Rahul Goyal Podcast Transcript

Rahul Goyal Podcast TranscriptListen to episode here

Rahul Goyal: 0:00Sitting in the lectures. That was the first time I started asking my question Rahul, what do you really want to do? Like had a light bulb movement for me, like wow, this is great. Like I like building and creating things that maybe, maybe, like I want to build things rather than sort of like move numbers around. I was like I'm going to become like a Warren Buffet or a George Soros kind of guy.

Amardeep Parmar:

Today on the podcast we have Rahul Goyal. He's got quite a different journey to many of our other podcast guests. So he initially started in private equity before jumping into starting his own company called Spin, which was able to exit and settle. Then he was a bit lost for a little while, trying to work out what he's going to do next. He then became product at CityMapper before leaving again to create Cosmos. Now at Cosmos he raised money but later realized that the company didn't quite fit with what his ambitions were anymore. And we're into a really interesting stage we're trying to work out what's the next steps. So this is quite a rare journey of somebody who had a successful exit and is now trying to discover the next steps. We're the BAE HQ and this podcast is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So, Rahul, you've had quite the journey so far in your career. But when you were a kid, what were your ambitions? What did you want to be? What was little Rahul trying to be?

Rahul Goyal: 1:25

I grew up in India. I grew up in a family. My dad had his own business growing up and he was into stock markets. So growing up I kind of didn't know what I wanted to do, unlike people say, oh, what was your five-year-old child wanted to be? I have no memory of wanting to be anything but I think the need to drive to become an entrepreneur did happen during my growing up years. My dad went through a lot of ups and downs while growing up so like we went through living in very massive houses. Living in a one-bedroom flat and seeing the ups and downs of my dad was interesting and I think it gave me the desire that I would like to have a business and I would like to make a lot of money in my life so that I don't have to go through the ups and downs. I think as a kid that sort of like seeing the hardships that was happening in the family, both seeing the extremes of having money and extremes of not having money, I think that kind of shaped my inner child that I would like to have money where my family doesn't have to go through the ups and downs.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:29

your parents encouraged you to go down that entrepreneurship path, or if your dad had those problems? Did you think I don't want my son to go through the same thing?

Rahul Goyal: 2:37

Nope, I think it was very the complete opposite. I think my parents my dad especially wanted me to either go for a job like go into sort of like banking or sort of take up a job or become a government civil servant. So those are the two things that was always talked about growing up, that sort of like this is what you're supposed to be. Like my dad really wanted me to be actually going to the government and become a civil servant, and that was something which I was getting trained for. Like my dad used to sort of like teach me like this and that and sort of like entrepreneurship was never on the cards. Like growing up in India.

Amardeep Parmar:
What did you end up studying at university?

Rahul Goyal: So I ended up studying Engineering. So I think I didn't have much interest in it back in the day. So I think, like in India, like either you choose to be an engineer or you choose to be a lawyer or you choose to be a doctor, and there are a few couple of parts you go into and engineering seemed just right because for me, doctor was not something which I could do because I kind of didn't like blood. So reading biology was something I used to get really scared by back when I was small so I said, okay, no biology, that's gone out of the window. Law was something I thought of it, but sort of I couldn't. I was not a great public speaker so I couldn't imagine myself arguing with anybody in a, in a, in a court, I guess. So it shows the path that it was. It was a choice of no doctor, no lawyer, so, okay, engineer seems to be the right thing, and I just ended up going to engineering school for that.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:05

And after engineering school you didn't actually become an engineer, right? Or did you do that for a long?

Rahul Goyal: 4:09

time, no. So once I became into engineering and I got the complete freedom to think, I think engineering like going to uni and getting out of my house from my parents was the first time I actually explored what do I do. I think that was the first time, even though sort of like obviously like now in a retrospective look at my journey in the past, I didn't know I wanted to become an entrepreneur. Back when I was small, somewhere in my psychology it was more about sort of like I don't want, I want to be rich, right. And then my parents wanted to be a civil servant or sort of like. Go into, go into a job, come into engineering school and I'm sitting and sort of sitting the lectures. I'm just like what is this thing, what is this stuff happening? Like, why am I just sitting here? And I think that was the first time I started asking my question Rahul, what do you really want to do? It was hard, I think the first year I went to engineering school, I like, even though I went to one of the top schools in India, the hard part was I had been chasing to get into the school the top schools in India for almost two years by that point and the struggle was that I'm here at the top school and I don't feel like studying. That was a challenging that the first year challenging. I completely almost failed my exams, like I like my four years in uni like I didn't study much. I sort of had to figure out, like, what do I really want to do? And even though I was good in studies to get into the uni. But when I went to uni I completely lost because I had no sort of parental pressure around me to study. So because there was nothing like holding me, like holding me accountable to perform studies, I completely stopped going to lectures. And university had an interesting thing that you could choose as a student if you want to go to the classes or not, right. So I practically would have attended like five to seven lectures in my four years at uni. And the time I was in uni, what I figured out that I like investing. So this was a funny moment for me because my dad had been in the stock markets for like years by that time and I, growing up, I was like I'm not going to go to the stock markets but somehow getting attracted to it, maybe because that's what I had been hearing all the time and I started reading these books from Warren Buffet, like like all your shareholder letters, all sort of. And that was the time I started getting excited about the world of business and the world of finance and I was like I'm going to be like. By the time I finished my uni I was like I'm going to become like a Warren Buffet or a George Soros kind of guy. So that's what kind of pushed me to come to London from that point on that. Oh, like I want to study at the top schools and sort of see business and understand business and understand finance and I'm going to go into finance. And that's how I shifted from engineering school to business school on that path.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:40

When you started doing that? How were you finding it when you were actually in that world and doing that kind of role and job?

Rahul Goyal: 6:45

I think coming to business school was a bit of a shock, especially from a cultural perspective, that sort of like you've grown up in India and sort of like it came to business school because this international world, so many different cultures, Like first of all, that was like for the first one or two years in London. That was a thing to adjust to because I was still an Indian trying to figure out my identity in this new world. So I think, both in the professional world and the student world, that was something I had to kind of figure out. And then, going into finance, I actually enjoyed it. In the initial days I was like this is it, like this is fun. But the thing was that what had happened was the I wanted to be in public markets, I wanted to be in hedge funds and sort of like stock markets, like that was what I wanted to do, but I couldn't get a job. So this is like 2011. Right. Like the markets have like just come out of the Lehman crisis and sort of public hedge funds in public markets were not doing really that well when I just finished business school. So I ended up going into private equity and I ended up going into the distressed assets, so like stuff like non performing loans and like distressed stuff, stuff which like where companies were not performing well, so going and buying them and sort of like fixing them up to make it work. So that was the stuff I ended up getting into. So it was interesting because my passion lied in public markets but I somehow ended up in private markets and in fixing companies which were not doing well, so learnt a lot but didn't really feel fitted into it perfectly well and I left it after two years and that was the first time, actually the second time, I had to actually go into soul searching because I had gone. I came to any school, sort of figured out finances. My thing ended up in finance, not the, not the perfect fit, but sort of had to again re, re understand myself like what has happened, like why am I not sort of like fitting into this thing?

Amardeep Parmar: 8:26

It's interesting I think a lot of people have that a couple of years into their first job. You've got the honeymoon period at the beginning, right. New job, like it's all shiny, all new. You have to do that. Then over a couple of years that fades away and then you realize to actually enjoy what I'm doing or not, and taking a step out, like did you know what you're going to do once you left, or did you leave and then start the soul searching?

Rahul Goyal: 8:49

So this is a funny thing that you made me realize that back when I'd gone into finance the shiny thing. Actually I had never bought a lot of branded stuff in my life, so I used to make a lot of money as a private equity guy. So in the first one I was just all about like buying, like designer stuff with designer clothes. And once, sort of like, you start buying it, you're like, well, you had been holding that desire for such a long time. I mean, do it. You're like, okay, done. Okay. Now what? When I left finance, I had no idea what I was going to do. I just left it. I had some savings because I was making a lot of money for my age back in the day in finance, but sort of I had savings, so I left it. I was like, I'm going to take some time off and figure out what I really want to do. And at that time my idea was going into public markets, because that's what I had been craving for, that I'm going to go into a hedge fund, figure out a job in a hedge fund and sort of like, get there. And then I left and then I tried applying to hedge funds instead of like getting into public markets, but was very hard. I didn't have a visa to be here in this country, so anybody who had to give me a job had to sponsor me. So that was another level of hardship which I had to go through, which is like okay, like you have to first get a job and then you also need to get us that company to sponsor, and when the job market is in sort of like a dire place it's very hard to get that. So couldn't figure that out and I was like working hard to get the job. But then what happened was there's a funny, funny, funny point in my life where I've come from India and growing up in India, like I never used to cook, like my mom used to cook the food in the house and I had never been in the kitchen. I started cooking like because this is the first time I was not doing anything like after studies and sort of like my job. I started cooking. I was like I need to take care of my health, I need to sort of like cook food. So I went to used to go to Tesco and sort of like buy ingredients and cook some recipe like, and that was the first time in my life, I think I had the joy of making something you know like making something from your hand, like not just like making software or making like writing code, making something from your hand where you go and pick up some like like 10, 10 different things, mix them together and then there is a dish. Then I started calling, like my friends to my house to like show them sort of what I'd cooked, and that was a fun experience. That like had a light bulb movement for me, like wow, this is great. Like I like building and creating things. Like that movement had not occurred in my head up till that point and that side, sort of like starting, started to like play into my entrepreneurial itch. That maybe, maybe, like I want to build things rather than sort of like move numbers around. So, yeah, that was a trigger point and that sort of started me sort of figuring out like what tech was and what sort of like entrepreneurship. So this is 2013. And 2013, London Tech was not big like it was in its very, very early stages. There are not many people to talk about it. So I was at a at my friend's wedding in India and I met my friend from business school and undergrad over there and we just discussing, and he also had just like shut down his first company back in the day. And then he was like, hey, like I'm like there's another friend of ours like he's doing a startup in India which is doing like on demand stuff and like you press a button and stuff happens there's grocery, there is food, there is cabs. I'm like, yeah, cab was like Halo was happening in London. At that time point of time I was like, wow, yes, like I've been using Halo, man, like it's so great, like I wish like you could press a button and things happen. And that's where we kind of decided that we like like I'm going to come into tech and that that train journey was like that said interpreters movement out of somewhere. It connected us both and sort of we were discussing in the train like an overnight journey and we decided that maybe we'll do a startup together and maybe we'll do it in London. And at that time we had no idea like we had no visas, we had no entrepreneurship visas. Like my co, my co-founder at that time, was sort of living in India. That was a point which was the left to my first company.

Amardeep Parmar:
So what was the first company called. What did it do?

Rahul Goyal:
So it was supposed to be an on demand. So the idea was that the on demand generation is here, like mobile is going to become like a remote control and stuff is going to happen. So, like we had like there were two problems as a banker used to face which were sort of like getting my laundry done, and the other problem I used to face was getting my house cleaned right. Like at that point I never used to clean my house, I never used to sort of like clean my clothes, I never used to cook my food. Over like 10 years in, I do all of those things myself, but at that time, like as a young person, I didn't use to do this thing and needed help to be able to do those things. So the idea was that I'm going to do that. So we looked into the cleaning market. There were a few companies doing the cleaning stuff already, like okay, so the cleaning is happening already. So laundry doesn't seem to be nobody's doing. So maybe we'll do laundry and dry cleaning and that's how that's became. That became our first company back in the day.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:20
And what was it called?

Rahul Goyal:

A Spyn.

Amardeep Parmar:

And so how long did that run for?

Rahul Goyal: 13:25

So it ran for three and a half years. First year completely bootstrapped me and my co-founder sitting in a car, sitting in a rented car driving around London picking up clothes very interesting times. So you know, like you sit on a in a fancy finance job in a suit and then you're suddenly become a delivery driver and it has to do a lot. It does a lot to your ego and does a lot and you see that actual how people on the other side behave like you know, like when, when you're in a delivery person sitting outside on a doorstep of somebody, how people actually behave. It kind of gives you a reflection of how like I also used to behave to people who are doing those kinds of jobs. I think it was a very humbling moment for me, like about life and sort of about like I wanted to shout at them like do you know who I am? Do you know who I am? But then I remained silent and used to just observe and see like the whole dynamics of like all these jobs and sort of like sitting in a car, me and my co-founder, we would just be sitting, like our car was the office where he was sitting on the driving seat sometimes and I was like we just like shift and I would be on the computer, basically on my personal hotspot, trying to work with the engine like one engine then in front of ours to make the app. So I think that one year was like that and then we somehow got 50k of funding, then we got 150k, then we got half a million. Like a team went from just two of us for the first year to like having a team of around like 10-ish people. Interesting journey like we had around 12 vans running around London, two warehouses, a lot of laundry and dry cleaning getting picked up around London for a fun, fun, great ride. I think it was very operational, very, very like things moving around, always like somebody's. Somebody's having a flight and they're going to, like they need the suit really at the right time, somebody's having an evening party and they need the dress and like if the driver is late by 15 minutes, everything is going to fall apart. And so I think like it was a very interesting sort of always on fire kind of like startup. So that's where I lost all my hair doing all the customer service and all the stress took over me. So yeah, that was the journey of that company.

Amardeep Parmar: 15:23

So it's interesting as well because it said it's such a big change from working private equity to then getting scrappy and pulling your like your sleeves up to get the work done. Did that come easy to you to like switch that mindset? Because you said about the humbling side of things, about how before people would have looked at your Instagram way because of the sushi war, because of the status you had, and when you know that there was going to be a change in terms of you have to work in a car and things like that, did any part of you be like actually no, I should just go back to private equity. Why am I going to go and do that kind of stuff? Or do you feel like it was very easy? Because of excitement?

Rahul Goyal: 15:57

I used to think that in the night I think, like while sleeping. I used to always think that I wish I had not left my job. Because I think you're making a lot of money, sort of, and suddenly you are faced with this world of uncertainty. You're doing all the hard labor, like it was crazy at that time. I remember like I used to wake up in the morning at 5 am. We had my co-founder. We would wear our running stuff and go out in the neighbourhoods, put flyers into the letter boxes. Then we would actually send the tube stations different tube stations in London distribute the flyers. That was the early morning. Then you would take the clothes we collected last night to the lawn, direct cleaners like to submit them for cleaning. Then you would have a breakfast like basically like a falafel wrap or something from like a place in Park Royal, I remember, and we would do that. Then come back home, sleep for half an hour, for an hour, and then get back into a car, start doing the pickups and deliveries, and that would go on till around 12 or one in the night. That was the life right. For one and a half year. That was what me and my co-founder were doing back in the day and I think, like you, have doubts, and at this time also, we also had immigration problems. We had visa problems. We didn't have the. We had to get our visas changed. So there was a lot of stuff you know like, just like you don't have money, you are eating like you're running on a. I remember our budget for food used to be around six pounds a day, so you had a six pound a day budget. No money, immigration, stuff, figuring out like sitting in a car and you're like why did I make this decision? Why did I make like, why did I make this decision? Why am I doing this? But then you're doing this and you're in that situation. You can't just keep like running away. Oh, I missed that, I'll go and do that Now. You've committed to this, so you do this. I think some part of irrational optimism as a young person like I was 24, 25 at that time was like there was irrational optimism that this is going to be a billion dollar company and at the same time, there was like the part of me which was scared, there was a part of me which was uncertain. I think there were all these different emotions which were sitting with me and I had never done customer service, I had never done marketing, I had never done built an app, I had never built. So learning all those new things, so everything was new. And then there was like unit economics and this and that. Like, even though I had been to a business school, you know like when you go to a business school you study from a notion of like how to make like, like presentations and strategy of like billion dollar companies, but when you're doing stuff on the ground, nobody teaches you what you're going to feel When you're going to do the scrappy stuff like there is no MBA for that right, like there is no, nobody can teach you. You have to actually just do it to actually even understand what it takes to get one pound of revenue from a customer, like making a salary, like making a like 100k salary, like is one thing and making one pound from a customer is a completely different sort of like way of like making money. So I think that took some time to be absorbed in the head and there were hard lessons around that time.

Amardeep Parmar: 18:52

Obviously it didn't become a billion dollar company, right, unless you kept that secret. So what happened in the end, like what made you move on from spyn?

Rahul Goyal: 19:01

I think we were doing north of a million pounds in turnover with that company and it was going great. I think like we had to figure out systems. We had figured out our processes. We had read this book called Checklist Manifesto which had helped us build a lot of procedures in the company, processes in the company and we had become very good at that. But at some point when the processes were there, we started sort of getting some small profit from the company. We started realizing that sort of we can't like. At the time ambition was to become a billion dollar company, as I mentioned. So we realized that we can't get there because if you have to actually make the money, make the profits, we'll have to have to either scale very fast internationally or we would have to build a lot of dry cleaning factories to actually make margins. Because there was a lot of this like scale, scale plus a lot of operational depth required and me and my co-founder were not really ready to sort of like go and get into dry cleaning business. Like we were getting. We wanted to be in the tech layer. We didn't want to actually go into the dry cleaning aspect of it. We evaluated getting a bank loan and setting up the factories and setting up the facilities. But it just felt too like very different from sort of like what we thought, that we could be a tech. We want to be a tech entrepreneur you don't want to be. At that time Like obviously my views have changed across time. At that time it felt like such a big drag to want to set up a big like facility etc. So we decided not to not to like get into the whole like proper facility kind of stuff. And we got lucky at that time that the dry cleaner who was who was the biggest like who is the biggest dry cleaner in over here in the UK and was also our supplier with cleaning our clothes, so he wanted to buy the company and he ended up buying the company, got us, helped us put the company like in the right place. Like the app was used by them for like few years after that. So it was good to see the products still being used instead of like customers still getting the service that they wanted. And yeah, so it got acquired and I, being my co-founder, moved on from that stuff. It was, but there was. There were interesting times like me and my co-founder had a fight when the company was getting acquired and like, so this makes my co-founder. We were known for three years as a co-founders. One year in the same business school, four years in the same undergrad, right and now we had a fight because the company, after the company got acquired, we didn't speak for like like nine months, like, and we were living in the same flat. We were living in the same flat. Right, and we didn't speak to each other for nine months. Imagine that, like, we were just like go, we knew like when this guy would be in the kitchen, when I would be in the kitchen, and we didn't speak. But yeah, like funny times. But at some point we realized that we couldn't. We had to sort of like figure that out and we started talking to each other and then we became best friends again and finally, the second company also I founded with him. So, yeah, that was the journey of that company.

Amardeep Parmar: 21:53

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what is you even trying to do. HSBC have got the team they built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out hsbcinnovationbankingcom. I really like that as well, because so often you hear the glam rise version of things. Right, it's interesting to see, like said, where you knew that logic of why you wanted to be acquired at that time and also the reality of like. It is very difficult because when this co-founder's you've got to agree on that sale and what's the right term and things like that, and if you've got different opinions, it can be a really stressful time. So it's good to hear that you then made up and like we're able to build another company, but you had a bit in between before you had the next company, right?

Rahul Goyal: 22:59

No, no, we had an like like I had an in between, so we took a break for, like, we got the money from the sale, so that allowed me to take a bit of a break. So I didn't do, I didn't do proper work for one and a half year after that and we basically exploring ideas. So this was the time of cryptos. Right, like cryptos were going big and you're like, well, so every month, like I would come up with a new idea, like, yes, I'm excited about this stuff and I'm going to work on this, and then, like, the energy would die off. So, obviously, after I've done the first company, I think what happens is your brain becomes very skeptical of every new idea. You start over being over analytical, over rationalizing every single thing. The first company were like, oh yeah, it seems like a great idea. Like I'm going to just do it. Second time you're like, like you have very high filters. You put in very high analytical filters before you even start anything, right? So for one and a half year, I just basically kept thinking of ideas. I used to sit in passion capital's office back at that time. So one and a half year, I was just like sitting over there coming up with new ideas, grand ideas, grand world changing ideas. I would say. Right, but never, sort of like nothing would go forward, because I would just kill it in my brain as soon as the idea would come along. So then I decided that I'm going to take a break. What happened was that I went to the valley for a few months and I was like I'm just going to see what happens in the valley. How is it different from London? Everybody keeps saying valley is great, valley is great, london is not that great. Like. Okay, sure, like, let me go to the valley and spend some time over there. It was fun time, just like. I have a lot of friends from my engineering undergrad over there, so went to a lot of like these big tech companies offices. So what was happening? So the ecosystem, and the funny thing was I'm like one of the people I used to sit with in on the desk in passion Capital's office was Andy Chung, who was tiny, like like one of the VCs VCs. He's a VCC partner here in London and he invited me to a party happening in Angelist and at that party I basically was like just like I went over there in SF and I was networking. There were a lot of people from the London ecosystem and from the American ecosystem over there in that party and I somehow ended up sort of like bumping into Sitar at Connect and she was over there and I had met her for a pitch for my first company, Spyn. Right, and I had fought with her back in the day, right, and I was very passionate about what I was doing and she was like well, I don't clean my, I don't give my clothes to dry cleaning, I just do it in the washing machine. And I was very angry at her. Right. So she remembered that like angry guy, guy who had fought with her in SF and beside talking, and she was like what are you doing now? And I told her about different ideas I'm working on. I was like I don't know what, where am I? Like I've spent one and a half years not coming with an idea. I don't know where I'm going. She, I think I don't know like what happened back then but somehow that incident landed me into CityMapper, which was one of a Connect's portfolio companies. I was like I want to learn product, like think. My mindset of that was like okay, I can't come with an idea and you do something. Let me go and work with the best people, the best people who build products and CityMapper is was the biggest sort of like the best one, the best products here in London. So she connected me to the founder of CityMapper. I ended up talking to him and, yeah, that's how I ended up at CityMapper.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:08

And you feel like, from being a founder to working in a larger scale up at that time. How was that transition? Was that a comfortable one? Did you feel like you learned a lot from that experience?

Rahul Goyal: 26:18

I learned a lot. It was like great Because I like my first company which I built in tech, was just like me learning from like random places, like blogs basically, and like by doing stuff, and over here like there was a company actually operating, like people working. So you had like all these processes and systems and how product management is done, how this is done and how that is done, and it was great to see how one of the greatest products have been built. Right. So I think for me that was an eye-opening experience, like I had one of the best times in my life, like those two years when I worked in product at CityMapper. The mindset, the ambition, the people I think it was all energized like me to a crazy point. I remember like to sitar after like nine months or 10 months I have this email you're showing my friend the other day. I wrote her a long thank you, thank you email saying that this is the best thing that ever happened to me, like thank you so much, and I think that was a great experience for me to go into and do product for two years over there and it was not hard. I think, like having done the startup, the startup was way, way harder than doing a product role. So for me those two years even though from most other people's lenses I was doing a lot of work I was sitting in the office from like till 9pm 10pm every like almost most days. For most people they're like what is this guy doing? For me it was like this is chill, man, this job is so chill compared to delivering quotes and like dealing with all the pressure and all the customer service and all the crazy stuff that was happening. Like clothes getting lost and this crazy stuff. And I'm like, okay, yeah, like you do product management, you like design, you dive engineering, you have like your very clean system, a clean slate and a very relaxed thing and for me that was a very therapeutic job and but had a lot of fun. Like I think it was a great time for me. I call it the kind of like a vacation, even though I was doing a job. You know like when people talk to me like how was the vacation, I'm like it's a mental. Mentally it was a vacation because mentally, the amount of cognitive load I was taking while running a company dealing with all the like things on fire all the time, to here, where it's like you have a whole team, you have a whole system, it was a much, much different kind of like mental turmoil going on in the brain.

Amardeep Parmar: 28:35

Maybe I need to take a holiday and go to see if I can product.

Rahul Goyal: 28:40

I think it's not a holiday from that perspective. I think, like, from the physical perspective, it's like a lot of work but at the same time, mentally, I think it's the mental, cognitive load of the different number of things on fire all the time. Yeah, as an entrepreneur, like 100 things on fire all the time, right, like you have to do payroll, you have to figure out money, you have to figure out customers, you have to figure out product, you have to figure out this, that everything right. We're in a job like it's completely different. You might be doing that same amount of work, but it's always a linear kind of work, like you do X and then you do Y and then you do Z. So it was a very different mode of operating and I really enjoyed that sort of mode of operating for the time I was there.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:17

And then, after that, you founded another company right, So tell us about that.

Rahul Goyal: 29:21

After having been for two years, I think my learning curve kind of stopped, I think. And also there was that happening in the background that my learning curve like I was enjoying the job but I kind of become like I'm leading product of this great company and sort of it's great. Two years after I think it has become an ego drive more than sort of a thing where I'm actually like it's become a cruise control kind of thing, where stuff is just happening and I'm just sitting there and just like doing my, doing my motions, so that that was happening. And then COVID hit right. And COVID hit and I was like and city mappers is sort of being a public transport app, nobody was using it anymore across the world. The user numbers completely sort of went from it dropped 80% or something. Yeah, like 70, 80% across the world. And it was crazy and we didn't know what was going to happen. Right. For you like suicide, working on cycling products and sort of like like that's taking off and sort of stuff was happening. And you were doing if you built a lot of like different things for like something called city map, mobility index which was showing how much transport is being used in a city, etc. Etc. But that was sort of like. So there was a backdrop of me being in cruise control and then suddenly lockdown has happened, right. So six months I was in the city mappers. I was like working over there I was realizing that this COVID in the lockdown, like that, like obviously now we know it has gone away, but at that time it seemed like a reality that might be the permanent reality or some kind of like reality. People are going to making like crazy like HVAC suits, like there were a lot of like Twitter stuff around, sort of HVAC suits being the new reality, people sitting at homes all the time and everything being delivered, drones, like you know. Like if you go into Twitter feeds from that time, it's like crazy dystopian reality everyone's heads, just like me. This might be true and one of the things which I was noticing that work had changed permanently and I really thought that I really used to miss office, like even though there's a whole camp which loves remote work and there's a whole camp which loves offices and there's a camp in the between, but I was in the camp who used to love offices. Right, I still love the community. I used to love the vibe why you should love, like hanging around people and talking to people all day long. And in remote work. When we sort of implemented remote work stuff in city mapper, what had happened was that like the work productivity was fine, like everybody was working, everybody was enjoying the work, but the community feeling was dying. People were trying to do Friday socials but sort of like it was not really working out. So I was like here there is, and it felt like remote work was there to stay. So it's like if remote work is going to stay, we need a solution to this community feeling, community vibe which was there in the office. So I started exploring solutions of how can we have community in remote work. And that's what. That's where cosmos came into pictures. Like this seems like an opportunity, let's go here. And it was more of an experiment thought experiment, I would say and I got back with my co-founder who had fought at some point and become friends again, and then we became best friends again. So I called him up and he was working at Transurvites at that time doing product again and we're like it's time. It's been two years, we've been in a job, we've been in a job, let's start a company again. And it seems like the right time. So we just jumped in and we started like we got into EF and, if you basically like work, work together, got the 150k from them. And then we had investment from local globe.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:43

That's interesting, because one of the things I think about because you already existed at a company before that was EF, I tend to think is more for people who are early stage, and so did you come into that? What was the reason behind you going into an accelerator at the beginning ?

Rahul Goyal: 32:55

What was the reason behind going into an accelerator?

Amardeep Parmar: 32:57

We just want a home.

Rahul Goyal: 32:59

I think like it's more about more than I think, because I spent one and a half year sitting on a desk in a co in in in bash passion's office. I think I'd be a realized, like I had realized for myself, that it just doesn't work. You need to be surrounded by entrepreneurs and people who are doing stuff and see, this is an especially interesting time. This is COVID. We're sitting in lockdown, sitting at a home and I knew like it's not going to be easy and obviously like we got the funding fairly quickly from local globe back in the day, but we didn't know at the time when we're starting the company that it's going to happen right. It could happen like one year or two years before we got any kind of funding for doing the thing right. So our point of view was that let's us go and let's us have a community of people and sort of people who are around us like who are building companies, building things, talking about startups, because you kind of need your own bubble, you kind of need to zone out and like have a bubble where people are talking about the same stuff which you are into, so that you can focus and move things forward. So that was the reason we chose to go to EF.

Amardeep Parmar: 33:54

And you said you raised quite a bit of money there, right? From some quite major venture capital funds. Yeah, like, how much did you raise? Because I know we're going to go into something else after about this.

Rahul Goyal: 34:02

So we raised around 2.6 million. So we raised 2.6 million pounds and from local globe, EF came into picture and also we had Tiny who was the partner and, like the word, called me to the Angelist Party back in the day. So a lot of like the old, like all the angels, and there are a lot of like angels and people are known from across time who came into the company. Some previous investors from our first company, so like Citymapper founder, people from Transurway, so all of them came in and gave us the capital.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:30

So that's a huge boost to confidence to get from all these people who are, like, experts in their fields, like all these kind of people are huge, right, and as you're building this company, and I think so, one of the people I worked with quite a lot is from Hopin, right, yeah, and I guess I might have had a similar experience to you of where the idea was that remote work is going to be the future.

Rahul Goyal: 34:48


Amardeep Parmar: 34:48

Everybody's always going to be working from home and things like that, whereas as things started opening up again, as we see now, people, even like some of the larger companies, are saying, like even Zoom is saying that everybody needs to come back to the office now. So that reality shifted. But at the time you built it, that would seem like that's the new reality and you normally say. And as that started changing, I guess right, then your mental models of what the future for the company would have been would have changed too. And how is it adjusting to that?

Rahul Goyal: 35:16

I think you get attached to your opinions. I think, for example, like I had built an opinion back when I started a company and had a vision. I had a mission, sort of like you make these decks and sort of like you're hiring all these people in a company and you're selling like like half the job of an entrepreneur is to sell and like convince people of an idea, right, and then when the world shifts, you're still talking the same, like a parrot, like you're talking the same stuff, and suddenly you're like the world is changing and many people are telling me, Rahul, the world is no longer the same world. But, like my team, like people outside the customers, customers were leaving and you're like I was like no, this is not happening. I was completely in denial for a long time. For like months I was in denial that there was no reality shift that is happening and because I had been saying this stuff, stuff to everybody that I was the megaphone right. So it was very hard when the reality actually hit me, like from denial phase to basically when the reality actually hit me, it was very hard for me to accept that.

Amardeep Parmar:
What did you do once reality?

Rahul Goyal:
It was hard, mentally hard, because it's, you know, like it's a breakdown of a lot of things, like it's a challenge for the company with a challenge of challenge in the vision. It's a challenge on sort of like what you feel why you do the work because you kind of need to find a new thing. You need to find a new vision, then something new to excite you something new, to like something new. You need a new mental model of like what does remote work look like now? And I had no answers. People are looking up to me for an answer and I don't have an answer, like I'm from the team, the team has no answer. So you're all like this kind of deadlock situation and it was hard to sort of deal with it mentally. And this was a time when sort of it was all happened. It happened very suddenly. The world lock, covid finished, right. The war started happening. I think the Russia, russia, ukraine, stuff has been happening. The offices started coming back, like people started going back to the office. The tech world stocks all fell down. It was three or four months, right, like all this stuff fell down suddenly, right, and you're like the venture capital market completely evaporated. There are all these like firings happening everywhere. World is falling. Those three months I remember the world was just falling apart everywhere, right, like what is happening? And they're sitting in the middle here like, and you are like focused on there's this macro stuff happening, there's a micro stuff happening of, like your head, your mind, you, where am I? What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say? What am I supposed to say to invest? What am I supposed to say to the team, what are we doing? And I think there were all these questions which were there, but I guess it was a struggle, like, if I'm honest, like because it also puts a bub. It's like a balloon got inflated and suddenly a pin has been picked into it, both from the from an external reality, like on the company side, and both also on the internal ego, where I think now, in a look back, I had did I had become a bit arrogant, like, let's say like when I had like raised all that capital hide, all the team and I was, and some part of it is like, in a way, job hazard, like video, like always excited, always sort of pumped up about, like what you're trying to do and selling the vision and trying to be like Steve Jobs, quote unquote how so ever you want, but like you kind of develop this personality, crazy personality, and some it's somewhere it's needed and somewhere it's like it also backfires you when things don't work out. So that's what happened. We had a lot of customers leave us but then a lot of customers came, like, came back also. So my co-founder is still running the company and I am very proud of him in a way that he has persevered somewhere. I feel like I quit on the company and he has persevered and he's still pushing through, sort of like to make it work. And it's a new kind of customers are coming up and new sort of the types of companies which are sort of like adopting remote work in a different way are showing up. So the cohort has changed from tech companies using the product to now like, for example, customer service companies using it and sort of company which are doing virtual assistance, companies which are doing virtual effects. So I think it's a whole different cohort of companies just try to use the product now. But let's see, I think like he's persevered, I think he's going to. He's on a different journey, I'm on a different journey, but can't, can't be said what is right or what is wrong. It's just you just do what is right or wrong in the movement, the, we can only connect the dots.

Amardeep Parmar: 39:23So we're going to wrap up pretty soon. But for me it's really exciting to have this episode, because one you've been able to scale and get a business acquired, Then you've gone back into a job again and now you've found that, another company which hasn't quite worked out the way you thought it's going to be, and that's me doing something different. You know you've left that, while your co-founders continuing with it, and I think that's all different examples of people that are listening they don't get to hear. So for me that's really great, and also your self-awareness to say that you, your ego got ahead of you and your arrogance got ahead of you, and to have to look back on that right, because there are a lot of people in that phase that you were in maybe a couple of years ago who need to hear that right, who need to understand that they need to keep the ego in check. And one of the things I struggle with sometimes is that there's so many people in the entrepreneurship world, the founder world, who constantly talk about, like, overcoming imposter syndrome, but there's some people who need a bit more imposter syndrome where they've got too far ahead of themselves and they almost get that it's the world revolves around them and their idea and being able to kind of humble yourself a bit and understand, like, actually I need to treat people with respect, since one of the lessons you learned as well from your first start up at spin. I think there's so many great learnings there. So really see like what happens in the future. I know you're in a point of the moment where you're trying to think about the future, what that holds you, and it's really exciting story there. So we're going to have to go into a quick five questions now. So the first one is who are free British Asians that you think are doing incredible workRahul Goyal: 40:50

The three people which come to my mind, as one is Perplexity founder, Aarvind. And then one is Reece. Reece has been I think he was on your podcast at some point. I think really like his tweets and his sort of way of thinking. And the third person I think is Shaa n Puri. I think really love his podcast and sort of like overtime he is, his entrepreneurial journey. He's gone through a lot of ups and downs and sort of like really enjoy watching his podcast, understanding his story and what he's Yeah. through. Yeah

Amardeep Parmar: 41:18

Awesome. So if you want to learn more about you and what you're up to in the future, wish they go to.

Rahul Goyal: 41:23

I think I'm just on LinkedIn right now, like I've not really sort of built up a lot of online presence over the last years, but that's something which I'm actually considering. So I think the next few months I'm going to like start working on YouTube and Twitter, but as of now I'm just on LinkedIn.

Amardeep Parmar: 41:36

And if people could help you in the audience, what could they help you with?

Rahul Goyal: 41:39

I think like I would love to like hear any problems. I think I'm as an entrepreneur. I'm always looking for problems to solve. Right now I can't figure out a problem of my own, so I definitely need help on other people's problems in their lives. So if I can know a problem, that's the thing I would love to hear.

Amardeep Parmar: 41:55

And then, have you got any final words to audience? Thanks, I think.

Rahul Goyal: 41:58

I really enjoyed coming here. I think I always find sharing the story to be very interesting because you kind of subconsciously, there are different parts of the story, of my own story, which like come up in the mind. So when you're sort of talking about stuff like wow, like I didn't even think about that stuff for so many years, like what was that stuff and how things relate, I think how you related my experience of being a delivery driver, of being humble, and the same guy becoming an arrogant guy like six years later, it's like wow, like what was happening there, like this guy had the lesson but this guy, the future guy, forgot the lesson, like what was that? So I think like those connections somewhere, like when you miss, and I really enjoyed Sort of like talking about that stuff and realizing that stuff for myself.