What redBus gets right that your startup doesn’t? (published for Linkedin)


I am in love with redBus. There. I said it. I love redBus not only because they’ve built a fantastic product solving uniquely Indian problems, but also because the approach they’ve taken to build the company offers multiple insights for a range of startups globally. Here’s what redBus got right and most startups don’t:

Culture is everything

Founders at redBus had a relentless focus on building the right culture and office environment. They formulated, and adhered to, a strict ‘no-bribe’ policy ensuring that their accounting books were always robust. They also discouraged unparliamentary language in office, considered common at the time in the sales function at other companies. This helped them position themselves as a unique startup, and in turn, attract the right talent.

Most of the problems related to pre-mature scaling that plague the current breed of startups can be traced back to lack of time and investments in building the right culture.

Practical tip: You must have an uncompromising attitude toward your organization’s cultural values.

Learn insights from Aftab Malhotra, Co-Founder and Chief Growth & Strategy Officer at GrowthEnabler about how culture can attract great talent.

Build a hawk-like focus

At redBus, despite convincing temptations to get into travel and hotel bookings, and to expand to other geographies, the management decided to focus on what they are good at – bus bookings in India – and to do it better than anyone else. This helped them carve out a niche for themselves and create a superior product.

Most entrepreneurs profess that speed equals execution. Far from it. In an attempt to scale quickly, many startups lose sight of their core value proposition.

Practical tip: You should focus on what you are good at, rather than obsess about what you lack.

Watch Rajeev Banduni, Co-Founder and CEO at GrowthEnabler share his rules about how to build amazing products.

Access Right Advisors

The management at redBus was very strategic in getting the right mentors on board at the right time. They displayed humility and sound judgment while incorporating the advice to their business. This helped them avoid competitive price wars, and continue focus on building a sustainable business.

Practical tip: You should understand that you require different mentors for different stages of your business. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to obtain right growth coaching for your business.

Don’t marry your startup

The team at redBus realized that they lacked the skills, and most importantly the mindset, to grow their business to the next level. Thus, they sold the company. It takes maturity and a servant-leader attitude toward business to take such a call. The decision allowed profitable exit to stakeholders, and catapulted the firm into a new orbit to chart a higher trajectory of sustainable growth globally in the long term.

Practical tip: Remember, startup is always bigger than the entrepreneur.  It is easy to get emotionally attached to your startup. However, as entrepreneurs you should consider the value that your company creates for such stakeholders as investors, customers, and society at large.

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© 2020 by Rishabh Jhol