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Why Shiprocket's Saahil Goel wants to build deep rather than broad

Saahil Goel on the two skills he built during the pandemic and the pointed ways in which he executes his mentorship duties

Being a mentor means bringing the best out in people, says Saahil Goel.
Being a mentor means bringing the best out in people, says Saahil Goel. (Courtesy Shiprocket)

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Saahil Goel had just quit his job in the US in 2011 and was about to head back home. But before he did that he packed his bags and flew to Peru to backpack across the country for a month. He knew that was the only time he would find to travel properly because he was well aware that he had an itch to start something in the internet space. After completing his education, Goel had worked with Bayer and Walmart in the US and then had a brief stint with Kasper in India before returning back to the US again and working in insurance. “I just went with the flow but knew I wanted to start something of my own,” he says from his office.

A Delhi boy who studied at St Columbus School in Connaught Place, Goel had realised that India is not really a winner takes all market and there are plenty of players who can do well and needed logistics and tech support. That’s where the 38-year-old’s start-up came in. Goel started out with Kartrocket and Craftly in 2011 and eventually, with help from former eBay country manager for India and early investor Rajan Mehra, it evolved to become Shiprocket in its current avatar in 2017. “Shiprocket comes in after the customer presses the ‘Buy’ button and ensures the goods are delivered and payments collected,” explains Goel.

Goel, who has an MBA and MS from the University of Pittsburg, speaks to Lounge about why he wants to build deep rather than broad, how ruthless prioritisation at work works for him and why packages get delayed in this day and age.

Who do you consider your mentor?

Rajan Mehra, an early-stage investor at Shiprocket, has been a huge influence and mentor to me. He’s extremely strategic and truly enjoys the building process.

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

The one that still stands out is about building deep rather than broad. Building something meaningful for a small set of users that they love rather than building something average that potentially appeals to a large set of users.

What does being a mentor mean to you?

Being a mentor means bringing the best out in people… to help them realise their potential. I spend structured time giving pointed feedback and actionable goals which I try and then help my colleagues work through.

Describe your morning schedule?

I wake up around 7 am, then wake up my daughter and get her ready for school and go for a run. Drop the kids to school and then get ready for work.

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

Objective goal setting and better written communication.

Any book or podcast recommendations about mentorship and workplace growth?

Masters of Scale. This podcast has a lot of good advice directly from the best entrepreneurs. It also has a lot about their journeys to draw inspiration from.

Any serious hobbies?

I play the guitar and sing. I used to be pretty good at it.

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

Ruthless prioritisation, mindfully picking tasks which I actually want to work on, setting OKRs for the company and cascading the same down the organisation.

Given your line of work, tell us why do packages get delayed or lost despite the tech available today?

It’s understandable that users would expect timely and accurate tracking and delivery of their packages and any delay would definitely cause inconvenience. But packages can get delayed or lost for a variety of reasons. It’s not so much just track and trace tech. Packages can be delayed due to natural calamities, manpower fluctuations and demand and supply fluctuations.

Any IPO plans for Shiprocket?

We’re building a company to last and want to be a standalone company for the long run.

Monday Motivation is a series featuring leaders who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.

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

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