A book about a startup’s founding story is usually about the founders—those young, quick thinkers who revolutionized the way business was done. T.N. Hari and M.S. Subramanian’s Saying No To Jugaad: The Making Of BigBasket, instead, draws from all the stories of the people who worked for the company from its early days in 2011, from dedicated supply chain managers to loyal human resources personnel, and rose up to challenges that were way above their pay grade to ensure the company’s growth.
Hari is head of HR at BigBasket and Subramanian leads the startup’s analytics team, so there are no spicy, tell-all moments here, but those seem unlikely in a company like BigBasket, with its seasoned founders and sensible approach to business. BigBasket has bucked a number of startup trends. Most notably, sticking with an inventory-led model, setting up warehouses and holding stock rather than going asset-light, and losing funding from Tiger Global. It’s clear that this is a company that set itself a culture early on and has worked within those parameters so far. There are useful and interesting insights into the challenges of running a business that deals with fresh produce, data analytics, marketing and scaling a startup. Overall, it’s a solid, inspiring story of the evolution of a startup that chose to build slowly and sustainably rather than by chasing valuation.