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Balancing the Grind with Gaurav Bubna, Co-Founder at NextBillion.ai

Gaurav Bubna is the co-founder at NextBillion.ai, a Singapore-based company building the spatial infrastructure needed for enabling location based experiences globally.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My background is primarily around working on big data/machine learning type products, almost since the very beginning of my career. First, as a data scientist, then a product manager, and now the founder of an enterprise AI startup building maps for customers across the world. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I am not much of a morning person, so a typical day might begin at 9 am for me. I usually attempt to keep my morning meetings free till 11 am or so, so I can process email, finish any pending tasks, write short documents or emails. 

Afternoons will then usually be internal team meetings around internal updates, projects we’re working on at the time, and maybe some customer calls in the Asia time zone.

I usually work from home, and usually am fairly productive around the time, so I might eat lunch at my desk. I subscribe to a meal delivery service, so I don’t have to focus too much on it. 

Evenings are then relatively unstructured. Sometimes there might be customer calls with Europe / Asia based customers. Maybe I work on some project/work I need to deliver personally. I also usually try to take an hour break sometime around this time to give my brain a bit of a break and also recharge for night calls. 

Late evenings are usually calls again with our US team, and likely customer calls with European / US customers. I usually then take an hour and a half break around 730 or 8 pm to prepare and eat dinner with my wife. There will often be at least one more customer call before I go to bed. I typically finish my day at 11 pm

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

We’re a globally distributed company and were largely remote-first from the very beginning, which is right before COVID. I find remote work to have its pros and cons.

On one hand, it’s very easy to get sucked into working non stop because boundaries between work and home disappear. But it also gives you the flexibility to, say, attend to some chores in the middle of the workday, which wouldn’t be possible otherwise. So it’s a balance

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I feel with remote work, boundaries between “work” and “life” have blurred quite a bit. For me, work-life balance is about managing your time so that you can continue to work but do so in a way that you are able to provide sufficient attention and focus to all the non-work elements of your life. 

For instance, I try my best to not do too much work on the weekends, block out time to go to the gym, block time to cook which is something my wife and I both enjoy doing. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

With sitting at a desk all day, the hustle and bustle of startup life, and with changing COVID restrictions, I had developed unhealthy food and exercise habits.

I have tried to be a lot more disciplined about this recently to make sure I block some time for exercise, consciously focus on having healthier food, and building routines that allow me to do these things without too much active effort. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I find Masters of SaaS by our investors Lightspeed very interesting where they bring top SaaS founders from across the globe to share their experiences. There are a few other entrepreneur-focused podcasts that I listen to every once in a while like B2B Category Creators.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My life as of today revolves massively around all things communication. So I am on email apps, messaging apps, and work chat apps all the time! 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

There was an interview by Noam Bardin (CEO of Waze) on Why he left Google, where he shared his views on a variety of topics, including work-life balance. I found that very relevant, especially as it pertains to startup founders. 

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think in this age where a lot of people are increasingly working remotely, it’s easy to get sucked into working all the time, never taking a break, and developing unhealthy habits. I often fall prey to this also, but I think being able to manage this is going to be extremely important for a lot of us in the coming years.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.