Startups Should Focus On Workplace Experience: Navin Honagudi, Kae Capital

A successful business is a marriage between an idea and a team that executes the idea. In a country like India, where an idea is no one’s monopoly and where entrepreneurs constantly fear their ideas might be copied, it is the execution of the idea that becomes a key success factor. However, the right execution of an idea is dependent on human capital. The most successful organizations in India are the ones that have focused on human capital i.e. the people who execute ideas into reality. Culturro’s team was in conversation with Navin Honagudi, Investment Director at Kae Capital. Kae Capital is an early-stage fund with investments in India’s top companies such as InMobi, Myntra (Acquired by Flipkart), 1Mg,, Littleeyelabs (acquired by Facebook), Zipdial, and Fractal Analytics amongst many others. Kae Capital has been instrumental in instilling a focus on human capital in every company they have invested to date.

According to Navin Honagudi, “An investment decision is 70% based on the team that will execute an idea and 30% on the idea and other market factors”. The explanation for higher weightage on teams is simple, “If an idea fails good teams can pivot, so it is extremely important to focus on people that execute the idea.”

Human capital is the core of any organization. In fact, a lot needs to be done to focus on human capital and ensure that the employees are the driving force in the organization. A sure shot way to achieve this is to focus on creating the right Workplace Experience™ in the organization. Culturro’s research shows organizations focusing on employee experiences are able to achieve higher performance.

A strong ideology followed by Kae Capital is to use culture as a metric to evaluate company performance. According to Navin, “We always ensure an investee company focuses on building the right workplace experience. The idea of workplace experience should be strongly driven by the founders right from the start. Founders need to put a lot of thought in order to sketch the right workplace experience they need to have in the organization”. To help companies in this process, Kae Capital provides a metricized and templatized culture questionnaire to set the thought rolling. Navin strongly believes that performance & growth can only be achieved by a good team and most importantly with the right culture in an organization.

Experiences that the employees go through in an organization are always top-down. Most often, the workplace experience in an organization is a reflection of the founder’s values and mindset. One of the key traits Kae Capital looks at before investing in an organization is the founding team’s mindset. According to Navin, “The key trait we look at in a founder is conscientious. By conscientious here, I mean responsiveness of the founder and how good he is at keeping his word or meeting deadlines because that eventually trickles down to the employees.”

It is of paramount importance that founders are able to effectively communicate the mission, vision, and value system to employees. In fact, transparent communication is key to building trust among employees. Navin Honagudi says, “Trust is a key factor. Founders need to convey, how the contribution of each and every individual within the company adds value to the overall mission and vision of the company. This will help build the right experience for employees and give them a sense of purpose.”

Building the right workplace experience in any organization is a hands-on process that entrepreneurs have to execute mindfully. Navin further adds, “The first step in creating the right workplace experience in an organization starts with understanding what you stand for. Focus on the needs of employees. Give them challenging roles and help them understand their importance in the organization.”

In today’s age, a good workplace experience is not only the key differentiator for any organization but also a strong reason for employees to stick with an organization and execute the idea into reality.

This article was first posted on the BW Businessworld platform on September 20, 2017, as part of Workplace Experience Ranking 2017 knowledge series

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