My Start-Up Safari: Insights from Prashant Deo Singh, Vice President – HR, MOVIN Express

My Start-Up Safari

I have been fortunate to be part of at least four start-ups in my career. One was Coca-Cola, green field bottling operations, then the enterprise business of Airtel, then Ison, an IT/BPO start-up in Africa, and now MOVIN, a UPS & InterGlobe JV in the B2B logistics space. These experiences have given me a deep understanding of what it takes to build successful start-ups from the ground up.

As I reflect on my journey, I realize that despite the different industries and geographical locations, there are common threads that have contributed to the success of these start-ups. Here are some key insights:


Teams come together to achieve a common goal. What to do and how to do it based on our values and culture will follow, but why we are on this journey is so important. ‘Why’ is also closely associated with the mission of the Company, the very purpose of its existence. For example, we are together in MOVIN to create one of the most aspirational brands in the B2B logistics space. The current generation of the workforce wants to relate to and be engaged with companies that echo their purpose in life. Panasonic’s mission was to upgrade the quality of life of people across the world by producing quality products at a price that was accepted by society!


It’s important to get our values right at the inception, which is core to the business strategy in whatever markets we operate. Values convey our intent and core principles on how we will operate in a market. Values also help in attracting the right talent who will join the Company and have a long-term commitment. As we focus on product and marketing strategy, the leadership team needs to discuss with the same intensity what our values will be as we scale up. At MOVIN, we have ACE – Agility, Care, and Excellence with Integrity at its core as our core values. In our various communication forums to our stakeholders, our emphasis on our values is so visible. Values take time to percolate, but the Leadership team keeps communicating these core values across the organization, and they need to walk the talk. Values are non-negotiable.


Culture is set by the leadership team and the leader. The DNA of any organization is culture. Academically speaking, the unwritten norms and values in an organization are culture. It’s a complete setup of mental programming of individuals working in any organization. Culture is drawn from the core values of the Company, and leadership competencies follow. Today, the best of the talent is aspiring for an organization where they get a kick to come to work after brushing their teeth in the morning. Culture pulls people to work every day and gives their best shot. We love brushing our shoulders with people who believe in our values and culture. People love coming to work daily if you have a non-toxic and non-political culture where people team up with an aspiration to build a great Company. It’s also important to weed out outliers who do not live our values and culture in its true spirit, as their constant cribbing and negativity impact the environment. Cultures could be based on operational excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship, etc., but diversity of thought is important.


Great teams build great Companies. Cross-functional collaboration is critical for the success of any start-up. There are so many priorities that need to be stitched together in a short period. Cross-functional collaboration is easier said than done; this has to be displayed consistently by the leadership team. It’s always about the brand and the stakeholders who impact the brand experience internally or externally. It’s never about individuals. Forming kingdoms is passé. We need to build capabilities that will support the growth of the organization. People should fit into the defined organizational structure rather than the other way around, which is so common in start-ups.


The ultimate form of customer engagement is when the customer is so passionately engaged with the brand that they cannot think of moving to any other brand beyond the one they have experienced, which delights them every time they experience their product or services. Values, if lived internally as well as externally, will only be able to create that passion. Emotional connect with employees and customers works wonders, but for that, one needs to be genuine. Transparency, even if there is bad news, works wonders—”nothing under the carpet.” There is nothing more important than the voice of the customer; the entire leadership team should be aware of this and contribute towards the passionate engagement of the customer.


Institutionalizing various communication forums is so important for a start-up. Employee communication forums, at least quarterly, weekly reviews, leadership cascades, leadership teams meeting customers, and communicating to employees at the site, being with them, and addressing their concerns is so vital for building a Company. Each and every individual should be aligned periodically to the goals of the Company and where it is headed. Nothing under the carpet—communication should be transparent.


Technology is an enabler. Technology helps in reinforcing processes and providing a seamless experience internally as well as externally. With AI and ML evolving, every function needs to adopt technology and provide a uniform experience.

Learning & Development

Be it onboarding, functional certifications, behavioral interventions, health and safety, it’s so important to bring talent up to speed in a start-up. A blended learning approach, which is a combination of face-to-face programs with blended learning and content being pushed through the LXP platform, goes a long way in providing excellence. Learning has to be part of the culture and makes people agile! With so many changes, learning is the only function that builds capabilities so that the workforce is up to speed in a dynamic start-up environment. Learning should build capabilities to deliver quantified business outcomes.


If excellence is a core value, it needs to be lived both internally as well as externally. Doing things right the first time and every time is what we aspire to at MOVIN. If we do shoddy work internally and expect customer delight, it will not work. Coca-Cola has defined Coca-Cola Quality Systems across geographies, which work on a zero-tolerance basis in order to provide a unique Coca-Cola experience. Panasonic is known for top-quality and sustainable products.

Concluding Insights: The Essential Threads for Start-Up Success

In summary, the success of a start-up hinges on several critical factors: having a clear purpose that aligns with the company’s mission, establishing core values that guide business strategies, fostering a culture set by the leadership that attracts and retains top talent, building strong and collaborative teams, engaging customers with a brand they are passionate about, ensuring transparent and effective communication, leveraging technology as an enabler, and investing in continuous learning and development. These threads collectively create a robust foundation that drives sustainable growth and long-term success.

Prashant Deo Singh

Prashant Deo Singh

Prashant Deo Singh is a seasoned Human Resources professional with over two decades of experience in strategic HR management. He has a proven track record of building and leading successful companies from the start-up phase across diverse geographies, including Africa, the Middle East, India, and South Asia. Prashant has worked across various sectors, such as Manufacturing (Hindalco), FMCG (Coca-Cola India/Philips India), Banking (Lord Krishna Bank, now HDFC Bank), Hospitality (The Park), Telecom (Bharti-Airtel), FMCD (Panasonic India), IT & ITeS (iSON Group), Retail (Sharaf DG), and currently Logistics (MOVIN). His expertise includes digital HR transformation, employee engagement, HR operations, talent management, learning and development, and organization design. As Vice President of Human Resources at MOVIN, a JV between UPS and InterGlobe, Prashant is focused on building a winning team to cater to customer needs in the B2B logistics space. Known for his results-driven approach, strong decision-making, and analytical abilities, Prashant excels in both strategic and tactical HR functions, bringing thought leadership and a business-linked approach to every organization he serves.

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