An Entrepreneur's Open Letter To Venture Capitalists in India

13 April, 2012

Hello my friend (can I call you a friend),

I meet you at several conferences, events and other meetings, where we have informal discussions around this topic. So I thought I would gather my thoughts and share some ideas I have on how we can work well together. Mostly though, this is about what my ideal investor would be like.

Here's some background about me:

I am a first-time entrepreneur. I don't come from a 'business family.' Neither do I have a lot of friends and family members who are rich. I am the only one out of about 80 students who finished from my college and wanted to be an entrepreneur. The rest of them got great jobs in large companies. So frankly, I am the 'odd one.' I have ideas, ambition and lots of chutzpah, but besides that, I have some skills and an idea. I know you believe that ideas don't matter, but right now, that and my skills are all I have got.

Here's my request:

Please be approachable. I know you are a very busy person. I can imagine you have hundreds of people wanting to talk to you. When you come to an event where you are a speaker, please do take some time to 'surf the crowd' and introduce yourself. Please don't rush right away to your meeting or have the same discussions with the three or four members of the panel whom you know already. I know you'd like us to build a relationship with you; so please do give us an opportunity to do so.

Please be responsive. I understand that you get many e-mail messages daily. Would it be possible to use your downtime (while you are waiting for your coffee or if you are standing in line at the airport security checkpoint) to connect me to someone who can help? If my area of work is not in your investment profile or we are too early-stage, can you please point me to someone who would be? It is also okay for you to tell me that this is not something you will invest in, and here are people (angel investors, perhaps) whom you know, who might.

Please be consistent. I like doing my homework, but your website tells me something entirely different from what you actually do. For example, I went to this VC website that tells me they will consider 'pre-revenue' companies. But at my first meeting, when I share that I have no paying customers, you tell me to come back when I have revenues. Please be respectful of my time, as much as I am of your time. If I don't fit your criteria, fair enough. But don't put it on your website and then change your mind.

Please share your thoughts on the trends that you see in the industry and from companies which are pitching to you. I understand confidentiality does not permit you to share all the details. But I would love to hear major trends you are seeing that you like or don't like. Since you meet hundreds of entrepreneurs monthly, I would like to get a snapshot of what you are hearing and seeing. It helps me formulate ideas. Might I suggest a monthly newsletter that I can subscribe to?

Please be open to taking one big risk (each year, if you can). Product companies are hard and risky. We, as entrepreneurs, also want to build the first big product company from India. You realise though that product companies take more time and more effort than services companies. I understand you cannot fund all product companies. But can you please look at companies that require more time and money which will go into research & development for a few years, without significant revenues?

Please feel free to let me know what the ideal entrepreneur would be for you.


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