Arjun Kapur is the Founder of GoBuyside. Arjun has extensive talent experience having successfully executed on hundreds of diverse and complex engagements covering over 40 cities in the United States and 10 cities abroad. Arjun graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University with a major in Economics. He obtained his Masters in Business Administration from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
What is a recent idea that you had that you brought to life?
There was a noticeable trend of increased competition for talent and shortened hiring cycles in the private equity and hedge fund industry that I noticed while working in finance. Both candidates and employers suffered from a lack of transparency and an abundance of asymmetric information in the hiring process. This led to the idea that a tech-enabled platform could disrupt the traditional hiring model in the industry and create a network community that benefited all market participants. We launched GoBuyside.com to bring this idea to life and we are now the largest talent platform of investment professionals in the United States.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is different which is part of the fun and challenge of running a company. Most days involve meetings and calls related to technology releases, client deliverables, general management and strategy and business development. There are always fires to be put out and opportunities to take advantage of; I found productivity increases with prioritization and not letting your inbox drive your order of operations. Have an updated list of To Do Items, force-rank and work down the list every day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is a tough question and the best answer I can think of is through iteration. You start with identifying an opportunity, research to the point you are comfortable investing time and capital, and then begin an execution process that usually involves both development and sales. You do your best to learn in real-time from potential customers and allow that feedback to drive your development. Block and tackle until you either have a defensible product or service that can scale or you reach a point where it does not make sense for you to invest further time to the idea.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Increased artificial intelligence research and development. While still in its early days, the potential applications and ability that artificial intelligence has to enrich lives is exciting. I hope there are breakthroughs in the coming decade that have real-world applications.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I avoid social media and am not on active user of any platform.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Worst job seems harsh so I do not think it is fair to name any employer based upon my personal experiences. I did learn from one of my most demanding work experiences how impactful expectations can be in achieving success. Seeing how much more was achievable changed my financial goals and made me revaluate my expectations which were largely formulated by my own family background early in my career.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I graduated college in three years and eagerly entered the work force. If I could start again, I would have used my senior to travel the world instead.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I constantly think about my clients businesses and their market environments. Where is the commoditization occurring in their business models? What are their pain points and potential opportunities? I feel this better helps me think about how to position my business and where to spend time innovating internally.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
It may sound cheesy but exceptional client service. Growing a business (once you have product/market fit) is not rocket science and clients typically have a choice on whether to buy your product/service or someone else’s. If you actually care about helping clients achieving their goals rather than simply capturing revenue, I have found that 8 out of 10 clients will actually notice this. Over a long period of time, they will refer you to other firms and these leads are an invaluable way to grow your business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There was a deal early in the venture that could have really helped us. The pitch went well but we did not convert after a prolonged sales cycle. It also felt towards the end as if we had misread our hand and that the potential counterparty was mostly using us for market information. I feel always having a pragmatic mindset helps you overcome situations like this. You can’t be a boxer and expect to not take a heavy blow every now and then. As an entrepreneur, you signed up for the highs and lows. We overcame it by doubling down the efforts on the next big deal and doing our best to learn from our mistakes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business)
A B2C app centered on customer loyalty around repeat consumer purchases.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
It was a gift but a Thermo water bottle. Simply having it in the office led to drinking more water consistently.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We do not use a lot of third-party software or services. The ones that we do leverage tend to be the standard industry defaults for the applications in question.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I enjoyed Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. I felt it was a concise blueprint on new ventures that touched upon concepts entrepreneurs should be constantly evaluating in context of their own markets. While the book takes the premise of re-defining the future, market competition is relative and most of the constructs discussed can be applied to businesses that are not necessarily going “Zero to One.”