Listicle: 10 entrepreneurs who make the hustle look good

ByAnil Sadarangani
Jan 27, 2023 11:44 PM IST

They walk the talk, offer employees support, rest and an attentive ear. They’d rather shine slowly than burn out. See what they do differently

No questions askedChetan Walunj & Aditi Bhosale-Walunj, co-founders of fuel-delivery service Repos  

Chetan Walunj & Aditi Bhosale-Walunj, co-founders of fuel-delivery service Repos, encourage each staffer to set a personal goal and offers three days’ paid leave in support
Chetan Walunj & Aditi Bhosale-Walunj, co-founders of fuel-delivery service Repos, encourage each staffer to set a personal goal and offers three days’ paid leave in support

Pune-based Repos, a fuel-delivery service that counts Ratan Tata as one of its investors, started 2023 with a goal-setting day. Each of the 250 employees was asked to set a personal goal. The company, in turn, offers three days’ paid leave for the year in support. There’s also a ‘No-Questions-Asked Leave’ for teammates who accomplish their work goals ahead of schedule.  

Bhosale-Walunj and her co-founder-husband Chetan Walunj lead their teams on a 90-minute meditation session before every workday. “We visualise our day, then let it go and start taking action,” she says. “Consciousness and slowing down helps us go at a faster speed.”  

Desktops only, pleaseAkash Jaiswal, founder and CEO, Wooble  

Akash Jaiswal
Akash Jaiswal

On his first job, Jaiswal worked around the clock because, “Our laptops were always with us.” When he founded Bhubaneshwar-based Wooble, which allows you to build and share your portfolio digitally, he provided his team only with desktops. “So even if there is urgent work, I cannot ask them to work from home,” says Jaiswal.   

Though none of his employees is married yet, Jaiswal has planned for maternity and paternity leaves so everything goes smoothly when the time comes. Since his team consists only of 20 people for now, he knows every little detail about them, right up to which of them must cook for themselves.

The best intentionsAnand Mahurkar, founder & CEO, Findability Sciences  

Anand Mahurkar
Anand Mahurkar

Boston-based Anand Mahurkar, whose 170-employee strong company uses AI to empower businesses around the world, worked in India for 20 years. “That shaped the way I run my business. I’m against pushing employees to achieve company goals. Instead, we create more intentions,” he says.  

When, years ago, an employee resigned because he needed to look after his cancer-stricken mother, Mahurkar refused to accept his resignation. Ten years later, they’re still working together.

“Intention inclusion happens by showing our team a life in totality,” he says. This is why his Gurgaon-based chief marketing officer, Kavita Rao, has the time to pursue her farming interests.   .     

More than the little thingsRashi Narang, founder, Heads Up For Tails  

Rashi Narang
Rashi Narang

Rashi Narang treats her 1000+ employees with great care. The founder of the online-offline pet supplies store aims to maintain a safe environment where people feel heard and seen.

“We do not tolerate discrimination or disrespect. Apart from sick, casual and earned leaves (for rejuvenation or mental wellbeing), we also have bereavement, paternity, maternity, pet adoption, adoption leaves and menstrual support which allows WHF for menstruating women,” she says.  

The employee platform, Plum, assists employees in tracking medical insurance and supports mental health care, free tele-consultation with doctors, unlimited dental consultations, discounted health check-ups and medicines.  “I feel valued here,” says brand manager Kriti Khurana.  

Breaking the cycleSohail Shaikh, managing partner, MSS Renewtech and Archic Greenscape Engineering  

Sohail Shaikh
Sohail Shaikh

Sohail Shaikh used his experience as an employee to create a gentler workspace for his 15-member team when he launched his renewable energy company.   

“In one of my first jobs, employees were not paid on time and the work schedule was rigid. I did not want my staff to go through that,” says Shaikh.  

 At the peak of the pandemic, when work stopped and Shaikh couldn’t give his team their increments, he launched a civil engineering company that would bring in the necessary cash.

“My team is like my family. When they need financial support, we help them,” says Shaikh.

Planet and people firstAnkit Agarwal, founder,  

Ankit Agarwal
Ankit Agarwal

Kanpur-based collects temple flower waste that is otherwise dumped in rivers to create products like incense and vermicompost, cleaning up the environment while making profits. Its work practices are equally visionary: hard work, but not at the cost of the 205 employees’ physical and mental health.

“We have introduced an in-house physical activity hour when our team works with trainers on their physical fitness. We encourage employees to prioritise their physical and mental health,” says founder Ankit Agarwal.

 Agarwal believes in balancing hustle with employee growth and success. “As long as there is equal intention, everything can be worked out,” he says.   

Take a breakArman Sood, co-founder, Sleepy Owl Coffee  

Arman Sood
Arman Sood

At Sleepy Owl, managers are instructed to prioritise the well-being of the company’s 60+ team members.

“We not only urge teams to take time off but also provide compensatory offs and flexible work situations like work from home and half days, when necessary,” says Arman Sood, who founded the brand with Ashwajeet Singh and Ajai Thandi. “As leaders, we are on a mission to build an EPIC team where the ‘P’ stands for People First.”

Work thrives when the employees take breaks: they are happier, more motivated, more productive, and more creative. “So, as long as teams are able to manage their work, leaves are recommended,” Sood says.   

In this togetherNidhi Agarwal, founder and CEO, Book A Workshop  

Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal

Nidhi Agarwal knows that constant learning does wonders for a successful career, which is why she founded Book A Workshop.

But she also knows that constant working does the opposite. So her team of 12 employees often have movie nights, pizza parties, art gallery viewings and so on.

This is why once, in a crunch time, the team threw their perfect schedules away and did what was needed to end the crisis.  

“I think of growth as sustainable and non-sustainable,” says Agarwal. “If we’re not taking the time to create a culture and learning curve for our teams, we’re heading towards burnout.”

Patience is keyShobhna S Kumar, founder-publisher, Queer Ink  

Shobhna S Kumar
Shobhna S Kumar

India’s only queer publishing house, focusing on Indian queer heritage, has a strong anti-crisis-mode work policy. Employees at Queer Ink face no ‘hurry ups’ at the office. Instead, the attitude is one of patience.

Shobhna Kumar, founder of Queer Ink, believes that the main focus of the publishing house is their storytellers. Publishing a book, process-wise, from designing to creating the cover, is easy for a seasoned team. However, in publishing a book, the production side is not as time-intensive as is working with the storytellers.   

Get personal and be specificYogesh Kabra, Founder, XYXX Apparels

Yogesh Kabra
Yogesh Kabra

At his menswear company, Kabra’s approximately 300 employees are encouraged to use their hidden talents and interests. Role transitions and role creations are frequent.

“Someone who joined us as a data analyst is a key operations manager today!” says Kabra.  

The company offers six months’ maternity leave and compassionate time off and bereavement time off when necessary. People are encouraged to switch off periodically to avoid burn-out.

“I’ve also tried to pass on my reading habit by creating a small library in the office,” says Kabra.

From HT Brunch, January 28, 2023

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