In this first episode of the OneHaas Alumni podcast, we are joined by Manish Chandra, Evening MBA ’95, who is the Founder & CEO of Poshmark. Prior to Poshmark, Manish founded and sold Kaboodle to Hearst Corporation in 2007. Prior to that, Manish held executive positions at Versant, Versata, and Sybase.
Read our blog article about Manish Chandra.
- Manish’s journey from India to Silicon Valley
- How he turned himself into the “AWS” of Product Management and Marketing
- How Manish got started as an entrepreneur with Kaboodle, which he ultimately sold to Hearst Corporation, and why he built it
- The founding story of Poshmark and a passion for connecting people
- Pioneering social shopping by focusing on people, and the future of retail
- Stoic optimism for uncertain times by maintaining long-term and short-term strategic perspectives
3 Key Takeaways
- Maintain an adaptable mindset and focus on finding creative ways to help others
- Have conviction in your business ideas but validate using due processes before executing
- Regardless of what’s happening in the world, being curious is how you uncover business opportunities.
Episode Quotes:"What happens when you have a burning idea is you start to feel like everything looks like a nail to your hammer." – Manish Chandra Click To Tweet "The word entrepreneur was not the thing which was appealing to me. It was more like, I'm an ideas guy, and I think about how you turn ideas into reality." – Manish Chandra Click To Tweet
[00:00:00] Manish Chandra: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me, Sean. I’m glad to be speaking to everyone and hope everyone is staying safe in these crazy times.
[00:00:07] Sean Li: Maneesh was born in India and moved to Austin Texas when he was 19. He grew up in small towns in India where his father was a judge. His mother was a homemaker and his grandfather was an entrepreneur which made for a very interesting childhood.
[00:00:31] I see. And you know, just walk us a little bit more through what you did before Haas, exactly what you did in tech.
[00:00:40] Manish Chandra: Sure. So, my first job was as a software programmer, building database software for Intel. That was back in 1989 I had arrived in Silicon Valley. That was my very first job, within a year, sort of, I realized that Intel is going to move away from building database software. They’re going to buy databases, and they were looking at companies like Oracle and Sybase.
[00:01:01] And so I wanted to work for one of these companies. I didn’t want to work. For someone who’s buying a database. I want to be in the database software business. I interviewed and got a job at Sybase. And right before I was about to transition from Intel to Sybase, I got a call from a recruiter, which I think is pretty relevant for these times.
[00:01:18] And the recruiter said that, we’ve just laid off 10 to 15% of the company, because these are harsh times, but you still have a job if you want to come.
[00:01:26] Sean Li: Right.
[00:01:26] Manish Chandra: And I said, are they still paying me the same money? And she said yes. And I said, okay. I wanted to live in Berkeley. I wanted to work for a database software company.
[00:01:34] I had no idea what a venture funded business was. I didn’t know that they were living on just venture debt at that point in time, and I joined the company. I was one of the best decisions I made, you know, it ended up creating some interesting opportunities. I was, you know, fairly young in my career.
[00:01:48] And, because they had taken out a lot of the staffing, there was just so much work to do. So, I would work 17, 18 hours a day, but pretty rapidly scaled up in the company. I went from soft, you know, I became an architect and started to lead people and then became one of the, sort of the chief architects of the company all in the course of five years.
[00:02:05] And the recession was a one or two year recession and then it actually bounced back and the company went public. It was sort of my first IPO in the Valley that I saw as a junior guy, you know, helped me buy my first house in the Valley. And, it started an interest in tech and sort of early stage startups and that whole journey became very exciting.
[00:02:23] And from there I joined a much smaller company, just here in Oakland called Versata. And that was building database tools. And we went through both the boom of 2000 and prior to that, a depression in 98. And then sort of the depression of 2001. And so, I saw the full thing. We grew from eight people to 600 people.
[00:02:44] Took the company public at the peak of 2000 and by the end of 2001 the company had shrunk dramatically because of the recession that was going on and 9/11. And I had been at the company for 7 years and decided to leave right before the 9/11 tragedy, and then when 9/11
[00:03:11] Sean Li: And for any listeners who may have forgotten the timeline, the tech bubble had bursted in March of 2000, and then the 9/11 tragedy happened 16 months later in September of 2001. What’s interesting with Manish’s story is that he learned very quickly to be scrappy and adaptable in these difficult times
[00:03:29] Manish Chandra: So, I took a step back. I had two young kids. I had a mortgage. I had to figure out what to do, and what I did was I created, I think, a human timesharing system of my skill set. I would go to different CEOs and you know, I was trying to get consulting gigs from them and it’s, I don’t have any budget. I love you, but I don’t have any budget.
[00:03:46] I said, how much better do you have? And they give me a small number, which would probably pay for like a day and a half my time. I said, why don’t I work for you a day a month? And, so collecting this time-sharing thing, I was able to market myself for about twice my previous salary. I was making twice that much, and I was time slicing myself.
[00:04:05] So I became the AWS of product management and marketing and Silicon Valley. I was working with about a dozen or so companies. And one of the companies I was working with, the chief operating officer came to me and said, Hey, you’re working with all of these startups. And for a set of reasons, we would like to sort of merge with another company or buy a smaller company, which can help accelerate growth.
[00:04:24] And so I ended up thinking through, and one of the companies I was working for, was really a partner. I ended up playing a role of investment banker the next year and brought these companies together. This company acquired the company. and I joined them as the VP of marketing. And in that journey of two years, I ended up spending some time.
[00:04:42] We bought a home and we were remodeling it. And from there, sort of my insight was that the entire shopping experience was quite broken.
[00:04:50] And, and I sort of had this insight of creating this collaborative social experience. And I kept writing thoughts around its products, right? You know, they just kept throwing them away.
[00:05:00] He said, I’m going to use enterprise software. What business do I have to do something consumer? I don’t know anything about it, but after six months, the bug wouldn’t go away. It just would not go away.
[00:05:09] Sean Li: Around what year was this.
[00:05:11] Manish Chandra: This was 2000 late 2003 early 2004 so a long time back. And you know, so many of my use cases are sort of things we do.
[00:05:19] Even at Poshmark. It sort of is very advanced looking. And what happens when you have an idea is you start to feel. Like everything looks like a nail to your hammer. So it felt like it would solve world hunger. So I said, man, this is not like working. I can’t sleep without it. I have to do something. so that’s sort of how the caboodle journey sort of started.
[00:05:38] Sean Li: I see. Before we jump into Poshmark, you know, I really want to hear, I’m sure our listeners are curious as well. You know, what led you to Haas, where you working at Sybase at that time? Or were you still at Intel when you’re doing the evening program?
[00:05:53] Manish Chandra: I was actually at Sybase. I just joined Sybase in 92 and I just, you know, really wanted to get a purview of the business. I felt like I spent a lot of time studying technology and I wanted to do a business. My wife was very supportive and I just.
[00:06:10] Is that lets me do this. And they’re not to be a fairly long journey. You know, the part time program is not an easy journey. It takes about four years from the time you do the prereqs do all of these things. I’m not sure exactly how it’s structured now at that time. Took four years. and so, uh, I worked and went to school and, Haas. In those days, back in 92, 93 was actually not located on campus. it was located in the Tenderloin area. And so, my distinct memories are walking over people, going to classes in the evening and then sort of walking as groups and getting everyone into their cars before I took BART back home.
[00:06:43] And, only in the last year they’d be moved to the main campus cause the building got constructed and we sort of went there. And so, we kind of were the early, early students in that building.
[00:06:54] Sean Li: In Cheit Hall and when I came to school, Chou hall just opened, so
[00:07:00] Manish Chandra: Oh wow.
[00:07:01] Sean Li: Felt very lucky as well.
[00:07:05] We take a pause here to hear about Kaboodle the company Manish sold to Hearst Corporation in 2007. This was Manisha’s birth as an entrepreneur. At the time, Kaboodle was changing the landscape of online shopping by connecting people with similar tastes and tying together the entire shopping process for product discovery to purchase.
[00:07:24] To give our listeners a sense of Manisha’s foresight in this industry and how quickly Kaboodle grew. It started around 2004, 2005, and by 2006. When Manisha’s team launched the public beta. The site already had more than 2 million unique visitors per month
[00:07:40] Manish Chandra: So, the caboodle journey I was talking about started in 2004, 2005. And, uh, what we did was, going from enterprise software to consumer software. And I had to change my entire mindset from enterprise to consumer because I was going from a business which was all about productivity, efficiency, you know, sort of refinement and improvement and a very defined customer.
[00:08:00] So you could have a conversation with them. To something that was built from an emotional perspective where people had to connect at a deeper level and, and sort of engage, still had productivity characteristics. But it was a lot different. And, uh, the way I kind of broached that was I formed a small group of people who were people who could bring me knowledge from these areas, whether it was, you know, how to process web technology and web pages or people who could bring consumer insights, et cetera.
[00:08:26] And these were sort of more people that I brought in and ultimately became part of my team. And then the second group I did was. So out of my cells would experts. So, these are people who knew consumer internet, people like Reed Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, a James’ career, who’s, you know, run, sound effects, et cetera.
[00:08:40] And said, so that allowed me to draw wisdom from these two groups of people. And some of them became investors and advisors as I started Kaboodle. And that’s sort of my general approach is, you know, when I come up with an idea and kind of come up with the things I want to surround myself with, the best people, whether they are people who are my co-founders or people who end up just joining the team or people who are becoming advisored investors.
[00:09:01] And so Kaboodle ultimately grew, but it was early days of the internet and in 2007 got acquired by Hearst who came knocking on the door. And we have partnerships with Conde Nast and we were basically becoming social shopping, but kind of more like a magazine. So, it was more content. Think of it as. The modern-day version of Kaboodle would be Pinterest, right?
[00:09:19] And so it was something where you could collect information, visually, shop, et cetera, but the actual transaction would happen. At the target site, you would click through and go to like [00:09:30] Nordstrom or, or, or what have you. And what we saw in the last sort of year or so when I was with Kaboodle is that a lot of people wanted to do the transaction on Kaboodle.
[00:09:38] And so we tried to create some transaction experience and then people were posting links to their listings on Craigslist and stuff. And many of us, it became an enthusiastic community of a couple of million, primarily women. We had some men as well, and they were basically sharing, shopping, engaging with each other.
[00:09:54] And wanting to transact, but couldn’t really transact effectively on the platform. We had some HTML that it could cut, patted copy, but it was not sort of super simple. So, at the end of 09, like six months or so before I was leaving Kaboodle another person and I sort of were conceptualizing what, what would make sense.
[00:10:10] And one of the ideas we came up with at that point was sort of this vision of how to redefine shopping and make it much more like a magazine where people could buy and sell from each other. It’s very visual, but everything else under the covers is taken care of for you so you don’t have to worry about shipping, pay, manage returns, anything else. and, and mobile was just starting to happen in ’09, it was not sort of there you still on iPhone 3.
[00:10:33] So when I looked around, I said, you know, I know, and, and I said, there’s no easy way to create this content. We’d have to license it from Nordstrom, or you can license it from Kaboodle if I left the Kaboodle.
[00:10:42] But just there was no easy way to kind of put the idea on hold. then fast forward to 10, it was spring of 10, and I said, you know, the next business I want to do is largely in the intersection of fashion and technology. Because Kaboodle had been a journey where I was passionate about community, but it taught me some about fashion and certainly this intersection of technology, fashion, and computer to give together caboodle.
[00:11:04] But I also thought that for this round, I want to really partner with someone who understands fashion. And certainly, I had lots of people who understood technology and I understood product, technology, fashion, business, you know, at a higher level. So, I intentionally sought out groups of people who could work through, and I said, what are the co-founders I want to create?
[00:11:22] And I didn’t have a concrete idea at that point. It has to be sort of natively, be there in fashion. And on the technology side, my mindset was to partner with some of my old co-founders from Kaboodle and then maybe find someone else. And so just kept. Looking at different things. And my first investor may have introduced me to my co-founder, Tracy son, who came from a deep fashion background. So, she grew up in the New York fashion thing, was a merchant, you know, at the founding of a couple of different fashion brands, had done some fashion tech and just relocated to the Bay area. And I met with a bunch of people and it was harder to meet fashion people at that time in the Bay area.
[00:11:55] Still is hard. and Tracy and I instantly clicked. And, so I convinced her to sort of join this, this journey with me and she joined there and then. I ended up partnering with a couple of folks who are my co-founders who come from a deep tech background, Shaytan and got them. And that’s sort of how the journey started.
[00:12:13] And as, we were visiting different ideas that I had. I was on vacation and I saw, iPhone four, which was sort of the first high res device and high camera. And I saw this friend of mine, they were able to take a picture. Take the picture of birds. We went on vacation and immediately posted and sort of that fast speed of upload, beautiful rendering.
[00:12:31] It gave me the idea that this thing is really the device where we need to finally see creation of content, et cetera. And then I was at my son’s high school game and high school homecoming queen. Talk a little bit about how she had thrifted this dress and she’s reading this beautiful yellow dress and all of that flicked them.
[00:12:47] Brought me back to this idea, which I was looking at about a year in the back. And so, I brought that idea forward and now the technology was ready. And I went to Tracy and the other folks and I said, guys, this is the thing. And before they were pushing back on the different ideas, but this one they just kind of latched onto.
[00:13:02] So this is the thing. And then Tracy, who quickly came up with some of the mocks which are still sitting in, if you come to my Poshmark page, you can see some of that stuff. It became so real very quickly and we couldn’t find any flaws in the ideas. So, we started to move very rapidly.
[00:13:16] And that’s sort of how Poshmark came to be in its early days.
[00:13:20] Sean Li: What were some of the memorable challenges that you faced in these early days? And I asked that because you know, you make it sound easy, but from the get go, you built a two-sided marketplace, right?
[00:13:32] Manish Chandra: Well. So, there were several bets we made. you know, I was pretty enamored that mobile is the future back in 2010 and I said, we’re going to bet 100% on mobile.
[00:13:42] Sean Li: I know it felt like forever ago, but at that time in 2009, the iPhone had only been around for two years and in 2008 only 11.6 million units were sold worldwide and 20 million in 2009.
[00:13:56] Today there are 3.5 billion smartphone users in the world, making a 45% of the world’s population
[00:14:03] Manish Chandra: I just knew that this is, this is the thing, and I was also enamored at that time, there’s a little app called Instagram that had just launched.
[00:14:10] I was totally fascinated with it. Back in August, September, just sort of launched and it kind of showed the way for some of the work that we were going to do and kind of showed how you could do it. So, for six months, actually I gave up my computer as I’m going only live on an iPhone and an iPad. It was very hard to do, but it proved to me that the world is going to get there because I could do banking, I could do everything.
[00:14:29] The only thing I couldn’t do was Microsoft Excel. But I could do almost everything else on those two devices. and so that was the first big bet we made. The second bet we made was we wanted to keep the entire shipping architecture simple. And, if you look at our very first deck, it basically talks about this flat shipping system that we created, which is the foundation of Poshmark.
[00:14:48] And we had a lot of debate. Tracy and I kind of went back and forth. We researched, and Tracy literally got. You know, I think of eight or 10 different items and weighed them to figure out what would be the average weight of different fashion items. Because my thesis was, you know, if you, if you think of a girl and she wakes up and she wants to sell a dress, she doesn’t want to go find a weighing scale, putting a weighing scale and figure out how much it will cost me to weigh. She just wanted to ship it. Right. And so that had to be provided for her. And then the third thing, which was there, in sort of the whole thing was I was of course very passionate about the community.
[00:15:17] So I wanted it to be a very social experience because I felt fashion can’t scale without social experience. And so, the whole premise of it was a social shopping experience. And that took some debate because some of the concepts we were pleading there were very far [00:15:30] advanced. So that was sort of the whole idea.
[00:15:31] And one of the ways we were going to market the product initially was to do something called five at five the idea was to get women to bring in their five items from their closet at five o’clock and then we would teach them how to list, right? And we did a couple of these events, and in fact, this was so early in the evolution of mobile that most people didn’t have a phone.
[00:15:51] So we actually ended up buying a hundred iPod videos, which was the predecessor to iPhone, and incredibly inexpensive at that time compared to iPhone, which was so expensive, and ended up giving that to some of the beta testers, which we never got back, but it became a gift to them so they could actually create content because most of them didn’t have the phones to do that.
[00:16:09] And then as we were doing it, what we saw was that these live events were very powerful. And then I was looking at an application and sort of synthesize that to one of the things I like to do is synthesize different things and create something new from it. And so, I sent it out as those concepts and came up with this idea of Virtual Posh Party.
[00:16:24] And these were live events where people could list in real time and look at real time. And by that time, we had another member of our team, Leanne, who had supported the community enjoying the journey. I turned to Leanne and Tracy and I said, guys, I want to try to host these workshop wash parties. And so, they brainstormed and started to basically post stuff on Facebook to get users.
[00:16:43] And the system. And literally we would take a picture of a sticky note and say, this is the parties like the tops and dresses party and Tracy would stand yearly here taking a picture and that’s how the parties would start. And initially like three users would show up for this thing and you couldn’t even shop there.
[00:16:57] Cause we didn’t have payments built up but people would come and we started to get almost like full time engagement parties run for an hour and they just sit there, wait and, and look at everything. And people would start to list at that time and they’d grab some wine glasses and sit offline.
[00:17:10] Somebody would, you know, send their kids to be with their husband and sort of be attentive to the party all the time. It was a pretty engaging experience. And we were initially going to launch, I think in September or October. And I said, I can’t launch without this, and we have to productize this. And there was no productization.
[00:17:26] So that was one of the hardest productization exercises, because there was nothing like that in the world. And it took so many stresses and breakages and designers were frustrated. But finally we got it all ready and shipped it out in December of 2011 it’s when the app first hit the market as an iPhone app with posh parties in it.
[00:17:46] With the ability to, to buy and sell. And, we didn’t know what would happen because there was no marketing to. But the thing which we saw from day one was that every user who joined the system started to become active, and would spend somewhere around 20 minutes on the app.
[00:18:02] Sean Li: Wow.
[00:18:03] Manish Chandra: And, many of them were both buying and selling despite there being no search button.
[00:18:07] There was like very little to actually browse to literally the whole feed to find items. And items were selling and, even though there were no marketing tools and there was a lot of stuff with postage and payments and other things, it just gave me the confidence that this thing is going to fly.
[00:18:22] Cause the number one rule for you can be for businesses, deep user engagement, because you can’t buy that. You can, you can figure out a way to pay to get growth. But that deep consumer engagement is either a characteristic of something you’ve built where you tapped into a natural need or not.
[00:18:35] Sean Li: Right? That’s amazing. Actually, that answers my question. Your buyers are also your sellers.
[00:18:43] Manish Chandra: There’s a huge overlap.
[00:18:44] Sean Li: That’s beautiful. So, the company has been around for over a decade now. It’s definitely seen a lot of ups and downs I imagine in the economy. How do you manage stress and uncertainty as a business leader?
[00:18:58] Manish Chandra: You know, I think, there’s a few things. I think one is just sort of seeing the world. There’s sort of a wisdom to know that this too shall pass. And there’s a way to sort of get through it. And there is stress and you, sometimes you can sort of reduce stress and sometimes you have to just manage and acknowledge that they’re stressed.
[00:19:14] You know, like for example, these present times are intensely stressful, right? So just being aware of the circumstance and sort of knowing that this thing is not unique to you. It’s sort of happening at different points in different people’s phases. A second thing is, you know, finding some time to do something physical, whether it’s exercise or meditation.
[00:19:34] You know, I’ve been a meditator since high school. and then, the third thing is of course family, which is, you know, sort of connects you and always brings joy. And so those are the three things that are, that you use. at the same time, I think your, your support system is there.
[00:19:48] I mean, nobody creates anything. They are, the reason you have co-founders is that you, they become your points of support. You know, my co-founders in both the companies have been amazing points of support at various points in the journey. You have advisors and mentors that you can turn to for advice, you know, that can give you some perspective and there’ll be many advisors and mentors through my journey who’ve been amazing. And then, I think, you have to just sort of sometimes just, you know, grind through it. There are days that there is nothing. And I remember one time in my Poshmark journey where it was extremely sort of stressful and I just didn’t know who would even understand my situation cause it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.
[00:20:25] And I remember just walking around the building and just having a good cry myself cause I just didn’t know what to do. It was that frustrating. And then it was fine, you know, just went back and started cranking it out.
[00:20:37] Sean Li: Thank you so much for sharing that. I think I personally needed to hear that kind of going through my journey with this, the podcasting business.
[00:20:47] Manish Chandra: No, it’s definitely a crazy time. You know, he said these are probably the most intense times I have seen in my life, you know, and I certainly have seen a lot of intense times, so, and get there.
[00:21:01] Sean Li: Did you always know you wanted to become an entrepreneur.
[00:21:05] Manish Chandra: You know, I didn’t, but I had these instincts in my thing. So, there’s the word entrepreneur was not, the thing which was appealing to me. It was more like, I’m an ideas guy, even thinking about how you turn ideas into reality. So, there were a couple of things I knew, you know, so for example, when I was growing up in my neighborhood.
[00:21:20] We used to sort of connect with neighbors and I used to move around every two, three years. I had to find new friends and connect with them. And, one of the things I figured out, I think it was as middle school or high school, I was there in a new town. And, you know, just to kind of get to know people, I started this little newsletter where I would talk about each person in each of the kids in the community.
[00:21:40] It was kind of like a little mini people magazine and it became really popular and I was able to charge like 25 pence, but I didn’t think of it as an entrepreneurship. I think of it as a way to connect with humanity and people, and I think that’s sort of the same way I think about Poshmark is how do you connect with the community?
[00:21:53] How do you build something that’s helpful to people? And that turns into entrepreneurship and business in some ways.
[00:21:59] Sean Li: Well, that goes into what you were slated to talk about right at the alumni conference, on the subject of pioneering social shopping by focusing on people. Can you share with us some of the highlights or key takeaways of your speech?
[00:22:13] Manish Chandra: If you think of retail, if you step back and look at retail and take not a five, 10 year horizon, but take a 30 to 50 year horizon. Retail used to be the neighborhood store, right? Retail used to be where you would walk into the neighbor’s store and Tom, who was running the hardware store would sort of know that you’ve been doing a backyard deck and sort of as you walked in, he would say, Hey, here’s a little hammer Manesh.
[00:22:35] I just got this from Germany, it’d be perfect for you, and you might buy it or not buy it. But there was sort of this very personalized merchandising, social interactions and a high touch sort of way of buying and selling because every store that a human being, or you would walk into a boutique and they would say, Hey, Maneesh, here’s a suit for you.
[00:22:52] I know you’re going to your brother’s wedding and it’s just perfect for you. And you sort of walk in there and that sort of whole merchandising clienteling humans was called social, but nobody thought of it as social, it was just community. You supported your local community. It was life.
[00:23:06] It was exactly the way retail should be. Retail is life, and we’re all missing it right now in this world of Covid. But we can provide you online on Poshmark, but you sort of go to the next generation and stores become bigger and bigger and less and less personal and become more and more about product and mass product merchandising.
[00:23:21] People started to serve your front store. You just go pick up everything and shouldn’t really disappear. And now today you don’t have to pick up the product or talk to anybody, just kind of scan the product and, and walk out. and then can e-commerce and e-commerce was even less personal. So, you sort of put the product up and products were sort of merchandise, it’s catalog, product pricing, price discounting, et some algorithms personalizing, et cetera. What social shopping does is it brings the beauty of that local shop and the local retail experience online, while at the same time preserving the scalability. That’s the discoverability, the smoothness, the ease of use of online together. So, you get the best of both worlds.
[00:23:57] And it’s sort of, to me, the social shop is a shop of the next generation, and that’s what Poshmark is doing. It’s really taking retail into the next thing. And at the same time, what social shopping is doing is bringing the world of, what I would say is local communities’ conservation, you know, frugality.
[00:24:16] And beautiful merchandising and discovery. So we’re empowering resellers who can resell stuff from their closet, resell stuff that they’re sourced to be eco conscious and thrift and, and not let anything go to waste and empowering local boutiques and designers and sellers, or even the bigger sellers and bigger brands out there as their local stores become sort of more wanderable which nobody could have taught that this crisis would make every store in the world simultaneously wanderable.
[00:24:41] Allow them to create that same human high touch branded experience in an online world. So, this marketplace becomes sort of, in some ways a very social mall, but it’s a mall, which is really democratized as well, cause anybody can participate in it. And we take care of all of the plumbing so you can focus on client telling and interact with their customers.
[00:24:57] So that’s how the beauty is created in Poshmark.
[00:25:01] Sean Li: That’s amazing. You know, when I launched my eCommerce business, this was around 10 years ago as well. I was wondering who’s going to solve this problem of social shopping? Because when you go to the mall, it is a very social experience, right?
[00:25:16] And e-commerce is taking that away. But little did I know Poshmark was already on top of that.
[00:25:23] Manish Chandra: Yeah, we, we’ve been sort of, uh, this vision has been there in my mind since I got the insight in Kaboodle, but we’ve been innovating and so most recently, one of the things we’ve launched on the platform and we’ll be launching is we’ll be bringing photos and videos together. So, you know, because really you see the formats moving if you’ve got photos, you’ve got videos, you’ve got the styling where people want to have that conversation.
[00:25:43] So it’s a program where we sort of every year or so innovated and kind of add it because social is not a static experience. It’s sort of, it’s really dynamic. And it boils down to the state of technology, state of customer acceptance. And the pieces, you could build these features two years back and they wouldn’t be accepted.
[00:25:57] Just like, you know, if you look at the rise of online video or podcasts for example, right? If you think about what we are doing right now, I mean, how much time do we spend listening to podcasts now? And the format has been around for a long time, but just the right kind of consumption, technology, distribution, ease of usage, maybe even these, headphones we are using, you know, and stuff like that.
[00:26:16] It’s just, it’s a very powerful sort of system. So social shopping itself has, I think. Being coming of age, and I think fortunate for online retail, I think social shopping is going to just really explode, because we’re all becoming sort of virtual in a weird kind of way in this, in this new age.
[00:26:33] Sean Li: So to that point of, you know, the current environment, especially for Haas graduates, what advice do you have for future Haas leaders or what advice would you have given yourself at graduation? And I have to preface this with the fact that you’ve seen probably at least three, if not four, downturns in your lifetime, in your time in your time in Silicon Valley.
[00:26:59] Manish Chandra: I think everything that happens to us is a blessing, even though sometimes it feels like a curse, right? So, a little bit of it as a perspective, I think graduating in these insane times is very difficult, so much as being canceled. So, you know, jobs sort of suddenly, evaporated. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and potentially in the world.
[00:27:19] You have to step back and say, what do I do? I’ve just spent multiple years retooling myself to be ready for something amazing. And I think the word I use is adaptable. And you have to have an adaptable mindset because of circumstances and as the proverbial cheese moves around.
[00:27:36] And so the question is, you know, there’s two different ways to think about, and that’s how we even think about our business. What’s my short-term strategy and short-term strategy and long-term study are slightly different. Short term strategy is, how do I survive in this thing? You know, what do I do?
[00:27:50] And as I said, you know, for me to survive back in 2002 I had to time slice myself if I’d been following a standard paradigm of looking for a job, I’d have been unemployed for six months, and I was employed in small pieces with 20 people. So, think about how you redefine yourself to survive for the short term.
[00:28:07] It doesn’t change a long term. You’re still a Haas graduate. You’re going to have amazing opportunities, but you have to kind of think through short term. And that. That’s adaptability. The second thing is what do these circumstances create, which is a unique and once in a lifetime opportunity and that policy into sort of understanding where the world is going.
[00:28:24] And that takes a little bit of an open mindedness to sort of observe what’s happening. Like to me, and I’m talking to this amazing technology and platform called SquadCast. I’m very curious as to how it’s working. And I think being curious about what’s happening is super important because each of them may give you something and you can synthesize to create something else.
[00:28:42] So I think there’s going to be opportunities and, one of the things that, you know, some of my mentors have shared with me, and that’s my perspective as well, is that people essentially don’t change at a fundamental needs level. You know, we still want to grow up. We want to eat food, we want to connect with each other. We want to wear clothes of some kind. You know, we want to get married, we want to have kids. We want to sort of connect. We want to succeed. We want to buy something. We want to live good. We want to sort of do things and what they are changes. You know what it was maybe a thousand years back, changing a hundred years back changed.
[00:29:12] What’s going to happen in the next 20 years will change. But that fundamental cycle of life continues in whatever form and in that are massive opportunities for revolution and transformation. And the world is an infinite source of prosperity. So, if you change your mind from thinking that the current circumstances are occurring and re-pivot to thinking that current circumstances are a blessing and focus on what you want as opposed to what you don’t have, chances are you’ll create a beautiful life for yourself.
[00:29:42] To end the podcast on a lighter note, we like to do this lightning round of Q&A. So, this is just quick, quick and dirty.
[00:29:53] What’s a favorite book, article or digital content that you’ve consumed lately?
[00:29:57] My favorite book of all times is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The latest article I, that is actually a set of insight, I think it’s called asymptomatic intent or asymptomatic curve by Eugene Wei who was one of the earlier data scientists at Amazon.
[00:30:13] Sean Li: What’s your favorite stress-relieving activity? You might’ve already mentioned this meditation.
[00:30:18] Manish Chandra: It’s meditation. It’s definitely meditation. I also love listening to new music. So, for example, Fridays are usually, you know, go on Spotify and listen and get some new music and download. I’m always sort of listening to new artists and new music, so that’s also fun for me.
[00:30:33] Sean Li: That’s actually my next question is; do you have a favorite band or genre of music?
[00:30:37] Manish Chandra: It keeps evolving. I’m sort of very open to it. Right now, I would say, on the pop side, I’m very fascinated with Billie Eilish, in terms of sort of what she’s bringing to the table. In terms of old school, one of my favorite artists from my sort of youth is a U2 and, especially their songs with the streets have no name.
[00:31:00] Sean Li: And lastly, the Haas defining leadership principle that resonates the strongest with you of the four?
[00:31:08] Manish Chandra: I think the thing that appeals to me the most is Beyond Yourself. And that’s really about bringing and thinking about the world as a whole and a community as a whole. And really thinking about not just what is in it for me, but what is it in for all of us. And I think particularly in these times where we’d be faced with this massive health crisis, I think we have to think beyond sort of what we are and how the whole can benefit from what we are trying to do.
[00:31:36] And it’s really, really important for us to keep in mind, especially as we come out of a class like an MBA class.
[00:31:41] Sean Li: It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you so much, Manish.
[00:31:44] Manish Chandra: Thank you, Sean. Thanks so much.