Analysing Why Today's Investors Are Also Mentors to Creative Startups
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If you are a relatively new entrepreneur having founded a startup and seeking funding (both angel and equity), then you have lots to cheer about as investors today have turned smart and a sizeable of them also look at mentoring quality ventures (with merit) apart from just pumping in money and taking shares. The intention behind mentoring startups is to further the societal cause to lead to actually solving key plaguing issues.
Also, investors today seek effective technology-driven models to invest on so that the next-gen change could be smart and disruptive. In this regard, Entrepreneur India interacted with venture capitalists (and angel investors) who believe that mentoring has a cascading effect on outcomes of startups.
Actually mentoring startups – a step ahead for investors
“I mentor start-ups apart from investing in them,” states Apurva Chamaria who is Charter Member at TiE Delhi and an angel investor with a portfolio of more than 20 investments across sectors with a keen focus on next-gen technology.
Chamaria also adds that he looks at being a partner of choice for founders of startups.
“I aim to walk along with them not behind them as they go about building fabulous businesses. I try to never deal from the high horse of an investor with the founders,” he informs.
Now, it is quite obvious that Indian society has problems to solve. Technologists believe that next-gen technology-driven models could mitigate many of these. However, only a plain technology focus might not yield the desired results as businesses need to scale to sustain. This is where investors cum mentors come in to offer that value added part.
“Our single biggest thesis in any investment is the entrepreneur,” says Alok Goel who is Partner at Stellaris Venture Capital that has mentored ventures harnessing technology to solve societal issues.
“Great entrepreneurs, by definition, are outliers that defy any attempts to put them in a box. Our job is to find the spark that defines every great entrepreneur, recognize its potential and help harness and nurture it,” he shares.
Goel’s thoughts echoes that of Chamaria’s when it comes to actually investing in the entrepreneur, fostering unconventional yet creative ideas to actually yield smart solutions out of entrepreneurship.
Goel also adds that Stellaris would mentor ventures with innovative models requiring a helping hand in scaling.
Analysing potential support areas
Investors, sought by Entrepreneur India, were also generous to throw light on the exact areas that they look at supporting ventures in. These include product, sales, manufacturing, branding, communication and finance.
“No lip service, I am always available to roll up my sleeves and support my founders in diverse areas,” iterates Chamaria.
Other leading VCs also state that they would offer support in terms of marketing, human resources, and even an exclusive network of industry experts who are more than ready to offer quality mentorship (to deserving entrepreneurs).
In fact, Stellaris Venture Partners has an exclusive group of more than sixty industry professionals and entrepreneurs to offer quality advise to portfolio (startups).
Driving next-gen change through smart entrepreneurship
With mentorship applicable to multiple areas, the next step for you (as a startup owner) should be to ensure that societal issues are at least mitigated through technology-driven models. Goel believes that it is the whacky entrepreneurs who stick on to their idea for a sustained period of time whilst incorporating effective improvisation are the ones that would excel; apart from easily connecting with investors and VC firms (irrespective of their size).
With technology-driven modes, for addressing issues, also developed; business scalability becomes the final frontier to be conquered.
“Founders should build on scalable PaaS platforms like GCP, AWS, Azure or AliCloud and use latest ML utilities like Tensorflow which is an open source machine learning framework for everyone to leverage,” states Chamaria.
He believes that the non-essential aspects such as payroll, and AP is better outsourced so that the core teams could focus on growth and business scalability.
“Achieving service excellence requires underperforming on the things your customers value least, so you can over-deliver on the dimensions they value most. Decide what trade-offs you will make – where you will do things badly, even very badly,” he advises.
On the other hand, Goel states that Great founding teams not only “dream the future” but are obsessed with continuously learning from the market and iterating their products, target segments, and business models.
“They learn. They experiment. They fail fast. It is they who matter, and not their first thoughts on the product or the business model," he explains displaying his clear focus on recognizing entrepreneurial talent and not merely going by fancy RESUMES.
He advises young entrepreneurs to question themselves very hard during the early part of their entrepreneurial journey. “If you think you have found the right answers, hit the road” he signs-off.