One size doesn’t fit all.
You may sometimes find uncommon personality traits or out-of-club interests in a leader which contradicts to the ready-made Chicken Soup sold in management schools about the concept of entrepreneurship and the qualities required for a successful leader. All the gospels about leaders being workaholic and blind to everything but their work gets shattered when you read the story of Yashish Dahiya, Policybazaar’s CEO and co-founder.
First his UNICORN Company
Policybazaar’s Insurance business earns revenue of around INR 6 to 7 billion with a profit of around 1 billion INR. They claim to be selling nearly 25 percent of India’s life insurance cover and has held over 7 percent of India’s retail health insurance business. Over 30 million unique visitors each year at their site who compare the best suited financial products for them and the sale of over 15,000 policies on a month.
PolicyBazaar is the second unicorn among fintech startups after Paytm. Being in the club of Unicorn companies is no small feat or measure. Only those companies in India whose valuation are above $ 1 billion are elite members of this group. Even this tag according to Dahiya is an undervaluation of his company who says that if his company goes public today, it will be valued around $ 1.8 billion. PoilcyBazaar recently raised $238 million In its recent funding round led by Tokyo-based tech and telecom behemoth SoftBank. Its others investors include Premji Invest, InfoEdge, Steadview Capital, Ribbit Capital, and Tiger Global Management.
PolicyBazaar was founded in 2008 by IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad alumni Yashish Dahiya, Alok Bansal and Avaneesh Nirjar. PolicyBazaar is an online platform which offers users in India to choose from market products available in life insurance and general insurance. PolicyBazaar features products from all major insurance companies in India, to help its users decide the policy which suits them the best. Policybazaar is a great platform that helps insurance customers to compare their options and make the best possible choice. Since its inception in 2008, the company has managed to become a market leader in its space despite the entry of other players like Amazon-backed Bankbazaar. Yashish Dahiya also runs PaisaBazaar, a marketplace for loans and credit cards.
Now the Boss, Yashish Dahiya
Dahiya is an electrical engineer from IIT Delhi followed by MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and another MBA from INSEAD. Before Policybazaar he was the CEO of insurance company First Europa and online travel platform ebookers.com, Dahiya handled multiple regions of the globe as CEO learning the tricks of the e retailing business. But these are not achievements Dahiya proudly talks about. Dahiya recalls that when he was at IIM Ahmedabad where most students dream and plan for campus recruitment and the mind-boggling pay packages by the Forture 500 companies they fight the move in future, “the most important thing for me was to win a cross-country competition. Even today after Policy bazaar success, when asked about my highest achievements in life, I say winning that cross country event.” For Dahiya, nothing else in IIM Ahmedabad was important— not the grades, not what job he would get.
In contrast to many of his fellows who delight the covers of start-ups and successful businesses and for whom working odd hours is something most entrepreneurs think as natural. Dahiya is the one who wakes up at odd hours to make sure he gets time to run and swim.
Forget about the 9-5 work routine, most CEO of big companies find even 24 hrs less for managing their work. Dahiya still finds time to train two hours every morning – cycling from Noida, where he stays, to Gurgaon, the company’s headquarters.
Dahiya’s day starts at 3.30 am to prepare for Ironman preparation workout. Dahiya is making for the Ironman challenge to be held in Kalmar, Sweden. He has already participated in three half, and two full races at the event in the past which included 11 hours and 39 minutes to finish the race swimming 3.86km, cycling 180km and running 42km. He says he can cycle for over a 100 km and run over 50 km at a stretch.
Amazed! That doesn’t seem like a person who founded and so brilliantly manages PolicyBazaar.
Philosophy towards team building
Dahiya realizes the power of sports when it comes to problem-solving, determination and persistent hard work out required to succeed in sports and equates the same traits needed in corporate set up. No wonder he loves to hire employees who are also good athletes. Jerry Bhutia, Associate Directors – Life Insurance Operations at PolicyBazaar is also a sports enthusiast. Head of administration like Dahiya was heavily into running and cycling. PolicyBazaar’s group, assistant vice president for communications, played Table Tennis at National level and for Leicestershire County in the UK.
“There are good reasons behind hiring people who have an athletic background. Athletes come ready-made with work ethics which is not possible just by training recruits on the job requirements. The athletes already have that dedication. Sports teaches you how to maintain determination and optimism in difficult times” adds Dahiya. Dahiya is the son of an Army man “Like a sportsman, for an entrepreneur, you have to prepare, act and stay on top of your game on a daily basis,”.
Energy and money is the same
Reading till now, I have also started agreeing with the logic in Dahiya’s commitment towards sports. He likes to conserve cash in business just as you save energy in sports for the final push. Wow! What an insight. Despite Policybazaar raising about USD 283 million, the company has remained a conservative cash company. Dahiya says that they have close to $330 million of the lying in our bank. PaisaBazaar is funded through the profits earned by PolicyBazaar. Dahiya proudly says he stayed with his parents. He drives an eight-year-old Volkswagen Vento. “I am happy with it. “
PolicyBazaar’s next cross country marathon- DocPrime
Docprime.com is the latest healthcare venture by Policybazaar Group. The technology platform, DocPrime will provide free medical advice and diagnosis by doctors across India. The platform will help users create appointments with these doctors. At the present stage, the venture is majorly telemedicine-based- setting up an appointment for customers through a close network of doctors and medical centers.
According to Dahiya,” Our objective is to have 100,000 people coming in on a daily basis. Out of which we hope that some of these people will also require transactional services, meeting a doctor or a diagnostic test”. DocPrime will offer to sign up for a monthly subscription where they could use certain services in a limited or unlimited fashion.
With $100 million earmarked for DocPrime for the next two years, a scale is the only thing in the mind of Dahiya at this stage. He admits there is competition arising but with such a huge population in India about to go online, it’s all about – Get. Set. Go. for the big game runners like him.