13 episodes

First Principles is a fortnightly interview podcast comprising authentic, candid, and insightful conversations between some of India’s most accomplished founders and business leaders, and Rohin Dharmakumar, The Ken’s CEO & co-founder.

From personal philosophies, mental models and decision making frameworks, to reading habits, parenting styles or personal interests, each episode will delve into what makes each of these leaders unique.

First Principles The Ken

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

First Principles is a fortnightly interview podcast comprising authentic, candid, and insightful conversations between some of India’s most accomplished founders and business leaders, and Rohin Dharmakumar, The Ken’s CEO & co-founder.

From personal philosophies, mental models and decision making frameworks, to reading habits, parenting styles or personal interests, each episode will delve into what makes each of these leaders unique.

    Kamal Sagar of Total Environment on picking principles over convenience, reimagining real estate, design, authenticity and learning to say no

    Kamal Sagar of Total Environment on picking principles over convenience, reimagining real estate, design, authenticity and learning to say no

    One of the recurring themes when it comes to entrepreneurship is “valuation”. How much a company is “worth” is in many ways the tail that wags the enterprise dog in our times.
    I’ve asked this question to every single one of the guests on First Principles. But the answer from Kamal Sagar, the co-founder and CEO of Bangalore-headquartered real estate and design company Total Environment, still came as a bit of surprise. (Last year the company did around $250M in sales.) “I don't know what the valuation is,” said Sagar. “We didn't build it with the idea of selling it, so we haven’t ever looked at that option.” And this is nearly 27 years after he started Total Environment.
    During that time, the company has charted a distinctly contrarian path for itself. At every stage of its evolution, it chose to do things that took more time, more money and more effort. It built its own design software. It vertically integrated its operations, down to the bricks, tiles and furniture that went into its homes. It stuck trees and lawns into balconies and roofs. It turned apartment designs into versioned products, much like productized software.
    In a candid and reflective conversation that spans his three decade career as an architect and entrepreneur, Sagar shows us an alternate view of building a company. A word that comes up multiple time in the conversation is “authenticity”.Starting with the “C” he got at IIT for being obstinate, to the many times he chose to take Total Environment down paths that traded rapid growth for slower design, Sagar gives us a glimpse into the incredibly inefficient, frustrating and lucrative sector that is real estate.
    If you’d rather (or perhaps also) read than listen, we have also published the full transcript for this interview on our website. You can click here and read through it.
    As usual, a big thanks to my colleague Rahul Choudhary who diligently helps me with the transcripts each fortnight.
    If you have any questions, thoughts, suggestions, or tips, please email them to podcasts@the-ken.com. We might not be able to reply to all of them but we do read every single one of them.

    • 1 hr 41 min
    Ruchi Kalra of Oxyzo on creating two unicorns in 7 years, spotting gigantic market opportunities, putting profits and cash flow first, and letting go of personal ambitions

    Ruchi Kalra of Oxyzo on creating two unicorns in 7 years, spotting gigantic market opportunities, putting profits and cash flow first, and letting go of personal ambitions

    In a candid and reflective conversation, Kalra talks about career choices, business building, market sizing, operational discipline, and her own transformation from an executive to a founder, and finally, leader.

    • 1 hr 42 min
    Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip on being “22 years young”, presenting from Excel sheets instead of Powerpoint slides, the importance of open disagreements, and the good stress of building

    Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip on being “22 years young”, presenting from Excel sheets instead of Powerpoint slides, the importance of open disagreements, and the good stress of building

    Deep Kalra, the founder and chairman of MakeMyTrip, covers a two decade span of evolution of India’s internet and startup space, including his own journey as an entrepreneur. It’s a masterclass on not giving up, staying in the game, and building to last.

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Tarun Mehta of Ather Energy talks about doing hard things, going down multi-year rabbit holes, building companies over 30-40 years, and being chief storyteller

    Tarun Mehta of Ather Energy talks about doing hard things, going down multi-year rabbit holes, building companies over 30-40 years, and being chief storyteller

    CEO of Ather Energy covers a range of topics like his journey to convince investors of his vision, building an organization over decades, why it takes at least three years to make a true impact at work, etc.

    • 1 hr 48 min
    Amit Agarwal of NoBroker talks about his single-minded mission to disrupt brokerage, building a cockroach company, and why his office address is a secret

    Amit Agarwal of NoBroker talks about his single-minded mission to disrupt brokerage, building a cockroach company, and why his office address is a secret

    The “IIT-IIM” founder speaks candidly over an hour and a half on a range of topics from entering management consultant to running a frugal organisation.

    • 1 hr 32 min
    Amrish Rau of Pine Labs talks about the differences between being a founder and a CEO

    Amrish Rau of Pine Labs talks about the differences between being a founder and a CEO

    Building to exit and building to last, and corporate versus startup culture.

    • 1 hr 46 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

Aniket Pangarkar ,

Super inspiring - highly recommended!

Amazing to hear founder’s origin stories first-hand. Kudos Rohin and the Ken for creating an inspiring, very well crafted series!

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