StartupEd had an exclusive interview with Rohan Handa, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Cohort. Read his inspiring journey below

Tell me a little bit about yourself?

I had spent the first decade of my life in India and attended high school here. I completed my graduation from Purdue University in Mechanical Engineering, and then shifted to Los Angeles to pursue a Masters degree in Industrial Engineering. To start my professional journey, I moved to San Francisco where I worked at Ernst and Young for a few years. Further, I started working with FinTech, startups, and other large financial institutions all across the globe. It was a great exposure which helped me discover my true calling. I finally started focussing on incubating and investing in early-stage startups when I started working in BBVA.

Tell me something about Cohort and what was the eureka moment?

The Eureka moment happened in 2018 when I, along with two of my friends, had started a fund to invest in cryptocurrency. We bootstrapped and invested around $60,000 to purchase funds through friends and family. We observed that as an individual investor, if the price was $10,000 or $20,000, everyone did not have that kind of capital to purchase and it was also difficult for them to keep track of their investments. That, I can say, was the early genesis of the idea. I spent the last year thinking about how to bring the opportunity, not only in cryptocurrency but in any general wealth or asset management related products which people can’t even afford, especially when the cost of living in the US is so high. In this economy, where it is so difficult for people to decide where or how to invest that they end up discussing with their friends or families, Cohort essentially becomes a platform that enables them to sufficiently answer these questions.

According to a Harvard Business Review Study, 75% startup fail. Did that ever deter you from starting your venture?

Many startups indeed fail and shut down their operations within a few years of opening. I tried my hand in starting my own company a few years back called Fanmongers, with a friend of mine. We both were enthusiasts and wanted to help people who wish to watch games, especially when they are not in the city where the game is happening.

I learned a major thing from my experience, and that is to make sure that your idea connects with you and must be personal.

Cohort is close to me in terms of how I think about finances. I have seen some challenges and issues since I have come from a middle-class family, and that motivates and encourages me to pursue the path of growing my idea.

What is your definition of success and how do you measure it?

I would measure success by knowing how capable I am in solving genuine problems of my target customers. It is about being able to identify a problem for which the solution does not exist and your customer is the biggest advocate of your product.

What was the toughest challenge you have faced so far in your entire journey?

The toughest challenge for me was to build my network from scratch as I moved from San Francisco to Singapore. Everything was new and I was trying to understand and adjust to the new environment, culture and people. Everything was pushing me out of my comfort zone. It took me quite a long time to adjust and fit in. It was tough, but now I think of it as a great exposure because I used to met new people and learned new things. Now I think that I can adjust and fit in anywhere.

This is a hypothetical situation- imagine that you can invite anyone for dinner and they would surely accept your invitation. Who would you invite and why?

I think I would invite Nassim Taleb, author of books like The Black Swan, Skin in the Game, and Antifragile. The reason behind this is his thinking which is extremely radical. Moreover, he challenges the notion of our day-to-day lives and our everyday thinking. He is very provocative and I enjoy his narrations.

What is that one piece of advice you would like to give to all the entrepreneurs out there?

If you are pursuing your dream, then one thing you should have to keep in mind is to ‘Be Passionate – Never lose your passion’. If you want to achieve 100% then your efforts should be double i.e. 200%. Also, if you think for a single second that this is not going to work and have a back-up plan, then you are not passionate enough.