StartupTalky is one of the strongest community in India and we have a lot of professionals who are doing great in their lives. To share their learnings and inspire as many people as we can, we are interviewing all the StartupTalkers in our "Know the StartupTalker" series.
Today, we have Mr Sainath Maharatta as our interviewee. Sainath Maharatta is the founder of StrongHumanNetwork. You will learn a lot from this story of Sainath Maharatta in his own words.
Who Are You?
I am a millennial kid born in 1990 in Hyderabad. My schooling and college and 1st 2 years of my professional experience have been in and around Hyderabad. I have graduated in computer science. I was preparing to pursue MBA since my college days. Later I worked with an IT company and then became a probationary officer in state bank group. While I was working as a probationary officer in the state bank, I got admission into IIM Calcutta.
I Interned in a sales & marketing role in a Startup and FMCG environment in Mumbai. Later I was hired as a manager reporting to the founding team at stayzilla.com ( which was a direct competitor to OYO while I was working). After a year stint at stayzilla, I moved to Hyderabad in a sales role at Paytm.
I was responsible for building the distribution network of Paytm in AP and Telangana upcountry and was at the helm of things during demonetization. I got an opportunity to see and work on things on the ground during demonetisation. I saw how the whole country, administration and private sector players like Paytm were mobilized and worked during this time which gave me a hope that anything can be changed if we know how to do it.
How did you come up with the name of your Startup?
I was working with a lot of youngsters during this time and was very successful in my work. During this time I went through a deep introspection phase where I recognised the core qualities in me which were making me successful across all the aspects of my life. One day I wrote all these qualities on a board – confidence, self-awareness, fair world exposure, willingness to work on myself, chasing excellence. When I thought of an adjective which I would like to identify with, “Strong” came to my mind. That was a key moment in my life where I discovered the StrongHuman Framework.
What did you do just after getting the idea?
During my discussions with friends, I found that this framework can be a universal formula which can help anyone to improve their lives. Also because of my business and startup background, I could see that a profitable organisation can be built around this concept and hence StrongHumanNetwork was born.
In the last 2 years, we have taken SHN’s concept to thousands of people across the globe and it was received with open arms and warmth across. People were inspired by this idea and a lot of people invested in this idea. Till date, people have invested more than 60 lakhs (Excluding my investment) into this project.
As we are a sustainable profitable organisation, our main aim from the inception was to find out the right product-market fit. During this process, we did a lot of product-market trails through an offline sales team-driven model, college workshop, corporate training models and finally found our product-market fit through the digital lifestyle membership model executed through a 5-level structure which is open for individuals across the globe.
As of now, we have 100 paid members spread across the globe who come from very highly acclaimed educational & professional backgrounds. Most of our members have a Postgraduate degree from reputed colleges and have management experience. Many of them are located in countries like USA and Australia apart from India. We are currently offering lifestyle memberships to select professionals, senior professionals, Life coaches and world-renowned leadership experts at Level 3,4 & 5.
To become a lifestyle member, one has to accomplish the StrongHuman Challenge – a 21 day paid self-awareness challenge.
One can register themselves on www.shn.life in the suitable category, we will review their profile and if they are eligible they would be invited to take the StrongHuman Challenge.
What is Your Typical Day Like?
I generally start my day with meditation, walk in nature followed by listening to Carnatic music. Then I read the regular newspaper and economic times to stay up to date with current happenings. My work starts with talking to highly accomplished individuals through networks like LinkedIn where I bounce ideas and perspectives and identify the right individuals to join SHN.
As an entrepreneur, I deal with uncertainty on a day to day basis and I need to be aware of the situation and not let the situation control me. Whenever I feel overpowered by situations, I go to meditation or listen to inspiring talks by Sadhguru, J Krishnamurthi, Tom Bilyeu, Gary Vaynerchuk etc.
What are your job responsibilities and how they have changed over time?
Post-MBA, my primary job has been problem-solving through planning, execution and people management. Before my startup journey, I was solving problems in a controlled environment of the company. Now as a startup, it is like transitioning from a man-made park into a forest – the real world. Now I solve things in the real world. When you are facing the real-world you need much more awareness to understand the situation and do the right thing.
In a corporate environment, you have a certain power which comes through the position you are placed in the organisation and you need to act according to that and people’s behaviour is also shaped by your position of power.
As an entrepreneur in real-world, your designation has no values unless backed by legible, constructive behaviour and results. Everyone around you behaves the way they want and it is your job to carefully analyse people and situations and do your best.
A startup goes through different phases, such as zero to one phase, 1 to 10 phase, 10 to 100 phase and so on. You need a different skillset at each level. Zero to 1 phase is the toughest which builds you as a person and lays the foundation. 9/10 entrepreneurs don’t make beyond this phase due to multiple reasons, but a major reason is a lack of adequate self-awareness and awareness of people and the world around. Some times you learn it the hard way and luck also plays a role in this journey.
Any Struggle/Challenges you have faced in your professional/ startup life and how did you overcome it?
When we were at the inception stage of SHN, I tried to move as fast as possible with the given resources and people. Also, I believed that you can motivate anyone to be the best version. Later I came across situations which made me understand that there needs to be an innate willingness from the person, without which nothing can be done. Some times when someone has already come to certain conclusions, things won’t move despite your best efforts and intentions.
I understood that team building needs a lot of judgement and forming the right team is also a time taking process as we have to nurture the relationships and trust.
What are Your Superpowers?
Self-awareness is my superpower. Over the last 2 years, this has improved more. I can see situations just the way they are and this gives me an immense power to handle it the way I want to.
World-exposure is also a big strength. I love to read and consume content from very different subjects starting from business, international & national politics, spirituality, history, artificial intelligence and other technologies. This helps me in connecting the dots – a very important skill in the current situation.
Another important skill I have is problem-solving. I can analyse any kind of problem and can say what kind of solution is required and come up with probable ways to solve it.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
YouTube & LinkedIn are 2 of the most important tools I would recommend. YouTube has a lot of thought-provoking content which can blow your mind. You need to tap into the right channels. LinkedIn is a very important tool for anyone who wants to grow professionally. It allows you to participate in sensible, thought to provoke discussions and develop the right professional network,
Who or what has shaped who you are?
If I have to speak of personalities who inspired me and keep inspiring me, I would say as a child, APJ Abdul kalam inspired me a lot. His book "Wings of Fire" was the 1st book where I learned about leadership. Also a lot of contemporary personalities who have worked through the tough times to success such as our PM Modi, K Chandrashekar Rao, who lead a long Telangana movement to become the current CM of Telangana inspire me.
Any hack/ learning which make your professional life easy/productive?
Put your ego aside and start thinking from the opposite person’s point of view. This will give you solutions to most of your problems and expedite things.
What’s your workspace setup like?
It consists of visuals which inspire me and a board where I write the most important thoughts which drive me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Or a quote that inspires you the most?
A quote which I read during the initial phases of SHN –
I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody
What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?
I am deeply researching on yoga, consciousness and future of humanity through the content of people like Deepak Chopra, J Krishnamurti and Yuval Noah Harari
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
I love using boards. Whenever I have a lot of things to do, I write them on a board and prioritize and get it done.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I would not do anything different as I believe I got the perfect launchpad for what I am currently doing
Anything else you would like to share?
StrongHumanNetwork is a lifestyle concept and a global network of individuals focused on personal growth. It helps individuals transform their career, relationships, health & fitness through StrongHuman Lifestyle which enhances one’s confidence, self-awareness, emotional intelligence and world exposure. SHN offers lifestyle membership to individuals who accomplish the StrongHuman Challenge.