In Conversation with Raghavendra Singh, CEO & Co-Founder, i2i Funding
Q1. Can you give us a snapshot about your academic and professional background? What responsibilities have you dealt with so far?
I did my schooling from Varanasi at the Central Hindu School. Post that, I took the IITJEE exam, and had two options – I could enrol at IT-BHU, or join the B.Sc program for Nautical Sciences, at Training Ship Chanakya, Mumbai University. TS Chanakya at that point, was India’s premier, and only government institute offering a course in Nautical Sciences. I went ahead with the latter option, and then started my career in the merchant navy by working at a US-based shipping company as a Deck Officer, where I worked for around three years.
Then, I joined British Petroleum Shipping as an officer for about five years. Soon, I decided to do something else because life was getting monotonous. I mean initially, it was quite exciting and adventurous, but only up to a certain point. So, I decided to do venture elsewhere, appeared for the CAT exam and joined IIM Calcutta. After that, I joined Genpact as a project manager. My responsibility was to oversee project transitions from various locations all over the world to Genpact’s India locations. It involved the complete planning of project and other aspect such as operations, training and more.
Q2 . This was right after your MBA?
Yes. After around two years, I joined a digital publishing company – Aptara. Here, there were two roles I was working in. One involved managing the entire supplier management and the second was digital marketing in education. I worked on a portal where I worked with digital publishing with almost every kind of e-book. I was also responsible for setting up a web portal called Aptara Direct.
Here, Vaibhav and Abhinav – my co-founders worked with me. We’d been thinking about starting something on our own. We looked at multiple ideas and came up with this idea of peer to peer lending – leading to the inception of i2i Funding. We started working on it and once, we launched the portal, Vaibhav was the first who left to look at it full-time. Then I moved as well sometime in 2016.
Q3. So, you have pretty diverse experience across the technologies…
Yes, very diverse experience. I have probably worked on almost everything.
Q4. Are there any standout or most memorable moments that you have from these diverse experiences?
Onboard the ships, it was an entirely different life. You have to follow a system and schedule: you reach the port at night, face a lot of bad weather. You are traveling every day, so time zones are also changing. You have to adjust, so it is mentally as well as physically challenging. At the same time, it is also very satisfying because you are traveling to new places, meeting new people and new experiences. Every day you are accomplishing something – like even loading cargo was a bit hectic. As you are away from the shore, you have a lot of responsibility. You learn a lot of things. I’d say my time there was amongst my most memorable moments.
Q5. You went on to work with multiple other organisations. But, in general, beyond the ones you worked at, are there any particular organisations that you admire for their culture?
British Petroleum for sure. The organisation has zero tolerance for any deviations from the policies it has. They treat their people very well. If anything is wrong, you have to report everything and then explain it all. At the same time, they value you – the employees. Talking about incidences, I have one incident. The deck officer went inside the tank and he slipped and got burnt. Even at the time being Junior officer I managed a lot of things like getting the right authorities, setting up the hospital transport and more.
Q6. Coming back to i2i Funding, what has been your talent acquisition strategy to get the brightest talent to your company?
Q7. But regardless of whether you hire someone via reference or via other channels, is there any particular trait you look for in a candidate irrespective of the job description?
The most important trait in a candidate must be the desire to do something new. The candidate also needs to have some kind of technical and business knowledge of the field, as well as the drive to make progress. Having some technical knowledge is, of course, imporant, as you will not have ready-made resources available at startups. But drive and desire are the most important characteristics. We may hire people with a lot of experience, but if they do not have the drive then they are not a valuable asset.
Q8. What are your thoughts on automation being encouraged across the industry? Will companies, including startups, reduce their hiring intake?
Q9. Speaking of the future, what are some of the things that you look forward to in the future for your company?
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