How Rishabh Shroff made Cyril AmarchandMangaldas, a platinum name in private client practice
FAB: You come from a business family. Why did you work as a professional and not join the family business immediately after studies?
Rishabh: – I was fortunate to be born in a family going back seven generations of doing successful businesses including those in the domain ofagriculture and financing.My great grandfather cultivated 4000bigha of land. He invested a lot on formal education for his kidsand insisted everyone to pick up some business vertical to grow. I decided to go for a corporate job to learn how to build organizations, build brands and processes; a skill set we had been missing since generations. I was inspired by success stories of the Industrial revolution and wanted to learn from the DNA of multinational Corporations. My opportunity came when after completingchartered accountancy, I joined Indian Oil Corporation.
I got selected in Project Manthan (worth almost 450 Crore in year 2000-01) and enjoyed working with a core team handpicked by Mr. TL Jain (ED Finance) and Mr. Subir Raha – ED HR of IOCL. These men were great visionaries of their time. Working with these men helped me to build a solid foundation for my career.Later, I moved to Schlumberger and after that I managed global tax and M&A in Oracle. I became National Head of Tax for Hindustan Coca-Cola.More than 55 chartered accountants, MBAs’ and Lawyers were working under me in that role. I worked in the startup – Snapdeal, before I quit working for someone else.
FAB: How did you decide to venture into business?
RISHABH: I always had this urge to create jobs, concepts and products but my knowledge of tax, finance, M&A was not sufficient to excel in business. So, I decided to venture out in a transport technology startup with a seasoned team to solve the problem associated with transport incities. I was the Managing Director and Co-founder of this startup. It gave me an opportunity to learn all functions, product development, research and intricacies ofhiring, fund raising, marketing.Our startup got recognized by CII-Deloitte. It was funded by industry stalwarts and won an award as global, super, startup in its second year of operation. But, it was an idea ahead of its time. We shifted gears and focused on research to develop products at an international level and filed a patent through India’s largest patent attorney.
GSTwas the next big thing and I wanted to focus on it.The question was how to create a star team for delivery in this field which I knew, would turn out to be a massive project. The concept of shared economies was the only option available to me. I decided to connect with the best in terms of class and talent available to be ready for this new law which was on the verge of being implemented. I interacted with industry and consultants who were positive about GST and created ecosystem of 200 experts in the first year of GSTStreet even before GST was launched in thecountry!
FAB: GST and associated issues was a nascent area. What made you decide, as an entrepreneur, to venture into unknown and new areas?
RISHABH: Being a Tax professional and managing litigation in so many cases in every state of India, I was bullish on GST from opportunity point of view. But I did not want to remain limited to content production or news / views channel. I wanted to develop an ecosystem of thought leaders, experts, experience and execution power in GSTStreet. Imagining solutions is one thing but delivery was most challenging task. The reasons are skill deficiency and resource deficit and being a startup, you do not get so easily recognized among the big league. We started from training which was low lying fruit and build an ecosystem around it, to cater to the need of growing consulting business, second opinion and the litigation market.
FAB: Is there a difference in the way people in general treat professionals and the way they treat businessmen?
RISHABH: I did not find a conducive environment, or a different environment created for professionals. Business is like a jungle and you have totap in your own survival instincts. In India,startup ecosystem is yet to mature and there are lot of people who are good in cornering funding without a proven business model. On the other hand, there are good business modelsthat shrivel up due to lack of funds. I wanted to create a business of match-making where delivery of service with client focus would generate funds and my desire was to prove it with bootstrapping and then raise capital for replicating success. We were doing the experiment of sharing economy with highly specialized areas of consulting, business transformation, tax andlitigation, so it was difficult to follow any previous success story. So we decided to evolve , learn and identify the problems to be resolved to achieve the refined stage without compromising with quality of service to clients.
FAB: What is the role of your immediate and extended family in your business?
RISHABH: My immediate family helped me a lot in this transition.My wife supported me, and the kids took an interest in the thought process. Apparently, it was a tough decision to leave a cushy, corporate job at the age of 38. But a strong belief in the ecosystem, the business model and value creation sustained me, and it became smooth after one year of entrepreneurship work.
FAB: How do you relax when not at work?
RISHABH: I love singing, listening to music and reading books on variety of subjects. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell, John Grisham, Deep Trivedi,SadGuru ,Mark Manson, Andrew Miller and Osho. Recently, I have developed a new taste for mentoring in the areas of business growth, life skills and design thinking.
FAB: You are two partners in the business. How do you handle disagreements and difference of opinions?
RISHABH: We feel relieved by sharing differences rather burying them. We live in two different cities so the passion for sharing success prevails rather than blame each other for failures. We call any failure a learning and give it a positive vibe.
FAB: Most family owned businesses, or businesses with partners, fail to perpetuate due to lack of succession planning and/or conflict. How are you preventing this from happening in BizStreet?
RISHABH:We provide succession planning as a service to our clients. We create trust and define a minimum viable plan for every core member. We are developing growth verticals in air,food,water, healthcare and transport to create social and financial wealth for every member, partner, employee and investors.
FAB: How will you encourage the next gen to be part of the business?
RISHABH: I intend to focus on process optimization, simplicity, creativity, empathy, re-skilling, training and invest in mentorship activities to empower teamsin life skills, collaborations, risk taking,technology,applied finance and business development skills. .I always look for the big picture and nurture trust in relationships. My advice is that we should hire for skills and train for attitude,not the reverse. Focus on best practices and ethics to win in the long run.