#57: Vivek Sunder Chief Operating Officer of Swiggy

#57: Vivek Sunder Chief Operating Officer of Swiggy

Vivek Sunder, Chief Operating Officer of Swiggy

#57: Vivek Sunder Chief Operating Officer of Swiggy

Listen to the full discussion here:

Vivek Sunder has over 20 years of experience in the FMCG industry and has been working at the intersection of business and technology across several leadership roles and geographies. In his previous stint at P&G, Sunder held the position of managing director for P&G’s East Africa operations. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Swiggy.

Swiggy went from just 2 neighborhoods in Bangalore in 2014 to become India’s largest on-demand food delivery platform. Present in 500+ cities and their fleet of Delivery Partners has reached a staggering 200k+ individuals. With over 130k restaurant partners. They have added 60000 new restaurants in the last 6 months alone. Swiggy has raised $1 billion in fresh capital, marking the biggest ever funding round in the country’s booming food-tech sector – they are the fifth most valuable startup in the country, at a valuation of $3.3 billion.

Connect with the Guest:

Vivek Sunder: Linkedin
Swiggy: Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How Swiggy became the top food-delivery platform in India
  • How they deliver in 34 minutes in a traffic moving 7km/hour
  • Swiggy’s plan on using drone delivery and cloud kitchens
  • How they added 60000 new restaurants in the last 6 months
  • Hiring Leaders and what to look for
  • The difference between working in a start-up vs an MNC.

Show notes:

  • [01:27] How did you end up joining Swiggy?
  • [03:13] A recruiter friend of mine asked me if I’d be coming to India and when I said, yes. He said, ‘Would you be interested in meeting the founders of Swiggy for a role?’ 
  • [06:57] What do you see has been the secret sauce that has caused Swiggy to become successful in such a short period of time?
  • [09:20]There’s greater female participation in the workforce. And therefore you don’t have the traditional role of the woman as the caregiver or kitchen manager and that only proves there’s a lot of economic migration that has happened.
  • [10:35] We connect over a hundred thousand restaurants to over 200,000 delivery executives to over 10 million customers every single night who are essentially trying to look for options to dine from and we do this through a strong algorithm that connects the three. 
  • [12:03] What specifically did you do on Swiggy to be better than your competitors on the market?
  • [13:37] The single biggest differentiator that basically made us stand out above the rest was the fact that our algorithms and our apps we’re letting our customers have a stressless delivery experience. And that gave us, let’s call it, two years of runway. And by the time everybody followed suit we already got a significant momentum. 
  • [16:30] We have to keep on increasing the quality of our service. Because consumers are constantly raising the bar on what is considered to be what is acceptable performance. So I think the challenge of doing it at scale is what really keeps us awake at night.
  • [17:35] Tell us a little bit about your plans for using drone delivery. 
  • [20:32] So the logic for the drone is to make great food travel to places where road traffic simply won’t work. And innovations which are called cloud kitchen to provide new geographic locations to great restaurants that want to partner with us.
  • [22:27] Do you have plans of doing full-fledged deliveries as well?
  • [24:02] We have just launched Swiggy Stores which connects hyper-local grocery stores to the consumers. It’s still in its first year of operation and it is delivering the same consumer love that our restaurant business did in its first year. And because we are solving the same problem. 
  • [27:09] When do cash burn and profitability comes in? How do you put all this into context? 
  • [27:46] It is important and imperative for us to maintain the love of our customers and make sure to win on the thing we want to win from and do not lose the things we don’t want to lose. 
  • [32:17] Tell us a little about your plans for the future and how will it look like?
  • [34:32] The moment you have the ability to pick up products from place A and send it to place B, opens up a lot of opportunities for other players to basically apply hyper-local courier as well.
  • [36:52] Do you have plans at some point to go regionally?
  • [37:25] Our business model is by and large not specific to India only,  which means it has the ability to work in Cairo, Lagos, Brasilia or  Jakarta. So there’s nothing in our business model that makes us stay only in India.
  • [40:45] How do you ensure that Swiggy has a good leadership pipeline and that you’re preparing your people to turn into leaders faster than a normal P&G type of an environment? 
  • [41:29] There’s a lot of great executives out there that fears moving into the startup board. And so it’s important that we talk about what are the good things and what are the not so good things. So that there is less inflammation asymmetry out there amongst good quality leaders, both in other startups and non-startup environments.
  • [43:28] Even when somebody has become a veteran at the food delivery business, he can still go on and do something that is completely different.
  • [44:26] What were some of the biggest culture shocks and learnings you have experienced from joining P&G and Swiggy?
  • [46:04] One of the things that were surprising to me is the number of people we have. We have over, uh, 5,000 people in our food delivery place. But people are resources, and if you have good resources, you will have amazing stuff.
  • [48:16] Are there certain principles you follow and you have followed in your career that have been extremely beneficial and would also help somebody listening in their professional development? 
  • [49:06] I have seen no benefits in thinking you are just an agent working on behalf of somebody. If you work like it is your own business, then you will find that you have a greater level of learning than the other person.
  • [51:37] A lot of the times if you’re focusing bonuses and promotions and all of that, you will basically find that it is putting you down the wrong path of learning and it will also make you disappointed like in a marathon when somebody goes ahead of you.

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