Businesses Built During This Time Will Thrive
Serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Anisha Singh shares her thoughts on life in lockdown
This is the thirteenth interview in the Beyond Work series looking at how founders and innovators work from home during the global pandemic of Coronavirus. In this interview, we head from the North of England to New Delhi in India to speak to serial tech entrepreneur and investor Anisha Singh.
Anisha Singh is the co-founder and former CEO of mydala which she founded in 2009 with Arjun Basu and Ashish Bhatnagar. As India’s largest mobile coupon provider, mydala has over 30 million registered users and operates across 209 cities in India.
Anisha has always been a firm believer in empowering women and is now Founder and Managing Partner at She Capital which focuses on early stage investments in female founders.
Previously, Anisha worked for the Clinton administration, helping to raise funding for women-led businesses. She’s also an active business mentor and angel investor and, in 2018 Anisha was also listed by Crunchbase as one of the top seven CEOs outside the USA.
New Delhi, India. May 2020.
What does a “typical” day look like for you now?
Up by 7am — which is a lot later than a regular office day because of kids’ school timings which have now been modified to morning online school. Meditate, clean up the house, ensure the kids are ready and have had a breakfast snack and are good to log on for online school.
Switch to workout clothes and start work at 8.30am… I do this to ensure that I work out. Based on when I’m done with team calls for the morning, workout by 10 or 11am for 30 mins then shower, give kids another snack and back to work.
We head to our roof deck by 6.30pm for a game of football or something strenuous with the family (we are in complete lockdown so there is no going outside). A week into the lockdown I was donating to a local gurudwara when the woman who I spoke with said that they had donations but were in desperate need of volunteers to provide food for daily wage workers and their families that were left with no way of supporting themselves. So I would be out at the gurdwara packing and loading over 3,000 meals on a daily basis from 12–3pm.
(For most, this midday meal is the only food that their family has for the day. The gurudwara doesn’t have an online payment format but people can donate here via the NGO that is helping mobilize food including picking from gurudwara and distributing.)
8pm kids get their TV time for an hour and we usually watch a movie… we did a Star Wars movie marathon rerun and by 11ish, it’s lights out.
How has Coronavirus impacted your life/work?
We have been in lockdown for over a couple of months now and I think the first phase was a lot of Zoom calling, and figuring out how will we make it through lockdown for 21 days (initially that was the lockdown number). The second phase has been interesting. It was more acceptance in terms of there is only so much we can control; somethings will have to wait till. It’s also got us centred in regards to some things we wanted to do in terms of the impact of why we launched She Capital, an early stage fund but got caught up in the race so had little time to do so and now have been doing actively.
My favourite part though has been on the personal front — similar to most people locked down with loved ones — getting to spend quality time with my family. More so my volunteering at the gurudwara during this time packing meals has me appreciating everything in our lives a lot more.
What productivity tips have you found useful whilst working from home?
The one thing I’ve started doing on a daily basis is switching off notifications in general but definitely for WhatsApp for a chunk of the day… it’s just too many groups and too much information overload with the forwards. Suddenly everyone is a doctor or a chef so it’s good to be able to detox from the constant pinging. Though our office has been allowed to open, we all are working from home, given the sudden rise in cases in Delhi so the one thing that we do every morning is an internal team call that keeps us connected and in sync.
Apps I have gone from using regularly to religiously are workout apps such as Sweat and Jillian, News apps — WSJ, Economist, Wired, NYT and several of the Indian media and, last but not the least, Insight Timer which is a meditation app. Of course, everyone is using Zoom.
What five books would you recommend during self isolation?
- Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World — And Why Things Are Better Than You by Hans Rosling
- The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams by Gabrielle Bernstein
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
- Educated by Tara Westover
When this is all over, what will the opportunities look like?
When all this is over, my hope is that we appreciate each other and this world much more than we did. I think we’ve taken a lot for granted and this reset — though at an extreme cost — has been good in many ways to step back and value what matters.
I think it’s safe to say that we are all guessing at this point what stays and what goes. My view is businesses and opportunities that come out of this very rough phase will not just survive but also thrive… just like the toughest of steel is moulded in the hottest of fire. For me, personally, I believe that companies that are creating a deeper impact in terms of environment, health, human development will be of greater value.