Founders Don’t Know Shit…….Until They Get Funded (FDKS… UTGF)
Very cryptic for a title? Well it is.
Have you seen a Founder AMA? Or been to startup conference? You meet and hear a few kinds of people:
- Hangers on: They are really there for the fun!
- Founders looking for:
d.Meet the competition
3. Founders in “Stealth” mode: God knows what that means. I mean, yeah, I know but I don’t see a value in that. But that’s me. Who cares what I think?
1 constitutes about 20% , 3 another 10% and that leaves the rest in slot 2. There are numerous articles out there in the ether about how to do this or that. Lean Startup, Mistakes I’ve made and an Entrepreneur, Mistakes that an Entrepreneur should make, Profit or Growth: What to focus on?, Funding stats and data and the most important How to use your connections/networks. This one is really huge. Though, no one actually describes the how. In the Silicon Valley and the Silicon Roundabout, it is different (read smaller population, larger and more prestigious Universities), IMHO.
In India, if you are not from the IIT or IIM… you probably can hear the balloon pop. VCs will tell you differently. They will tell you thats not true. They will tell you pedigree doesn’t matter. If your idea is unique, they will tell you one of two things: a) get traction and come back.. which really is an euphemism for “No” or b) They will laugh at you and they do that on your face.. My startup is called pattypets.com and one investor from a really big and well-known firm actually called it “patty beds” and asked me what the hell am I doing with a wink & a smirk! One thing I’ve learnt about being an entrepreneur is that one has to learn to eat shit & move on very quickly otherwise it just becomes demoralising.
What do VCs in India fund? Mostly (and it is mostly) ideas that have succeeded already in other countries and the business model that works. Thankfully, this is changing because of Founders now funding other founders, but India has a long way to go, still.
So how do Indians manage to connect to VCs? I have no clue and anyone who tells you otherwise is, IMHO, lying apart from generics mentioned above (network/connections). VCs only meet people they know through others. Period. This is true globally. If you have worked in the Corporate world, you wouldn’t be knowing very many VCs because your paths wouldn’t cross. If you are fresh out off college, good luck unless you have an uncle who is in the VC business.
And therefore: FDKS……. UTGF and thats when they become very knowledgeable and sought after, sometimes overnight.