Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How I connected with CEO Phanindra Sama?

Rarely do you come across people who make you feel you have always been connected and known them for years! Phanindra Sama, CEO and founder of is one such person - unassuming, always smiling and very responsive. It was sometime back in 2010 when we connected over email - he wanted some updates about my entrepreneurship workshops and I was glad to see that coming from a person who has always been helpful for startups.

Over next few days, we spoke on phone a couple of times, I invited him for a tele-conference for budding entrepreneurs (he was in Bangalore, I was in Mumbai), and as mentor-speaker for a Microsoft sponsored conference (that is when we met face 2 face), and multiple times I would have seen him on stage at some or the other events of CII, GSF and all. Every time it felt nice to see the growth that he was leading for Redbus and for his personal self. But "the nice guy" image that I felt he had never changed for me.

One of the ways to judge your connection is the speed with which they respond to your sms or email - and that is where Phani has been superb (not only for me but also other people who know him). Back in 2012, I was doing a summer training for few college students and startups, and I wanted them to have a real experience of how a startup works, how the office looks, and see the processes behind a venture. Although Phani was not in town, he made quick arrangements and ensured his Product head, Rajesh, to host us.

Many people believe that Redbus is just a website - but it is just a part of such a large business, which includes call center, customer care, operations, marketing, content, vendor management and lot of other things. That is the biggest learning I guess my workshop students took that day - never see an idea as just a website!

A year later, it made me proud to read that Redbus got acquired for 800 crores, and it was great to see the success of a young entrepreneur who came out of BITS Pilani just a few years back.

I am sure few years later Phani will become a great angel investor, and maybe churn few more movies where he will not be the star, but the producer.

If you need any help in connecting with Phanindra or Redbus' team, I will be glad to make an email introduction.
I have met over 30000 people personally, and everyday I will tell a story about someone who has been a part of my life.  
If you have a suggestion or feedback, feel free to connect with me on my social networks or mail me.

Till then, just be awesome!