“5 things I wish someone told me before I became a CEO ” With Sabari Raja, CEO of Nepris

An Interview with Phil La Duke

Phil La Duke
Nov 27, 2019 · 12 min read

Given my background, growing up on a small farm in India, I lacked the opportunity and confidence to speak in front of people. When I was at Texas Instruments, my first corporate job, I remember being in meetings and wanting to share my thoughts. However, I lacked the courage and confidence to speak up, and the meeting would end before I found a way to say anything. I knew that if I was going to take leadership roles, I had to get over this fear. I enrolled myself in toastmasters for four years and diligently worked on public speaking. As a CEO now, it seems all I do is speak in front of people everyday and be the face of my company.



  1. Hiring good sales leaders — This is the one thing that has surprised me the most and was the biggest “ah ha” moment. As founders with tech background, you put all your focus on building the product and I wish I’d known to find and hire sales team leaders early. We wasted a lot of time scaling up sales and finding the right people. I also wish I’d known how to find sales leaders who had experience in startups and rather than those from larger operations.
  2. The importance of after-sales — In tech and especially in education tech, which is the space for Nepris, I wish I’d known that the sale is only the beginning of the relationship. Beyond implementation, the market requires ongoing and constant attention with existing clients, which is a resource allocation that CEOs need to budget for. Keeping the client, keeping them engaged with your product is as important as making the sale in the first place.
  3. Leading a virtual team — When you start as CEO, everyone talks about culture. How it’s important, how to build it. But no one talks about how to do that with a remote team. In tech, we hire talent and accommodate the geography. No one tells you how to build or manage culture with a team that may not all be physically in the same location.
  4. Impact that I have on others — When I started the company, my two boys were in elementary school and it’s been a nice surprise to see them grow to be interested in business and entrepreneurship. Now, they both want to start their own companies. We talk about valuations, investment, capital, product, pricing and sales. I didn’t expect that but it is very rewarding to me.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Phil La Duke

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Author of “I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business” and “Lone Gunman. Rewriting the Handbook on Workplace Violence Prevention

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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