It was probably the 3rd day at our new co-working when I first encountered Rameet Chawla.
Amidst a crowded room full of hunched dudes in hoodies, here was one of the most stylish guys I’d ever seen rocking a Zeus-like beard.
During a happy hour that Friday, I got to know Rameet and since that point he’s consistently amazed me.
I’ve encountered a lot of guys running agencies or dev shops, but no one whose been able to achieve incredible growth like this in a such crowded market.
Rameet is going to share some of the key strategies he’s used to get to this point and his atypical approach to “hedging” building a startup. We’ll also rap about his new co-working space, how he gets two work days in one, and of course share the back story of his epic beard.
This is a fun one. Enjoy : )
Scott: Welcome to another episode of The Competitive Edge. Today, I’m so excited to have my buddy Rameet Chawla, the founder of ‘Fueled’ with us. Fueled is a mobile design and development company based in New York and London and they also just opened up a co-working space called ‘Fueled Collective’ and I’m just really excited to have Rameet on here because he’s an awesome guy, he’s done an amazing job of building a very special company and just has a lot of excellent insight on how to build an iconic brand, how to stand out in a crowded market, how to really just build a business that people love coming to every single day. Rameet, how are you doing man?
Rameet Chawla: Doing amazing, Scott thanks for having me.
Scott: It is great to have you. So, why don’t you just take a moment and tell everyone a little bit about Fueled?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, sure thing; so Fueled is kind of my idea on hedging the startup industry in general. It’s something in technology in general, something I am passionate about and so I kind of was asking myself when I was in banking and I was confused and lost; what could I do to get myself into this cool, startup entrepreneurial industry — and back then it wasn’t even that cool, it wasn’t even that popular back then. We weren’t using the term ‘startups’ as this cavalier as we’re using them now. Everything was just kind of smaller businesses and entrepreneurial and what I thought was that it would be great to get some experience is if I could help other people build their products and kind of learn in that system.
So what I have been doing for the last three years is working with about 70% startup clients and about 30% enterprise and just learning; learning from our mistakes, learning from their mistakes, learning from our successes and learning from their successes. And what I have been able to do in the last three years is build a system for building apps and really getting a firm understanding of what works in the industry and what doesn’t work and really what the global trends are. And with all of that access to information we can now say ‘okay, cool there’s a client that’s about to build something that we think is going to blow up, how do we get a stronger relationship between us and the client who potentially owns a piece of that product so that we can share on the outside?’ So it’s kind of like a risk-averse way of entering into the startup space.
Scott: Rameet, I think you have underscored a little bit about how much you have accomplished because it’s pretty amazing. I read an article that said that you started out looking to help people on Craig’s list and here we are three years later and you have 85 employees, people working for you in multiple countries, you’ve worked with some of the top Fortune-100 companies out there to build apps. It’s inspiring man, can you take me back to the early days and talk a little about your journey from when you were just getting started thinking about helping people in this way to where you are today?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, I think it was really interesting. I think when you talk to most startup founders and especially people that have succeeded in the industry, when they initially enter the market, it’s a little bit ignorant or they are a little bit ignorant as far as like what the full market is and what really they are planning on doing and I’m no exception to that. When I started a company, one of the first things that I noticed was how expensive good talent was and I was a little disappointed that being a tech guy, and if I just wanted to build like a cool site or to get a custom product built, all of the guys that could code well were absurdly expensive and all the ones that were just doing okay jobs — that was kind of the economics in the space and I was like you know what, that’s not fair, there should be a way for someone to just go up to a company and know they are going to get good quality code without getting ripped off.
And I really felt that back in the day and the agencies that were out there, they were just ripping people off. And so my first goal that I set out to accomplish was kind of a fair company; you know you could trust quality and it wasn’t absurdly expensive. And so that’s kind of what I set out to do and back then agencies — it was the beginning of [Inaudible 0:04:38] and all the web agencies out were all charging crazy prices. There was a complete boom and somebody would just charge half a million dollars or a million dollars for a website and I was like, are you kidding? The entry point should be significantly below that and so that’s what I initially set out to disrupt.
Scott: Yeah, makes sense. I’m still amazed though because there’s lots of people out there who probably had the desire to produce high-quality work for their clients at a fair price. Yet, you’ve been able to stand out from the pack; is there anything else that you have done in your dealings over the past couple of years as you built your company to really stand out and get some of these top companies to work with?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, there was a couple of things, I think one of the main things we did is we identified a larger movement or trend in the industry and then just kind of attached ourselves to that trend. So, I identified that one of the big movements was applications that would be running on your phone and when I started working on it, it was just kind of an afterthought for most people. You had mentioned Craig’s List before and I remember when I first started doing research on a case I’d shift into this kind of mobile world, I remember doing a search or Craig’s List just to see how many people were looking for mobile developers.
And so I typed in ‘mobile developer’ or ‘iPhone app’ or just all the search terms that you could possibly think of and in the last month in New York City there was only two or three people that had posted something where they were interested in finding someone and that was interesting to me because I thought it was blatantly obvious that that’s the way the industry was going and yet it hadn’t happened yet. So, I took that as an opportunity and I said, okay you know what cool, I’m going to brand myself as a mobile guy and right now I only have one or two people working for me but as the industry grows and if I tag and associate myself to that industry, then as it grows, I’ll be able to ride that wave and grow along with it.
And that’s really what I did, I went around and I remember specifically a movement; I went away from my regular routine and I said, okay, I’m just going to network and I’m going to get the word out. And before that, it was very much arbitraging, people that were looking for jobs and guys that were able to build the good stuff. And all of that was done in my living room and I had never really gotten out there. I remember after making this decision to consciously brand myself towards mobile; I was like okay, I have to let the industry know and I have no clout so it’s not like I can just blog about it. I have to actually get out there. And so, I started attending meet-ups and just going from one event to another event and I had one app underneath my belt and it was an app that I had done for an agency in Chicago and it was an [Inaudible 0:07:45] reality app.
And so no one had really — no one at least in New York scene had just produced one of those yet and we were one of the first who were mentioned in Ad Age along with Yok’s Radar app as one of the first kind of augmented reality experiences from the marketing standpoint. And so, I just went around and showed people that and I was like, it’s visual enough that they would remember that they’ve met a guy with a beard that builds apps. And that was my whole goal. And I thought a lot of agencies that were out there and you had mentioned why me and how have I been able to do it better than others; I think a lot of agencies out there just kind of said, hey, you know what, we can help you with anything. And at the end of the day, not only they could, they have the staff to be able to build a different product and they said, we can do whatever you need.
And it’s — I think that place — it’s hard to think of someone when you say that you can do everything. It’s better to have a trigger, it’s like this same thing with an app that does one thing really well; as a result, when you meet that one thing, you think of an app. It’s not like, hey I want to do something and what’s an app that does everything? That doesn’t really work. So yeah, I very much branded myself towards mobile and then I was right on my prediction in terms of that industry blowing up and since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to ride that wave that we’re calling mobile.
Scott: Great; I have a lot of questions and the first one, if anybody has seen Rameet before, he has an epic beard and I mean legendary beard. I am jealous of it. So this, your beard, you did not have that beard before you went out and started basically telling people that you build apps?
Rameet Chawla Interview: Yeah, I mean it was kind of a second thought, kind of a subconscious, personal branding thing that happened. I wasn’t planning on it, the beard was something completely not related to the business and I had a really just a small regular beard when I hit the tech scene. But very quickly I started to realize that people noticed it and remembered me for it and the follow-up emails have all contained something like ‘oh yeah, you have a great beard’. All the people were identifying with it and I actually had grown the beard almost like a way of abstinence because I was in love with this girl in L.A. and then surely enough that story moved on and I moved on from her but I loved the beard after that.
So I kept it just for my own personal branding and all of those reasons. People seemed to like it and then I also fell in love with it and now I like it. It’s also like as if it’s grown along with the company and someone made a pretty funny comment that they correlated the length of my beard to the success of Fueled. So now, we’re all superstitious and — [technical difficulty] keep on growing longer.
Scott: Yeah, you can’t cut it. And it’s funny because when I was Google-ing, doing my research for this podcast, one of the top Google results was you on a site called ‘Urban Beardsman’ which just absolutely cracked me up. But one of the things that I want to dive into a little bit deeper is just the in-between of you going to meet-ups and talking about how you built mobile apps to really owning the market and working with companies like AMEX, Coca-Cola, MTV; take me through the next steps after you started going to meet-ups and the growth stage.
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, one thing that you have to know is, a lot of it is window dressing. So when we got our first client, our first client wasn’t directly a Fortune-500 company. It was an agency that had them as — or they were their agency of record and so they had all of the digital works from Fortune-500 and they needed people to actually do the production. So our initial work in terms of getting our brand out there and getting our name out there and getting these larger companies was very much kind of the way the agency world works; which is, someone had an old relationship with a very large company but they don’t have the young expertise the new company has so they farm out that work.
And so, in our first year, we very much were doing work for companies that we couldn’t even put the work in our portfolio sometimes because the agencies wouldn’t let us. In some cases, the agencies wouldn’t mind and in those instances, that’s when we put it up on our portfolio and we say, hey listen, this is the actual work that we did. Although we didn’t work directly for the client, it still is our work and we were able to produce it. And so at the beginning, it very much was like, a little bit of window-dressing of hey, this is a small company, we’re only eight people but yeah, we built an app for [Inaudible 0:13:13]. And that’s how we initially got the credibility. In addition to that, we were one of the founding members of the General Assembly space when they opened up.
And that really, I think, changed things for us because I was running my operations out of my living room before that and co-working really wasn’t really a big thing back then and you know, once GA opened up, their spaces very much aligned in terms of some of my design aesthetics and to bring a client into a real office, that makes a statement. And so, before that I would always be adamant about meeting a client in their office and I would be running from one place to another. And what was great after GA opened up, we really leveraged the space and the community and the vibe that it put off with our clients and it was very gradual.
Over time, we were kind of recognized and really at the end of the day some people when they were just setting up our [Inaudible 0:14:18] from large companies, they would just look for someone that had done well and we had won some awards and we came up on Google and it was a very organic process. I think normally when one of these are accounted — who do you know inside and how do you leverage that relationship but I think for us, no one had relationships with someone that was good and mobile and so we just started building them.
Scott: Yeah, if I could really kind of codify this turning point for you, it just seems like — basically you just start putting yourself in the right places. You started going to meet-ups, you got into a co-working space where there are lots of people who would be your ideal customer or already hanging out. It seems like that’s really when everything really started to change for you.
Rameet Chawla Interview: Yeah, it’s all about — I have this thing, it’s not about saying ‘yes’ in a way, especially if it is just like a personal favor for someone. So anytime someone needed something or anytime someone wanted help about a something or a question, whatever it is, it was always ‘yes’. Now, it’s the same thing but for different types of questions and requests. Sometimes people ask me to talk at events and even though it’ll take up time for me and I know it’ll eat into my schedule and I know that I should be spending more time at the office, I’ll still always say ‘yes’ because you just never know what’s going to happen as a result of that.
I mean there were so many meetings that I took where I thought that there was really nothing there but I adhered to my system of just going, hearing people out, listening to what they had to say and you never know what’s it’s going to turn into. Same things about going to meet-ups or — you get invited to meet-ups all the time where you see so many things happening, if you don’t have anyone going there that you know, it’s awkward sometimes. You just show up at a place with a bunch of strangers and it takes balls just to go up to a bunch of random people and join their conversation.
And I always said to myself, as long as you can go and just say ‘yes’, and even if you go alone, it’s almost better than going with someone because if you go with somebody, you’re going to talk to them. But if you really want to meet people, go somewhere alone. You’ll be forced into it and if there’s anyone else there also alone, you guys just randomly find each other. It’s cool.
Scott: Yeah, and one of the amazing things about the co-working space too that I remember when I was working in GA right with you, was that you had access to this large group of people with this diverse skill sets and so as you go to these different meets ups where you are meeting people, you have this whole network of people that you can connect those people with and now all of a sudden you put yourself in a really valuable position where you’re in the value chain and that you are connecting people who are trying to help each other and who are all moving in the same direction and trying to basically improve each other’s lives.
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, exactly and I mean you could parlay that into one of the reasons why I opened up my own co-working space.
Scott: Let’s talk about that; why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about Fueled Collective?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, sure. I mean it’s always actually been a dream of mine; when I had started my company out of my living room, to kind of own my own space and to have a space where I can hang out and my clients can hang out or my friends could hang out and we all can work together. And that’s one of the reasons that I was so adamant about jumping on the GA bandwagon so early. I was talking to Matt back when it was called ‘Superconductor’ and I just wanted to experience his version of a co-working space that I could learn so that when I did it I would have more information myself for building it out. And actually, it moved faster than I expected.
So we graduated from GA and we built out our first smaller version of a co-working space right after that and it was only 5000 sq. ft. and within a couple of months, actually, we acquired a space that was just adjacent to it and that was also 5000 sq. ft. and we decided to take it and we built that part out and kind of expanded and we were 10,000 sq. ft. And then sure enough eight months after that, we got the opportunity to expand even further and now we are at 18,000 sq. ft. and it’s awesome. We have 35 companies in this space, nine conference rooms, just an open floor plan, ping-pong table, ice-cream cart, vintage candy bar, pop-corn everyday at 4:00 o’clock. Fresh pop corn; we have a baker that comes in twice a week, today she came in and just gave us some caramel brownies.
And so, it’s cool, it’s like our little playground and it was very much something that I wanted to kind of build to give back to the community. [Inaudible 0:19:16] to exist, I always wanted startups to be able to recruit well from the space without the competition of the big guys and the successful startups because that was a handicap that I had when I was recruiting. And I was like someone could just build it and then we could just fractionally share it and it would be totally cool. And so just like any entrepreneur, they just wanted to exist and as long as someone builds it then they are happy and for me, this space that I had envisioned just didn’t exist. And so I was like that’s cool, I’ll just do it myself.
Scott: Yeah, sign me up, warm cookies and pop corn, I mean it sounds absolutely amazing. I’m curious because I think there are a lot of us out there that are listening to this, myself included who have this dream or desire to start a space where their friends can come, you can create things that you are interested in and that you love. What would you say to people out there that the most important things to understand are, if they wanted to create a similar type of co-working space?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, it’s an interesting model, it’s not necessarily a good business to go into; you have to have something that’s tangential to the actual co-working experience for you to make a business out of it. For me for example, that tangential property is the fact that Fueled gets more exposure in the startup space which is where our clients are and so we make money on the services component of our business. For other people like for example, I was hanging out last week with the founder of Level39 in London and what’s interesting about his space is that he has one floor of co-working space for a fintech startups in the Canary Wharf in London.
And his backers are actually the owners of the Canary Wharf because they are adding heat to Canary Wharf and just adding value to all the property in their collective buildings that comprise the Canary Wharf. So they are an alliance setting up a co-working space is really added value to all the property around it because they get more press, the area becomes cooler, all the other cool companies come there and then they sign leases with some of the trending technology in fintech companies. And so they have, like they understand that additional component. For General Assembly, they understood that that additional component was education and their recent actions in terms of shutting down a larger portion of their co-working space proves that.
They decided that they didn’t actually need that anymore to fuel their education business. They were just simply going to focus on education which I think is symbolic of that. Co-working in itself isn’t really the best business. It’s what else can you add with the co-working experience. One of the things that I plan on doing next is actually running a full-scale, full-service restaurant inside of my next space.
Scott: What type of food is it going to serve?
Rameet Chawla: So, I don’t think it’s going to be consistent; the plan is to bring in cool chefs and rotate them so you’ll never get tired of the food that’s being created. You might not like it one week but you’ll like it the next and focus on more farm-to-table and healthy office eating than what we have been doing here really which is brownies, pop-corn and candy [Laughter].
Scott: That sounds amazing, I’m definitely going to come and stop by and see you. So, I mean, I got to ask man; you’ve built this amazing company where you get to create things that you love and that you’re interested in. You now have a co-working space, soon a co-working space with a restaurant in it that serves delicious food. The picture seems pretty rosy right now but I got to believe that there’s moments in this process that were really tough and it was hard. Can you talk a little bit about maybe one of the bigger challenging times you faced in the progression that we went through?
Rameet Chawla: I mean everything looks rosy now and it is great but I think at every point, in every stage of the company, now included, there’s always kind of critical things that need to happen for us to hit our goals. And I think I always set lofty goals and as a result of setting those lofty goals, I push myself and my team further. And yeah, I mean there were times when we’ve had core team members — I think the most devastating thing especially for an agency, because we are based on talent, is when a core team member leaves. And so, we had our first experience of that about a year and a half ago and someone that had led our technology team for a while left and left for not another job, just wanted to relax and get out and do his own thing.
And I think that was kind of a big realization I think for me too to see what someone that I had worked with for such a long time and never really imagined it ending. I always thought it was more of a partnership, we were kind of going to do this together type of thing and he just had a change of heart and just wanted to hang out and not manage a team anymore and just had a different objective. And there was no big differences on opinions on direction of the company, it was just a difference of opinion on what they wanted to do and so that was a moment in time when it was tough. One other instance and it was interesting, it was a really good learning lesson for me was when two of our directors, two senior people of the company started dating. Initially, it was like they were secretly dating, and then after that they became more public to the company and then they broke up.
They were two, very cool people and none of us imagined that anything negative could come out of that but it very much kind of split the company in a moment on to two teams. And that was tough to work through because there were two very senior people of the company and so you can just imagine what would happen culturally if half the company teams up with one person and the other half of the company teams up with the other person. And there was probably about six months of that back and forth where we didn’t know what to do and what was going to happen. I personally refused to pick teams and just kind of let it naturally solve itself.
Maybe I shouldn’t have but I say one person is just not going to be able to take it anymore and eventually one of them left and now we have recovered from that but still, it was a pretty traumatic situation to be in. I think you couple that with running — we’ve never gotten funding before so we built this all with any profits that we were able to spin off from the company and so at most points in our company’s existence we’ve only had a 3-6 month runway. So, we’re always just making it and it’s interesting because it’s a service company and as we grow — so like before the 6-month runway, it was X amount of cash and we’re like ‘okay cool, once we double that cash reserve, we’ll be fine and we’ll have like a year runway’.
What ends up happening is that you end up growing a company and you grow your cash reserve but the amount of cash that you use on a monthly basis increases. And so in that six months, instead of being 6 months or 8 months or 12 months, it’s now 5 months or 4 months and you’re growing but yet your runway isn’t necessarily growing. And so, it’s interesting and it made me realize why it makes sense for companies to raise the large amounts of capital they raise even when they are successful; it can just be that more of a catalyst in their growth. I’ve still elected not to raise capital and mainly because service companies, the type of investors you need are different than the traditional venture capital. The types of returns that they are looking for are multiples that typically a service company doesn’t produce but it’s been an interesting learning curve.
We’re still there, right now, we are probably only have somewhere between four and six months of runway and with all the stuff that we want to do, we want to build another office and I want to own building in New York, it’s again, lofty goals and it would be interesting to see how they all play out.
Scott: Yeah, take me through your mindset there because there’s a lot of people that would say, I finally have 6 months of runway now, I’m going to get 12 months but you’ve been aggressively charging by adding a ton more team members, building out co-working spaces pretty soon ones you are going to have world-class chefs coming in; talk to me about your thought process through that.
Rameet Chawla: A lot of people come up to me like, hey Rameet, you’ve done such a good job and you’re successful and all that stuff and I think I really want to say with a grain of salt — I mean I kind of visualize this kind of a glass house in a way where at any point, the wrong stone can be thrown and the whole thing can shatter. Which is like a slightly more good way of looking at things but I’m just being a realist in a way that an industry can shift really fast. People can move to just regular, native or mobile web experiences or actually it’s a non native but just inside web apps and you know a majority of our industry in terms of the way that we make our money could disappear relatively quickly and when that happens typically, it sneaks up on people.
And so I’m very conscious that but in terms of the inspiration, I have a goal, I have a specific goal, certain number of people, it’s around 135; I have a goal in terms of what I want my working space to look like and to feel like and have in it. And so for me everything that we have done to-date is just the means to an end. So I don’t view it as a success in its entirety because I haven’t finished yet. So I haven’t reached that end goal number, I haven’t built that space fully, everything is just like it’s already built to get to the finish line. And I think that’s why I keep on taking risks and I know exactly which direction I want to go in because I’ve already outlined it in my head. And there have been obviously small [Inaudible 0:31:05] along the way but it stayed true to the initial vision.
The initial vision is you can spend two years of your life building one startup and risking it on external factors that you don’t know if they are going to work or be successful or what’s one way you can hedge on that risk, what’s one way that you could theoretically build ten different startups in a year, it’s not practical for one person. They can’t be spread that thin; so how can we empower a team to do that? What if I had [Inaudible 0:31:37] component of 30 people just focused on ten different startups over the course of the year? That’s probable, no guarantees there you have to have the right 30 people and the right shared resources but how do you find those 30?
And so then it’s like okay cool, what if like an agency that had 90 people and was spitting up enough cash to fund that 30 so that we could build products and own those products in the market? And that was an interesting concept and I expanded it further, well instead of having 30 separate people [Inaudible 0:32:09] component and 90 people doing the work for a company or a client, why doesn’t everyone just take 25% of their time and devote it towards equity on projects that we were working with external founders? Because typically what happens is that when you have companies that you grow internally and incubating them, they don’t get the attention that they deserve. You really need people that are just — a whole team of people that are just full time dedicated, talking to press, figuring out and just “hustling” really.
So I tweaked it in a way where now we have a team of hustlers that are external to the company and the interests are aligned and then internally we are producing the work with all the knowledge that we have from all the other companies that we have worked with. So, we have the knowledge, the competitive advantage to build good products and then in exchange for fees for building it, we’re taking 25% of it as equity in that company. Now, we say the same thing [Inaudible 0:33:07] in that regard because we get to pick which clients we want to take equity because obviously when we work with those big Fortune-500 companies, we don’t get any equity in it.
But that’s not the goal, the goal is to help build one of the next big technology companies. So we use the Fortune-500 companies like a knowledge share, we learn from what works for them; we get them to fund the operations really for us to take on work with no profit with a startup that hopefully will turn into something. So that’s why I am still moving forward and I’m not looking at this “success” yet because we are still building. It was a six-year plan when I came up with it, we are about three and half years in and with my timetable I have another two and a half years to attack this and I think we’re maybe three months behind schedule but we’re pretty much there. Sometimes we are a little bit ahead and sometimes a little bit behind and yeah, that’s everything in a nutshell.
Scott: It’s a compelling idea to think about building companies this way because I know there’s a lot of people out there who basically just go for the homeruns and your set up almost allows you to have your cake and eat it too but you’re just going to have to wait a little bit longer to have your cake.
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, it’s a more systematic approach to it; it’s saying instead of having one or just going after one massive success, it’s very high in terms of the risk, let me take a more risk-averse way of approaching it and I think that’s partly because of my background in putting together risk-averse portfolios and just analyzing risk. Whenever I make a decision, I want to take calculated risks and I want those risks — given the fact that that it is a risky investment to have returns and just to maximize those potentials. So that’s what I’m doing here, it’s multiple startups, it’s over the course of time that there’s a probability of success and as long as I can ingrain myself in the industry and take on the right projects; there’s a good chance that we’ll build one of the next big ones.
Scott: It’s really interesting stuff; I want to change gears here just for a moment and talk about 7-7-1 because I think it’s pretty cool and it also is something that I have never heard anybody else do before. Can you explain the concept?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah sure; so I call it 7-1; it’s basically the idea that there’s three shifts in the day, eight hours, eight hours and eight hours so 24 hours in a day. One of them is for sleeping and so there’s kind of like an active — like seven hour components, like you sleep for seven hours, the end one for that is just getting ready in the morning and getting ready for bed at night and grooming my beard, all that fun stuff. And then the next two shifts or the next two seven hours are what I call the heads-up and heads-down time. So the first shift is the time where I can spend it with my clients, with my employees, with potential clients, with potential employees and it’s a very social time where I’m taking this interview for example in my heads-up time.
And then after that there’s a time that you need to just be creative on your own and you need to eliminate distractions from your life and you need to just work. And that’s what I call my heads-down time; and that’s another seven hours. And the end one from both of those I kind of combine into one social outing and so I’ll just leave the office because for both of those shifts, the heads-up and the heads-down, I’m typically in my office space. And it’s off the heels of what I said before, I’m just getting out there and constantly going to a meet up and just getting involved in the scene or maybe just having dinner with friends or if I feel like going to a party late night.
And so for me that two hours, I do somewhere in my second shift; I might start my heads-down time at 6:00 o’clock or 7:00 o’clock in the evening and I might leave for dinner at 9:00 or I might leave for an early event at 6:00 or I might leave for my party at 11:00 but typically two hours after I leave, I’m back in the office and I finish up work every day at around 3:30 and I’m in bed systematically at 4:00 AM every day which people kind of think I’m crazy and I look at them and I think they are crazy because every day for me, at least culturally and the way I live right now, I’m not saying everyone should have the same schedule that I have but for me culturally there are moments in my week or in my month where I will be out with friends till 4:00 AM and my end goal is just to always sleep at the same time.
That’s like one of the overarching goals, just sleep consistently at the same time every day, your body will get used to it and then wake up at the same time every day. So I typically don’t use an alarm; this morning when I got up, I just woke up because I had enough sleep and I went to bed at exactly 4:00 o’clock. And what’s amazing is, I don’t use any stimulants as a result and so I don’t drink caffeine and I typically remove most of the gluten or I have them remove most of the gluten from my diet. So, I have no sugars that are stimulating me to a high during the day because I’m tired maybe because I woke up early or I didn’t get enough sleep last night or because my sleep patterns were messed up.
So, everything is pretty steady and as a result, my energy levels are consistent all day. So I don’t have a crash in the late-afternoon when typically people have a crash and I don’t go home and just hang out on the couch because I just stay even all day and I think that’s resulted in a lifestyle that is much more productive as it relates to work. Now, everyone has to ask themselves as to what their goals are. For me my goal was to maximize time at the office because that’s what I like to do. I physically enjoy working and so for me it’s like how do I maximize my time at the office and for other people it doesn’t have to be that. You can change the framework or once you create a framework, you can mend it to what your objectives are in life.
So if your goal is to spend more time with your family, you should be able to spend more time when you are there 100% and so for me, it’s an entire lifestyle. It’s particular eating habits, and then it’s particular behaviors during the day that all kind of come together in this cohesive schedule that results in me being more efficient.
Scott: It’s really fascinating because so many people are trying to sleep less, they are trying to squeeze different things in and then they are going out on the weekends and they are sleeping at completely different hours; I mean it makes so much sense from a physiological standpoint for our bodies to have that consistency and also in terms of being able to understand what we are going to be able to get done and having some predictability to our output when you have it regimented in such a fashion like you do. I really like it man.
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, thanks. I just think that it’s interesting that culturally we’ve accepted the fact that it’s cool to go out later on the weekends and it’s weird to stay out late on the weekdays. It’s culturally looked at like, oh, that’s weird that you were out till 3:30 on a weekday, oh you’re a partier. I was like oh, no, I was the office and so they’re like, your work must be crazy then. And I was like, no, I’m just being consistent and for me, that consistent time is leaving at 3:30 and passing out at 4:00, sleeping for seven hours, waking up at 11:00 and coming into the office every day.
But for other people it doesn’t have to be like that, it doesn’t have to be that extreme in terms of how late it is. It’s just that on the weekends, I just like to go out that late but for other people they still go out till 4:00 but then come Monday, they have to try to force their bodies to go to sleep early so they can wake up on Monday morning not feeling tired. But that’s never the case because they end up going to sleep still late on Sunday night, they don’t get enough sleep Sunday night, they wake up, they’re tired, they start drinking coffee and like therein begins the cycle of their addiction to caffeine and other stimulants in life. And I just figured a way to get rid of that.
Scott: And you feel completely comfortable coming in to work being the CEO of a company, at noon?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah. Like I said, for everyone — they shouldn’t follow the exact same schedule that I have. If they have to be in at the office at a certain time, then they can adjust it accordingly. The theory is just sleep at the same time every day and sleep the same amount every day and you won’t even need an alarm anymore. And so for me, yeah, all my employees know that I put in crazy hours and the hours are there for a reason and the fact that I come in anywhere from an hour-and-a-half to two hours after them — because most of my team comes in at 10:00 anyways. They know I’m here eight hours after they leave. So the fact that I come in two hours after is just — it’s almost irrelevant.
Scott: Right. Rameet, I always like to finish with one question; and we might have just went over the answer, I’m not sure. If you had to give advice to people out there, who are looking to get an edge in their business, in life, if you had to give them just one or two tips, what would those be?
Rameet Chawla: Yeah, there’s one tip that has definitely driven a lot of success in our business and I see it in my friend’s businesses and it’s one the first things that I told them to focus on; it’s something fairly obvious so it’s not something obscure. But it’s something as simple as being the top result for whatever your clients are looking for on Google adds so much power and I think that typically, the value of the company that is the top result on Google is so much bigger than typically the current value of the business that someone is running. And it is the cheapest way to acquire valuable customers and I’d say that should be the number one objective of someone that is starting a new business or running a new business right now as opposed to [Inaudible 0:44:23] invest in a kind of sustainable organic traffic.
Scott: That makes a lot of sense and I think one of the ways we talked about earlier is really just picking your niche and owning it versus trying to do everything.
Rameet Chawla: Yes, 100%.
Scott: Rameet, this has been so awesome I mean your story is inspiring, we’ve talked about how you guys have been able to grow so fast and really niche down to building a co-working space to a different take on optimizing your output and scheduling your day. If people want to learn more about you and Fueled, where is the best place for them to go?
Rameet Chawla: It’s a great question, I always tell people to follow me on Facebook; I simply post a lot of the content that I publish there. Going to be doing a little bit more writing on Medium and then of course we have Fueled’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter handle too.
Scott: Excellent, well I will make sure to link all of those up in the show notes, thanks again for coming on buddy; it’s really been a pleasure.
Rameet Chawla: Of course it’s my pleasure, talk to you soon, Scott.
[End of interview 0:45:27]