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REPORT | The Journeys | Ft. Sridharan Vinobaji

EPISODE 3 FT. Sridharan Vinobaji

Muskan- Hello and welcome to this episode of the podcast series “THE JOURNEYS”. Today we have with us Sridharan Vinobaji, an  AVP at Scripbox and a member of GrowthX. Sridharan has an impressive background in the fields of Growth, Marketing, and Business Development, and we are honoured to have him here with us today to share his insights and experiences.

As a seasoned professional, Sridharan has a wealth of knowledge to offer on how to drive growth and drive marketing strategies that lead to success. Whether you are a business owner, marketer, or just someone who is passionate about the world of business and growth, this episode is for you. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn from one of the industry’s leading experts.

Let’s start the conversation with Sridharan Vinobaji.

Hello Sridharan, I’m glad to have you on the show.

Sridharan-  I’m glad to be here as well thank you for having me.

Muskan-  So I would like to begin with my first question which is  could you please Tell us about your professional background.

Sridharan- Okay so firstly I’d actually like to tell a story of how things started  and one of my small learnings along the journey as well right  so I I’m a biotech engineer and I followed the herd mentality at that point in time because they said biotech is booming  you should take it up I went and joined by Tech  and when I completed there were no jobs available in biotech and they also mentioned that you know people from biotech are not allowed to sit in placements so  at that point in time I was broken and I had no idea what to do  so I I pursued opportunities and at one point in time I got to know that there was a  drive that was happening Mass recruitment drive that was happening in one of a large IT company so I went there I was standing in the line  it was a huge lineup and a person who’s standing in front of me said “ hey what what have you studied” and I said “I’ve completed my biotech engineering they said they will it’s an IT company they would not hire people from biotech why are you even wasting your time” I said “I have gotten ready I’ve come here might as well see what happens”. So the first round was aptitude round and  and like I got through the aptitude run I came out and I met the same person I’m like how did it go he said I did not get through and that’s when I realized people will tell you that hey you can’t do it but you never know what will happen so might as well take that chance and see what happens so there were about five to six rounds I cleared all the rounds and I was one of those four thousand people out of four thousand people there  about  people got through I was one of them and I was very happy that people told me that hey you can’t do this but if you really put your heart and soul into it you’ll figure out a way right so that was my first learning that no matter what you can figure your way out right there’s it’s never the end of the road so I joined that company I spent about couple of years there and it set a very good base for me I learned  a lot of Behavioral stuff in that organization because you’re new to your job you’re trying to see what happens  how are things going on new learnings new thing new people to talk to so a lot of nurturing that happened from a work point of view right  but towards the end of two years I also realized that I’m some you try to you try to figure out what your superpower is you try to figure out what do you really like doing so at that point in time I realized that my superpower is creativity my superpower is talking to people and understanding different perspective and coming up with something very Innovative and that’s when I made a choice to join a startup  which was into early childhood education there were only two people it was a huge transition for me I went from a company of one lakh people and more to a company where there were two people it was a small setup inside a house and I was there but one of the things that I really really loved about doing that is most of my learning in my early stages of my career came from there because there’s a huge responsibility given to you and at that young age when you start doing these right you try it give me a great platform to experiment do new things so I set up the entire branding for the organization I had to type with Fortune companies  to expand the business increase the franchisees and the entire Revenue  was  my responsibility so while I was very young at that point in time I had great mentors who taught me how things could be done right  so great learning there right after that  I wanted to have sort of formal education in marketing because I really started enjoying what I was doing and  at that point time I also won an international exposure so I went to Canada  to pursue my Pgdm and marketing  in a college called Austin College I was there for two years when I was at while I was pursuing the studies I also had about four jobs that I did there so a lot of learnings in in that time and once I finished my studies I realized that  I wanted to be a part of the startup ecosystem because there is an entrepreneur in me which said that hey you know what if if you are you know if you can really deliver something for this ecosystem why not go and pursue it so  I I came back to India and  I joined a wealth management firm here and I spent about four four years there  and the way I got the job was very interesting I actually went and met a person for an information interview and I was trying to understand how is this because I spent two years outside I wouldn’t know how is the system back in India so I was just talking to her and by end of that one hour conversation she said I have a job for you in our organization would you want to take it out I was like definitely and she said marketing department is something which we need someone to set up in kind of skate it would you be able to do it I said yes definitely I do it and then I took that opportunity as a stepping stone  in that organization I set up the marketing department there and then eventually moved up to the leadership team where I very closely worked with the CEO in a lot of strategical   projects as well right  then I wanted to really really be a part of tech system because and now everybody uses phone and every everything is kind of tech enabled and I wanted to  be a part of the tech ecosystem and scriptbox happen to me .Here  I’m responsible for acquisition and revenue for the segment .So yeah that’s my  Journey.

Muskan- Could you throw some light on your time in Canada and  why did you choose to come back ,you know a lot of people must be asking you the question that why did you choose to come back to India right ?

Sridharan- So  I think one of one of the biggest life learnings I had was in Canada right while I went to pursue marketing education and get the knowledge of marketing I actually learned life lessons there  I tell you why so a you go to a new country you have no idea of who the people are what’s the kind of culture so there’s a huge culture shock initially when you go there second you’re on your own you take a lot of things for granted in life right like when I when that I realized how important the smallest things that my family did for me mattered so much because when I went there I started missing all of that when you’re with your family you don’t really think about it you’re totally your your food’s on your plate your things are taking care of you you have a house you have a shelter and everything is paid for we should be really grateful for that and then when I went there I had to do all this on my own but that was my biggest learning right I had to cook by myself you’re washing because there you don’t have house help you have to do everything by yourself right so from cooking cleaning washing  studying doing projects and also working on the side  to make sure you have enough income because that’s where the value of money is taught right so added out of that I also did four jobs because, I did overwork myself I did not sleep enough which I don’t recommend people to do but I worked I work as a dishwasher there I worked as a salesperson in a mall I also worked  in a digital agency where that’s where I picked up digital marketing and the learning of the digital marketing I picked up those learnings and did a project in the college for one of the facility rentals there  to grow their business and drive more traffic to their website so  I did all of that while I was studying and taking care of my life which I felt was cribling and falling apart but I think that kind of you know set the base of hey you know what no matter what happens you can handle stuff you’re good on your own so that was a great great learning for me and the reason I came back is like I mentioned it was when it was the status startup ecosystem I wanted to be a part of two a lot of things that I took for granted I came back and I started appreciating it even more and I’ll be really candid and honest the kind of food that you get in India I don’t think you get anywhere so  the weather ,the food.

Muskan- I mean I can totally relate to you whatever you’re saying because  even I spent like three years in Europe I was appreciating everything every  food I get there you know at my home it was all free you know we are getting all these facilities and we’re not asking for it we are just getting it we should be feeling the Gratitude and I can totally relate I also came back to India because I wanted to work for my country you know and I knew that I can grow here more in India because there you have a lot of adjustments in life you know you have to start from the scratch but here we have like our whole life build up .Here so it’s pretty easy and I would say that people should work for the country

Sridharan- And the Asian market is huge growing, yes in the right place at the right time right so here if you can help grow the ecosystem here you will definitely grow along with it so you should make sure that you know  the time that you get right now take the right decision the right cause and be a part of this ecosystem and help the country grow as well so definitely so that and what motivates you to kick start your day .To be very honest the fact that we’re we’re alive the fact that we wake up we are healthy and we’re able to do things that is basic motivation put on your positive types and go go get ready to conquer stuff that’s all there’s nothing else that you need that motivation is a state of mind that is you don’t need a motivation to do things it’s you start doing things in on the way you realise that you would be motivated doing it it’s the first step that you take right I’ll give you a small example of something called tiny habits because I believe that motivation is not the driving factor for everything but if you create a habit that’s going to change everything right like for example tiny habits  what happens is it tells you that you take small baby steps at a time and then buy a month or two years your asset you would have conquered a lot so let me give Fitness as an example so let’s say if I tell you that you have to someone who’s never into running I tell them that hey you have to run five kilometres early in the morning you would try the first day and then you realise that you’re not able to wake up there is no motivation to run you’ll be like no I’m just gonna give up and I can’t do this but let’s say if I tell you that wake up in the morning okay there’s alarm ringing just switch off the alarm and go to sleep you’ll do it you’ll be like I just have to switch off the alarm the next day I tell you that the alarm will ring switch off the alarm get off the bed and then come back on the bed that’s also doable fine the third day I tell you that do the same thing switch off the alarm get off the bed go there and put your shoes on and then go back to sleep you’ll be able to do that the fourth day I tell you put your shoes on and then stand up and go to the washroom, the fifth day I tell you put the shoes on stand up go to the washroom and then brush your teeth. The Six Day brush your teeth go outside stand close the door and then come back inside if you can do this right what you’re doing is you’re trying to inculcate a habit so by the sixth day the first habit of switching off the alarm is just involuntary .So eventually when you keep doing this step by step right so going from going to outside the house to going to a place where you can start running slowly start walking then take one round take two rounds five rounds, Ten rounds and then that becomes a habit I okay that’s that’s what it goes you know to achieve something bigger is really important because when you set a bigger goal it’s really hard to achieve but when you set for a day for a week then it’s a pretty achievable right

Muskan- So my next question to you is  what are the most important work ethics that you believe in ?

Sridharan- Well, there are three most important work ethics that I believe in is integrity respect and communication  and integrity is a little different from honesty I’ll tell you why now .Integrity is what you do when no one’s looking at you  one of the bosses that I’ve worked with and this this is what he taught me very well he said if I’m not around you if nobody is around you when you’re doing something are you doing it with honesty are you doing it with your full will for doing it and are you doing it right and that’s what Integrity is not what you’re showing others that you’re doing right what do you silently are doing right exactly right so that that is very important second is the respect that you have so a respect for yourself be respect for your peers right it’s very important never let go of your self-respect that being said also respecting people around you is very important taking in their views making sure that you have an inclusive environment when you’re working right so that’s that’s extremely extremely important the third bit is communication and I can’t stress stress enough on this that  this is the most underlooked things for people who work there might be somebody who’s extremely good at working they might be fantastic they’ll be like  or  at the work that they do but if they are not able to communicate at work and that impact to their peers or the stakeholders or if others are not being able to learn from them then you’re doing Injustice to the capability that you have so communication is at utmost importance of space

Muskan- exactly that’s a medium  to show your talents and what qualities you have so without communication  you are nothing. I agree .So what setbacks have you faced that motivated you in your life to become a better leader  ?

Sridharan- Examples of the setbacks, yeah so while there are multiple setbacks that have happened there is something that stood out for me which I want to share I’ve been regular in working out in sports and  during this journey there are multiple injuries that that one faces every Sports person knows this and it’s not easy because when you are practising and you’re getting better at your craft and when an injury happens it derails you completely and one of .The things that recently happened to me is I had a shoulder surgery why when I play cricket and I insured my shoulder and  I was in after my surgery I wasn’t able to even lift a pen right  it got really difficult very demotivated at that point that you know I’m not able to do things that I was able to do I’m better than for a month and it it gets really difficult as to look forward to how things can get better but this is an opportunity right adversity is always an opportunity and chaos is always the ladder for you to climb at that point time I felt like oh my God everything is a mess life is chaotic but things that happen during that period kind of shaped me better. I started meditating, I started reading more books,  I started practising more gratitude, I started really enjoying the finest smallest things in life and  that helped me to kind of shape up my leadership skills also more if I can do things for myself where it makes me feel better as a person ,as a leader. I can definitely translate these two people I work with as well so this was one of  it was like a blessing in disguise to be honest .

Muskan- I totally agree ,you know that,  failure shape & you not the success that shapes you .I totally agree so, what do you think are the essential traits of a good leader?

Sridharan- Okay, I’ll tell you a small about a small poll that I ran on LinkedIn where I asked the same question because I was curious to know this as well and the options were  Vision ,resilience, empathy and integrity and all of these got similar kind of response.And these were big leaders  that participated in this poll and they shared their perspective right so I did reach out to some of the leaders and spend some time understanding what really is an important trait of a leader and eventually with the time that I spent with my team also I realised that nothing makes you more happier than seeing a person succeed when they thought that they are not capable of doing it when you see that happening right nothing else makes you happier all of these other traits shape you as a leader but what gives you happiness as a leader is seeing someone really succeed so that that’s the most important aspect of being a leader making sure that someone succeeds when they think they’re not capable bringing the best out of your people is is something that you can do. I’m curious to know what was the most answered question in that goal like which one got the highest number it was Vision got the highest okay yeah yeah because if you are able to translate that Vision to your team if you don’t know where you’re heading how would you tell your team  where to go that being said if you know about the wolf pack what happens is the leader always leads from behind it’s not not from the front because you let your people make those mistakes and learn along the way right but from behind you have to make sure that you got the back right you don’t always tell them what to do how to do it you let them do it let them make mistakes but from behind you get the back and make sure that you guide them in the right direction you protect them that’s what a leader in a wolf pack does so that’s something I closely associated with as well so then 

Muskan- I believe that you  talk about growth a lot and I wish to know from you how you define the meaning of growth .

Sridharan- Well, there are two things right one is growth in a personal way and growth in a professional way right so if I have to define growth is how can you do things better than what you have done before that’s all it’s getting out of your comfort zone getting out of that environment that’s where all the magic happens right  a baby does not grow to become adult immediately there is smaller steps that I take like I gave an example of tiny habits that’s growth like every small thing you do to get better over the period of time that that’s growth personally and professionally  from a professional point of view like growth as a term because I’m also associated with growth  it’s ensuring a company or an organisation grows in a structured way because growth is not just acquisition it’s the entire journey and I could I’ll cover that at some point .

Muskan- So ,actually my next question to you was about GrowthX ,so please tell us more about GrowthX .

Sridharan-  Growth X has been something which is very close to me at this point in time because I joined the  growth x in Jan and  I heard about growth X from one of my friends and he said hey this is the great Community you know you should you know give it a shot and see what happens  so he’s there was some there’s something called demo day that happens and we went and attended that demo day during the demo day .The quality of the presentation that I saw I have not seen anything like that in India before it was that good right and all of these young people young mind coming together as a team  and creating this sort of  content and insight kind of got my attention I’m like you know what I love that quality I want to be a part of this right so I joined and there is a nine percent less than nine percent acceptance rate out of the applicants who apply for growth so it’s the top one percent of the growth leaders and Founders who are a part of this  community and this is a really really strong helpful Community right like say if I put out a requirement that you know I need help in XYZ professionally & personally or any any point  in my life they would  like one out of ten people will be out there would reply to you and help you out with that right so that’s how strong the community is that’s why it’s called the Growthx family .So what’s taught there is not just theoretical it’s mostly experiential and how do you solve problems at each stages of growth ,so there is  the  acquisition state so how do you acquire  your customers and then how do you onboard them .So you understand who your I what’s your ideal customer profile make sure you create Journeys accordingly then how do you onboard them once you onboard them and make sure their onboarding journey is smooth for them  what do you do how do you engage them how do you retain them right so your essential components of different campaigns that you can run to make sure they are engaged and the retention happens  right after that there’s also monetization and how do you monetize this entire component and then how do you build your growth processes and your growth teams now each week these elements are covered and there are assignments that you have to complete and these are like assignments where you will have to be thorough with the concepts and in that one week of time you understand the entire concept  you go through these deep Concepts and you apply that in your assignments that you do and you submit your project and you also get your feedbacks on this right so once you submit three projects you get to go to the cap store now Capstone is a privilege right  not everybody gets to do it a a you have to have all of these assignments fully completed once you’re through that you apply for Capstone and then once you are once you met the criteria there are set of questions that they ask once you’ve met all of this criteria you become a part of Capstone where there is a real-time problem that you’re solving for a company now there is each and every detail is captured in that entire docent that you create  in your Capstone working and everyone comes with a different skill set  and how do you use everyone’s skill set bring it together and come up with this one solution for that  problem that the company is facing so once you create that out of these  to  teams top three teams get selected for the demo day now when you go to the demo day that’s that’s your chance to shine there are about thousands of people who are attending this demo Day online and  there are people from the company the problem that you’re solving for they’re also attending that  there are panellists the veterans from growth X who are attending this  and your mentors are also part of this right now in that demo day once you give your presentation  that is weightage for the kind of work that you’ve done in your project itself  then there is voting from the panellists then there is voting from the people who’ve attended and all of this put together  the winners Josie right and if you want it you’ve kind of made it in growth X it’s that’s that’s how big this is.

Muskan- I would like to congratulate you  for being selected in growthx family. I believe it’s a great achievement for you

Sridharan- Yeah absolutely and it’s more than an achievement it’s a satisfaction of being a part of the community the things that I see that’s happening in the kind of Engagement and joy just within the community is really really strong right just even I mean to be very honest I’ve stopped being spending time on social media because the main page that we have in our slack group the meme group that itself is so exciting you don’t need social media it’s it’s really really fun and engaging so yeah it’s a great place to be.

Muskan-  It’s great that you have a place you know where you can learn and have fun at the same time you know so there is my next question to you, since you have been closely associated with the Aasmaan Foundation one of the largest youth run NGO based out of Ahmedabad. Please tell us about it.

Sridharan- It’s a foundation working for upliftment and betterment of underprivileged kids so I’ll tell you a project which is very close to my heart  if the project is called let’s go shopping it’s a very interesting concept where  there is a collection drive that happens where we go collect let’s say books stationery Sports items toys clothes anything and everything that could benefit the kids right and then there is a large set of volunteers who involved in this we go to cooperation do it and then the second part of it is segregation so all of these are segregated let’s say clothes stationery toys Etc .And for each of these there is a price tag that’s type to it right let’s say there’s a t-shirt let’s say it’s  rupees there’s a toy which is  rupees Etc.

The third aspect of it is training these kids right what happens is on the let’s go shopping day there are patches of kids who come and  what we do is we teach them about the importance of money and relationship so  they have a fake check which we give to them they fill out the name and details .In that fake check we have a fake bank with fake money so they come and deposit the check then they collect the fake money once they collect that fake money there is a mentor who also trains them and tells them as to how to negotiate so we don’t want them to feel like they’re doing charity to you we’re just giving you things for free we want them to feel like they’ve earned it right so what they do is we also teach them how do you negotiate what do you have to do how do you go about things so they take this and the once the Bell Rings the ground’s yours you go inside you can pick up and choose anything that you want and when you go there are volunteers who are also as sales people right so they try and inflate the price and try to say that no to help these kids negotiate now these kids are negotiating one is they learn how to negotiate they learn the importance of money the second thing is relationships what we also encourage them to do is don’t just buy for yourself ,buy something for your family ,buy something for your brother ,a mother ,or father or even your friends and this has been such a humbling experience because something had that happened so I was mentoring one of the kids and then the kid bought multiple items then the kid bought a T-shirt and he gave it to me and I said why give it to me buy for somebody else he said you told me that we have to buy something for friends aren’t you my friend and that really touched my heart right so this is a beautiful experience that I had I’ve been associated with them for four to five years and this one project is extremely fun and it has so much of learning and there’s so much going on it’s beautiful and I definitely encourage people to come and participate.

Muskan-You’re teaching them the real life values you know so what happens in your life that’s pretty interesting  what you’re doing well a lot of people would be motivated by whatever you’re doing so my next question to you is who has had the biggest influence on your life ?

Sridharan- Okay I’ve been very honest with this question it’s never been one person I could have thought about either my father mother or someone who’s very dear to me or some leader I look up to but I realised over the period of time it’s the instances experiences moment and people who’ve been a part of those they’ve had the biggest impact  for example let’s say you’re drowning in water you don’t know swimming at that point in time you wouldn’t go like hey this leader is the person I really look up to at that point in time the most influential person would be the person who’s saving you and that’s what’s happened over multiple instances where someone has come and created a big impact and at that point in time you wouldn’t know but when you look back you feel like hey this person really had a big impact irrespective of the age right so it’s a variety of people who’ve come in different parts of my life who’ve had this influence and I’m really thankful to all of them .

Muskan- So as I know that you are an avid football fan so did you enjoy the FIFA World Cup and  which team were you supporting this FIFA World Cup?

Sridharan-  I must say was one of the most entertaining World Cups in the history of World Cups and it’s not just me there was a survey that they ran and about  percent of people voted that this was the most exciting  FIFA World Cup that happened .I was being a Chelsea fan, I follow  English Premier League and so I was supporting England but England did not make it through finals so my second obvious choice was  supporting a player who’s one of the greatest footballers to ever ever played football  which is messy and so Argentina yeah and I did not want France even because they’ve already won it last year I wanted a new team to do it and since Messi’s kind of won it all I was supporting his team while although I’m a Ronaldo supporter I was actually supporting Messi because irrespective of anything both of them are great players and I wanted Argentina to win it and they did so but that being said I have to give it to one player in France who I initially did not like so much  his name is Mbappe but in that finals he showed so much resilience because everybody thought Argentina had won it right but  the resilience he showed and he carried his entire team on his shoulder and the kind of display which was showcased was insane so I think that that made the World Cup finals even more entertaining so I should really give it up to him as well and the entire finals was really exciting and thrilling so yeah it was a great experience.

Muskan- So my last question to you is what’s your parting message to the audience?

Sridharan- There is a quote by Winston Churchill that I want to share with everybody it says  Success is not final and failure is not fatal it’s the courage to continue that comes right and that’s that’s something I also believe in and try to practise with all the experience that I’ve had and the things that I’ve gone through I felt like it’s the courage to continue that really really matters a lot right you will have ups and downs in life but if you are able to go on .No matter what happens just put put your shoes on and go for that run if needed  that’s all that matters you will you will figure out the journey and you will reach the destination that you want but you’ll enjoy the journey even more than the destination so that’s that’s what I want to tell everybody.

Muskan- I totally agree with you Dharan and that’s a great note to end today’s podcast and I’d like to extend my gratitude to Dharan for joining us today on this podcast it’s been truly enlightening experience to have the opportunity to gain insights  into his experience your perspectives and your leadership insights have been invaluable to the listeners and I’m sure they have gained a lot from your words of wisdom .Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and for being an inspiration to all of us we are deeply honoured to have you here as a guest on our show and again thank you for joining us today .

Sridharan -I did have a great time I must say that you’re doing a very good job at what you’re doing  creating this series and educating people and sharing different people’s journey I think it’s fantastic I’ve seen some of your episodes as well and I feel like there’s always something to learn from somebody right you never know how that could influence at some point in your life so you guys are doing a great job keep doing that and I hope create success for you and your team as well thank you so much it had it was a great time

Muskan- I wish the same you take care thank you so much and this is Muskan and I’m signing off !