Rakshit Reddy has started his second year in the Babson Olin MBA program. He was already a highly successful entrepreneur before starting the program in 2021. Courtesy photo
Rakshit Nadiga Hanumantha Reddy is by any standards a tremendously successful entrepreneur.
Reddy is a member of the founding team of Waycool Foods, one of the largest agtech startups in India, which has received more than $80 million in funding since 2015. The social impact company works with thousands of Indian farmers to help them to sell products at a fair price. . Waycool has over 4,000 employees and around $50 million in annual revenue, and recently expanded its operations to Dubai.
So why would Reddy, who serves as chief growth officer of a company that has done nothing but grow, want to go back to school to get an MBA? And why choose a school, Babson College F. W. Olin Graduate School of Businesswhich is best known for its entrepreneurship programs?
‘THE WHOLE COMMUNITY SUPPORTS US A LOT’
Rakshit Reddy: “At each and every stage of our life, we have challenges and come up with new things to overcome them.”
“I was always fascinated by Babson,” says Reddy. “One of my co-founders did his BA at Babson. He was always talking about how the faculty is very helpful, how the whole community supports when someone is starting something. I don’t know about other universities, I can’t comment on that, but when it comes to Babson, they are very helpful. If you communicate with any student, they will try to do what they can.
“Plus, it gives me access to a lot of early-stage family business ventures, because Babson is known for that.”
Reddy had a diverse academic and professional background prior to Waycool. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2011 and then a master’s degree in engineering management two years later. Her resume ranges from automotive consulting to manufacturing and agricultural technology.
But once Waycool took off and he and co-founders Karthik Jayaraman and Sanjay Dasari started working there full time, Reddy realized he needed more: He needed to “brush up on my leadership skills.”
FROM B2B TO B2C AND THE RISE OF BUSINESS
Waycool had started out as a typical B2C company, a retail company that bought agricultural products from Indian farmers (commodities such as fresh produce and dairy) and sold them in brick-and-mortar stores. In 2017, when he joined the company full time, Reddy and his co-founders knew they needed to change their business model.
“We realized that the biggest challenge is that if you only buy good products from farmers, obviously this is not a manufactured product. It comes in different shapes and sizes and all that,” says Reddy. poets and how many. “So we thought, ‘Why don’t we help them liquidate all their product?’ Because if you only buy good products, obviously you will have a hard time clearing the balance of products because it will cost less. In a country like India, we have a huge supply of products and at the same time we also have a huge population.
“We thought, ‘Instead of doing B2C as a bigger market, we’ll try to do B2B initially and then we’ll see how the market goes.'” She came out very well. Waycool started supplying hotels and restaurants, then moved on to catering institutes. “We watched it grow, and then we realised, ‘Why don’t we supply modern commerce now?’ Modern commerce is like Whole Foods or the Amazons of the world. They need packaged goods and we have very good margins.”
The business exploded. WayCool was on track to become India’s largest and fastest growing agricultural trading company, operating a full range of broad-line products across multiple channels and categories, serving over 100,000 customers in the general trading space. , modern trade and food services; his clients include Madhuram, KitchenJi, L’exotique and Freshey’s.
The Waycool Foods office in Bangalore, India. courtesy photo
‘MY MISTAKES WERE COSTING THE COMPANY MONEY’
But with success came challenges, most notably for Reddy as Waycool’s chief growth officer, tasked with driving multiple channels and products across markets while driving the company’s digital transformation. Although he had “a leadership hand,” as he puts it, in “shaping the value chain and all aspects of the business,” Reddy knew he was missing key skills the company needed him to have.
“My idea to enter business school came about when I was working with several banks and going through various business models, because we were building a lending channel and I was running everything since I was a core member of the team and I was on the team. leadership,” he says. “I had to wear several different hats because I was driving the growth opportunity for the company.
“It was when I was building a business model of the digital lending business while dealing with banks that it became very difficult for me, because all my life I worked in marketing and operations, and I was never part of finance. I used to learn from mistakes, but my mistakes were costing the company money.
“I thought, ‘Why don’t I brush up on my leadership skills and financial skills? You should control it. That’s why I decided to join Babson.”
Rakshit Reddy: “I was always fascinated by Babson. One of my co-founders did his BA at Babson. He was always talking about how the faculty is very helpful, how the whole community is supportive when someone is starting something.”
WHAT DOES BABSON OFFER
Babson College has long been considered one of the best business schools in the world for entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, the Olin School maintained its title as US News‘ The #1 school for startups, earning the coveted spot for the 29th consecutive year. Not bad for a school tied for 57th in US News‘ general ranking. (Babson is second in poets and how many‘ Entrepreneurship Ranking 2021; our new ranking will be published in a few weeks).
What makes Babson a hotbed for startups? Stephen Spinelli, who took over as president of Babson in July 2019, credits integrating the school’s “think and do” approach that emphasizes smart action, fail fast, and pivoting based on what you’ve learned, as well as the school’s focus on interdisciplinary. collaboration between their teachers, no matter what discipline they come from.
“It’s a decided strategy for the business model at Babson,” Spinelli explained in a 2021 interview with poets and how manynoting that Babson is home to multiple institutes and centers focused on bringing thought and action together, or theory and practice to teach students an entrepreneurial mindset.
“That’s created this more direct connection between what’s going on in the classroom and a student’s ability to self-heal their interaction with the market at the same time,” Spinelli said. “Those centers and institutes allow a student to do that with a greater degree of self-healing and freedom. You have to have finance, you have to have accounting, you have to have marketing. You have to have these studies integrated.” Then those can be applied in the different institutes and centers, he said. “That coordination and integration that is really student-led is probably the biggest innovation I’ve ever seen.”
RAKSHIT’S FIRST YEAR AT BABSON: ALL ABOUT SKILL ACQUISITION
Rakshit Reddy: “If you expose yourself to this world, where you have a business community, you can do wonders.”
Rakshit Reddy, on sabbatical from Waycool Foods, initially struggled in Babson’s MBA while taking basic finance courses last year. The curriculum, and his faculty and cohort members, helped him understand concepts that had eluded him as “a type of operations.”
“Courses like Corporate Finance, which is actually evaluating opportunities or fundraising, those courses helped me understand finance as a whole,” he says. “Obviously, a person like me who comes with zero finance background — all my life, I’ve worked in operations — to learn and study something about accounting or finance in the first semester, it was a nightmare for me because I’m not a numbers guy. If you talk to me in missions or automation, I can talk to you.
“It was very overwhelming, but again the cohort and faculty are very supportive and helped me understand the concepts. I used to communicate with them and go meet them, our professors, and we actually had one-on-one conversations.”
A key challenge: Accounting technology, terminology and techniques differ slightly in India and the US.
“I always come with the Indian perspective because I’ve never worked in a global context,” says Reddy. “They used to correct me because some of the technology or terminology, what we use in the US and what we use in India are slightly different. And also the way we keep the accounting books is slightly different. I was able to pick up those skill sets and that actually helped me a lot and made me better.”
TIPS FOR BUDGET ENTREPRENEURS
What is Rakshit Reddy’s advice for budding entrepreneurs considering business school?
“At each and every stage of our lives, we have challenges and come up with new things to overcome them,” he says. “Humans should not stop learning. That’s why I decided to leave the automotive consultancy, leave what I knew behind and join the startup. “This is my comfort zone, they have a startup and they will let me work here.” You get out of your comfort zone, you learn something, you meet new people, you meet different entrepreneurs who bring different experiences to the table, and when you interact with them, you get a global experience.
“This is what I can say: if you expose yourself to this world, where you have a business community, you can do wonders. You never know, you might also come up with a different business idea.”
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