May 22, 2020
It was a few years ago, that I asked a few friends to put me in touch with brilliant marketing gurus. Kartik and I were fresh into RedCarpet being one of the earliest startups ever selected into YCombinator (during the Paul Graham and Sam Altman days). Funnily enough, those days were very much like today - Kartik and I were all remote from the Bay Area...and the very first time we talked with Abhay was over the phone.
Abhay had been working with one of the pioneers of the payment ecosystem - Pine Labs. These were the frontier days before demonetization, UPI, Aadhaar. All of these adventures were yet to come! But more interestingly, he had just come out of selling a boutique hotel in the hills - a young bachelor with his bike, his music and his dreams. In those days, we worked out a small place in Udyog Vihar - and we had Chaayos and Grofers as roommates. (I ta test Chaayos adrak ki chai).
But what was even tastier was the future of digital finance in India. Those were the days when cash-on-delivery is king was the only refrain that we heard.
Kartik, Abhay and I hit it off very quickly and Abhay joined a short while later. Even funnier, all three of us wouldnt be in the same room for months (because of the YC commute from India <-> US). And we have been on the same wavelength all this time.
Abhay spearheaded the creation of RedCarpet's referral network, college events and the ground sales network program. As we scaled from barely one card a day to lakhs of cards on the ground across the country, the growth program was mainly Abhay's baby.
Kartik and I saw the evolution of digital finance and credit from a dream to reality in India. We have been fortunate to have a team like this to build RedCarpet in its early days. Abhay was with us every step as we turned EBITDA profitable at RedCarpet.
The last few months have been interesting for Abhay as he spent his time being a doting father to his baby in the midde of a lockdown. His wife is already an accomplished health specialist working towards rural healthcare and digital health networks in tier-2/3 India. Abhay has been puzzling over solving some of the problems there and in other spaces, especially in context of healthcare and education (amongst other things).
Abhay spoke to Kartik and I about the idea of pursuing other interests in these domains. We could tell that the changing world had sprouted some fundamental thoughts in his mind and he was very keen to pursue this....and so were fully supportive of his decision. Both Kartik and I will definitely miss having him around as we step into the next phase of building our products for Bharat.
And so will the team ;)
Arrividerci Abhay - until we meet again.