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Over the last 5 years, the Indian government has made progress on many fronts — expanding access to banking to the rural population, dramatically improving sanitation, digital delivery of government subsidies, universal health insurance, and implementing the bankruptcy code. It has also accelerated existing initiatives to expand the national highway network, build metro train systems in major cities and provide gas/electricity to every Indian.

However, this is just the start. By 2030, India will be the 3rd largest economy in the world (after China and the US) in absolute terms, and bigger than the US after factoring in purchasing power parity. India needs to both accelerate growth (if the economy grows at 9 % vs. 7 % for a decade, the cumulative impact is 40% greater GDP), and also establish global leadership in strategic sectors (e.g. …

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“It never gets easier; you just go faster” — Greg LeMond

When you start a company, the initial challenges tend to be around hiring your first few employees, raising capital, and most importantly figuring out that elusive thing called “product-market fit”. In the case of a typical B2B start-up, once you have ~ 10 customers and around $1 M in ARR, you have early product -market fit. By the time you have $3–5 M in ARR, you have likely figured out a repeatable Go-To-Market model. …

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Founders rarely start companies because they want to manage people or scale teams. In fact, many founders have never managed people and don’t really want to do so. At the same time, most founders do want to be the CEO for as long as possible; because the company is their baby, and they want to control its destiny.

In the early days, founders often are able to manage by sheer force of will. And until 50 employees, or so, the founders often know every one by name and people can walk across the floor, and resolve issues. Once you cross 50 people, cracks start to appear, and by the time companies have ~ 100 employees, many founders find that things are slowing down, there seems to be more brownian motion, and politics is starting to creep in. …

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Last Friday, I was standing on stage, at the Annual Akshay Patra Gala, facing hundreds of Indian immigrants who had gathered to celebrate Akshay Patra’s success. I found myself comparing Akshay Patra to a start-up. Started by a young IITian, initially no-one took the program seriously. After-all, how could an upstart non-profit address the problem of feeding 100M hungry kids every day? When Akshay Patra tried to acquire land to set up large scale kitchens, local officials laughed at the idea. Once the first kitchen was up and running, vested interests (who were siphoning away the mid day meal subsidies) tried to sabotage the program by adulterating the food. But in a few years, it was clear that Akshay Patra had developed an innovative model that could feed a child for an entire year for twenty dollars. 18 years later, Akshay Patra provides mid day meals to 1.7 …

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Slack recently raised $ 427 M at a valuation of $ 7.1 B. In ~ 8 years, the company has grown to 8 M daily active users (DAUs) and more than 3 M paid users. There are now more than 1500 apps in the Slack app store and many of its users swear by it. With such growth, it seems heretical to ask whether Slack will be around in 5 years.

I think the question is legitimate when you consider the fact that MS Office has ~250 M paid users, 50 % of whom use Office365 (the cloud version). Furthermore, MS expects that in less than a year, it will have almost 200M Office365 users. MS launched Teams in early 2017 and now with the recent launch of the Team app directory, most analysts believe that Teams is on par with Slack around its chat/app integrations features. In fact, for the 250M Office users, it offers substantial additional functionality around file sharing and content collaboration. While exact numbers are hard to come by, some surveys suggest that Teams has 15–20 M users (vs. …

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I recently sat down with Dheeraj Pandey, founder, chairman and CEO of Nutanix, one of the fastest growing enterprise companies of the past decade. A common theme I noticed throughout our conversation about his journey from engineer to CEO is his unwavering commitment to people.

As Dheeraj puts it:

“Business is about people more than technology. Technology is a means to an end, but how do you get people to come together and work together?”

As I look back on the companies I’ve worked with and advised over the years, no matter what the industry they operate in, it is the CEOs that value people who have the greatest success in building something that will last. …

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Ban Facebook! Are you nuts ? Can’t even imagine a world without WhatsApp! How dare you even suggest such an idea! As a libertarian who has decried the “license raj” and believes in small government/minimal regulation, even asking such a question feels heretical. Furthermore, the question is almost silly; after all, for most people in India, WhatsApp is the internet. Can one ban the internet ?

While it sounds preposterous, I believe that the question is legitimate and deserves to be debated at the highest levels of government in India for 4 reasons:

  1. Data and in particular PII (personally identifiable data) is the new oil. The idea that a foreign company has data about the behaviors of almost every Indian citizen (in real time) is uncomfortable. Should the geo-political environment change, it will be untenable. For example, FaceBook likely has more data about an individual than most intelligence agencies, and can even track the location of 100s of millions of Indians in real time. …

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For several years, MarTech has been out of favor. AdTech in particular has become a waste land. And then out of the blue, there have been 3 significant martech acquisitions:

1. ATT buys App Nexus for close to $ 2 B

2. Salesforce buys Datorama for $850 M

3. KKR invests $400 M into AppLovin at $ 2 B valuation

In addition, the TradeDesk is now valued at $ 4 B+ in the public markets. Is MarTech rising from the dead akin to a phoenix ? Or did we give it up for dead too soon ?

The reality is mixed. Customer spend on Martech (and even AdTech) continues to be robust, and marketers continue to favor best of breed solutions. M&A activity is also more healthy than most other SaaS segments. The challenges are two…

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Jyoti Bansal

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of my new podcast, “How to B2B a CEO.” It’s a show about how to scale a startup (particularly an enterprise startup) and how to grow from a founder (especially a technical founder) into a full-stack CEO. Each episode, I interview successful founder-CEOs about how they did it, what they wish they knew when they started, and what advice they have for new entrepreneurs.

My guest for the inaugural episode is Jyoti Bansal, founder and CEO of AppDynamics, which was recently sold to Cisco for $3.7 billion. This was a fantastic conversation with an incredible founder. …

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In the last week, my twitter feed has been filled with stories about how Automation Anywhere (AA) has raised a $250 M Series A to “automate mundane jobs” and “make business processes self-running”. The articles are filled with buzzwords like “AI” and “bots”. In a press release, Mihir Shukla, the Automation Anywhere CEO claims that their bots can automate 80% of an enterprise’s business processes. Anyone reading these articles would think that “the machines are taking over” and AA is on the verge of building general AI.

Automation Anywhere is an impressive company with over $100 M in revenues, 1000+ customers and 100%+ YoY growth. At the same time, its product is relatively simple and involves almost no machine learning today. Its success is validation of the opportunity that exists for enterprise chatbots and “business process elimination” more broadly. …

About

ashu garg

Earlystage Enterprise VC-engineer-operator | GP @FoundationCap | BoD @tubemogul @localytics @conviva @zerostackinc @fortanix @opas @thequanticmind @eightfoldai

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