Sumit Madan started his first remote business in 2013 where he wore multiple hats as a remote entrepreneur. This led to a successful exit where he sold his product to portfolio managers. He’s also a full-time father, husband, and Calisthenics enthusiast which keeps him busy at all times. He also volunteers as an advisor for pre-seed MedTech companies about strategy and technology so that they can raise their seed rounds successfully.
- Hi Sumit! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I am an accidental Product leader in the software space who started out in Wireless Algorithm design only to fall in love with software while working at Adobe. I have been fortunate to provide valuable solutions to business problems in media, workforce management, asset management, data analytics and now in the Insurance space using digital transformation as the backdrop. Being a full-time father, husband, and Calisthenics enthusiast keeps me busy at all times and I have to be meticulous about sectioning the day and week.
Along with leading everything Product at Finaeo, I also try to put some time into volunteering as an advisor for GBeta which is part of a tech accelerator in the US. I advise pre-seed MedTech companies about strategy and technology so that they can raise their seed rounds successfully. On the side I enjoy training fitness coaches on how to get their clients healthy without any long-lasting injury and am very fond of playing basketball as well as all types of racquet sports.
- What kind of remote business do/did you have?
I first started working from home at Lusight Research Inc where we were building a digital equity research platform for valuing Emerging markets. After the financial crisis we downsized and moved home to save on office rental costs. That was 2011 and we all developed some great habits. Daily timed standups that started at 15 past 9 so parents could drop kids off to school and make it in time. Sticking to our release schedules for sprints, meeting for weekly or bi-weekly activities, making sure we used at least 10% of each meeting catching up personally, and being extra forthcoming about the future direction of the company.
I started a Fintech firm in 2013, Argive Inc, centered around an asset management platform, custom-built to analyze large medical datasets received on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis to better project revenues for pharmaceutical companies. It expanded to a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative research tool which allowed generation of real-time aggregate fair values for equities while incorporating company guidance, doctor notes, and market-based projections. Over the span of six years I wore multiple hats including chief data scientist, U/X designer, product & project manager, automated test engineer, client relationship manager, business analyst, and account lead. All this has culminated in a successful exit with a product sold to portfolio managers.
- How would you describe your remote business experience so far?
I had a great experience overall but the learnings were serendipitous. The flexibility of being able to manage workloads during productive hours in the day allowed for a new level of accomplishment. I found that I could get chores done at home while having meetings and running automated builds or scripts. While focused at work I would not be distracted by the happenings in an open floor plan office (as are too common now).
I could also be around to help when needed by my family, be it volunteering at the kids’ school or help out in the community with neighbors. Luckily I live downtown in a dense neighborhood so socially I was never left wanting and being a young father I got to really spend quality time with my children during my busiest work years. I finished an Executive MBA from Cornell (US) and Queens (Kingston) while running Argive and made time to lose 45 pounds. The context switching is fast and frequent from home to work to back but every break is a chance to subconsciously solve problems and take a mental rest.
- What is the most important skill a remote business entrepreneur needs?
Discipline around time management is essential to get the most out of one’s day and drive towards intended outcomes. Discipline requires consistency for oneself and everyone else affected by their schedule. Set clear boundaries around time and make sure to track mistakes. Learning and improving comes from recording what is working and what is not. As an example of consistency, during my MBA I had every hour allocated in the day to be able to continue spending time with my family, run the business and be able to study. I continued to study 3 hours every night regardless of whether I was on vacation or on a work trip.
- What is the biggest success you’ve achieved with your remote business?
The ability to have autonomy over my day. I was able to chunk out sections of the day according to tangible priorities. While the context switch between tasks was fast and furious – Client meetings would end with me volunteering at the kids’ school, followed by stand-ups while making lunch – I never slipped on a deadline. Autonomy results in accountability and is a key motivator in a smart working economy.
As an objective measure of tangible success, I was able to provide value to our Argive clients every week, driving stickiness of our product and finally being able to sell it profitably after 6 years of providing gainful employment to my teammates. No one got burned out, everyone improved their skills and went on to bigger and better things and we all stayed happy colleagues and friends.
- What is your biggest challenge as a remote business entrepreneur, and how do you overcome it?
“When you work from home, you end up sleeping in your office.”
The hardest thing was being able to switch off. While having control is great it does tend to lead one to get sucked into work. Just one more email to answer, another bit of code to debug, 2 more user flows, etc. Pick your choice. It is hard to turn off and you can get ideas at night that you want to work on. I am guilty of doing that way too often. I also had to wake up every Friday at 5:30 am to upload a data file before markets opened no matter where I was in the world. I did this once while recovering from surgery in India at the start of 2014 and many times while on vacation. Even my kids were used to it. My office moved with me and the family liked it but also got sick of it.
- Can you share some best practices/strategies behind the success of your business that could help other entrepreneurs?
There are some obvious ones:
– Empathy: Always make sure you can put yourself in your colleague’s shoes. If you cannot, trust them and remember you are dealing with adults.
– Micromanaging is a STRICT no. That will only lead to employee churn and people who can never make decisions leading you to doing everything.
– Communication is key. But constant Slack messages or needing people to always be responsible is counter-productive
– Have pre-set meeting times that everyone can easily make, with Video not being a must. Let the junior people get together and select a time that works for them so that you have more buy-in and better attendance.
– Always have some banter to start off the day or a meeting. That helps set a good tone once the work chatter begins as it shows that people are human first, employees second. It lets good and bad things get out of the way and forms better bonds. When the work chat starts, now everyone will move into a fresh compartment to get ready for the day.
- Anything else you like to share?
We are all humans and must relate to each other and connect on a personal level. If that is the undercurrent to all interactions, especially during the crazy times we are living in now, there will be a natural shock absorber built in to get through the adverse parts.
- Where can people find and reach you?– www.sumitmadan.com has a contact form to get in touch with me
– Reach out to me on LinkedIn. I always respond.
– Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Instagram @dadswithabs
– In a park on some pull up bars
– Dancing at a club on Saturday nights
– At a product leaders meetup on a Tuesday night.
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