Gruhas Gusto

Being Fit Can Help Run A Business Effectively – Here’s How!

The co-founder of artistic beverage company Rio, Rahul Sangoi shares the relationship between fitness and running a successful startup

11 years ago, I started a business with my brothers. 7 years ago, I started running to finally conquer my battle with the bulge. When I look back at the intersection of these aspects of my life, I see a distinct pattern emerge that highlights the endurance required in running and the challenges of building our company. Physical fitness isn’t just about aesthetic, it actually creates an environment that is conducive to a productive business cycle and success.
As a ‘motu’ in school and then college, my struggle with weight loss has always been a work in progress. It didn’t take a slip disc at 37 to realise making my health a priority – it took a relapse 10 months later. Cut to today, I have conquered 2 Ultra Marathons, spanning 90 km each, 8 full marathons of 42.2 km and numerous half marathons. As I run, I have often pondered on work stuff. In my current professional status as an  entrepreneur and the CEO of Rio Innobev, I have realised that each marathon hasn’t been getting fit. It is actually a discipline that promotes entrepreneurial strategy and resilience. 

1. Mastering The 3D’s:

No rocket science here: entrepreneurship and running both demand the 3D’s: discipline, determination, and dedication. Just as consistent, disciplined, and dedicated running leads to improvement, entrepreneurship requires determination, burning the midnight oil, and dedication to grow your company. When I was running, the target of 42 km was broken up over time into smaller, more achievable goals of 5 km, while adding on a couple of km every day. This also helped me break down the right design strategy for RIO. At RIO every function was built one step at the time. First came the manufacturing, then the sales followed by distribution, then finance & HR. And we kept bettering the functions as the company grew just like I keep bettering time on my running.
2. Find The Right Coach:

Training for a marathon requires expert guidance, and I began my journey under the watchful eye of a coach. My coach continuously pushes me to improve my running while ensuring I stay injury-free. That’s why we’ve joined  Gruhas Gusto, a 6-month accelerator program by Gruhas, Jubilant Bhartia Family Office, Sabre Ventures (DLF Family Office), and Anthill Ventures. With their mentorship facilities, I am confident that RIO will scale up.

3.  Time Tests Patience:

In marathons and entrepreneurship, the finish line often appears closer than it truly is. At RIO, every solved problem unveiled a new challenge, building resilience and making the journey more rewarding. Despite meticulous planning, both running and business are vulnerable to the unexpected. Injuries and unforeseen events can disrupt plans, just as unexpected challenges arise in business. Becoming resilient. Both teach tenacity, patience, and the ability to push forward when all seems lost, strengthening your willpower as you progress.

4. Gear Up!

Anything in life requires the right tools for success and one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Running, for instance, demands the right shoes (and each runner has a different preference. Just drinking water will not cut it, you need a mix of electrolytes supplemented by the right diet and powered by targeted training. Entrepreneurship also requires the right tools: designing a product which can achieve the perfect market fit and then an effective team and good channel partners who can take the products to the end consumers. Good vendors who can supply good quality raw material at the right price. Focus on the optimal use of your resources. In marathon training, proper hydration and nutrition are crucial, as is understanding when to consume energy gels, drinks, and water. Similarly, in entrepreneurship, wise resource allocation is key with limited resources.
5. Start Slow, Gain Momentum:

While training for a marathon you train for the distance over a period of 5-6 months and not in a span of 1-2 months.  Patience is crucial in both pursuits and you need to pace yourself to scale over the long run (pun intended). If you try to run fast, you’ll burn out and are definitely setting yourself up for injury. Work up the pace gradually and adopt a measured approach. Similarly, at RIO, we attempted to expand to a lot of cities in our initial years. We realised that every city requires a different Go to Market (GTM) strategy, so we had to pull out of some cities. Just as running speed improves with practice, entrepreneurship requires patience to navigate setbacks and continue progressing. While it’s natural to compare yourself to others, true progress comes from competing against your personal best, not others. Both endeavours will bring moments of pain and euphoria. Pain pushes you to change for future euphoria, creating a cycle of improvement. Example when we were building RIO in the initial days a lot of distributors and retailers refused to stock our products but as the word of mouth for the brand grew a lot of them called us and wanted to do business with us.  Similarly a lot of our suppliers in the initial days refused to extend credit to us and were made to purchase raw material in advance but today it’s the same suppliers with whom we have developed excellent relations and they extend 30-45 days of credit to us.