Separating work and fun is essential. But for someone who constantly finds himself working out of bars drawing that line could be a big challenge. That’s where the pandemic helped Vidur Gupta, co-founder of Third Eye Distillery, the makers of the popular Stranger & Sons gin. The 30-year-old, whose first job was selling hotel rooms while still in college, took to playing the piano and exercise daily because the pandemic showed him “how inculcating hobbies and interests outside of work are important.”
In fact the pandemic was quite an eventful time for him as a a distiller as they launched the runaway hit Perry Road Peru limited edition gin during the pandemic and recently launched another special edition for which they collaborated with a popular Australian gin Four Pillars, which was essentially conceptualised between six people over Zoom calls where they painstakingly explained the nuances, taste, smell and complexities of various botanicals they wanted to use in the new special edition gin.
Gupta, who grew up between Mumbai and Goa, continues to shuttle between the two cities and prefers working with his co-founders, his cousin Sakshi Saigal and Rahul Mehra. Finding the right partner is extremely important for an entrepreneur especially in the alcohol business, Gupta says. “With the right partners we have managed to have a much wider idea pool and it’s because all three of us work together that we have managed to grow as we have,” he adds. Stranger & Sons is today sold in 14 countries.
In an interview, Gupta, who has a master’s in economics and management from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, speaks to Lounge about his mentors, working out of bars, importance of a to-do list and why doing things immediately is a good thing. Edited excerpts.
Who do you consider your mentor?
As a young entrepreneur, I’ve surrounded myself with sound experience at all points. Early on in my career, Praveen Vijh and Preet Grewal (Eat Natural in the United Kingdom), Vivek Asrani (Kaymo Fasteners), Rajan Mehra (March Capital) and Rashi Kapoor Mehta (Universal Legal) were quite instrumental at various stages and have truly had an impact on my growth.
One major insight you worked on with your mentor's guidance?
There are so many examples and it’s an ongoing process, especially in a fast-paced, high-growth startup environment such as ours. From personal growth to on-ground tactics, my mentors have been immensely helpful.
What does being a mentor mean to you?
To me, a mentor is more about being a guiding hand and not giving unsolicited advice. It’s crucial to listen to the problem at hand and guide them towards actionable and measurable steps to achieve the goal.
Describe your morning schedule?
I travel a fair amount and hence, sticking to a regimented schedule is tough. However, I’m usually up by 7am and I’ve worked exercise and piano practice into my morning routine before heading to the office and updating myself on news and emails for the day.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
The pandemic showed me how inculcating hobbies and interests outside of work are important and that there is actually enough time in the day to achieve them.
Any book/podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?
I’ve been listening to Philosophize This by Stephen West. It dives into and summarises philosophical theories and I feel like it helps me understand people better.
How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?
Working out or piano lessons is when I tune out from the world. Moreover, I’m most refreshed after exploring a new part of the world.
What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have made your professional and personal life much easier?
If something can be done immediately, get it done right away. With a moving schedule like mine, keeping a keen eye on your to-do list is essential. Delegation and follow-ups are as important as your to-do list. It’s alright to take some time out for yourself. The world will not stand still if you do.
How do you keep your wits about you when work gets hectic?
Work is constantly busy and will continue to be. Keeping the engine running and moving forward is my job and we, at Third Eye Distillery, are quite the ambitious team.
When it all comes together, it helps to look at every challenge as a sum of its parts and manage it accordingly. Breaking it down into priorities, silos and processes always turns a seemingly unmanageable day into an efficient one.
Do you ever work out of a bar?
We end up working out of bars often so it really depends on the occasion. There are bars that are conducive to peacefully working on your laptop and there are those for client entertainment. I have a comprehensive list for both occasions.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.
Note: An earlier version of this story identified Gupta's cousins as Sakshi Mehra and Rahul Saigal. The error has been rectified.