Anubhav Saxena is the CEO of McLaren Strategic Ventures. The company helps tech startups and scaleups realize their potential through business acceleration.
For more than 20 years, Anubhav Saxena has found consistent success as the founder of several multi-million-dollar businesses. He has been an executive at “Automation Anywhere, Information Services Group, HCL Technologies and Wipro Limited.”
Likewise, Anubhav Saxena has been an instrumental force in “helping drive triple digit growth and material shareholder returns at each company.” He also advises the board of Chooch AI, Roambee, Headspin, and Nexient.
As a leader and category creator, Anubhav Saxena is a visionary and a pioneer in “financial growth, business operations, corporate development, acquisitions, and strategic board initiatives for leading public and private technology companies.”
Anubhav Saxena is also an Angel Investor who focuses on “investing in innovative and impactful start-ups.”
As an entrepreneur, Anubhav Saxena is a member of the TiE Charter, which is an “invitation-only program for high-profile entrepreneurs and thought leaders dedicated to mentoring rising entrepreneurs and giving back to the community.”
Anubhav Saxena is driven by his belief that “inventors and explorers have redefined the world we live in.” When people explore, they innovate, and when they innovate, they bring progress.
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This experience defines you, shapes you, and it has made all the difference for me. Anubhav Saxena
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Anubhav Saxena: Thanks for having me. I’d be happy to share a bit of my backstory.
While interning as a defense scientist on surface-to-air missile launchers, I was fascinated to work on advanced technologies while creating new categories of innovation to defend, protect, and secure sovereign nations.
By securing borders, we created unbounded economic, social, and human progress.
While one can never estimate the future in its entirety, I was inspired by the power of innovation to bring us to the future we so richly deserve.
Responsible innovation, when accelerated with value and purpose, unlocks human potential to focus on things that matter.
By improving businesses through technological innovation, humans not only foster sustainability, but we also help create billions in high-growth revenues that eventually become publicly-listed companies and create millions of jobs that continue to pay forward.
This experience defines you, shapes you, and it has made all the difference for me.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Anubhav Saxena: Creating a new business category that transforms the status quo with limited time, funds, and resources is never easy.
New ideas and innovation are often expensive and risky, and the most talented people usually dismiss these ideas to settle for security and predictability.
Coming to the United States to create disruptive technology service models while unseating massively successful incumbents meant giving up the life I knew in India.
What do you pack to pursue a dream, and what do you leave behind?
My drive came from the belief that inventors and explorers have redefined the world we live in.
Exploring means innovation, and innovation means progress, so giving up was never an option, as we’d already given up so much to get this far.
Success is measured by what we have to give up to get where we are.
The importance of working backwards and forming a clear path was another key lesson.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Anubhav Saxena: Absolutely! When I was younger, a sample size of one was the norm for me.
I created a version of the future thinking that what I had designed or created was the only game in town, with a set of unique value propositions that nobody could copy or create.
I used to believe that everyone should see it the way I do. The higher the complexity, the better I thought it would be.
I would pursue it relentlessly, often breaking more than creating, spending more time and effort covering my mistakes than resolving them, and discrediting the wisdom those opportunities could have bestowed upon me.
A few takeaways I’ve had are the importance of simplicity, both in thought and action. Also, I’ve developed a higher self-awareness, and the recognition that admitting your own guilt leaves you feeling richer.
The importance of working backwards and forming a clear path was another key lesson.
I must admit, I still return to those moments and resort to those tactics today (after all, I’m human too!), but the difference between now and then is that I can recognize my flaws, and hopefully if I see them enough, I’ll be able to fully correct them someday!
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Anubhav Saxena: The five most important things to lead a company from good to great are the five questions that one should always truthfully answer: Are you working at the company that’s the best in what it does?
Are you counted amongst the best in that company? Does the opportunity provide you, individually, to get a higher than expected economic, human, and social outcome? Have you identified the optimal partners and cultivated the best team?
And lastly, have you created the right environment and gathered the right tools to succeed in achieving your goals?
The greatest races, wars, revolutions, movements, inventions, and explorations were successful when everyone continued to pull together in the same direction, driven by common passions and pursuits of excellence, and it’s a common theme in our approach with our clients at McLaren.
Two decades and three decacorns later, I can see why each of these great companies overcame the challenges presented by its other good competitors, even while skill, talent, and opportunity were equally distributed.
The ability to answer these five questions truthfully gives anyone the power to lead their company to become the gold standard.
Purpose driven businesses that match their stated purpose to their vision and mission while following through with flawless execution do better. Always.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Anubhav Saxena: Purpose driven businesses that match their stated purpose to their vision and mission while following through with flawless execution do better. Always.
First, they demonstrate truth and transparency about why they exist and what they hope to achieve, making them highly trusted brands in the marketplace.
They are empowering, create a reason, and build association.
One example from my past is Automation Anywhere University, which has trained over a million in the world to become intelligent automation experts that drive the purpose, vision, and mission of digital augmentation to the human workforce to create a future that’s highly efficient, effective, and productive.
HCL’s “Employee First” philosophy also drove higher customer centricity, since in a services business, people (employees) are your biggest assets.
By putting employees first, they put customers first, which created the fastest growing services company for over a decade through the worst of recessions, creating more jobs and welfare than any other across the world.
Now with McLaren Strategic Ventures, our “Entrepreneur First” philosophy drives alignment to the mission, vision, and purpose on hand and the role of innovation that makes it the leading business accelerator in the world.
It has the potential to enable skill development across the latest technologies, creating jobs for the unserved and underserved communities across all shores.
That purpose unleashes the power and potential to change lives.
Social impact as an afterthought and an unintended consequence still counts. Imagine the impact if we all did it on purpose.
The winners are the ones who continue to tread the path with unwavering faith and execution, however tough it may seem. Anubhav Saxena
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Anubhav Saxena: Business development is both an art and science. When done well, it results in a higher level of desirable outcomes, like new sales, both from a quality and quantity standpoint.
I’ve seen lots of entrepreneurs talk about TAM, SAM, and SOM. They are not specific enough on what revenue and EBITDA attributes their target customers should have, and what customer segments they plan to focus on.
They also do not have critical metrics that will be used to measure themselves against the industry best (LTV/CAC, Magic number, etc.)
A lack of clarity and understanding on what one is selling and why clients are buying for a certain price leads businesses to selling anything to anyone, for any dollar that’s willing to be paid.
While there might be nothing wrong with that at the time it’s done, the departure from ‘should have been’ to what ‘is,’ continues to widen. Measure twice, cut once.
This set of strategies done well minimizes wasted effort, money, time, and resources which not only results in higher valuations, but also points to a scale strategy that’s deliberate, has a desirable revenue and EBITDA customer segmentation, and results in a desired portfolio.
This allows for follow-on investments and designs for customer retention and expansion.
There are many strategies to increase business-specific conversion rates, but it starts with the specificity described, the bedrock of good planning and design.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Anubhav Saxena: Great brands stand for purpose, delivered value, and unique innovation. They are trusted to deliver on their promises and are associated with buyers at a very human level.
Like humans, they are evaluated on risks, security, dependability and their connection with clients, which should both be professional and deeply personal.
Businesses have to evaluate not only what they do to deliver on their promises, but how and what they do to get it done.
I’ve seen that the more businesses share their values and purpose while amply demonstrating how they’ve followed through, the more trusted and beloved they become.
This extends to any enterprise or any consumer brand. Earning, keeping, and growing trust in the most unpredictable times is when brands are tested the most.
The winners are the ones who continue to tread the path with unwavering faith and execution, however tough it may seem.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Anubhav Saxena: You can find me on LinkedIn here, and you can follow our progress at McLaren Strategic Ventures here.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!