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Shakedeal's Santosh Reddy on how to maintain a good work-life balance

The co-founder and VP of techology at Shakedeal explains how startups are different from established companies, and how he unwinds during his free time

Santhosh Reddy, co-founder and VP, technology, at ShakeDeal.

By Shrenik Avlani

LAST PUBLISHED 25.09.2023  |  01:00 PM IST

Santosh Reddy had quit MindTree, his first job, in 2014 and was biding his time as a consultant while deciding what he wanted to do next. With plenty of time in hand, he decided to start monthly Java Script meet-ups in Bengaluru. It was at one of these events that he met Akshay Hegde, a supply chain specialist. They quickly became friends and along with Hegde’s brother Akash, the three co-founded ShakeDeal, a B2B marketplace and procurement solutions provider in 2016. “The three of us realised that while all shopping was increasingly at your fingertips, there was no technological solution for any supply chains in industrial tools. People had to call up dealers, get three quotes, issue orders and then file away the records. ShakeDeal was our solution to modernise this process and make it faster, efficient and more convenient," says the 39-year-old.

While growing up, Reddy wanted to become a doctor and was very keen on Kannda literature and poetry. However, his uncle introduced him to technology and convinced him to pursue computer science instead. He went on to get an engineering degree and while most of his classmates were joining Wipro, he took a punt on MindTree, which was just starting up and had invited Reddy and a few others to their campus before deciding on the job offers they had.

“By the end of our campus visit, it was such a great experience and hiring managers were so knowledgeable that I knew I wanted to work there. Back then MindTree still felt like a start-up, it was exciting and fun as there was a lot of focus on learning," recalls Reddy. The start-up bug had bitten Reddy bad and he had the itch to start something new when he quit MindTree in 2014 after holding different roles in various locations, including the USA.

Also read: Upasna Dash on why women comprise a majority of Jajabor Brand Consultancy's workforce

While ShakeDeal was an early-mover in the supply chain segment, Reddy acknowledges there is competition now and it’s growing. They have diversified and launched new products and services, including a co-branded credit card and the lucrative corporate gifting service too.

Reddy talks to Lounge about his mentors, working for a start-up, how 10,000 steps a day help him, and learning to meditate.

Who do you consider your mentor? 

Vinod Sarma, my first manager at Mindtree (now LTI Mindtree), taught me the importance of having a solid team. He is now with Thoughtworks. His passion for technology and knack for creating great solutions was infectious. Later on, Salil Cheeran taught me the art of managing relationships.

One major insight you worked on with your mentor’s guidance?

The importance of mentoring your team and being genuinely interested in their growth. At ShakeDeal, we have implemented a mentorship programme where each employee is assigned a mentor from the senior management. The employee can schedule some time with the mentor any number of times and discuss anything and everything—both professional or personal—with them.

What does being a mentor mean to you?

A mentor is a good listener and can provide honest feedback. With my colleagues and team, I try to ensure that I do both. I make it a point to have regular discussions with with mentees to try and help them achieve their development goals—both personal and professional.

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Describe your morning routine?

I usually wake up around 7 am, have a glass of lemon water and do a 10-minute meditation on the Headspace app. Meditation is something that I picked up recently. I wouldn’t say it has helped me drastically yet, but I enjoy the process of getting to know your thoughts and seeing them for what they are. After that, I spend 10 minutes to map my day, identifying at least one or two important tasks to focus on that day.

What’s the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?

One routine which I’ve developed during pandemic and continue to follow is to complete 10,000 steps a day. The reason I say it’s a positive work routine is because this keeps me more active and energetic throughout the day and helps me accomplish more tasks.

Any book or podcast recommendations about mentorship and workplace growth?

Drive by Daniel Pink. This book has helped me understand what motivates people and how the carrot-and-stick approach is flawed. Pink talks about the three essential elements for motivation: autonomy—the desire to control and drive one’s life; mastery—the desire to get better and better at something which matters; purpose—the desire to do something in the service of something bigger than ourselves. Understanding these basic principles of motivation can help not just in workplace growth but overall growth too.

Any serious hobbies?

I sketched a lot as a way of unwinding. The pandemic gave me an opportunity to re-ignite my passion for sketching. These days however, playing with my son and spending time with family is how I unwind.

What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have improved your professional and personal life?

I have realised that productivity is all about managing your time efficiently. As an entrepreneur, at any given point in time, there are so many things which are on your table. It’s very important for you to prioritise, bucket things which are important and ensure you spend enough time on those. This includes having a good work-life balance as well. The best principle I’ve found to have a good work-life balance is to figure out what you love doing and doing that for your living. What looks like work for others should be fun for you.

Also read: Arjun Ranga on the importance of remaining creative at the workplace

How is working in a start-up different from working at an established IT company?

When I joined MindTree, it was still very much a start-up. The teams were close knit, we worked on multiple products, experimented and performed various roles. As it grew, processes had to come in to manage the scale, specialised roles had to be created and people were boxed into their roles. For an established player, this is a necessity. Start-up environment is different. You are required to wear different hats at different times. You will be working on multiple different things at any given time. It is very challenging and at the same time, very exciting. Working in a startup gives you a 360 degree view of how a business is run.

Why are co-branded cards becoming popular?

A co-branded setup offers benefits for all the parties—issuers, partners and card holders—involved. The issuer gets access to a focused customer base, increase in average spend and greater customer engagement. Partners get better brand visibility, better sales and customers tend to stick with them more with a co-branded card. Lastly, the card holder gets customised offers, better discounts, milestone benefits and additional benefits. As India continues to innovate, we will see new use cases emerge and this will only increase the popularity of co-branded cards.

Monday Motivation is a series in which business leaders and creative individuals discuss their mentors and their work ethics.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.