Sunday, March 20, 2016

Inaction on my blog : Please check LinkedIn posts

I've had a comment from someone who was following me that I've been silent for a while.
No, I haven't. It is just that I find it a pain to post in multiple places and have moved to quick posts on LinkedIn. Please check the appropriate pages.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Entrepreneur ? : What keeps you awake at night ?

I've frequently asked 2 questions of entrepreneurs during the pre-investment discussion and then during reviews, in my Angel Investor role.

a. What keeps you awake at night
b. What makes you want to go to office first thing in the morning

Most immediate answers are predictable
a. Competition (Paranoia to some extent) and scale issues keep them awake
and b. A sense of urgency / things to finish up make them go into office every morning...

However, now that I'm in the entrepreneur mode : I've asked the same question myself / reflected on this and found a very surprising answer ?
a. I lose sleep as I keep working through the POSSIBILITIES ie. not worried about competition / excited about what all can be done ?
b. I have a sense of urgency every morning to browse / look at what competition is doing in that regard

Do you see the difference ?
My thoughts are almost reversed. Why is that I wonder ?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Three "BE"s for the wannaBE entrepreneur


So, you wanna BE an Entrepreneur ?

then, here are 3 things you should BE ....

1. BE fanatical about efficiency

Any entrepreneur has to be super-efficient, on money, on efforts and most importantly - on time. Squeeze in those vital minutes when you are networking, ensure that you move on from that one individual who delivers long sermons extolling the virtues of his / her own idea or entrepreneurial experiences. You just don't have time. 
Your energy levels, given the adrenaline cache, may seem deep. But, face it : your journey will be tiring. Conserve everything by being ruthless about what returns you get. Dont' just be efficient, be fanatical about efficiency.

2. BE an active listener

You will have to be ready to be lectured at : You will be told in no uncertain terms why something would be good / not so good for you. Your ask of an "opinion" from a mentor / advisor will bring forth a long extempore on topics ranging from the equivalent US market to what specific steps you should be taking. Hear out all of them : However, that does not mean you will act of them !
Your pivot / the elusive business "spark" will come from one of these conversations - when your gut / instinct will make you perk up and keep you awake in the night. Wait for this. It is serendipity at work and that happens only when you are actively listening.

3. BE unreasonable

You will be told that you are not a reasonable person : that is ok ! You are an entrepreneur and the reason you are one is probably your own expectations from life are unreasonable. If someone says a task will take 2 weeks, push for it to be done in 2 days. Oh, it is a quick couple of days worth of work ? Can it be done in an hour please ? I'm sure you get the drift. Use all the charm, the cajoling you can muster and even threaten if you must : Just get the stuff done in less time than imagined.

So, dear wannaBE entrepreneur, be what you want to be : just don't be wanting.

Coming out of Hibernation

I guess some things just take time.
I have gone past 2 springs and the associated spring cleaning. Some cobwebs though seem to just have more sticking power.

What has happened in my life in the intervening period ?
Lots, I must admit.
My "wards" have all matured and changed in form.
ScienceAdda grows from strength-to-strength, we hit our milestone of 30+ new schools, started off in areas outside of Bangalore
A couple of my other investee companies have done Series A fund-raising and are in discussions to do another round
Collatebox just closed it's own fund raising with me in the hot seat.
Most importantly, my elder daughter is charting her own path...away from home.

With this in the background, am about to embark (hopefully) on another series of posts in my new "entrepreneur" avatar.

So wish me luck and free flow....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

An ode to my dad : who passed away on 11-Feb-2013

(This is a poem addressing my daughters & my
Nephews on the passing away
of “aNNa” ie. their grandfather)

Every time I pass an unsolicited advise,
Comment, or turn on the preachy voice,
You may, in all sincerity, question mentally
Did your dad lecture you similarly?

Now that “aNNa” is no more,
I can do a bit of heart-pour
And admit that he never lectured,
Or argued a point beleaguered

He let his actions do the talking,
No quotes, no grandstanding
He’d prove his point silently,
Quashing my counters convincingly

So, what did he teach me?

Did he teach me mechanical engineering
Or my love for just tinkering ?
Did he teach me his electrical stuff
Or to play childhood card games like bluff ?
Did he teach me how to sketch
Or tie knots like a clove-hitch?
Did he teach me how to ride,
Or dive head first from the pool-side ?

No, these I learnt from other sources
Like friends, peers, books & teachers.
What I learned from him was greater,
More fundamental, though wider & deeper.

I learnt about dignity of labour
When he’d shake hands with local barber
With a genuine smile on his face
And a respectful “appa” in his voice.

I learnt about an honest days work
When he’d toil without a shirk
At the factory – hours on end
Or in the garden, plant-tend.

I learnt about loyalty
Never having heard him say a word faulty
Against any of his employer
In his over 30 year career.

I learnt about patience
When, in situations tense
His would be the measured voice
Heard over the din & noise.

I learnt about discipline
his diaries describe what I mean
or for a different kind of proof
you should see the garden on the roof

You say, Learnt, learnt, learnt  ?
Nothing taught – everything learnt ?
No, he did teach me a few things
Things that make us better beings.
He taught these by his actions,
Not mere intonations

He taught me that even a man could,
On situations shed a tear or two
He taught me not to be narrow-minded,
To graduate from being broad to open minded
He taught me the value of money,
Appreciate nature & hold a disposition sunny
He taught me that drive comes from passion,
But, this also needs to be mellowed with compassion

For the generation that follows us,
Please do remember these words
For we can make the world proud
Just by following the footsteps trod.


Monday, March 19, 2012

ANGEL nomore - Time to announce my retirement ?

We resident Indians have always had a raw deal with the Government.

Until a few years ago, I used to rant against the injustice to resident entrepreneurs (who would be taxed at 22% on capital gains) .vs. NRIs (who'd pay 0% CAPITAL GAINS). This is probably one of the things that prompted me to evaluate the option of being an entrepreneur again ?

Now, I see that I probably have to evaluate the option of being an ANGEL investor.

In India, given that money supply is sooooo scarce for a small startup, my guess is that this is going to be the death knell !. Most investors in Indian startups tend to be either friends / family or resident, Individual investors who have an entrepreneurial streak that they hope is fulfilling from a second-hand effect. In one clean swoop, the Government is planning to take away the complete cover on this form of funding.

India is desperately in need of highly efficient / non-asset-intensive capital. The kind that could have competed against the "real estate" option. Over the last few years, I've been an hopeful advocate of this form or investment : taking personal risks and trying to leverage my experience / contacts etc.  In parallel, I have also watched encouraging signs of the market really starting to blossom. The Government, however, seems to be keen on throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

This is a classic case of a RULE being made for EXCEPTION !

Am reminded my conversations with corporate HR during my time in large MNCs / Indian corporates. I'd struggle to convey to the heads of HR & Finance that the "spirit" of any rule should be to encourage compliance and not to cover / plug "holes". Guess it is time for me to take this message to the finmin ?

For those of you wondering what this rant is all about :The new budget proposal is to TAX as INCOME any premium paid (in excess of prescribed FMV - Fair Market Value) towards share purchase of a private company. Who decides this ? The assessment officer !!!.

Let me point out a sore fact - the maximum time of debate between the investor and the entrepreneurs POST the decision to invest is to figure out this VALUE!

Maybe I'm the one who's delusional ? Maybe I should have quit when I saw the government tightening legitimate transfer of funds with 15CA / 15CB - coating it with the words "NEW & LIBERALIZED scheme", although it all but one !.

I guess if I cannot work out options, I'm going to be available in the job market - after all, the government seems intent on furthering a generation of "highly capable coolies" :-(