TheBetterHalf: Maansi Sanghi – Balancing work, life, and love

Back in 2003, Aditya and his brother were running a startup called ABO Software, a B2B company dealing with Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), in Delhi.

I was working as a core product development engineer then. One evening, when I came back home from work, my cousin suggested I join Aditya’s company. He knew Aditya’s family and thought it’d be a good fit for me. So, I took the chance, and that’s how Aditya and I first met.

As we worked together, we started going out on dates, got to know each other better, liked each other, and eventually got married. Soon, we had our firstborn, Aarush.

As our family grew, we realized we needed more income and decided to move to Bangalore. Aditya found a job at Informatica, and I got a job at IBM. But at that point, Aarush was six months old, so I had to take a call.

How do I balance work and motherhood? I decided not to take up that job and instead took on some part-time gigs. I worked with a company called Emanio on their EDI product, helping them with customer implementations in India and developing their ancillary products.

We came to the city with virtually no funds in our bank account. We had to take a loan from Informatica to pay for the security deposit on our first apartment. We didn’t have any utensils or appliances; we gradually bought things for our new home, one item at a time, over the course of the first two months. We only had one air conditioner in the entire apartment, which was in the living room, so we had to all sleep there.

We had very little, but we were happy.

A year or two later, Aditya met Prabhash and got the idea for Hotelogix. Aditya has always been full of creative and interesting ideas, and always had that entrepreneurial bent in him. So when he brought up starting a business, it wasn’t a surprise to me.

We did a quick pros and cons analysis, and took the leap without too much planning, just diving in and figuring things out as we went along.

For about a year, Aditya continued his day job while working on the Hotelogix idea, while I helped out with technical architecture, requirement gathering, and so on. We spent time talking to hotel employees and front desk staff, asking them about the problems they faced and the products they used.

To support our startup, we even started another business around Nutraceutical distribution and marketing in Bangalore. We had never done something like that before – we had to get supplies, run ads, manage a small Call Center in the local language… I ran the business solely by myself. It was a lot, but it helped fund Hotelogix in the early days.

Eventually, Aditya left his job, and that business became our main source of income for a while. We were bootstrapped for a long time, relying on our savings and investments from friends and family to keep going.

During those early years of building Hotelogix together, Aditya and I talked about work all the time. How are the numbers? What’s the target? Who is facing what problem?

We realised we had to make a conscious effort to spend quality time together as a couple.

We picked the day we had our first date. Every month on that same date, we planned to go out on a date. We kept up with this tradition for a long time, and it helped us sustain our relationship and feel like a couple rather than colleagues all the time.

After about six years, I took a call to step out of Hotelogix and build my career independently, so we don’t put all our eggs in one basket and hedge our bets to derisk our financial future.

And that’s when I hit a roadblock.

If there’s one thing I would do differently if I could go back and relive those years, I would give more thought to my own career than I did.

Hotelogix was my first experience starting up. Even though I was deeply involved from day one, from requirement gathering to sales to marketing, I didn’t know that getting a designation or becoming a “co-founder” was important. It was not well planned, I just pitched in wherever required without thinking much about my official role in the company.

And that set back my career quite a bit. When I wanted to step back from Hotelogix and pursue my own path, I didn’t know what to put on my resume. Was I a developer? Was I a programmer? Was I in marketing? Was I in sales? It was tough figuring out my identity professionally.

But apart from that part, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of building a startup from the ground up.

One of my fondest memories during our journey was when we hit one of our best sales targets at Hotelogix. We were hosting our annual Christmas party at home, on the terrace. During that time, we were also running our first-ever year-end holiday campaign at the company, and we kept getting pulled into sales calls because of it.

We’d be in the middle of the party, rush down the stairs to take a call, close a deal, and then head back to the party. It was chaotic, but fun; by the end of that campaign, we had achieved one of our best financial years in terms of acquiring new logos.

We achieved that milestone when India was not yet a Product Nation and there was a strong bias against Indian tech products.

It was an incredible moment when we reached our first 50 countries; people were actually using our product in all those places! The happiness and satisfaction of achieving this milestone after so much struggle seeped into everything, every day. Although I cannot recall the exact year, I will always hold that specific phase close to my heart.

Aditya and I are extremely different. He’s an extrovert. I’m an introvert. He’s creative. I’m analytical. He liked to go with the flow. I like to create an Excel for everything. He lives for the moment, I plan fo the future. And we balance each other out.

Aditya has taught me a lot, especially in how he tackles tough times. One thing that stands out about him is his knack for leaving work stress behind when he walks through our front door. He’s always reminding me that work problems aren’t personal; they’re just things to figure out.

As a dad, he’s incredible. He makes sure to carve out special moments with our kids, like those nightly chats with our daughter, Diya, before she drifts off. Their conversations are a riot, and you can’t help but get drawn into the laughter. Aditya’s always there for all of us at home, making sure we stay connected.

His influence spills over into our work lives too. Even though I’m more reserved and he’s the social butterfly, Aditya’s networking skills have been a huge help in my career, especially when it comes to marketing.

But what really sets Aditya apart is how he handles our marriage. Despite his traditional background, he has never expected me to fit into any mould. Instead, he has been an equal partner every step of the way.

Sure, we both have our flaws, but that’s where our family shines. We’re open to feedback and always pushing each other to grow. For example, there was one period when he would bring his CEO-ness home – he was noticeably authoritative and aggressive. We sat him down as a family and talked about it openly. And he didn’t just listen; he really made an effort to change.

If there’s one feedback I’d like to share with Aditya right now, it’s this: we spend a lot of time out and about, hanging out with friends, extended family, or with SaaSBoomi. But we haven’t had much time alone together as a family, just the four of us.

I think it’s important for us to set aside some dedicated family time, especially as the kids are growing up so fast. In a few years, they’ll be off on their own adventures, and we’ll miss these precious moments together.

I’m glad I stepped back from Hotelogix. It has given me the space to support Aditya in a different way. Now that I’m not directly involved in the day-to-day challenges of the startup, I can offer a fresh perspective and be a better-sounding board for him.

I feel like I can contribute more now than I could when I was right in the thick of it. Having some distance allows me to bring a different set of experiences to the table, which has strengthened our partnership overall.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the journey we’ve been on together. We’ve faced challenges, but we’ve also grown stronger as a couple. And that’s what matters most to me.

Maansi with Aditya, Aarush, and Diya.

This post was originally published on The Better Half

About The Better Half

Startup spouses share their journeys and perspectives on the challenges and rewards of the startup hustle. Read more from Sadhana Balaji.

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Sadhana Balaji

Head of Brand and Content, Atomicwork
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