My Pivot to T.A.P – Venkatesh

Venkatesh D started his career as an intern in the Customer Care Team, seven years ago at Ninjacart. His will to learn and hard work helped him gain a deep understanding of the business and the needs of people involved in the industry. With that knowledge as his foundation, Venky has made formidable progress across verticals over the years.

From being a curious intern fresh out of college to leading a team of 10 people, his journey is an example of how achievers are born out of immense dedication, upskilling, and constant support. 

Read on to discover Venky’s path from being a Sales & Development expert to starting from scratch in the product team without a technical background.

Making A Difference Across Teams

I joined Ninjacart as an intern in the customer care team 7 years ago. The initial few years allowed me to understand the business inside out. I even got to travel across the state to set up Collection Centres. When I look back at the initial years, I feel very grateful because that experience of interacting with so many people amplified my knowledge of the business.

The founders were always supportive and encouraged me to take up bigger roles and challenges. Their faith in my abilities helped multiply my confidence manifold. I’ve worked with some of the most talented people over the years. We had a team like no other. When we moved to B2B,  all we had was a team with immense faith, confidence, and a shared vision. We worked relentlessly to translate our vision into reality. 

By 2019, I was driving business at Ninjacart. We were able to scale up from 200 tonnes to 1500 tonnes and that was a remarkable achievement. As the Sales Head of Bangalore, I worked to amplify the business by 5 times that year. I also served a short stint in Mumbai as the Business Head, where I could take the sales from 80 tonnes to 120 tonnes, despite the COVID adversities in 2020. It was an incredible experience. 

My Pivot to T.A.P. (Tech, Analytics & Product)

“Business is for today, product is about building tomorrow.”

The year 2021 was when we revisited Ninjacart’s business model and decided to reinvent ourselves to come back stronger after the pandemic. Thus, we created the Infinity Project and I was the program manager for that. During this period I closely worked with the product team to coordinate the business requirements to build a structure that accounts for all the trade-related processes. I think this was my gateway for getting into products.

At that point in my career, I was hungry for something new and challenging. I’d explored the Sales and Distribution roles at Ninjacart. Problem-solving, logical thinking, and building structures were my strengths since day one and I knew they were fundamental for a Product Manager. That’s what Kartheeswaran KK (Co-founder and CEO) and Thirukumaran Nagarajan (Co-founder) saw in me. I thought the lack of a tech background would cause a problem but I quickly realised that an innovative mindset was the key. I had faith in my skills, so, I deep-dived into it!

The first six months were all about learning from scratch. But an added advantage for me was that I knew the core business thoroughly — I was familiar with everyone’s mindset in the supply chain — right from driver to labour. These 2 years as a Product Manager have been a rewarding experience and definitely a feather in the cap. 

I set out to break the stereotype that a technical background is mandatory to be in the T.A.P. team. Last year I was able to manage and nurture two Product Managers! It’s been a very fulfilling journey. 

Continuing A Legacy of Nurturing Talent 

Our co-founder Thiru is the major reason for my pivot to T.A.P. I’d never seen anyone move from business to products with no technical background before. The fact that someone trusted me made a big difference. Even Harish Swaminathan, Vice President of Products, has always been welcoming — he gave me the space and freedom to learn and never pressurised me in the initial months. 

While Thiru set the journey, Harish guided me in the right direction. The confidence and comfort the leaders provided have helped me grow and become a Product Manager today. I really look up to them and I want to be that leader for my team. 

I work with an amazing team and they’ve shown incredible progress. They are so dedicated, ambitious, and growth-oriented. I feel so proud to see them work with so much integrity.  

Chasing Excellence, One Innovation At A Time

Currently, we’re building an end-to-end customer management tool and I’m so excited about that. Sales and Development have mostly been about increasing the sales of a particular product. But now, we’re trying to make it more customer-centric, which will in turn make it scale in long term. This is in line with our core value of Customer Obsession. I truly believe that business will prosper when we work from a customer-centric approach rather than just the sales perspective.

We’ve also launched a refined UX for the groceries section of the Sales and Distribution platform. We’ve improved the user experience by helping users switch categories on a single screen instead of switching between three different screens. Every project gets me equally excited, for we get to collaborate and create something from scratch. It’s a great feeling to be able to solve problems and make an impact on someone’s life!