Looking For An Investor? These Entrepreneurs Tell How To Strike Out Wrong Ones

They crib about their past investments and blame the entrepreneurs for not doing the right thing

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You are lucky if you could come across just the right investor who brings complimentary skills beyond the capital. Usually, you end up talking to around a dozen of them before striking silver (gold in very rare case). So we asked entrepreneurs that in between those dozen investors, how they figured out the wrong ones:


Samant Sikka, Chief Executive Officer, Sqrrl Fintech

What questions investors ask tells a lot about them as a person, their understanding of the sector, why are they investing and how they will add value. The investor I met asked me about my team size, where do I work out of and the monthly rentals I pay for the office space. What I realized later is that the investor was running a co-working space and his intent was business development by giving the money and getting a captive client for his co-working space. But for me, there was no strategic value to work out of his co-working space. In another instance, an investor asked me about the placement of name and logo on the certain side of my business card. He thought it from the ‘Vaastu’ perspective. I have nothing against Vaastu but that’s not what my business wants.

Santosh Kumar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MandiApp

Investors usually are quite risk averse. They crib about their past investments and blame the entrepreneurs for not doing the right thing. There were few investors I met who talked about how many companies they have backed, how many failed and how many succeeded. Then there were other few who told me that since I had no experience in building a business and it was my first company, they cannot back me as most entrepreneurs fail for the first time. Their only concern was how not to lose money. They had inhibition in taking a risk with a first generation entrepreneur. Another investor refrained to invest because it was not logical for him to back someone like me from the IT background to start an agri start-up. The investor didn’t understand that I am passionate about agri not IT.

Harsh Dhand, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, RentSher

The first sign of investors’ interest in funding is whether they are fully engaged - mentally and physically with me in the meetings. A key sign of lack of interest for me during such meetings was when the investor asked more about competition than my own vision. It is quite likely that he was just gathering information. On the positive sides, what hinted me that the investor is interested in taking the meeting forward is when beyond business some of them asked about me and the team, how we manage work pressures, various scalability issues, how interested we are in the growth of the business over next five-10 years.

Siddhant Bhalinge, Founder, Ugaoo.com

VC firms shouldn’t let their junior employees or analysts, even if they are from IITs or IIMs, who don’t have at least five-six years of experience, to directly connect with entrepreneurs. It should be only the managing partners or managing directors or at least partners, with whom interaction makes sense. At a start-up event recently, there were analysts or junior members of some prominent VC funds I met with. Their attitude was as if they own the firm and have an upper edge than entrepreneurs with a superior tone being investors. So they asked me about revenue, expansion and why aren’t we going global, why aren’t we on the iOS app etc., without knowing much about the agri-sector. They wanted straight up answers which wasn’t possible.

(This article was first published in the December issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)