Kulveer Taggar on Nurturing the Entrepreneur Within You
Kulveer Taggar is the co-founder and CEO of Zeus Living, a San Francisco-based company redefining how we live. Zeus provides thoughtfully furnished homes to business travelers for stays of 30+ days. The company leases properties directly from individual owners and transforms the unfurnished spaces into ready-to-be-lived-in homes. Zeus currently manages over 1,500 homes across the metros of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Kulveer is a serial entrepreneur -- prior to Zeus, Kulveer co-founded and sold Auctomatic, and also co-founded Boso, raising its seed round from Y-Combinator. He is currently an angel investor in Meetings.io (exited), Airhelp, Boom, Cover Financial, Tovala and Rickshaw. Originally from the UK, Kulveer studied at the University of Oxford.
Kulveer Taggar began his entrepreneurial journey in college, exiting a company for $5MM while still a student. Now, as CEO and co-founder of Zeus Living, he’s set his sights on capturing the $18 billion corporate housing industry. During a recent interview, the serial entrepreneur - who has since also became an angel investor - described his entrepreneurial journey and shared insights on building an impactful company.
Taggar emphasized the importance of achieving product-market fit at an early stage. “One’s focus has to be on making something people love.” The advantage early-stage startups have over incumbents is speed, as the core capabilities and operations are defined entirely from zero and grow bottom-up. However, it’s imperative to understand that scaling a product/service offering that people don’t need can lead to a complete disaster. Tailoring your experience to the customer’s needs at a micro-scale, followed by rapid expansion at a macro-scale is, thus, critical for attaining success.
Selecting the right co-founders is another fundamental aspect that one should keep in mind, even before starting a company. Taggar stressed its paramount importance: “Co-founding is more serious than marriage.” An ideal leadership team is in sync and boosts growth synergistically by complementing each co-founder through diverse skill sets and personality styles brought to the table. Further, hiring the first few employees who go on to hire more employees goes a long way to setting the culture and values that the company represents.
Explaining the importance of education in developing entrepreneurship, Taggar views universities as a dense network of smart people where one can find his/her tribe. The required link is already there, making campuses an excellent platform for finding co-founders to start a company. “My alma mater taught me the art of self-learning. It made me realize that I had to take an interdisciplinary approach to solve problems of importance.” With the right people, the semi-structured learning environment coupled with university incubation programs can potentially become a solid foundation for building successful companies.
Having a growth mindset is crucial as the journey is a roller-coaster ride with steep ups and downs. Often, entrepreneurs can find themselves in places where progress might seem impossible. However, it’s essential to recognize when facing challenges of all difficulties that every human has been gifted with a superpower that helps them to rise to the occasion. “Entrepreneurs are not born; they are made. The next time you think you can’t overcome something, you are greatly underestimating yourself.” The most significant challenge humans will ever face is limiting themselves with a fixed mindset, i.e., thinking of themselves as having a fixed set of capabilities.
In addition to unicorn companies, there is an emerging class that is rarer when compared to the former. A “phoenix” is a company that rises, despite facing numerous bouts of disruption, to create a long-lasting business that outlives multiple generations of leaders. Speaking about building a “phoenix” in the 21st Century, Taggar describes his plan of creating a legacy of business revolving around four key values: Customer-Centricity, Transparency, Iterativity and Humbleness. “If you are religious that your customer is always right and receptive to the customer’s changing needs, then your company is not going to die.” In a year rampant with news on IPO’s and startups - whose lifecycle’s are often fleeting - Taggar’s principles stand out in their emphasis on longevity and provide a gentle reminder on creating lasting, customer-obsessed companies.