Never compromise on your everyday routines.” Earlier, I used to get lost in solving a problem. I’d put everything else on hold, lock myself up and emerge only when I’ve solved the problem satisfactorily. However, I realized that while the problem was solved it wasn’t a sustainable action. It was still relatively okay to do that while I was much younger but I’ve come to realize the importance of demarcating personal from professional, to really succeed professionally.
Startups have such a glamorous reputation. Companies like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Uber, and Airbnb once started as scrappy startups with huge dreams and huge obstacles.
Yet we of course know that most startups don’t end up as success stories. What does a founder or a founding team need to know to create a highly successful startup?
In this series, called “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup” we are talking to experienced and successful founders and business leaders who can share stories from their experience about what it takes to create a highly successful startup.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Shubham A. Mishra.
Shubham A. Mishra is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pyxis One and is an entrepreneur with a focus on solving problems to make a difference. He has deep interest in product psychology, neuromarketing, aesthetics and game design. Prior to founding Pyxis One, he was also the co-founder of Absentia Virtual Reality which focused on building a disruptive tech stack for game developers enabling a faster go-to market. The platform enabled over 10 million in-game asset generation via AI stack.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure to chat with you!
I don’t know if I have a backstory that actually qualifies as a “backstory”. I was always that guy who took everything apart to see what’s on the inside. And then hated putting it back together again because I could always spot 10 different ways in which it could have been built better. And I carry that with me to date. I saw how the world was building products for marketing efficiency and I narrowed in on many ways it could be done with Artificial Intelligence. And, honestly, that’s how Pyxis One was born.
For me, it has always been about digging deep to get to the root, and with AI the roots are endless. So potential and possibilities are endless.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
It’s honestly extremely difficult to pick out one instance. There have been so many funny, interesting, blasphemous and sometimes downright ridiculous moments.
Off the top of my head, I remember once, I was sitting with my co-founders Hari — brilliant at biz dev, — and Vrushali — one of the best in tech — in our India office. The whole team had just moved into a bigger office space and tensions were running high on the workfloor — what with moving amidst a pandemic and all. We were glued to our laptops in silence when Hari suddenly went, “hmm interesting, and then just started laughing.”
So what happened was, utterly frustrated with the moving, Hari had decided to give himself a break and quantify the contribution of some of the interns who had walked past the room we were in. Turns out, the group of 4 interns had collectively contributed towards 20% of our product completion efforts in just 2 weeks.
We immediately gave them a raise and a place at Pyxis One permanently should they like to return after college. Today, we have all 4 of them back with us, handling important product pieces! This has further led to a really robust internship program at Pyxis One.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Two things. One — without a doubt, our AI systems. The Pyxis One suite of products have the strongest Artificial Intelligence algorithms at their very core. And how does that stand out? Because we offer a codeless AI ecosystem to our customers. So we have complex AI models and algorithms doing all the heavy-lifting to make the product absolutely indispensable for our customers. And our customers, on their part, can plug and play without having to worry about writing code or hiring specialized experts to handle our tech for them.
Two — the team behind Pyxis One. All our employees. Honestly, it surprises me everyday how driven and given to the mission the entire team is! There was this one time, we were rolling out a game-changing feature — something that no one has ever done before. So I needed everything to be perfect. After spending long tiring hours on one particular problem, we were all so frustrated that I just said “forget it, let’s run with what we have. It’s good.” and I left the room really disappointed.
The next day, I had a day-long meeting. When I got back from it, I saw the team grinning at me from behind the glass doors of our conference room. I went in there, and there it was. The problem, solved. The team did not want to compromise, and had taken it upon themselves to fix it, and fix it they did! That was a great moment. Every team surprises me constantly, and I love that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There’s actually been a whole volley of people who have made it possible for us to be where we are today. Right from our early investors, and early customers who were quite generous with their constructive criticism! They have truly been instrumental in helping us find and fix product problems. In fact, it’s a testament to us and our product that our first customer is still one of our customers today!
I am always personally interested in how our customers’ AI investments are doing for them. So it gives me great pleasure to get into the nitty-gritties of their ROI from our products, with them. It’s good product research, customer relationship maintenance, and AI research all rolled into one.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I know what it feels like to be stuck doing something you’re not particularly fond of, or even inclined towards. The reasons for it could be many; lack of resources to start anew, too late to begin afresh, fear of starting over, and so on. However, I believe if there’s something you’re passionate about, it’s worth giving it an honest try. So every year, I make it a point to identify and personally invest in people in such situations. I never accept anything in return. But it feels good just knowing that there are that many more people out there doing what they love, and giving it their all to projects they truly believe in.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why.
Only 5? Haha, okay let’s see.
“It’s important to have nay-sayers.” This can seem like a no-brainer when you read it. However, as a young entrepreneur starting-up in college, having a lot of nay-sayers can seem daunting. It takes a certain kind of mettle to weaponize the nay-saying into motivation to achieve what you set out to do. I think all entrepreneurs inherently are of this mettle, we just need to recognize it early on.
“Invest in people.” A lesson I learned early on but it would definitely have helped if I dove into entrepreneurship already equipped with this knowledge. It’s remarkable how much a person or team can accomplish when they know you’ve got their back no matter what. Placing your team in the driver’s seat can really turn things around for a business.
“It’s okay to slow down a bit.” I learned the importance of slowing down a bit, and to be okay with slowing down. Earlier, I used to get anxious and irate if I gave myself any downtime. But over time I’ve learned that slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean stopping, for me it just means pacing myself. And I find that when I do that, I’m able to do more and do things better.
“Note everything down, successes and failures.” I learned that it’s okay to have invested time and resources on a problem even if it fails because there’s a lesson right there. However, what’s important to do is to note everything that led to the end result. This will prove to be astoundingly helpful when you begin to scale rapidly. Processes and management becomes a hundred-fold easier if you already have benchmarks to refer to.
“Never compromise on your everyday routines.” Earlier, I used to get lost in solving a problem. I’d put everything else on hold, lock myself up and emerge only when I’ve solved the problem satisfactorily. However, I realized that while the problem was solved it wasn’t a sustainable action. It was still relatively okay to do that while I was much younger but I’ve come to realize the importance of demarcating personal from professional, to really succeed professionally.
We have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this.
Honestly, I think it would have to be the brain behind Google Brain — Andrew Ng. I’m currently knee deep in AI research. We’re constantly pushing the boundaries with the Pyxis One AI, and I’d love to grab a bite with Andrew Ng and pick his brain!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!