Proclaimed one of the “50 Most Stylish New Yorkers” in 2012 by Style Caster, and in the top five “50 people in NYC’s tech scene that you need to know”, Rameet Chawla is not only one of the most fashionably-bearded entrepreneurs in New York, he’s earned serious tech cred as the founder of Fueled, a mobile design and development company that has produced award winning apps for various Fortune 100 companies like American Express, MTV and Barney’s. In addition, Chawla is also the co-founder of the Fueled Collective, a co-working space comprised of over 35 startups in downtown Manhattan.
To say Chawla has his hands full would be putting it mildly, after a couple of attempts we were able to connect, and I instantly notice a fair amount of background chatter on his end. “It’s 1am here!” (As he kindly apologizes for the back noise in the same note). “Right now I’m at a Google party for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.” The World Economic Forum is quite the scene: five days, each January, when 2,500 capitalists, globalists, and futurists discuss the fate of Earth’s other seven billion inhabitants. It’s an event where you could run into Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, the head of Google and the queen of Jordan all within minutes. Chawla’s energy level is at perfect volume, and even though folks are periodically trying to grasp his attention, without missing a beat he’s multitasking our conversation with a few side chats in-between—Chawla knows how to get shit done.
He explains his career wasn’t always this action packed in the beginning, (cue Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” track), as he began his venture at a time when there was literally no co-working space. “My first client meeting was at a dinner table in my apartment in New York. It was so small our developer had to sit on the couch in the adjacent room. It was quite comical, but also embarrassing enough to result in hiring remote talent.” As the company grew after the launch of several successful mobile apps, Chawla later built the Fueled Collective Workspace to help support and give back to the startup community. He notes this gesture to new entrepreneurs as one of his most celebrated successes thus far.
Aside from supporting startups get grounded, Chawla’s goal is to also manage doing more of what he’d like to do, (work more) in any given day. “I love technology so much, that I don’t want to just work seven hours a day like the average person or employee does, I want to fit more in.” After a slow process of tweaking his schedule through the years, he developed what he calls, the “7 and 1” schedule.
The “7 and 1” schedule is Chawla’s way of slotting three 7 hour shifts in 1 day—two are work shifts, (separated by a 2 hour social break) and the third shift is for sleep. “I go to bed at 4am every day, but I sleep for 7 hours. And then I allow an hour for getting up, grooming the beard, etc. and going to work.” Chawla only gets ready once for his 17 hour day and shares, “I’ll wear something that easily transitions into the evening, and I try to keep my grooming routine low maintenance.”
The next 7 hours is a work shift focusing on everything from meetings with clients, prospective clients, to his direct team. Once that portion of the day is complete, it’s a 2 hour break for social time. “I’ll go out whether it’s for a fashion event, dinner, or a party… I always go for 2 hours, and then it’s back to the office to have my unobstructed work time (in front of the computer) with no distractions—developing strategies, writing full-length emails, etc. My last 7 hour shift ends at 3:30am, then it’s rinse, repeat.”
Not only does Chawla challenge the idealism of successful work/life balance, he follows suit by breaking stereotypes within his own personal style. Chawla is of Indian descent and doesn’t have long hair and a beard because he is Sikh—the religion practiced by his family. He believes personal style is important in differentiating himself from other Indians in NYC, and describes his taste as a juxtaposition of iconic menswear with a modern twist. “I’m young but am inspired by the history of timeless fashion. I dress less like a 31-year old from Manhattan and more like a gentleman from the 1940’s Vienna era.” Chawla also rocked the man bun way before it was red carpet mainstream, but confides, “I’ve recently grown my hair super long and put it down, now everyone is calling me Indian Jesus—I think it’s pretty funny actually.”
In order to keep his beard in tip-top shape, it’s no surprise he has a DIY approach, “I don’t use a barber to cut it, I do it myself by puffing it out as much as possible, then I take a trimmer with no guard on and eyeball trim it. My beard is part of my identity, and there’s no choice but to keep it or it would be like starting over!”
Demonstrating you can sport a full beard and be on top of your game, Chawla is the epitome of how an Urban Beardsman keeps it polished and pulled together. And for the guys that may be contemplating growing out their beards, especially in the corporate world, follow Chawla’s simple tip, “do it, but keep it neat.”