Rishi Arora is one of the first employees to join Grofers, and has seen the company grow over the past two years. Here’s what Rishi has to say about his initial days at Grofers.
Well, yes. That’s how it started, but let’s back up a little bit. During early July 2014, I was looking to speak to someone to validate my startup idea and my brother introduced me to Albi. I finally went to Albi and Saurabh (co-founders of Grofers) to discuss my idea and that is when they told me that Grofers is trying to solve a similar problem. So there I was, hoping to validate my idea, and I ended up believing in the idea in their heads.
I had several friends working in startups and their working hours and attitude always intrigued me. The 16-hours-a-day function-agnostic job, and the spirit of doing everything it takes to get things done – all this seemed very exciting. Well, the grass is always greener on the other side. So I ended up taking up this job at 1/10th the salary I earned, and relocated to Gurgaon after more than 5 years in the US and Spain. I have no idea why I said yes that day. Maybe, I was simply enamoured by the startup dream.
Whatever it was, I was in for a rude awakening. I saw the office space – it was 100 sq. ft. in all, with a single table and some delivery bags lying around. There were also 8 delivery boys and 2 station managers inside the room. Albi asked me to get a few racks from the local market for our ‘office’ at the cost of Rs 1000 per rack. I left office to buy the racks.
Throughout the journey, I was plagued by thoughts such as: ‘Is this really what startups are like? Is this what I am supposed to do, after spending all my working life in air-conditioned offices? Is there no one else who could do this in Grofers? Surely, I am worth much more. However, slowly the negativity gave way to exhilaration. It felt like I was buying stuff for my own house. I wanted to get the cheapest deal, the best deal! I negotiated with the storekeeper till he gave me the most insane discounts and promised to deliver the racks the very next day – three days before the date that Saurabh and Albi had in their mind.
Next day when the racks came, I wanted to put them inside the office. So, obviously I called up the delivery boys and the station managers to help. However they all had ‘urgent’ deliveries to do because well, who wants to lift heavy racks at 2 pm in a hot July month in Gurgaon? So, I did it myself. It took me 8 rounds to do it, and by the end, my T shirt was drenched with sweat. Suddenly, I saw Saurabh and Albi laughing in front of me. I was a little confused, until they told me that this was just a test to find out if I could really take the ‘heat’ of the startup life, and to check my commitment.
I can now say that it was definitely the easiest interview of my life that landed me the toughest job ever.