PAYING IT FORWARD

First-generation tech entrepreneurs are reaching out to new kids on the startup block, not just with money but also advice. They’re trying to smooth the path for risk-takers by helping them avoid a repeat of the mistakes they made as well as ensure good ideas aren’t lost. Anand J asks some of them how they benefit from sharing the wealth

I look for teams with passion, experience

PRAVEEN SINHA, FOUNDER | JABONG

Which are your portfolio companies?

My portfolio includes home service companies–a laundry service called Wassup; home services brand Zimmber, which provides electricians, carpenters and plumbers; online art gallery anashaart.com; a financial services company and a one-stop, shop-based offers and benefits mobile app for working professionals called Perkkx.

What do you look for when you plan to invest?

I generally look for three things: One, the team, their passion and commitment to the idea, and execution capabilities. This is my most important criterion. Two, the idea, value proposition and how scalable and sustainable is it, how is it differentiated from competition. Three, currentfuture market size and competition. An idea that’s been thought through, a team with execution experience and some traction in terms of existing operations generally attracts me. I invested in these startups because I liked the team and believe that with the right inputs these companies can drive the next phase of growth in their sectors.

How did you find these startupsfounders?

I am well connected with the startup community.I am part of various startup initiatives and have been engaged with institutes enabling startups like TiE, IIMs, incubators and Nasscom. Startups founders can reach me on LinkedIn and other social media. I prefer startupsfounders reaching out to me directly. Some exciting ideas come up through other like-minded investors.

Why should entrepreneurs like you invest in other startups?

For entrepreneurs like me, especially first generation entrepreneurs and new technology entrepreneurs, it is important to invest in the ecosystem to ensure that good ideas can be taken to fruition and aren’t given up due to lack of funds or limited understanding of conventional funds. Getting investment or funding in India has improved in recent times, but it was difficult to achieve funding for startups earlier. I feel that there is some part of my startup experience that can help ventures in the formative years.

What does the startup ecosystem mean for India?

India is poised for exceptional growth of the startup ecosystem, especially in technology. In a country as large and diverse as ours, an active startup ecosystem can help identify innovative solutions for many of our needs. We see significant improvements such as angel and VC funds, SEBI’s initiative to provide a listing of startups and social acceptance of entrepreneurship. All this shows a great traction towards building a vibrant startup ecosystem for India.

Investing lets us calibrate the talent out there

KUNAL BAHL & ROHIT BANSAL, FOUNDERS | SNAPDEAL

Which are your portfolio companies?

Ola Cabs, Tiny Owl, Housing, Urban Clap, Tripoto, Belong, Credr and Routofy, among others.

What do you look for when you plan to invest?

Passion to solve a big need and charisma to build a strong team

How did you find these startupsfounders?

100% of the companies we’ve invested in reached out to us, either via a cold call or through a common contact.

Why should entrepreneurs like you invest in other startups?

It’s important to give back to the community that has given us so much. It helps us stay connected with the latest innovations in the technology space. Most importantly, it makes us calibrate the quality of talent out there.

What does the startup ecosystem mean for India?

The startup ecosystem of India has a great opportunity to address the real needs of our country. To make India the #1 country in the world, we don’t need more government policies, we need more entrepreneurs.

It’s our duty to invest back in the ecosystem

PRANAY CHULET, FOUNDER | QUIKR

Which are your portfolio companies?

have a few different investments, some of them are public and some are in stealth mode. The companies are focused on food, home decor, gaming, education and personal relationships segments.

What do you look for when you plan to invest?

High potential markets, clear consumer need and some entry barrier that’s hard to overcome. In early stages, the most important thing is the determination of the founders and their flexibility. Things evolve and you need to adapt to them. You can make all the Excel sheets you want but if you aren’t flexible, you don’t belong.

How did you find these startupsfounders?

Personal connections, industry bodies, and that golden channel–cold calls that smart early stage entrepreneurs aren’t shy of making.

Why should entrepreneurs like you invest in other startups?

It’s our duty to invest back in the ecosystem.

The startup ecosystem came together after a wait but it’s here to stay and grow, and it can benefit from the experience of people who have built companies and seen a thing or two along the way.

What does the startupecosystem mean for India?

More innovation, more experimentation, more solutions for India’s needs. And it’s a foregone conclusion that we will create a few companies that will start in India but go global in the real sense of the word. Some them are probably already around, even if they are hard to spot.

Startups are changing the idea that only the rich can do something new

VIJAY SHEKHAR SHARMA, FOUNDER | PAYTM

Which are your portfolio companies?

I have invested in about 40 companies, including Goqii, Cleartax, Shifu, Edukart, Browntape, Little Eye Labs, Biosense, Milaap, Sourceasy

What do you look for when you plan to invest?

At the core of all of these companies is a founding team on a mission. Teamsfounders who try changing the way the current systems work. I have lot of respect and regard for such entrepreneurs. Most companies in the portfolio belong to this category. I love to support people with a mission who aim to make a better life for us. I look at how committed and sincere the person or team is. The question you need to ask is whether they are in it for the long haul or only trying to ride a current fad. I try to find that inherent motivation and support it. A strong tech background is preferred.

How did you find these startups founders?

From references given by other investors and entrepreneurs.

Why should entrepreneurs like you invest in other startups?

It is about giving back to the ecosystem where I belong. It is the same ecosystem I grew in. It’s about enabling the young to take risks, and to support them. It is about the hope of a new worlddominating platform that could come out of India.

What does the startup ecosystem mean for India?

Large Indian corporations have never supported the young crop trying new things. Finally, we are seeing that change with the support of angel investors. It is changing the old mindset that only the rich can create something new or those who innovate won’t get their due. Now you can build a startup, create a business and be successful, all without taking favours from large conglomerates or banks that never promoted this to begin with. For India, to discover innovative solutions for local problems and create new jobs, it is important to have a vibrant startup ecosystem.

This is the most potent way to tap innovation in the country

APRAMEYA R, FOUNDER | TAXIFORSURE

Which are your portfolio companies?

Dazo, Vyomo, Goodbox are already announced. Three more in the pipeline will be announced soon.

Why did you invest in these companies?

All the companies I am investing in are extremely consumer focused.They are changing the way consumers experience a productservice.

All of them are led by passionate founders, looking to make an impact on the world. I look for an exceptional founding team, a large market and consumer focus in the core productservice they offer.

How did you find these startupsfounders?

Founders write emails, connect on Linkedin [or get] referrals from known people.

Why should entrepreneurs invest in startups?

It’s a way to give back to the ecosystem that has taught and given me so much. It’s the future of India. Access to capital is a key element.

What does the startup ecosystem mean for India?

The most potent way in which innovation can be tapped in India is through the startup ecosystem. It gives hope to every Indian that if they can contribute something of value to the world, the world will reward them back.

Investing in other startups allows me to learn how the world is evolving

NAVEEN TEWARI, FOUNDER | INMOBI

Which are your portfolio companies?

NestAway, SlideRule, Mettl, Moneysights, MangoGames, Bombay Canteen, Zimmber, Razorpay and a few others

What do you look for when you invest in other startups?

Each one of these companies is questioning the current state of world and looking at improving things not just incrementally but by disrupting it. [I look for] a passionate and a hungry team, with a vision for disruption.

How did you find these startupsfounders?

In most cases, my friends in the venture capitalist community introduce these companies

Why should entrepreneurs like you invest in other startups?

First and most critically, it might not be obvious, but the most important reason is for us to learn how the world is evolving.Secondly, there is enough money in the Indian venture world, so it’s not about our money, but maybe if we are connected with entrepreneurs, we can help them avoid few mistakes that we made.

What does the startup ecosystem mean for the future of the country?

The future of the country depends on technology and internet, and how we use that to build products that can improve the way things function. The core issues of our country around education, healthcare and security are not going to be solved through traditional methods but they require some drastic measures which can only be supplemented through technology and internet.Startups are the only way we are going to bring these solutions to life.

Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal, Toppr’s Zishaan Hayath, Redbus’ Phanindra Sama, MuSigma’s Dhiraj Rajaram, Delhivery’s Sahil Barua and Tracxn’s Abhishek Goyal are among the other successful entrepreneurs who have been supporting budding risk-takers

Source: The Times of India

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Author:

Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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