The Startup Playbook

Connecting you to the best entrepreneurs, investors and resources from around the world

Ep145 – Ashik Ahmed (Co-founder & CEO – Deputy) on COVID, conviction and customer obsession

My guest for Ep145 of The Startup Playbook Podcast was the Co-founder & CEO of Deputy, Ashik Ahmed.

Ashik launched Deputy in 2008, initially as the co-founder and CTO of the business. 

He transitioned to the CEO role after Deputy raised there Series A funding round in 2017.

Deputy has since gone on to being used by 250,000 businesses across more than 100 countries and the company has raised a total of AUD$144M ($101M USD) including Australia’s largest ever Series B funding round of AUD$111M ($81M USD).

However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing with the company suffering significantly through COVID last year having to stand down 30% of it’s staff.

In this interview we covered a wide range of topics including:

  • How Deputy and Ashik managed the challenges of COVID
  • Why founders need to retain their customer obsession and love customers who complain
  • Ashik’s journey from software developer to the CEO role
  • Ashik’s approach to fundraising and building relationships with VCs and investors
  • Why more companies die from indigestion rather than starvation
  • & much more!


  • 2.08 – An introduction to Ashik and his company Deputy
  • 2.47 – What the early days of Deputy where like and how that formed how the company operates today
  • 4.09 – The importance of customers loving your product and using Net Promoter Score (NPS) to inform product changes
  • 7.29 – When you should start measuring NPS and why it should continue even as the company grows
  • 9.10 – How to incorporate customer feedback and be accessible to customers whilst growing
  • 11.24 – Transitioning from Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) during a period of growth and Series A fundraising
  • 16.51 – Learning to be a CEO and growing with the company whilst remaining humble
  • 19.47 – The tools and approach Ashik used to develop his CEO skills
  • 21.44 – Surviving and pivoting during the challenges of 2020
  • 28.58 – Managing a team through COVID and letting people go
  • 32.42 – The importance of values for culture and always aiming for success
  • 36.44 – Ashik’s advice for founders on how to define your companies’ values
  • 39.45 – How to build and maintain relationships with investors
  • 44.23 – Focusing on the right goals, staying focused and executing quickly
  • 48.14 – Where to find Ashik and Deputy

Links Mentioned

Ashik’s Links

People Mentioned

Companies Mentioned

Resources Mentioned:

Past Episodes Mentioned

Special Thanks:

Special thanks to Lisi Schappi,  Paul Bassat and Howard Leibman for their help with research for this interview  .

Feedback/connect/say hello:
@RohitBhargava7 (Twitter)
/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Joakim Karud – Dreams

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