A fun chat with Kashyap Deorah

Holachef catches up with Kashyap Deorah for a fun interview. Kashyap is an entrepreneur, author and investor. He loves building global technology companies and providing commentary on the Indian startup ecosystem. He goes by the name @righthalf on Twitter.

1)      Tell us about your most favorite food and who’s most favorite chef?

“Ma ke haath ka khana” is undeniably the best. If I take that bias aside, I have to say that my mother-in-law is the best chef in the world. She is famous in both families for cooking up the perfect recipe regardless of the constraints.

2)      Share with us an interesting anecdote from your travels – something to do with food / culture / people.

My wife, Shruti, my son Kanav (then 2yrs old) and I took six months off inearly 2015 to travel the world together. Near Valparaiso in Chile, we did a home stay with a charming couple in the wine country. We picked the place because every last review about them was superlative, and soon we found out why. The couple took us around to tour the beautiful coastline, art deco district and wine country. Yet, the best part were the meals at home. They had their own orchard where they grew all fruits and vegetables. They did all the cooking together; all three meals of the day were made by them. Their selection of wine and coffee was heartfelt. Our relaxed conversations with them over those meals and about our lives connected us so much that we are still in touch. Kanav calls them Hector dada and Gloria dadi, and I recently congratulated them when Chile won Copa America against arch-rival Argentina.

Home-stay hosts in Chile, Hector and Gloria in Casablanca, Chile.

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3)      What inspired you to author your book, The Golden Tap? What’s the biggest challenge you faced while writing the book?

During the travels, I was constantly nagged by the sudden boom of startups in India. It should have all felt positive because the times I used to dream of when I started my first company in ’99 had finally arrived. Yet, I found myself nagged by something but could not tell what. As that story de-constructed in my head with a fortunate vantage point of being thousands of miles away from India, I thought I had a story to tell. And then the universe conspired. After moving back to India (we were living in Berkeley, California the previous year), Kapil from Roli Books called after reading a blog post I wrote. He asked if I would write a book on Indian startups. My reaction? “Funny you should ask!”

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The biggest challenge was the structure of the book in order to best deliver the story that I wanted to tell. I was able to get past that in the first month and then everything started flowing in the right direction. But I never imagined this was going to happen but look how it all worked out!

4)      You have been part of the Indian startup eco-system since 1999. Tell us how this space was at that time.

My then future father-in-law had asked me what I was going to do after graduation. I spoke to him for ten minutes about my startup Righthalf.com and after listening to me patiently he asked, “No, I mean what will you do for a living?” I was dumbstruck.

At that time, there was no social proof for entrepreneurship. Most people thought there was something wrong: either I did not get through a university in the US, or did not secure a good job, or there was some other personal issue. You had to be crazy to startup, especially in tech. It was like being a trespasser digging for gold in a treacherous desert before the gold rush.

5)      Tell us something about HyperTrack – how did you start it and what’s your vision for it?

In my travels around the world, I saw how smartphones had become part of everyone’s lives and how local businesses were going online because of smartphones. After spending nearly a lifetime in ecommerce and marketplaces, we used to imagine how offline and online will converge, and it looked like we were already past that now.

When I got back to India, I started discussing business ideas with Tapan Pandita (now my co-founder) because we were both in love after our Chalo/OpenTable experience together. And I do mean that Tapan and I were in love with each other in the sense that we wanted to start a company as a team. Co-founding a company is like marriage. Love is a pre-requisite!

We were inspired by the quote ‘the only people who made money in the gold rush are the ones who made shovels’. We started looking for shovels for this new economy: connected commerce. Location tracking stood out as a big pain. Everyone was building an Uber-for-something but we could not track anything else in our lives other than an Uber. We dug deeper and found it was a hard problem, and took the plunge to solve it for the global market.

6)      After moving back to India, how did you decide to live in New Delhi?

My wife and I celebrated our 10th year of marriage (many more years together). She had moved across the oceans for me on multiple occasions and now it was my turn. One of the goals of our travels was to figure out where we were going to live next. She got her dream job, of being the renewable energy advisor to the central regulator of electricity of India (CERC). Seeing her excitement and commitment towards it, I wanted to support her in taking it up. And now I am in New Delhi!

7)      What’s your favorite drink?

A nice glass of red wine.

8)      Do you cook? Share with us a recipe that you cook and take pride in!

No I do not. I have had to field a lot of criticism about this, especially when working at OpenTable (the leading restaurant reservations platform of the US) where so many of my colleagues were from the restaurant industry and had been chefs, waiters or restaurant managers at fine dining restaurants. And here I was, culinary-challenged street-food junkie.

9) Have you tried Holachef food? How was your experience?

Yes, I have had Holachef food several times and loved it. My family in Mumbai orders it often, and I can’t wait for you to launch in Delhi at some point so I can enjoy it more frequently as well.

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About The Golden Tap

In the book, Kashyap chronicles the transformative era of the Indian economy, as minimal large companies have managed to pass the IPO but start-ups are worth millions. Kashyap Deorah, serial entrepreneur and visionary, talks about the foundation of the business model that will become the future of the Indian economy where hyper-funding is the new normal.

About HyperTrack

HyperTrack allows businesses to track people, goods and pay per use. For companies that are just starting out and are in boot-strap stage, the services will be offered free upto 10,000 tasks and then will be charged 4 cents per task.

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