Saptarshi Nath is the co-founder and CEO of Airboxr, a no-code query and enrichment tool for business users.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in Management Consulting in 2005, so I’m older than most tech entrepreneurs today. I quit consulting to start my first company with a colleague: a re-commerce marketplace that worked with large e-commerce companies and retailers to manage and liquidate their customer returns.
Then I moved to Singapore as an EIR with Entrepreneur First, where I advised deep-tech founders in their earliest stages of company-building.
I co-founded Airboxr in 2020 with my co-founder Shubham Kaushal, to help non-technical business leaders leverage data for decision-making without learning a new technology or language.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I spend most of my time on growth and product. But we are hiring for multiple roles currently—so I’m spending a lot of time speaking to amazing people.
On a typical day, I wake up late and get emails out of the way. We had a few new team members join us recently, so I spent some time onboarding and helping them prioritize for the week.
This is usually followed by some time on product: usually speaking to customers, getting feedback, prioritising, and adding to our upcoming sprints. I set aside down-time on my calendar for working on data, workflows, UX design, and marketing for each day of the week: so every day doesn’t look quite the same.
A couple of evenings a week, I catch up with our team in the U.S and about thrice a week, I use an hour after dinner to catch up with users from the U.S. and Canada.
I’m trying to catch up on exercise with a short run in the evenings.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Airboxr is a completely remote team. We have team members in Singapore, India, Nepal, and the U.S. We don’t monitor time spent and only hold ourselves accountable to our timelines. This has worked well for us so far. We use Slack extensively to ensure that others in the team know when we are available and when not.
Being remote has had the most impact on our recruiting process. Apart from skill-sets, we pay close attention to how well candidates can communicate their thinking over calls or e-mail, and work alongside other remote team members.
During the interviewing process, we ask candidates to set their own timelines for hiring exercises and see if they are able to meet them. This is a work in progress obviously, and we will refine that over time.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
As a founder one often tends to overlook personal life: you are constantly learning, fire-fighting, hiring, or fundraising. I am trying to be better at managing home and health, alongside work.
We are starting to get more realistic about our weekly work goals too—most importantly, we’ve broken up research and execution stages in our sprints because only after in-depth research can we accurately estimate the time required for execution.
At a personal level, I have earmarked times in my calendar for an evening run and catching up with my wife (it’s a long story, but—due to travel restrictions—we have been in different countries for the last nine months). We now have a pet who keeps us distracted. I try to protect my weekends as much as I can.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I had just started to build a regular routine that involved swimming and cycling, when I had to rush to India nine months ago. Now, I’m trying to get back into running and eating healthy.
Like everyone else, we had also stopped travelling. We hope to change that in the near future.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is one of my all-time favourites. Among podcasts, I like Invest like the Best, The SaaS Podcast, and Startup Therapy. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, but the one I read most regularly is from Openview Partners.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My Macbook and iPhone, like most other entrepreneurs.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I really wonder how some founders run three companies at the same time and if they have any work-life balance. If they do, I’d love to read about how they do it.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The startup community has an unhealthy obsession with hustle and working crazy hours. I no longer subscribe to that school of thought. Being overworked as a founder or startup employee is neither a badge of honor, nor a right of passage. Your startup or career has a higher chance of working out if you manage to live a healthy life while building it.
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