Vikas Bagaria, a serial entrepreneur and a seasoned business man with more than 20 years of experience in setting up and successfully running businesses from scratch. Beside founded and running PeeSafe – world’s highest selling toilet seat sanitizer spray, he helps Indian Defence, Aerospace, Power Transformer and Energy companies in Conditional based monitoring system. He founded his 1st company in VR Forklift in 1997, followed by SRV – Exclusive Sales partner of SpotSee, world’s leader in real time monitoring and tracking, damage prevention and Conditional based monitoring in the year 2003.
Vikas is an avid quizzer, loves adventure sports, long distance cycling and besides doing wild life photography he is a technology freak.
In an exclusive interview with SCIKEY, Mr Vikas Bagaria speaks on how women are better managers than men and that a minority of 1-2% of people are innovating for real. In contrast, the rest are being copied by the followers. He also speaks on the importance of tapping the rural Bharat of our country and that funding is not only procuring money but also being responsible for it.
You started SafetyKart – 7 years back now we know you as a Founder of Peesafe. For those of us still not familiar with Safetykart Peesafe the change, it is aiming to bring at a larger scale, walk us more on the journey of how Peesafe came about.
I have been an entrepreneur for the last 23 years. We started SafetyKart in 2012-13 after the unfortunate Nirbhaya rape case. The idea was born out of this unfortunate incident, where we thought of how about we bring safety products online so people could buy them? Initially, we began with woman safety products, and later we expanded into child safety, home safety, office, travel, car etc. the idea was born on 25th December 2012, a week after the Nirbhaya case took place and we launched it in February 2013.
A couple of months of this launch, me and my wife Srijana were travelling when she fell severely ill, and we had to come back to Delhi. The doctor diagnosed her with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), which is a result of using public washrooms. But as we looked back, we realized we had stayed at the best of hotels and did not use any such public toilets that we know of. This was when the doctor informed us that any washroom that is beyond our bedroom, even if it is in the same house as we live in, is a public washroom. Just because a seat looks clean does not mean that it is sanitized. It may not be sanitized at all.
For example, take any good mall or office or hotels even. Ideally, they are supposed to have someone come in and clean the washrooms every hour. When the cleaning lady comes in and scrubs the place with the chemicals, they wipe all of the toilet bowls with the same cloth. So, if there is blood spots, urine droplets or any other germs on the toilet bowl, this is carried to the other toilet seats eventually. So, when anyone uses the washroom in this hour, they are prone to contracting infections. This gave us the idea of why can’t we have something that can just be sprayed over the toilet seat which will evaporate but also kill the bacteria at the same time? This was how PeeSafe was born. To our surprise, no one in the world was doing this.
As a leader, an incubator and a founder for multiple startup companies helping them converting into high-growth sustainable businesses, what are your key ideas strategies to effectively acquire talent for such companies where work dynamics are evolving very rapidly.
The primary thing I look at while hiring talent is how good or bad their journey has been academically. I will never hire someone who has always been an A grader. I prefer someone who has tasted failure, someone who may have been an entrepreneur but has failed and have been unable to run their business, someone who hasn’t been able to get themselves into an Ivy League college but have still put themselves on top at another regular college etc. the reason behind this is that they have dared to start despite tasting failures, they have been able to reinvent themselves, and they know what they wanted to start and have finished it.
An A-grader would never know these things because they have never seen failure. If a challenge were to present itself in front of them in my business, they might fail to tackle it in the best way. But the kind of guys that I hire who have been at the bottom of the curve knows that the only way to go is upwards. So, the four things to be important in a talent to be hired is to be courageous, being able to reinvent themselves, know what they want to start and how to finish it and the final thing is to have tasted failure at some point in life.
What are some things to focus on while hiring in the business bringing solutions for the women? Are you using AI in hiring, if yes then which part in the entire process Why?
I believe that women are better at their work and are better managers than men. The reason being that in my experience, I have seen my mother, sister and wife working hard in their own ways to build themselves and me. Anyone who can manage a home has to be a better manager. They are also multitaskers which are very important when you are a startup. Women are also good with finances because they know how to run a family.
When we started SafetyKart, we didn’t have a lot of females working for it. However, once we started other businesses whether it is in aerospace and defence and energy or warehousing etc. these have a good chunk of women as customer care or sales managers. But in PeeSafe, we have around 60% of women as employees. We don’t use tools to pick the candidates as employees. We first look at the passion they bring with them towards the job. Apart from these I look for people who bring value to the job, multitasker, etc. are some of the attributes that I look into when I am hiring a woman.
Could you please elaborate on your advice to young entrepreneur’s – “Celebrate exit and not funding”
All the young entrepreneurs are incubated by people who have been successful like the OYO’s, Ola’s and Paytm’s of the world. They believe that anyone and everyone who can come and start a business will get a 1 billion valuation which isn’t true. There are so many who walk up to me and present me with an idea so that I can fund their idea. What they don’t realize is that funding is the most difficult part of any business. It is also the most expensive tech because you are giving away your company, your equity, which is far more expensive than raising loans. Secondly, it can also be seen, that as soon as someone gets funding they will be suddenly travelling across the country as a speaker in conferences and seminars and they begin displaying how great they are as an entrepreneur. This restricts them from reinventing themselves by using that funding and growing themselves and the business more. They start celebrating it. Celebration should come when you make money and not when you raise funds. Raising funds means that now you are the custodian of raising someone else’s money. You have to use this wealth to grow yourself. Instead, it is more apt to celebrate when you exit because that is when you really make money.
Today we live in a generation where we see innovation every other day. How do you ensure you continuously stay creative and innovative?
With all due respect to all entrepreneurs, including myself, I see very few innovations that are being made which are original. On a scale of 1 to 10, I believe there are hardly 2 or 3 that have come up actual innovations whereas the rest are only copying from it to create their own. India is a growing economy, so with the help of the internet, people can keep up with the things being innovated in the west and are later being copied here. Flipkart was a copy of Amazon; Ola is coming from Uber etc. However, they are unbelievable ventures because they stayed. The business idea may not have been the innovation here, but the fact that they reached the masses at their current volume of 600 million is an innovation.
In India, people are already targeting 11-15% of the population that is already residing in the urban areas of the country. There is a significant chunk of 80-85% of the rural population, which is left untapped yet. This is the Bharat that needs to be tapped and can be made money from. We can already see the effects of the spread of data in the rural sections because of the lower prices of Jio services and how TikTok is rising within the country.
Does PeeSafe, the product line, has any such product that takes care of the underprivileged population of India?
Unfortunately, no. I too belong to the 11-15% category of innovators where I am currently focusing on my target audience. Toilet seat sanitizers are for the western type commodes because the Indian style is the safest where no skin is being touched. Although, we do have other products such as sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are one product that we are targeting towards the audience, which is also being brought in the Tier-2 and Tier 3 cities. It can last for five years, which makes it a sustainable product. But till all of the masses do not use the product, the cost will not come down.
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