faster. And people notice that right. People, you know, have a way of they say, Hey, it’s like my emails feel better prioritize my, my, you know the way that I’m able to write responses as faster. It’s crazy. Google’s edition of AI helping you. I want to say it must be pretty sophisticated. AI. That’s helping you. Finished sentences and emails and Google docs. That’s already saving time in my day. Like some of it is just autocorrecting or, or, you know, making sure the grammar is correct, but I’ve seen companies and I’ve seen models that they’re working on, where it could write, you know, you could write a couple of that’s GPT 32, right.

Where you could write a couple of sentences and it writes a paragraph for you with the rest. Right. And actually make some pretty interesting decisions. And I think let me put it this way. you know, sort of like thinking in the superhero sense, like, or a Spider-Man sense, um, with great power comes great responsibility. Like I hope these things are going to be used ethically and properly and are, are going to be a, you know, like they’re going to be doing good in the workplace and not making assumptions, or literally, you know, making people feel left out. I know there’s all these biases still to tackle, but that’s even, that’s, there’s another crazy part. There’s even AI. Now that’s tackling, that’s trying to automate the process of tackling bias and collecting data to make sure that workplaces are more inclusive and, and hiring is more fair. Like these things are just, it’s a domino effect. Like the AI, the AI sphere, that’s enabling companies as big as, you know, your, your Nation wide’s of the world, your deltas of the world, your Accentures of the world, right? Like, I mean, you’re just. There’s so, uh, there’s just so many opportunities to like streamline even the process of manufacturing, right? Like there’s robotics, there’s AI. And a lot of that, I’m just, you know, to sort of bring it back down to earth. Like, I work a lot in the software field. Like I know there’s, there’s AI’s that are going to be building cars and that are going to be you know, automating packaging and whatever.

But the software behind that, that allows, you know, stakeholders and, and manufacturing floor managers and things like that to track. The efficiencies of their logistic operations or airlines to track. You know, if they’re, if they’re licensing out planes to do, you know, to send packages instead of like passengers, right? Like being able to see how much ROI that’s getting and, and being able to better manage those things around the world. So they’re, you know, some people are getting customers and or people or people that are getting packages better and customers are keeping happy. All these things basically are coming down to, you know, a world where we have a lot more time to focus on.

Like as employees, as people who are working as cogs in the machine, we can focus on much less mundane tasks and actually making an impact in our organizations and you know, being, you know, contributing in a way that allows. This AI to do the mundane work better while we can tackle everything else. And while, you know, we won’t have to work holidays anymore. We won’t have to work overtime anymore. Like we can focus more on leisure and life. And I think that’s a, you know, I think that’s something very, very important to think about, you know, coming up is efficiency, productivity, all these different kinds of items and yeah, the future of work with AI, it’s super bright.

And I’ll just say that all there’s a lot of big companies still look up to that are slowly starting to publish their findings at AT and T, I think did a writeup that you know, I wrote it up. I shared it on LinkedIn and it you know, circulated quite a bit, because it was about like, hiring, like AI and hiring. Like, people just are interested more and more, even if they’re not AI engineers, like anyone can have access to that data. People are bringing it down to earth and it’s important to track and, I think it’s going to make waves, you know, in, in the way that we’re doing work in the very, very near future.

ERIC: Let’s talk about working at a startup oftentimes there’s just a blend. How do you keep the balance?

NIKHIL: Like I don’t sleep and that’s, I have to work on that. I have to work on that for sure. So nobody asks me for advice on how to rest. I mean, I think like fitness, I know that’s like as cliche as it gets, but I’m a big runner hiker, you know, cyclists. Like I really get into that because it really does clear the mind. You know, I am. You know, sort of a fan of I’m personally more of a fan of doing things in the morning. So I kind of start off my days with feeling that, you know, refresh sense of like adrenaline from a run or from a bike ride, things like that those evening runs can be great to, to, you know, to kill off some, you know, cool off a little bit.

And then I have ideas for the next day too, but. Yeah, I think, you know, it’s important to keep it supported, to keep yourself healthy, important to eat well, all those kinds of things sleep well. I have to worked on that myself. I will be honest, but it is something that makes a difference. Um, you know, and also being able to, you know, with startups, I’m not going to sugar coat it. You will have to work weekends. You’ll have to work nights. It’s up to you. If you’re a founder, if you’re a co-founder, I mean, your employees, aren’t going to do that. Even if it’s their first employee, like, you know, they, they could for a little bit, but they didn’t sign up for that. Like that’s how you burn people out.

That’s how you have a employee churn, right. Is, you know, you, you start to misunderstand, you know, what your role is as an early founder versus an early employee. So recognizing that like, you will have to make some sacrifices in your life and. The way that I get over those sacrifices or sort of like, you know, it’s going to suck, right? It’s going to be like, damn, I really expected to go out this weekend and just take the weekend off. But this deployment was late. This feature was late. This opportunity needs to be fleshed out more proposal, whatever it is, right. Or support requests. Right. Having an understanding of these things that are going to come up and being able to set a foundation, a framework for yourself on what to do when it happens is really important. I’d be like, okay, so I’m going to move this, but maybe I’ll, I’ll get off a little bit early of next Friday just to make up for this time that I lost an entire weekend. You know, being, finding compromises with yourself and with your business partners and being transparent about what those are. It’s great. It allows for such an opportunity for, for good discussions internally to make sure that no one’s burning out. No one’s hitting walls. No one’s having writer’s block or really just like a management block. Right. And like how they can do things better. There’s yeah. It’s like a, you know, having your own balance. And also if you feel comfortable sharing, having a collective, the balance right. Within your, your co-founders and the people who are making your company possible, just to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

ERIC: I always ask the guests on FoundersBeta what’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

NIKHIL: This is going to be like it just, it came from an interesting person. It’s an advice that everybody kind of talks about, but I, once back in the day I spoke to like, I had a friend of the industry who was just like an angel investor.

Ran it ran many startups and someone who I didn’t even like really ask for this, like advice, like not to say it was unsolicited, but it just came up in conversation where he was saying like, man, like I just have a hard time investing in companies that don’t where, you know, a startup founder, like nothing wrong with solo founders. But he said in his opinion, Having a co-founder is the most important part because that just shows investors even angels or wherever you are that you’ve convinced one other person to join you on this crazy journey. And I remember thinking, like, I remember thinking like, well, I wonder, cause my question was something about like scaling startups. Like it wasn’t about like the day one stuff, but then I realized like, shit, that’s still important though. Cause you could invite other co-founders a year into your startup. And you could, you know, you could, uh, trying to convince customers the same way you would convince. Co-founders like that’s really eyeopening advice. So the advice was, was quite simply, you know, have a co-founder, but the expansion of that advice was, you know, why would your customers want to want to work with you if you can’t even convince one other person to work on it with you? Like there’s yeah. There’s concepts around that. And that’s, those are, they’re thought experiments. They’re not necessarily to, you know, de-motivate or that’s not, you know, whatever that’s just to, you know, think to yourself a little bit. Like how can you, how can you better? Bring people on board and it like investors included. So yeah, I think the perspective of, of who mentioned that to me and knowing that they had invested, you know, crazy amounts of money have started their own startups.

But you know, at that time that was a response to a question about scaling. But that was, that was eye opening for me, that was back in like, honestly, I was back in like 2017. That was I had already had a co-founder for a startup at that time, but I remember that was sort of like that, that still stuck with me as like, you know, should we have more co-founders should we, what will happen if I start another venture? Like, could I do it alone? Like things like that. Whereas this, it came out of random time, but the advice, the advice stuck in.

ERIC: For our audience that want to get in touch, what’s the best way?

NIKHIL: Twitter, the unfortunate reality is Twitter DMs it doesn’t notify me correctly. It’s so hard to track sometimes. Twitter is like in terms of interacting with me on Twitter itself. Like I look at replies and stuff like that quite frequently. It’s DMs. I have to work on a little bit. I’m at Nikhil Vimal, all one word on LinkedIn. LinkedIn DM actually is the better way to reach out to me personally, if you’re looking for that. I’m Nikhil Vimal on there and then, yeah, those would be, those would be the two best ways I’ll be, I’ll be on Twitch eventually very soon. I’ll be on a very cool project in the e-sports sphere, not, not that that’s a great way to reach out to me, but maybe to track on some of the cool things that I’m working on, that would be another source of publishing about on Twitter. I I’d say when it comes down to it, Twitter is the best one place, but LinkedIn is the best place to have further conversations and really have like longer threads.

ERIC: Thank you so much again for coming out today and taking the time. It’s been a blast.

NIKHI: Thanks so much, Eric.It’s been a pleasure. It’s been an honour and thanks again for having me on this has been great.

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About the Author

EricEric Rafat is a passionate founder with wealth of expertise in startups, building high-performing teams, and growth marketing. He is a top ranked tennis player and always up for a conversation about startups and tech. Connect with Eric here.