Global Themes

On Globalization & Venture Capital

Getting out of Venture Capital…kind of

Dear All: For those of you who may not already know, I am leaving Amadeus at the end of eight long years – of what has been an amazingly rich and educative experience.

I am leaving to spend more time in (and on) India and a few personal passions.

I will continue to scout for interesting seed and very early-stage investment opportunities in India but expect to spend less time on Venture Capital in general.

I have been very fortunate to experience, first-hand, the boom and the bust in this industry…

It has been a true learning experience – and a humbling one too.

I expect to spend progressively less time on this blog…so do not be surprised if you don’t hear from me over long stretches of time. If you are really curious to know what I am up to (or just want to email a “Hello”), pl. leave a comment here and I shall try and get back to you.

Here is wishing all of you the very best in your endeavours – now and in the future.

October 1st, 2009 Posted by | Miscellaneous | one comment

Characteristics of Great Investors

Chanced upon this great post by Matt Blumberg on “10 Characteristics of Great Investors“.

Should be read by ALL investors, I think.

I am listing my favourite five of the ten characteristics below:

  • Great investors know how to give strategic advice without being in the operating weeds of a company
  • Great investors get to know whole management teams, not just CEOs
  • Great investors invite you to do diligence on them by giving you a list of every CEO they’ve ever worked with and asking you to pick the ones you want to talk to
  • Great investors ask great questions
  • Great investors don’t publicly take credit for the success of their investments, even if they were major drivers of that success

Thanks Matt.

September 5th, 2009 Posted by | FAQs for Entrepreneurs, Venture Capital, What VCs really do | no comments

On micro-entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises…

Fellow blogger Swaroop recently wrote a post on a dosa seller in Bengaluru that had me thinking.

Swaroop’s dosa-seller is someone whom I would call a micro-entrepreneur. A micro-entrepreneur is usually involved in an activity that manages to support his/her family’s basic needs.

A good micro-enterprise will generate profits that would be larger than most average jobs.

Needless to say, these profits are more “riskier” than a regular monthly income (salary) – especially if your regular monthly income comes from the government.

So who exactly is a micro-entrepreneur and what qualifies as a micro-enterprise?

Before I attempt an answer to this question, an important caveat: I am talking about India, not USA.

Another caveat…Not everyone who we think is a “micro-entrepreneur” may be so out of choice…Some of them may be forced entrepreneurs – forced to eke out a living doing what they are doing, either because they could not find a job they liked OR because what they are doing seemed to be the most natural thing to do (e.g. managing your parents’ micro-enterprise).

Note that micro-enterprises typically lack scalability (that elusive trait which VCs seek) and may not be particularly “innovative”. Having said that, their contribution cannot be dismissed. At the very least they provide an alternative to unemployment (and the consequent frustration and disillusionment that accompanies it); At best, they have the capacity to transform a family’s fortunes (think of all the famous “halwais” who started small…)

Back to the main point: who exactly is a micro-entrepreneur and what qualifies as a micro-enterprise?

Here is my (proposed) definition:

A micro-entrepreneur is anyone who manages a micro-enterprise.

A micro-enterprise is any business that:

  • has start-up costs of less than Rs 50,000/-
  • employs less than 5 people (typically in a single location)
  • has annual revenues of less than Rs 12 Lakhs (or monthly revenues of less than Rs 1 Lakh)

…and has uneven cash-flow, problems in employee retention and suffers from bureaucratic burdens (but these are hardly unique to micro-enterprises!)

What do you think? Comments/ thoughts very welcome.

Next post in the series: Why this sudden interest in micro-entrepreneurs?

Related Post: A nation of shopkeepers?…or entrepreneurs?

July 27th, 2009 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Miscellaneous | 2 comments

Presentation on VC activity in India at London

Shared some slides at the India Investment Opportunities Forum in London yesterday. 

I also talked about some of my investments (Myntra, Innoviti and ElementsAkademia) in India.

It was a good interactive session. I felt the mood is turning upbeat (although less so here in London and in the US).

More on this later.

July 17th, 2009 Posted by | Conferences and Panels, India, My Presentations, Venture Capital in Asia | no comments

ChIndia Rising – Panel Discussion

Just a placeholder/note to myself to transcribe my notes/points from the panel discussion at “ChIndia Rising“, Cass Business School last month. I hope to get around to doing this in the next few days.

*** PANEL DETAILS ***

Will the Rising Tide Lift All Boats?

Here the panel will explore in an interactive Q&A session the challenge to the developed world, how to participate in Chindian Growth, the investment challenge, the legal challenge and how to create new opportunities

Panel to include:

Professor Jaideep Prabhu
Professor Bradley Barnes
Manoj Ladwa
Shantanu Bhagwat

June 26th, 2009 Posted by | China, Conferences and Panels, Globalization, India | no comments

Notes from Emerging Markets Seminar @ Imperial

Some notes from the “Emerging Markets” seminar on opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs (part of the IED Best Practice encounters series) at which I shared a panel with Prof. Gerry Geirge and Prof. Chris Toumazou:

  • For the UK, India is now as important as China; Exports to China are £5.2bn vs £4.1bn for India
  • There appears to be a significant correlation between “relative inequality” and entrepreneurship i.e. higher relative inequality leads to higher entrepreneurship (- as in the case of US perhaps?)
  • Education in general (esp. tertiary education) is a big opportunity in India (I’m glad about my latest angel investment!)
  • Chris mentioned how the future of healthcare and medicine is personalised drugs and disposable technology
  • I made some deliberately provocative statements; the main one being “Why this century might be India’s century”; Mentioned India’s 3-D Advantage
  • Gerry shared some very interesting slides on R&D linkages between Indian institutions and their international counterparts; I hope these slides are up on the website soon
  • I also liked Gerry’s slide about FDI as % of GDP that showed a sustained increase in FDI into India (vs. a reduction in FDI in China). When you couple this fact with the growth in GDP in India, you realise the dramatic impact that this flood of money had between 2006 – 2009

I shared a couple of slides (see below) as a preface to my observations:

April 30th, 2009 Posted by | China, Conferences and Panels, Emerging Markets, Entrepreneurship, India, My Presentations | one comment

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