Sunday, July 11, 2010

Zen and the Entrepreneur's guide to Investor-gyaan

In his recent quest to start up my retail venture, The boss's son has been knocking on investors' doors for about 8 months now, and the false promises, and the high hopes and their super-flatulous gyaan is now clogging my senses and blurring my vision.

When we met the co-ordinator for a famous "Angel" Investing Network recently, he heard us out, and nodded his head quite wisely. He then proceeded to trash the industry we were in, and made pointed but casual references to the "big" deals he was brokering (or as he put it, 'mentoring').

So amidst his advice to take a super-large view of the industry (in his words, from 30,000 feet above sea level) and his warm offers for advice on taking on other investors if I found them, and the fact that "Your business plan is great, your attitude is good, you have all the blocks in place, but you dont have a long term cutting-edge in the industry. Yes you'll make profits but there's nothing innovative about this business plan..", I forgot that Investors fund fancy innovations that sit on their mantelpiece, they just dont care about a 5X return in 4 years now...

He then advised us to make a business plan, and an excel projection of a quarter-by-quarter analysis of the next 3 years!!! with the ways the money (if he funded me) would be spent, where it would be spent, and what the business growth and sales would be like!!! I felt like telling him that if I was THAT good at crystal ball gazing I would be Baba Pranay-Nath not simple Pranay Srinivasan!!!

Thats when I politely pointed out to him that his association could no longer be called an "Angel" investment network since their due diligence extends into years, not weeks, and angel investors are people who invest small amounts of money on gut-feel and an instinct for the entrepreneur to start up their business. He gravely nodded his head and said, "Yes, I know, We at XYZ Angels are very distressed by this turn of events.. We only invest now in mid-level and running organisations."

I wanted to drop a 5 rupee note in his outbox for the tea he offered me and which I politely declined, and tell him that if he didnt have the money, he could have told me at the outset.


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