Investors Should Let the Entrepreneurs Do Their Job, This VC Learnt the Hard Way
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Motti Vaknin, a partner at Cedar Fund, has been both an investor and a serial entrepreneur.
With deep knowledge of the US and Israeli enterprise software arena, Vaknin uses his expertise in the software area to focus on enterprise software, SaaS and Internet opportunities.
While speaking to Entrepreneur India, he spoke about his India foray and how he looks at the change in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem from an outsider lens.
Q) You have seen the India of 1990s closely. What has changed?
A) There were some connections where I was involved with initiative around bringing distance learning and bringing internet to remote places in India, which was a beautiful initiative. India has changed dramatically since then.
We were there at a time when Bangalore just started. Today, Bangalore is an empire. I remember the days Bangalore had a few satellite connections to the Silicon Valley and was mainly providing outsourcing to the Silicon Valley. Bangalore is an origin of innovation to itself today.
Q) From being an entrepreneur to a VC, what are the perks of being an entrepreneur first and VC later?
A) I was a three times CEO; I sold to companies I loved entrepreneurship. I like the creativity and innovation and so on. When my partner convinced me to join their fund, they told me listen you like funding companies one after another in a serial manner why will you not fund 7 companies. I joined and then I realized it was a mistake. At the beginning I was not an investor. I was sitting in the meeting and hearing about technology and imagining what I could do to that technology and how should I use that technology. At the end of the day, the most important element in investment is the entrepreneur. The more I graduated through this process the more I understood the focus is not on me, it is on the founders and I need to lean back and see that whether they are listening.
Q) Do start-ups today face the problem of being overexposed to acute pressure and giving up to investors’ demand?
A) We have the saying in Israel – “If you want to build a company, you would have brought an American CEO.”
That’s a mistake. It is the entrepreneur you should invest in; the entrepreneur you should provide guidance to. You should provide them the help. My advice to them is talk to your investor. Whoever aligns with your vision is confident enough to allow you to make mistakes because we all make mistakes; even for investors, it is very easy to be back seat drivers and give advice. I think this mindset will change in India as well.