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I am Pankaj Vermani, CEO of Clovia and This is How I Work

I am Pankaj Vermani, CEO of Clovia and This is How I Work

Life has come a full circle for Pankaj Vermani, CEO of Clovia, who observed his father run a lingerie retail business as a kid and now owns Clovia, an online-first lingerie and sleepwear brand, which generated a massive revenue of Rs 435 million in 2016, its fourth year in business since launch in 2013. We met the 34-year-old start-up specialist at his office in Noida to know more about his interesting journey and know how he caters to a women-only brand so seamlessly (pun intended!).

Location : New Delhi
Current Gig : Clovia
One word that best describes how you work: Happy
Current mobile device : Xiaomi Mi 4
Current computer : Macbook Pro

Tell us about your journey and how did you get where you have?

After graduating from IIT Delhi, I was one among the first few employees of a technology services company, which went on to become one of the fastest growing in the sector. I co-founded two companies thereafter, both of which were successfully acquired. The first was acquired in 2005 by Exponential Inc, a global Ad Network. The next venture received multiple awards including Deloitte Fast50 Award in 2010 & 2011 and Red Herring Asia 2011.

Clovia, the lingerie brand, was my co-founder and wife, Neha's idea. She had been researching on the potential in the Indian market in terms of the availability of inner wear online for quite some time. While apparel e-commerce had evolved, innerwear was largely unaddressed and ignored. As the social stigmas are evaporating and the sensibilities are evolving, a whole new awareness about "underfashion" is becoming a reality. We realized that the lack of education on sizing, and complications in regular distribution of stocking multiple sizes and options had created an inefficient, low exposure market, waiting to be disrupted.

(Also read: I Am Monisha Singh Katial, VP Of Content & Strategy, BookMyShow, And This Is How I Work )

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

The Google Business Suite is the quintessential lifeline for my business interactions. WhatsApp is also important, because it helps interact with various teams within Clovia. Nike+ Running is another app that is a very critical part of my daily activities. And the Kindle app on my phone is the perfect reading partner.

What's your workspace setup like?

We stick the sample principle across the organization - Keep it simple, soulful and cheerful. My workspace is no different. My essentials include a pair of Bluetooth JBL Speakers (for noise burst in times of adrenalin rush, wireless headphones for regular use and minimalistic frames from my favourite movies of all times - Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, Usual Suspects, Fight Club and The Matrix.

What's your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Here are few ways I've learnt along the way to utilize my time to the fullest -

  1. Airports, if utilized well, are a great place to work. When traveling, I avoid rush hours on roads (specially in Mumbai and Bangalore) and preferably reach early. I've identified Lounges at major airports which are the best places to reach early and work. It's the best time to catch up on pending tasks.
  2. I have minimized driving and instead rely on cab services mostly. I was recently introduced to podcasts, and they make great travel companions.
  3. I was not very fond of cardio. But then I started to catch up on my Netflix while running. Now I do long happy hours on treadmill.
  4. I walk while attending phone calls. It is the best way to merge two essentials.
  5. I have developed a discipline of saving half-a-day in a week as my 'DND' time. It helps me research for next phases of growth and build efficiencies. Some of the personal-best ideas have come during that time.
  6. Make two lists at the beginning of every month - one about high level KPI (of not more than 5 major targets) and the other enlisting granular Daily Tasks. This practice increases productivity multifold.
  7. Clear up the most troubling / difficult items first thing every day. This helps clear up the pressure at the back of mind to handle mammoth tasks.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?

I cannot live without Sony Smart TV, which I use for video conferences via Skype and other messengers and talks to the iPad for streaming content. I also enjoy Kindle Paperwhite for leisure reading. For gaming, it was a Nintendo Wii setup, which has been defunct for a while now, thanks to the long hours going into building Clovia (smiles).

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

It's mundane and extremely counterproductive to compare yourself to others. Every day, one needs to be better than what he was the day before.

I used to boast about the man hours I've put into work. However, if today someone running organizations tells me how much he/she works and how less thinking time he/she gets, I get worried about their health and organizational skills. You need to switch off, go to your happy place, come back sorted and fight your battles.

What are you currently reading?

Currently, I'm reading Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, the biography of Nike Founder Phil Knight. It is very gripping, insightful and beautifully written by one of the iconic brand builders of our times.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

"A big problem, when broken into small parts, becomes just a bunch of small problems you need to fix." Do not get overwhelmed by the enormity of issues you might be facing. You need to intelligently slice them and make palatable actionables.

(Also read: I Am Suchita Salwan, Founder & CEO Of Little Black Book, And This Is How I Work )

The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Ishita.

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