Founder Stories are conversations with people that have been through YC.

Ritesh Malik is cofounder of Innov8 (YC S16).

Discussed: Starting Innov8, Being an International Founder in YC, India’s Startup Ecosystem, Advice, and Ritesh’s Favorite Books.


Craig: What does your company do?

Ritesh: Innov8 offers coworking offices in India.

Craig: What did you do before YC?

Ritesh: I started my first startup in 2012, Alive App, which was acquired by Times of India. Since then I have been an angel investor in Indian startups.

Craig: Why did you decide to start Innov8?

Ritesh: India has some of the most uninspiring & mundane offices. People spend over half of their non-sleeping hours in these offices. Indians live for the weekends and drift unexcitedly from Monday through Friday. We saw an opportunity to revolutionize the way people work in our country by building a workstyle brand with elements of design, community & technology over the layer of real estate.

Craig: What’s it like being an international founder at YC?

Ritesh: YC is amazing! I’m a medical doctor by education. Having no formal management degree, YC was my 3 month MBA for scaling startups. It was one of the most wide learning experiences of my life. The network, the partners, and the guidance YC provides are super helpful in addition to being associated with the YC brand.

Coming from a country like India, where the startup ecosystem is hugely exaggerated and the fundamental knowledge of product supremacy and raising capital is still juvenile, YC has given me a clear rationale of how to create great companies.

Craig: Do you have thoughts on how the industry could be better for international founders?

Ritesh: I think the industry is great for international founders. People are super helpful! Didn’t expect this much support for international founders in the Valley.

Craig: Any advice for people that are thinking about starting a startup?

Ritesh: Go through the YC blog. Read each and every line and implement. Take action and start don’t worry about whether you’ll fail. Focus on product supremacy. Great companies are built on great products. Don’t worry about money. Create an amazing customer experience.

Craig: What advice would you give yourself when you were just out of college?

Ritesh: Keep dreaming big! Irrespective of your current position, every individual has the ability to do whatever he/she wants to do. People don’t fail because of lack of aptitude/knowledge or skills but because of lack of dreaming big. Insane ambitions are a common ingredient of all the might in the world!

Craig: What are your favorite books?

Ritesh: Here are a few:

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham