Monday, July 14, 2008

Startup Saturday @ IIM Bangalore

Met Prateek Dayal and Nithya Dayal last Saturday (12th July 2008). They have been successfully running, a community website for those associated with music industry (singers, composers and such who would get an audience for their creation as well as feedback and growth potentials). Their site has completed one year recently and is doing well.

Went to IIMB with them where Startup Saturday meet was going on. It’s a whole new world out there. Most of them in the age band of 20-30, but their visiting cards read CEO/Director/Vice President/Managing Partner/Chairman of their respective companies-the fancy titles of which regular employees spend their entire career dreaming about. The conversations predominantly consisted of phrases like “When are you expecting to break even?”, “Know what? These guys just got a huge funding”, “I don’t think their revenue model is sustainable” “When are you planning to move out of beta?” “We’ve got a decent user base now” “yeah I did quit my job last month”, “no-we’re not looking for another round of funding” “how did your presentation to VCs go?” “attending proto this time?”, “imagine handling x million transactions every week!” “so you need someone as interns right?” “how are you planning to market it?”, “this startup was recently acquired by that MNC” and so on…

I felt like totally out of place in this community so kept my mouth shut for most of the time…

The team was giving demo when we entered the hall. Next Bharti Jacob, Managing Partner, (the people who have funded, and few more India focused startups. has grown from just 10 tickets a day to 1000 tickets a day within 18 months) gave a talk as to what they look for in startups approaching them for funding. What she spoke was somewhat in sync with what Bikas Birai, CEO of iViz had spoken at about “how to raise money from VCs

Here’re some key excerpts from Bharthi Jacob’s talk

  • Don’t boast about your technology-Just explain how you’re making life easier for your end user.
  • "We don’t like people having plan B and expect 100% commitment and involvement. Those who say “I’ll quit my job once I get the funds” are a NO NO."
  • Even we don’t keep plan B. If startups fail, we lose our money-we don’t have any way of recovering it.
  • "Team is our first consideration. We scrutinize the people involved for their credibility, commitment, enthu and other parameters."
  • "If we don’t see a practical exit from the investment we may have to turn you down"
  • "We don’t control the startups we invest in. Interfering in day to day business is not our task, but we do keep monitoring"
  • "We receive one or two funding requests every day"
  • "There’re cases where we rejected initially but entrepreneurs came to us after few months with improved plans and we’ve accepted"
  • "Our ideal expectation is about 10x return over a span of 5-7 years"
  • "Most of the decisions are taken on a case to case basis, hence it is difficult to outline generic guidelines"
(Note: Above points may not be 100% accurate-written based on whatever I could remember and recall)

IIMB also has an incubation centre for new startups and IIMB students offered their free consultancy services for startups requiring assistance in marketing, strategy and other high-funda terminologies. “they only give what they call “marketing plan” we only need to go to the field and get the work done” someone quipped.

Ankur Jain was circulating his plans of making a movie to highlight challenges faced by entrepreneurs. If you are one and have a story to tell, may be you should check his blog and get in touch with him:

I don’t have enough exposure and experience in the field of start-ups hence not able to add anything here. Lunch, served on Banana leaf at Krishna Café opposite IIMB campus was great, though slightly expensive at Rs.88
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Now don’t ask me if I am planning to start a company. No. At least, not in near foreseeable future.


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