Posted on Thursday, Jan 7th 2021
“My journey was as unexceptional as you can imagine,” says Rukkus CEO Manick Bhan, in describing how he got to $1 million annual revenue rate in transactions before raising financing. Read on for the whole story.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by going back to your very beginnings. I want to hear about where you were born, raised, and in what kind of background. Manick Bhan: Both my parents come from Kashmir. They raised me in Baltimore, Maryland. That’s where I was born. I’ve grown up mostly in the United States. In the very early days, I liked to take things apart. When I was nine, they bought me this bicycle. The first thing I did was I opened the whole thing up. I took out all the screws and basically dismantled the beautiful bike. They were a little horrified about it because it was a birthday present. This has been pretty constant in my life. I like to take things apart and figure out how they work. Sramana Mitra: I take it you studied engineering in college. Manick Bhan: You would think so. My educational journey to get to this point has had a lot of twists and turns. Throughout elementary to college, I was always very good at math and science. I got interested in astrophysics and understanding how the universe works. I went to high school in New Jersey, right outside of Princeton. I ended up getting a full scholarship to go to Duke University where I studied Chemistry, Neuroscience, and Music.
I tried not to think about what I wanted to do. I just tried to explore and find things that resonated with me. I had a feeling that it might not be medicine. Early on, I wanted to put myself in the shoes of a medical doctor and see what it’s like. I realised that if I were standing in his shoes, it’s not the right profession for me. I was also trading stocks. I went to the Duke Business Library and pulled out every book on the shelf about the stock market. My parents had traded stocks a little bit. They were both scientists, so they were doing it for fun.
My roommate was a day trader while we were at Duke. He gave me the bug. I pulled out all these books and studied them cover to cover. I thought, “Now that I’ve read these books, I think I know what I’m doing.” I started investing in options and not so much in stocks. If you put a thousand dollars into a Google option and Google does well tomorrow, you can go from $1,000 to $10,000. That level of accretion was really exciting. I always thought that I was good at it. In that respect, I probably wasn’t. Sometimes, small events guide the next five to ten years of your career.
That was definitely one of those moments where I got into it and I ended up getting a job at Goldman Sachs. What I really loved about the experience that I had there was I had the ability to understand how global businesses work. You get the ability to understand how different world economies function together and how events in one country can impact business here and you see how connected everything is. You can go really deep. They have knowledge base of everything you want to study. In fact, my boss wants me to learn and grow. I was really curious.
When I started at Goldman, I didn’t know anything about bonds but ended up joining a desk that did. It was mathematically more rigorous than I expected. It worked out really well and I really loved it. I worked with a variety of companies. I joined just after the credit crisis. I was an intern before the credit crisis and then joined after the crisis. I got to see two different flavours of how the market works. Before the crash, they worked one way. After the crash, it was a very different theme.
Our conversation continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . 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Discussing the Evolution of the Indian Startup Industry with Sasha Mirchandani, Kae Capital . Lean Company Bootstraps to $7M . Saatva Co-founder Bootstrapped a $25M E-Commerce Company . Looking at Terms with Heidi Roizen of Threshold Ventures . ADDA Co-founder CEO Bootstrapped with a Paycheck in India . Duda Co-founders Bootstrap with Paychecks . The Importance of Building Value with Shomit Ghose, Onset Ventures . Get Real Health Founder Bootstrapped Using Services . Bootstrapping Unique Vintage Using a Paycheck . Discussing E-commerce Startup Trends with Daniel Gulati, Forecast Fund . Bootstrapping a Digital Startup with a Paycheck . Discussing Seed Stages with Amir Banifatemi of K5 Ventures . Bootstrapping Avelead Using Services from Atlanta . Founder Bootstrapped a Big Data Company Using Services . Discussing Future Unicorns with Warren Weiss, Foundation Capital . Founder Bootstrapped Axosoft with a Paycheck . Raised a Series A with $10 Million in the Bank . 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