Off hours: Digital entrepreneur of MallMate pulls it off with resilience

Jaideep Dhanoa is the founder and chief executive of MallMate, a mobile app he launched late last year that helps shoppers find and share the things they love at malls around the world. Mr Dhanoa, 32, grew up in California, Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore, before moving to New York to study at Columbia University. It was there he started his first company and discovered his passion for internet entrepreneurship. After graduating with a degree in financial engineering, Mr Dhanoa joined a serial entrepreneur in Dubai to form Global Cricket Ventures, where he led the commercialisation of the digital rights for Indian cricket and the Indian Premier League. He has also had career stints at ESPN in Singapore, McKinsey & Company and Disney.

How do you spend your weekend?

My weekends are primarily for my wife and baby girl – she’s 10 months so we are quite busy with her.

How did you become a chief executive?​​

As a founder you find a strong sense of purpose in what you are doing. With that said, I’m still learning what it takes to be an effective and successful CEO, and think that will always be the case. I have received some helpful training through previous leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and at Disney, which builds on my prior start-up experience. MallMate is the third start-up I am working on. The first was a flame out in college. The second, a major success where I was the chief product officer for, the official Indian Premier League website for minute-to-minute live updates.

What is your go-to gadget?

The iPhone is still my go-to device but I rely on the complete iOS ecosystem: iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV, MacBook – they all work so seamlessly together.

What was the lowest point of your career?

I don’t believe in low points. Failures are always difficult but they are learning experiences, especially the biggest failures. My biggest failures in the past have been in effective communication and managing expectations among stakeholders. It is an important skill set that generally comes with experience. Sometimes you need to learn the lesson the hard way for it to sink in.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

There are two pieces of advice. First, do something you are passionate about. A start-up will often take a decade to realise its potential and will require resiliency to pull it off. Second, talk to your customers early and often – they are great sources of insight.

What is your most indulgent habit?

Quality TV programming. This is the golden age of TV content and there are a lot of high quality shows being produced right now such as House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.

What do you have on your desk at work?

Primarily mementos from clients I visited during my time at McKinsey. I can’t disclose specifics but great memories of high impact opportunities I’ve had a chance to contribute to. I also have a few souvenirs from my travels on my desk.

What can’t you live without?

My iPhone – it’s a great phone and camera, but also the most powerful always-connected computer I’ve ever had.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

It’s about setting boundaries for yourself to accept and live by. Once you have your own clarity it becomes much easier to say no.

If you could swap jobs with anyone, who would it be and why?

Elon Musk – but only for a day. His ability to drive several meaningful technological programmes (solar power, electric vehicles, space exploration) concurrently is really inspiring. I would love to see what a day in his life is like.

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Shereen El Gazzar

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