Hiring a customer as my Co Founder

When Ambareesh and I signed our first BTM property about 2.3 years ago, it was a big investment for us; there were several uncertainties as we had spent large amounts of money towards deposits and furnishing the house.

The house was booked by three guys referred by an existing customer. The first occupant— Mayank — wanted to move in first. On the day of moving in I made him wait for 30 minutes that it took me to get to the location, and while helping him move in, we started talking about marketing, websites; he had just started working at Practo straight out of his MBA. His enthusiasm was hard to miss.

Mayank Pokharna, Ambareesha Athikunte, Subbu Athikunte

SimplyGuest’s involvement with any property is relatively higher when it is new, and so Ambareesh and I were residing in a flat in the same building. In those early days, I was still struggling with sales channels. While some channels worked, some didn’t— sales efforts, unlike most other tasks, requires a certain cadence and I hadn’t found my rhythm yet. The nature of the work meant that I was also being pulled in a hundred different directions simultaneously. It was around this time that Mayank offered to help out with the digital marketing and SEO aspects. I am usually wary of unsolicited help, but Mayank surprised me within two days with an SEO study and an action plan for SimplyGuest; it would soon prove to be a great start for us.

Over the next two years, Mayank continued to help us with digital marketing, process improvements and referrals without expecting any money in return. The URL structure that you see on SimplyGuest.com has been designed by him. He started experimenting with online ads, different landing pages, and with different targeting than the ones I was using. Facebook and Google ads work differently, and you need to know how to make them work; otherwise you will be spending without useful results.

Mayank Pokharna, Ambareesha Athikunte, Subbu Athikunte

It is rare to find deep knowledge and relentlessness together in a person, and it is this nature of Mayank coupled with his willingness to experiment with and improve upon any newfound information that has pleasantly surprised me; even if something seems out of place in his schemes, he will always have a plan for it.

Until now, Ambareesh and I have always done literally everything by ourselves without hiring anybody new and have discontinued working with any vendor or contract worker even in case of minor issues. As we continued developing the company together, however, it became clear to me that Mayank was someone I wanted to work with; his values and thinking process were aligned with mine. One day — I can’t recall when — he asked if he could join us full-time, and I liked the idea. 2 years and 3 months after he first moved in, Mayank is today our 4th oldest customer. He has been a vocal proponent of SimplyGuest and has referred several of his colleagues and friends to us.

If something has stood out over the last two-and-a-half years, it is a certain angst that I tend to feel almost every half hour. Angst can sometimes be a good thing, as it keeps you on your toes constantly, but to be surrounded by it continuously is not a great feeling, and it is for this reason that we have decided to get Mayank on-board as a co-founder — because he doesn’t seem to be weighed down by angst in the same way. We are certain that he is going to be as invested in SimplyGuest as we are.