How do you view the start-up and entrepreneurship scene in India at this moment?
I think there are a lot of good start-ups.
There is a much higher quality than it was five years ago.
Why haven’t you made big investments? How do you rate the ecosystem here versus Silicon Valley?
What has to happen is that some start-ups
have to be successful. Once they are successful, those founders invest in other start-ups. Other people in the company invest in other firms. So, it takes a few cycles and you see that happening.
On one hand, you have Flipkart that got bought by Walmart, and on the other, we saw the tragedy of Coffee Day Enterprises founder V G Siddhartha...
Incidents like Coffee Day Enterprises happen, that is life. Every entrepreneur is also a human being and has a life. My general view is that if anything that the investors need to get is more permissive. In the Silicon Valley, investors are more permissive in letting founders attempt bigger and harder things and more implausible things.
How should the board behave, given that entrepreneurs go through so much stress?
Investors need to be more permissive and more supportive of entrepreneurs.
How do you view failure?
My view is unless you take the risk, you are not going to innovate. But if you take risks, you are going to fail. So, without failure, you can’t have big successes. You can have small successes. Without failure, you can’t have large successes. The key is to have small failures so that they don’t kill you.
What are the qualities you see in entrepreneurs before investing?
Risk profile matters a lot. Quality of entrepreneur and quality of the team.
What would be your advice to an entrepreneur choosing an investor?
Different entrepreneurs have different risk profiles, and they should pick an investor that matches their risk profile. If you are going to be conservative, getting an aggressive investor is a bad idea. Matching is important.
Most major global investors are now in India. What’s stopped you from investing in a start-up here?
Most VCs invest money, I work with entrepreneurs. I have to be local, to advice them and mentor them. My style of working with them is my mentorship and not investing. I can’t do that because I am based outside.