Shadow CXO Chronicles — Explara

This article is Amrit Acharya’s account of his day spent in Explara, shadowing Founder & CEO, Santosh Panda.


Leadership styles and philosophies of CEOs of multinational companies are well documented. On the flipside, the working style of a startup CEO donning multiple hats is rarely chronicled. Being a first-time entrepreneur myself, I always wanted to observe the working style of a fellow entrepreneur from close quarters. On 20th July I had the privilege of spending an entire day with Mr. Santosh Panda, Founder & CEO of Explara.

Santosh Panda

GLIMPSES OF MY DAY

11 a.m.: TEAM MEETING

Upon arrival at Explara’s, I was greeted by a warm handshake and right away invited to the daily team meeting. Extremely informal and crisp, the meeting — sans any jargon — touched upon all major aspects — employee motivation, product and business strategy.

12.30 p.m.: LUNCH

Lunch break gave me a chance to have a look at the entire team. For a company with global operations and yearly revenue exceeding 10 million USD, Explara has a lean team of just 40 employees. I was surprised to find out that most of the team had been around for more than 3–4 years. Santhosh shared that his philosophy of hiring via referrals and making sure of the cultural fit was the key behind the low attrition.

3.30 p.m.: WALK THE TALK

Fitness-conscious CEO Santhosh took me for a walk around Koramangala for a more casual conversation outside the office atmosphere. This conversation ranged from office culture to managing investors and networking. We spoke on length about growth tactics and the importance of unit economics. We spoke about instances which sparked our entrepreneurial ambitions.

KEY LEARNINGS

1. Networking

Networking isn’t just about exchanging business cards or phone numbers. It’s about adding value and lending a helping hand to others. It could mean connecting one person with the business interests of another person. The benefits of this method of networking will be multifold in the long run.

2. Traction is the Answer

Dealing with investors is critical. Investors may always have doubts and questions. Presentations of market study, strategy and business plans are just fiction. The best and only answer to such questions is traction data. Traction is a fact and there is no substitute for it.

3. Time Management

The role of a CEO at a startup is very dynamic. Santhosh clearly taught me to break the day into various grids. These Grids should be spent touching on all aspects of the Company i.e. the team, sales, product and networking.

Santosh’s passion and tenacity clearly had an effect on me. I could immediately draw parallels and think of steps that I could implement at my own workplace. All in all, I had a great time interacting and learning from CEO Santhosh and his team at Explara. A day well spent!


Amrit Acharya

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