In Conversation With… Jalaj Garg, Founder, Edgenus
Can you help us know about your professional background?
I am an alumnus of IIT-Guwahati (2017 graduate), after which I have had the experience of working in the Business Intelligence & Strategy verticals across companies such as American Express Inc., Vmock, ZS Associates. In the last 4 years – I have worked as Analyst, Strategy Lead as well as Product Manager – thus giving me the opportunity to look into different functions and roles.
Additionally, my experience of working closely with the founder at VMock, helped me understand the thought process that goes into building your own venture from scratch.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I had never imagined becoming an entrepreneur earlier. Up until I was in my Final Year at IIT-Guwahati, I had always seen myself working and growing my career at a well-established firm with a stable income. While working for a few companies, I started realizing how monochromatic my life became in a 9-5 routine. Subsequently, being a passionate dancer, I joined a dance center in Gurgaon. At the dance center, I met multiple artists, freelancers, and many entrepreneurs in the next 7-8 months, who further aroused my interest into leading a life of choice, where I can manage my time and decide the road I would want to take- thus inspiring me to become an entrepreneur.
Can you please tell us about your venture ‘Edgenus’?
Edgenus is a trusted community for practicing and aspiring artists to network, skill-up and scale-up. We are building an online platform that provides a practical learning experience, real-time feedback from established artists, & networking opportunities within similar interest groups.
What is one best thing about your venture ‘Edgenus’?
Our team. Our core team has people who understand technology, communication as well as creativity. I , myself, am a strategist by profession and dancer by passion. My business partner, Priyansh, who currently leads the operations vertical at one of the renowned firm, is also a passionate gamer. Our Marketing Head Puneet is an actor by passion and has been an active member in the theatrical space for over 8 years. Our Operations manager is a food blogger by passion and an economist by profession. This is the key reason we feel emphatic for art & artists and are able to understand our market sentiments.
As an entrepreneur you must be having a lot of pressure and stress. What works best for you to handle the pressure and stress?
Yes- the situation often becomes challenging and I would have to agree that the pressure is insane. But I do try to make some time for myself that help me cope with the everyday stress associated with running my own venture:
- Block a ‘me time’ every day to relieve and just focus on my well being – mental, emotional and physical.
- Try to plan and indulge in some social meets & get-togethers.
- Try to have some changes in the work environment once in 2-weeks
This really helps in opening the doors of creativity & also give an opportunity to meet new people with fresh perspective.
In today’s time, as the teams work virtually, how do you manage to maintain the work culture and employee engagement?
I started my venture at the onset of the pandemic , so I believe I was prepared for a remote working setup 🙂
To overcome the challenges linked with working is this arrangement, we’ve adopted a few practices:
- Informal team connects oh a bi-weekly basis – giving members a good window to get to know about others better
- Assigning a mentor for the new joiners. The mentor-mentee system is always helpful in an effective involvement of any new member into the overall culture.
- Scheduling one-to-one meeting with every team member, in my best capacity
- Hampers & rewards to an outstanding performer every week, across major work divisions.
These small efforts can sometimes create humongous impact & can shape the culture of any organization.
What is the biggest challenge that your firm is facing at the moment? How do you plan to overcome it?
We have been into operations for almost 10 months now and have witnessed a decent growth to now having a customer base of over 3,000. The only challenge is now to scale-up from here. We, though have become self-sustainable, have not been able to invest heavily on our client acquisition & marketing, owing to the lack of disposable cash, and this is becoming a major roadblock in taking an edge over companies in similar space who are funded heavily. Hence, we are now targeting to close our first seed-round as early as possible in order to overcome these hurdles. This will improve our spending power and we would be able to use the funds into important areas.
What are the relevant leadership qualities in today’s world?
Based on my experience thus far as a leader, I believe there are a few qualities that are must-have and good-to-have in the present scenario:
I shall emphasize on the qualities that a leader must have are:
- Ability to delegate the share of responsibilities well among the team.
- Empathy: Good leaders also focus on nurturing the talent and growth of their team-mates. They are well-aware of the impact of an employee’s mental and physical health on their performance.
- Overall awareness: Self-awareness and awareness of the work streams is very important for any leader.
Besides, I try to learn from situations, fellow-mates, clients, competitors & books 🙂
*All views are that of the interviewee. UdyamGyan does not promote or endorse any claims.