Monday, January 21, 2008


Changing landscape

I am observing a major change happening in the last two years. I see that more and more people are getting onto the bandwagon of entrepreneurship, especially the young and first-generation entrepreneurs, and I see this as a good sign.

Is it because I have started to notice them or is it really the phenomenon sweeping across the nation [of course, confined to few cities only]? MoMo, Barcamp, and, all started in the last two years. These events have created a forum and platform for many young techies to meet and exchange ideas, and in some cases, collaborate. The new entrepreneurs are getting to know the realities. They are getting to know the hardships, and yet the passion amongst them is only increasing. The number of startups is proliferating in India. The quality of the ideas is improving. There is a stronger sense of commitments from the teams, and many Indians are leaving their secure jobs, which is a good sign. [I do believe that we need many more. This is not enough.]

Even NASSCOM, the official spokesman of services industry in India, is lending its hand to promote product startups, with dedicated funds on the way.

Missing Angels

What is missing is the angel investors and their ability to take risks. I don’t believe the existing network of angels in India is effective. They have to do it differently, with different set of rules that are more applicable to Indian context. Many startups need angel investment – because they do not qualify for VC investments in the seed stage. And most VCs are still not equipped to handle seed and early stage. They will continue to invest in growth stage.

The founders should go back to their families and friends and pitch to them to get the initial capital. What they need is a little guidance on how to structure a deal with such friends and family investors. When there is nobody to invest, what do you do? Investing Other People Money (OPM) is not an option. You put all your money first. And then you go to those people who trust you and they happen to be friends and family. Pitch to them, and take investments, build your product, get that initial traction, and then may be, may be, you will get invested by those who do not know you, otherwise, go to the revenue stage working closely with some confidant customers. You can’t keep hoping that institutional investors would invest in you. There is a good probability they won’t.

Government could do something

My only wish to the government of India is – please make roads wider please. These cities are choking us. I don’t want to see ex-entrepreneurs who have made it big leave these cities forever. They form an extremely important element of the ecosystem.

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