Sept 30, 2023

Ashwin Bharth

Ashwin Bharath is a highly accomplished professional with a strong background in technology and business. Currently serving as the Vice President of Engineering at Instacart, he leads a large team responsible for developing and scaling the company’s technology infrastructure. Ashwin is known for his strategic mindset and ability to drive innovation, having previously held leadership roles at companies like Apple, Yahoo, and Oracle. With a passion for building high-performing teams and delivering impactful products, Ashwin is recognized for his expertise in areas such as cloud computing, machine learning, and software engineering. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. Ashwin is also actively involved in mentoring and advising startups, reflecting his commitment to supporting the next generation of tech leaders.

Episode Highlights

(0:00:02) – Nitin Bajaj welcomes Ashwin to the show
(0:00:34) – Nathan: Ashwin, congratulations on your incredible success
(0:01:51) – Revich is a talent enablement company that helps clients upskill their workforce
(0:04:06) – Reperture is the largest employer of entry level programming talent
(0:10:47) – Creating requires failures, right? So that’s the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs
(0:12:39) – Is there anything specific that you’re most excited about with Genai
(0:17:57) – Ashwin Ramachandran shares two examples of business failures and lessons learned
(0:21:45) – Ashwin shares some of his life lessons with us

Show Transcript

Transcript - Full Episode

Nitin Bajaj: (0:24:32) – Well, let’s change that. Let’s make it happen.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:24:36) – We will do that. Definitely.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:24:37) – Awesome. Thanks so much, Ashwin.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:24:39) – Thank you, Nitin. Thank you.Nitin Bajaj: (0:00:02) – Hey, everyone. Welcome to the industry show. I’m your host, Nitin Bajaj. And joining me today is the Ashwin. Bharat. Ashwin, welcome on the show.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:00:11) – Thank you, Nitin. Thanks for having me. And I’m excited for two reasons. One, obviously like very glad to be part of it. Two, it’s really fun to be interviewed by a friend too. So thanks and happy to be here.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:00:24) – So super excited and thanks again. Ashwin, I know you’re globetrotting. You have a lot going on. So really appreciate you making the time to be with us today. Let’s start with who is Ashwin?

Ashwin Bharat: (0:00:38) – So I saw that question and I was thinking, Nitin, Ashwin is nobody special, right? So like most of us, I had a humble beginning. I was born and raised in a village in India. Was fortunate enough to have good parents, good family, good support system, good mentors, and through that was quite successful. But I still believe. I’m a technical person. I’m very deeply passionate about technology. More importantly, using technology that drives innovation and more importantly, to help people. So, to answer your question specifically, Ashwin is a simple person that you will find and nothing different than anybody else.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:01:17) – One thing you have to know, and I’ve said this to you before, but would love to say that in public, is I love your humility. I love how simple and down to earth and approachable you are and have been ever since I’ve known you. So really appreciate that. And I know so does your team, so do people that work with you. So we are all fortunate enough to be where we are, to be able to accomplish what we have. But your accomplishments truly deserve kudos and congratulations. And I would love for you to tell us a little more about what Revacher is. What is the mission, the vision, and a few other things that I’ll ask you in a.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:02:08) – So, Nitin, first of all, thanks for those kind words and coming to Revichure. See, reviture, we are a talent enablement company, right? So what I mean by that is, we offer our clients, like, two distinct services. One is we provide them the best in class talent, mostly junior talent with specific, trained talent. The second one is we also provide workforce transformation. What I mean by that is upskill their existing workforce. These are the two common things that we see. We all know there is a massive skill gap, especially in the technology side. So Revich’s approach to solve the skill gap is by solving the opportunity gap. Because if you think about it, opportunities are concentrated with specific companies, specific regions, specific areas. But talent is distributed evenly throughout the country. So what reviture does is we hire people based on aptitude and attitude, not based on what they have in the prior, but rather what they could become in the future with the right training. So we hire them based on aptitude and attitude, train them on exactly what our client wants, and deploy them, and also provide post deployment support. So that’s raviture. We have been quite successful in that model since inception. I’m happy to say that we are the leader in that space. And more importantly, Nitin, I have to tell you, I always feel I’m both lucky and blessed to run this company, because not many times you can say that I’m running a company which is successful, but also solving a huge social cost. So in that aspect, I always tell people I’m both lucky and blessed to run this company.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:03:50) – Indeed. And this is a classic example of doing good while doing well. And the opportunity, the gap and the impact that you’ve been able to create with what you’re doing is amazing. And I would love to. Typically, we talk about revenues and numbers, but what I would love to talk about here is the impact that you and the team have been able to create through reperture, by serving its clients, but also helping these communities just uplift and give opportunities to that talent pool, big time.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:04:29) – See, if you think about it, we are the largest employer of entry level programming talent, Nitin. And if you think about it, just to give you in specific volume, in the last five years alone, we have employed over 13,000 software engineers. And all 13,000 of them was rejected, did not get a programming job. Either they did not apply because they don’t believe they can be programmers or they did not get selected. They got rejected like 20 times, 30 times. So we have a lot of those examples. So raviture provides double impact jobs. Not only we are providing job in an area which is giving them gainful employment, but also it’s tech. The future. It’s a future proof job. A few other specifics which I would like to say, which I’m very proud of, is 40% of our employees are first generation graduates. So, like most of us, my dad was a first generation graduate. I directly know the impact of how a first generation, a successful first generation graduate can make, not only for that individual, but also for their family, for generations to come. So I think that’s one thing we are proud of. The second thing is we are averaging 2.5 x when it comes to diversity, people of color compared to the industry average. This is both when it comes to black talent and also hispanic talent. So that’s another area that we want to do. So this is on the hiring side. I can list more and more of that. But in the other aspect of it is Nitin from the client side. The clients love our model. And if you think about it, we have a lot of fortune, hundred fortune finded firms. There are two things which I would like to do is we build the future workforce of our client. So 85% of our employees become our client, full time employees around the twelve months mark. So literally that transition is our goal. The second one is Nitin, retention. Because of the way and the class of talent that we deal with, they are very loyal, very listeny, and they are very thankful for the opportunity the client is providing them. We are having an 89% retention post four years deployment with that client. That’s quite unheard of in the industry. So it is not just the quality and we are also building the future workforce and future leaders of the company. Right. I think these are some of the impacts and benefits that we are doing to our employees and to our clients.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:06:55) – Ashwin, this is huge on every level. And just from my own personal experience with hiring and also working with staffing agencies, the third metric you mentioned about 85% or more of your talent moving on to customers. That’s unheard of. Right? People want to hang on. And I’ve seen industry have contracts and barriers to say, well, this person cannot transition over to the client or the customer. So you’re just kind of spinning that model on its head. And 89% retention, four years in the.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:07:37) – Right.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:07:38) – Absolutely unheard of. So congratulations and kudos to you and the team. But more importantly, as you said, this is just uplifting. Not just the individual, but generations to come and has deep, deep impact on the communities they come from.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:07:56) – Nitin, you are spot on. And the gratitude is not just seeing you’re growing at 50%, 60% and you are like generating all these millions of dollars of revenue. Recently I was in an airport and this young gentleman walks to me and introduced himself and his wife to me and said, and he was one of our employee in the past and bad on me. I did not remember that. And he introduced and he said, I would not have met my wife without you. I was like, nobody, like doing minimal wages, no jobs. And you changed me. Now I’m very successful in this one so firm doing this. I’m a leader now. I’m hiring your people. And everything changed because of that. And everything changed because I talked to your recruiter. I think that reward, nobody can take that away. And nothing is more satisfying than hearing that directly from the people who are getting benefited from it.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:08:51) – That is so awesome. And I was going to ask you, why do this? I’m like, why not? There’s so many, I’m sure, so many of these success stories, so many of these emotional connects and blessings that are out there. So why not do this? This is so heartwarming to hear. Even though I’ve known about this and heard this, every time I hear this story or another story of success, it just gives me goosebumps. So awesome to hear this.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:09:24) – Oh, thank you, Nitin. Thank you, Nitin. And, yeah, it’s like, why do this? Why not? I think we still have a lot to do, right? I think if you think about it, Nitin, last year there was a need for 400,000 new programmers in us. Us just graduated 70 to 80,000 cs majors. Out of that, only 70% of them got programming jobs. But we are conferring 2.1 million four years degree, another 1,000,002 years degree, and they are extremely underemployed. 40% of the recent graduates are underemployed. According to Federal reserve, 27 million hidden workforce. There is opportunity and there is people, alternate supply chain of talent, how to match that. I think it’s not just raviture. I think I want more and more of the companies to start doing this.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:10:07) – And that’s the abundance mindset that whenever I talk to you, that comes through and is a true sign of a community leader. So first know, again, congratulations on the success, but also congratulations on those values know have been imbibed in you that give you that mindset that there is more that can be done. And I think I see that even in the work that Riverchar is doing with imbibing that growth mindset, not hiring for what you have done, but what.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:10:42) – You can do big time.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:10:46) – That’s awesome. So in doing what you do, I would love to hear amongst the multiple challenges that you face across the ecosystem, what’s that one big challenge that you would like to highlight?

Ashwin Bharat: (0:11:01) – See the challenges in terms of being an entrepreneur, running a business, right? So creating requires failures. Zero to one is probably one of the toughest one to do, especially in our industry. If you think about it. We created our industry, right? There was nobody doing it. There is no reference for us. So zero to one, that’s the toughest one to convert because anything multiplied by zero is zero. Right. So you need to change that. So that comes with success, and that also comes with a lot of failures. So finding the right set of people at that stage who can help you and who’s okay with failures and failures, feeding them with more energy, having such a resilient future, to do that and constantly grow and constantly innovate, that’s the key. I think that’s the biggest challenge. And your ability to identify that set of people and consistently identify that kind of people, who’s going to help you to innovate and constantly grow, it was a challenge when we started. It will continue to be a challenge as we want to keep growing. Right? So that to me is the biggest challenge I face. And I think that’s the challenge with any entrepreneurs where if you overcome that, which I would say I’m blessed with a good team. I think it’s going to be a good, successful journey.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:12:21) – I love that every growth phase brings its own need for talent. It can be a bit challenging, so to speak, to make sure you have the right team along with you in terms of opportunity. In addition to that big goal, the big mandate, the numbers you shared, is there anything specific that you’re most excited about?

Ashwin Bharat: (0:12:48) – I am, right. I think the last, I would say ten to twelve months. I’m extremely excited about it. I’ll give you a little bit of a preface before I jump in. What I’m excited about it, right. The 1970s, that’s when the computers, the revolution started. The reason I was probably not born when it started. The reason why computer revolution started was the marginal cost for computing became zero. But the transient of semiconductors, your ability to manufacture in high volume, your computing marginal cost was zero. That transitioned a lot into the beginning of the tech revolution. Then the Internet era, in the ability to access data, distribute data, get information, the cost marginal cost again became zero. That literally made things different. And these two happened by itself. Then Steve Jobs literally single handedly created the smartphone revolution. That is access to data. He made it ubiquitous. It’s not just somebody who has a computer or who can afford Internet, it’s ubiquitous. It’s like the whole world through the smartphone can access anything in the world, right? I think that changed it. But now we are sitting in an era of generated UI powered by large language modeling. What it has done is AI everywhere. Your ability to create content and get phantom expertise on most of the skills has zero marginal cost. Anybody can do it. That’s a new paradigm. As I told you, I was not in the 1970s. I was probably in college in the Internet revolution. I do not have the smartness of the right people around me during the smartphone revolution. But now we have access we have the team, we have the know hows of it, and we are just starting into a new paradigm. Imagine if I give you a cell phone now. Like my dad gave me my first cell phone in 1995. I believe it’s a Nokia one. I was so excited. Imagine I getting it now. That’s nothing to me now. That is how the current AI tools are going to be in 30 years. And we are in that stage. It’s plenty of opportunity. So the generative AI, that’s giving me a lot, and I know there are a lot of naysayers, a lot of people worried about job losses. I am an optimist. I think Genai is going to create much more jobs than what it’s going to eliminate. It will eliminate some jobs, but I personally believe the number of doors it will open will be significantly higher than the number of doors it closes. So I’m extremely excited about it. I’m ready for that journey.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:15:34) – I’m 100% in agreement with you. And also, thanks for painting that picture of the paradigm shifts that have occurred a little before our time, but also as we were growing up and have matured into a place where we can actually implement and leverage what is in front of us. So it’s extremely important for people to kind of get a grasp of the impact this is about to create in the near future.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:16:04) – Very exciting. I think everybody should be. I think people should. A tsunami is hitting you, right? You can either think it as a tsunami and get swept away or beautiful like, well, right away. It’s as simple as that. Same as you. You’re a paddleboarder, kayaker. I think that’s the best way for us to see it.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:16:22) – Yes. So talking about that, I am knowing a little bit of that. I want to let other people also find out. What do you do to kick back, have fun, disengage?

Ashwin Bharat: (0:16:38) – It’s a public interview, so let me be safe. Just joking. I’m a high energy guy, right. There are a few things which I do. I like to do some active things, which is I like to run. I like my workouts, I like kayaking, I like paddleboarding, as you said. Sometimes, occasionally I bike. And more importantly, I love my family. Right. I have two boys, 15 and eleven. I like beautiful wife, so I like to spend time with them, with family, all those things on top of it. I’m also a huge Star wars fan, so any chance I get to watch Star wars? Probably. It’s the 20th time I’m watching the whole series. I would do that. So I don’t know, the kind of happiness and calm watching anything in Star wars give me is unbelievable. I do that. So those are some of the things that fun to do it. And I believe in fun. And you need to have the right work life balance. Right? Like, I’m a firm believer of work hard, play hard culture. So that is something I do it. And so far, I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right set of people who help me with that. So those are some of the fun things I do.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:17:50) – Lots of common interests, as we were discussing right before this. A lot to catch up.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:17:56) – Exactly.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:17:57) – Ashwin, I would love to take us back in time a little bit, look in the rear view mirror and talk about two instances. One where things beat your own expectations and became a huge success beyond even your imagination, and another one where things did not work out as you had expected and there was failure and maybe a lesson learned. So I would love for you to share those experiences with us.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:18:26) – For me, it’s a good question. Right? It’s a really good question. For my personal experience, both are the same. Right. I will start with the failure, then into the success. So me and my partner, we started the company in 2004. We are very, quite successful. We are an IT consulting firm doing very good. Primarily, our business was heavily relying on H one B visas. And we are also very highly focused on financial services. Our growth was phenomenal. Everything was fantastic, right? But in the 2007, the financial meltdown, when that happened, obviously we are losing revenue because our reliance on financial services were almost 100%. So that was a big failure. That combined with the new administration of the White House, that’s when Obama was coming in and everything. The HMB regulations also changed.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:19:21) – Yes.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:19:22) – So both combination from being such a great company to having reliance on both completely challenged the existence of the company. Right. So we were singularly focused without diversifying on just these two things. And that became a problem for us. And that was a failure. And I think that is when I think the lesson learns are the most important thing for anybody, right. Because you might have a great success phase on the front, but behind you will have lot of battle scars. And that was our battle scar. Right. And what we did was we were deciding great things are changing, but still companies are hiring, and you have fantastic people here who lost their job because they had legacy skills, not the latest skills. So that is when Revich’s model started. So we started, we converted that failure into an experiment, which is, why don’t we hire four local talent who don’t need visa here it was all us citizens, great programmers, but they don’t have the later skills. We hired them, we trained them in the later skills and deployed them. That four people turned into 13,000, 14,000 we talked about. So a failure was eventually turned into a success for us. And that came with courage, that came with bold, and that came with willingness to innovation. More importantly, as I mentioned, having people who are willing to convert again from zero to one, I think these two, in my mind, are some of the biggest learning lessons that we had and which we fortunate enough to say that we turned into a success.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:20:51) – Well, with that spirit, with that mindset, heck yes, it was bound to happen. So again, congratulations. I love that transition. I can relate to it because I was here around that time. I know how difficult it was, and you kind of just quickly glanced over it. But I can only imagine the struggle, the challenges, the identity crisis one would have to go through. But to be able to come out of that, if you can survive it, it only makes you stronger. And I think that’s exactly what happened in this case. So many congratulations.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:21:29) – Exactly. Thank you. I’m glad to tell this as a success story, but I think it will come across everybody’s life. I think people should try to find to reintend themselves rather than trying to get dejected and leave the opportunity.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:21:43) – So true. Now, talking about lessons, we come into my favorite part of the show, which we call the one line life lessons. I would love for you to share a few of your life lessons with us.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:21:59) – See, for me, that’s a good one, right? I don’t know if I’m capable of doing it, but I will still give you an answer. So this is mostly coming from good friends, good mentors telling me so. One of the things I remember this individual telling me is the same people that you ignore, that you overrule or treat bad when you’re going up, when you’re having a higher trajectory, knowingly or unknowingly, you might treat people bad or you might overrule some. You might be arrogant to them. They are the same set of people you will see when you’re coming down. So remember that, right? So everybody will have up and down. You’re in an up mode. What you take it for granted, what you ignore, how bad you treat people might come back and haunt you when you’re coming down because you’ll have to deal with the same set of people. So that to me, it’s an eye opener advice. So it leads to treating people good and everything is there. That’s one. So fundamentally what it means is treat others both on your great times and also on your bad times. Because when you treat them on your good times, they’re going to treat you on your bad times. Some of the other things is I think I’ll just stick to another two. One is change is constant. You should be ready for it. Don’t get disappointed. Don’t get upset over changes. Your ability to write through the changes is an absolute important. So change is constant. So embrace it. Don’t fight it. The last one I would like to say is being heavily involved in sales, I get to learn how to deal with no. Everybody should know how to deal with no. Because if you just know how to deal with yes, there is no progress in the world because no is the next step for yes. So I think everybody should learn to deal with no. I think those are some of the life lessons at least I learned from my mentors and I tried to follow that.

Nitin Bajaj: (0:23:54) – Love them. Thanks, Ashwin, again for sharing the life lessons, but also more importantly, sharing your journey and your story and for being who you are. All the humility, all the kindness, and the success that it brings with it. So thank you for being with us. Really appreciate you. And many, many best wishes for continued success.

Ashwin Bharat: (0:24:18) – Absolutely. And Nitin, thanks a lot. And as I told you, it’s been a fun session. It’s like somebody getting interviewed who’s a friend. The only difference is I feel the same, you and I talking as usual. The only difference is we don’t have a scotch in our hand. That’s about it.


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