We are excited to introduce our first “rocket of the week”, someone who is one of the greatest doers, thinkers and leaders we know: Samder Singh Khangarot. We met Samder early on in business school, and he was certainly among the most inspiring fellow classmates we had. His positive energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and he is truly a leader that makes those around him dream bigger. We can’t think of a better first “rocket of the week”! We sat down with Samder for a conversation about Business School, Indian eCommerce, and Life Lessons.
Where were you born and what did you study in college?
I was born in a small village in Rajasthan, India. I was born in my parent’s ancestral house without a medical attendant. The village had no hospital, no supply of pure drinking water and only an eight-hour supply of electricity.
I went to college in India, and studied Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering. I also completed a one-year fellowship in the liberal arts, called the Young India Fellowship. The fellowship is India’s own version of a Rhodes Scholarship.
What made you interested in business?
Every time I visited mega cities in India, I saw tremendous growth. I saw business as a channel to create opportunities. But opportunities cannot be created without economic growth. Therefore, I see business as a path for socio-economic growth.
What inspired you to apply to business school?
My mother. She never had the opportunity to attend school and has remained illiterate all of her life. But she did send me to the finest institutions in the world, and always motivated me to make this world a better place.
With work experience, I realized I needed global exposure and needed to learn with and from the smartest people in the world. I decided to apply to the MBA program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Stanford was actually the only business school I applied to.
How did the business school experience change you and the way you think?
One of the reasons I went to business school was to change myself. I believe it is important to learn and change yourself, before dreaming up how to change lives, organizations, and the world. The soft skills at Stanford really helped me become a better person, and equipped me with the skills I need to become a better leader.
What was the process like of finding what to do after business school?
I always knew that I had to move back to India after my MBA. I reached out to my mentors, Stanford alumni, and friends in India to brainstorm about potential business ideas. After graduating in June 2016, I moved back to India. I collected more information about the startup ecosystem and potential opportunities in those ecosystems. Recently, I decided to start my own venture in the internet consumer business area.
What lessons from business school (and from which professor or speaker) have stuck in your mind the most and impacted your life?
Professors Irving Grousbeck, Joel Peterson and Andy Rachleff played important roles in my learning experiences. Below are some of my notes from professors, visiting guests/speakers, and outstanding classmates:
- Develop the ability to inspire. You remember your best teacher, not so much the contents but how he/she said it. The wisdom sticks.
- Remember that eagles don’t flock; Remember that everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about; Remember to be kind – Don’t risk looking back at your life and seeing a failure of kindness.
- For the first time in your life, there seems to be no “right choice”. We need to learn to “define our voices”: what are we going to say and how are we going to say it? In the quiet moments, ask yourself: Did I try to impress or did I try to get something done? What do I think of myself? Did I tell the truth? Did I respect everyone despite his or her status?
- There is a big difference between rich and wealthy. Rich means only money. But wealthy means money and “time”.
- Don’t raise your voice; rather try to improve your argument.
- You can’t inspire others unless you are inspired yourself.
- Life is a process of change.
- Calming down is very important in maintaining relationships
- Supporting people when they fail creates loyal allies. There’s something about someone else believing in you that makes you feel powerful even when you have no power.
- Remember, always, to say thank you, sincerely, for what that person has done. We forget that too often.
What are you working on now and what made you interested in pursuing this path?
I’m working on a crowd-sourced design e-commerce fashion accessories startup. Growing up in Jaipur was incredibly fun. Jaipur is a world capital for gems, jewelry, and is known for many hand-crafted products. But due to globalization, many industries in Jaipur couldn’t keep up with the pace of change. With this business idea, I want to empower creative talent around the world using the Internet.
What is your favorite quote/life motto?
My favorite quotes are:
- Life is all about the people we meet and the things we do with them.
- Happiness is real when shared.
- Ships are safe in the harbor, but that is not the reason we build ships.
You know a fantastic thought leader that who would make a great “rocket of the week”? Please get in touch and nominate him or her. We can’t wait to learn more about them!