In a podcast with Vishal Krishna on UpStreamLife Media Pvt. Ltd, Founder & Group CEO, Roopa Kumar talks about Purple Quarter’s niche business model and women in tech. She also discusses other pressing issues in the startup ecosystem.
Ingraining mythology in tech hiring
Back in 2017, we noticed that tech leaders were coming down to India and stayed on for less than a year which led to a notion that India was at that time not ready for tech. We at Purple Quarter decided to do a case study to figure out the cause of the issue. After surveying and conducting 200+ tech-leader interviews, we figured that there are over 83 parameters to look at while locating the right leader fit. Inspired by mythology and after considerable brainstorming, we decided to put the leaders into three different cohorts.
The first cohort is Brahma, the Creator. These types of leaders come into a company with a product market idea but want to take the business to a Product Market-Fit technology. Brahma technologist is a founder who can survive in this ecosystem and build a company from the ground up. They bring in talent and help the company grow to a million-dollar company.
The second cohort is Vishnu, the Nurturer. Companies that are already million dollars but aim to become billion-dollar companies require a Nurturer. A technologist who can empower the company at this stage to become a billion-dollar organization with ease is essentially a Vishnu technologist.
The third cohort is Shiva, the Reconstructor. In a billion-dollar company, this technologist is the innovator, thinking of new product lines, he opens avenues for new lines of business while shutting down the ones that are not functional. A reconstructor helps turn a billion-dollar company into a multi-billion-dollar organization.
Placing these leaders into the three different perspectives made it easy to identify and categorize tech leaders. As a value-led business, Purple Quarter takes ownership of the company along with the candidate’s success. We were the first search firms in India to offer a one-year CTO warranty because we are certain that the person will stay longer than a year.
We realized that search is like the fast food industry. Once we close a role, people forget Purple Quarter and move on to “what next”. Hence, we also needed to move from one celebration of success to the next search. We could not forever bask in our past glory, we had to move forward. We quickly realized that arrogance is not going to get us anywhere because it did take the company downwards for a short period. Luckily, an organization has financials to tell you what is happening with the company.
Money does not change you, money just makes you more of who you are.
Purple Quarter’s DNA is to never give up; we will not be apologetic or embarrassed. As a company, you will always go through ups and downs but we collectively look at it as learning. It is important to us at Purple Quarter to understand the business than the role. With almost six years in the industry, we deal with a lot of domains and understand most of them in and out. When we go meet a founder, we are at par with them and ask them specific questions about their business model, which leaves less room for long discussions on why they need a CTO. Using that premise, we can figure out if they need a CTO, a Head of Engineering or a Vice President of Engineering, or any other role that fits their tech team.
Gender disparity in tech, CTO Circle and navigating through turbulent times
Female CEOs are not taken seriously even in the US, so it’s not just a glass ceiling to break in India. Only 2% of our audience is female, it all has to do with conditioning at home. Even internally, at certain points, when men have to report to me, I sometimes find them to be a little stiff. At the end of the day, multiple things can have a bearing on a person. As a lady, I am expected to be nice, sweet, and submissive, so if I am firm, it gets misconstrued as being rude. I don’t think society has changed all that much, and at certain times I am perturbed. But I am hopeful that Gen Z will bring a change and we’ll get to see a lot more diversity in terms of technologists in the next decade.
The difference between founders in India and founders in the Bay Area is that the latter talk to each other, even if they are in a similar domain. They share their rights and wrongs so that it’s easier to correct course from time to time. But in India, we are insecure about sharing information amongst our domains. Purple Quarter is trying to curb that gap with its flagship event – CTO Circle, a community for technologists. We’ve invited a select set of CTOs from industries to come and be a part of an all-tech group. It is a closed-door community where Purple Quarter takes ownership of setting up the event and bringing these people together under one roof.
In my opinion, founders must continue to learn, and my learning lunches with founders allow me to apply what I’ve learned at Purple Quarter. Having a mentor is highly important because you may fall in love with your idea but that idea may not be the right one to execute at that time. Clarity is what takes a company forward. Purple Quarter is grateful for the first set of clients who put their faith in us. Some of these founders have been kind to us and that’s why we are here today.
COVID did change a lot for Purple Quarter. In the first three months, our positions went on hold and the revenue suffered. But regardless of market turbulence, COVID, or recession, companies can’t stop hiring the key roles. Some of those key roles are in technology because most companies are moving from offline to online, a shift that we witnessed within a quarter. That is how we were able to evolve.
2023 is going to be super exciting for Purple Quarter. We have been selected for the Stanford Transformation Program which will help us steer the course for the next three years. We aim to become an 87.5 million USD company by 2025. Another step that we wish to take is to build a tech product.
Watch the entire podcast, here: