Sunil Kalra

sunil kalraSunil Kalra started his career in exports and later set up a leather apparel manufacturing unit which succeeded and gave him an opportunity to work with global designers. He is now a member on Indian Angel Network as an independent angel investor who has made quite significant investments in microfinance and analytics enterprise but has a bias towards internet startups. He invested in more than 12 startups in 2014 alone.

Educational Qualification: Graduated from University Of Texas at Austin in Marketing and International Trade(1984-1986)

Startups Invested In: TargetingMantra, Instamojo, CultureAlley, Aurality, AdPushup, Frrole, Mobilewalla, Druva, Jigsee, Innoveda, Airwoot, HashCube, Sapience, Wishberry, Crayon Data

Industries: Sector Agnostic

Sharad Sharma

Sharad SharmaSharad was the CEO of Yahoo! India R&D before founding BrandSigma and was responsible for emerging markets engineering and several key global products. Sharad is an evangelist for developing technology product businesses in India and leads in efforts to nurture the ecosystem. He was the chair of the NASSCOM Product Forum and is the co-founder of the iSpirt think-tank. He actively mentors startups, and speaks frequently on industry issues.

Educational Qualification: Graduated from Delhi College Of Engineering in Electronic Engineering (1982-1986)

Startups Invested In: Frrole, Mobilewalla, HashCube, Druva Software, Kwench Library Solution, Vayavya Labs, Unbxd, Consure Medical, Aurus Network Infotech Pvt. Ltd

Industries: Consumer Internet, Mobile and SaaS

Rajan Anandan

rajan anandanRajan Anandan has invested in a large number of startups. The Google India MD’s previous experiences include being a Managing Director at Microsoft India for 2 years and working for Dell India from 2006 to 2008. In 2014, he invested in more than 14 startups.

Educational Qualification: MSc. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering From Stanford University(1991-1992) and BSc. from Massachusetts Institute Of Technology(1987-1991)

Startups Invested In: StepOut, Capillary Technologies, Sourceeasy, 24/7 Techies,TargetingMantra, Instamojo, CultureAlley, Social Cops,,, Mobilewalla,

Industries: Internet, Mobile and Saas based startups

Krishnan Ganesh

ganesh krishnanKrishnan Ganesh is a business executive who is the Chief Executive Officer of TutorVista, an online tutoring company. He and his wife Meena Ganesh invest in around five startups a year and put in $25-250K in each of the startups.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Delhi College of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering(1977-1982) and did Post graduation from IIM-Calcutta in Management(1983-1985)

Startups Invested In: Must See India, SilverPush, HackerEarth, Oximity, Overcart, Browntape,,

Industries: Consumer Internet, Healthcare, Education and Tech Companies

Meena Ganesh

meena ganeshMeena Ganesh is an entrepreneur and CEO of Portea Medical which is a provider of home healthcare services in India. The husband-wife duo has a midas touch which is evident in the four startups where they invested and then successfully exited as well as their angel investments which went on to raise subsequent VC rounds.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Women’s Christian College in Physics Hons.(1980-1983) and Post Graduated from IIM-Calcutta (1983-1985)

Startups Invested In: Must See India, SilverPush, HackerEarth, Oximity, Overcart, Browntape,,

Industries: Consumer Internet, Healthcare and SaaS

Ritesh Malik

ritesh malikRitesh Malik is a doctor by profession but an investor, an Entrepreneur, an Angel Capitalist, a photographer…. you name it. He is driven by his zeal which made him venture into different sectors of business world. After working for 10 months at Ganga Ram hospital, he has not stopped till date. He founded Woodapple Hospitality and ThinkPot, and co-founded AdStuck Consulting and Harvin Academy. In 2014, he invested in about 8 startups.

Educational Qualifications: Did his MBBS from M.G.R. Medical University(2007-2012)

Startups Invested In: RHlvision, Mashinga, Asimov Robotics, SectorQube Technolabs, Bisko Labs, Inc42

Industries: Technology, Hardware

Nikunj Jain

nikunj jainThis young fellow claims to understand consumer internet which is advocated by his two much talked about startups and inoXapps. is a platform where questions from celebrites can be asked and they will reply via video. His first startup inoxapps develops games and apps for Android and has managed to rake in a large number of downloads. He invested in about 7 startups in 2014 alone.

Educational Qualifications: IIT-Delhi dropout in Textile Technology(2006-2010)

Startups Invested In: Gingr, Piquor, Agatsa,, Inc42

Industries: Sector Agnostic

Anupam Mittal

anupam mittalAnupam Mittal is the founder and CEO of People Group which owns businesses such as online matrimonial service, real-estate portal, mobile content and applications company Mauj Mobile and People Pictures. Known for his business acumen and an eye for detail, Mittal is an active angel investor with over 20 investments to date. In 2014 alone he invested in around 8-10 startups.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Boston College(1994-1997).

Startups Invested In:, Olacabs, PrettySecrets, Sapience, Druva Software, Zepo, Peelworks, Taxspanner, Cafe Zoe, Interactive Avenues

Industries: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Mobile, Healthcare and SaaS

Kunal Bahl

kunal bahlKunal Bahl is the co-founder and CEO of, which is among India’s leading online marketplaces. He started at Jasper Infotech Ltd in 2007 with a seed amount of INR 40 lakh. After tweaking the business model half a dozen times, he came up with the marketplace model for and success followed.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Wharton School of Pennsylvania

Startups Invested In: Tripoto, Tiny Owl, Bewakoof, Gigstart, Olacabs, and Unicommerce

Industries:  Ecommerce and related sectors

Sachin Bansal

sachin bansalSachin Bansal is the co-founder and CEO of He founded the company in 2007 which started as a humble online book store and later ventured into other product categories that proved to be a huge success in our developing country. Earlier, he used to work as a senior software engineer at Amazon, now the archrival of flipkart. Before this, he had worked at techspan as an associate for 5 months.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated From IIT-Delhi in Computer Science(2000-2005)

Startups Invested In: Ather, TouchTalent, Roposo, NewsInShorts, MadRat Games, Spoonjoy

Industries: Technology

Naveen Tewari

naveen tewariNaveen Tewari started mKhoj, a local mobile search firm but later pivoted to a mobile advertising network with a global model which is well known as InMobi. He is also the founder and chairman of India SchoolHouse Fund, a nonprofit enterprise that works to ensure effective delivery of education in poor rural areas of India. He didn’t stop at this and now he uses his spare time to mentor entrepreneurs and invest in startups.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from I.I.T. Kanpur in Mechanical Engineering(1996-2000) and did his MBA from Harvard Business School in General Management(2003-2005)

Startups Invested In: tushky, moneysights, Mettl and LetsVenture

Industries: Internet and Mobile Businesses

Ravi Gururaj

ravi gururajRavi Gururaj is a member of the  NASSCOM executive council. He recently launched a startup incubator called Frictionless Ventures which is an idea experimentation lab that picks up and incubates ‘ideas’ and ‘concepts’ in the cloud computing, mobility and big data space. He is a top executive at software firm Citrix Systems and also co-founded Harvard Business School Alumni Angels. He invested in about 8 startups in 2014.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from University of Pennsylvania in Economics and Computer Science Engineering(1984-1989) and did his MBA from Harvard Business SChool(1998-1999)

Startups Invested In: GrexIt, Tookitaki,, Graymatics, PrettySecrets, Gridcentric, Explara, Core Mobile, SyncUsUp, VMLogix, Aurus

Industries: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Social Media, Cloud Computing and SaaS

Vijay Shekhar Sharma

vssVijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of One97 Communications. He made mobile payments familiar to every Indian because of its ease of use and security. Coming from a small town and a hindi medium background, he never let his problems stop him from innovating. He used to live on streets with less than 15 bucks in his pockets and had dreams worth millions which he certainly fulfilled. His energy, knowledge and passion made him bring revolution in telecom infrastructure.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Delhi College of Engineering in Electronics & Communications(1994-1998)

Startups Invested In: Sourceeasy, SilverPush,, GrexIt, EduKart, Milaap Social Ventures, iimjobs,Dexetra, AirStream, Wishberg Inc, Signals

Industries: Sector Agnostic

Samir Bangara

samir bangaraSamir Bangara is the CEO and Co-founder of which is a platform for artists to create content, connect with like-minded people and monetize their creations. He started his career in venture capital with IL&FS Venture corporation and moved on to being an investment banker with Ernst & Young. He joined Indiagames in 2005 as Chief Operating Officer and grew the company which led the sale of the company to The Walt Disney. He led the Disney group in India as Managing Director and left it to join in 2013

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from University of Mumbai in Bachelor of Commerce and Finance (1993-1995)

Startups Invested In:, Overcart, ZAPR, Pokkt, Playblazer, Thrill

Industries: Consumer Internet, Social Games and Development Platforms

Abhishek Rungta

abhishek rungtaAbhishek Rungta is founder and CEO at Indus Net Technologies, a web development and digital marketing company. He started this company with 50 bucks and now has an annual turnover of INR 40 Cr. Started at a very young age of 19, this commerce student had an interest in technology which made him a frequent visitor of tech expos where he rented a stall and his journey started from there. He has never looked back since then.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from St. Xavier’s College in Bachelor of Commerce(1996-1999) and did his post graduation from University of Bath in Multimedia Technology(1999-2000)

Startups Invested In: Plivo, iimjobs, Azoi Inc., iDubba, Secpanel,, Letsventure, Eduora, CapricornGifting, CarSingh

Industries: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Digital Media, Advertising and SaaS

Pallav Nadhani

pallav nadhaniPallav Nadhani is the co-founder and CEO of Fusion Charts and RazorFlow and CEO at Collabion, seemingly a serial multi-tasker. He started this company in 2001 at the age of 16 from his bedroom as he found himself dissatisfied with Microsoft Excel’s charting capability while completing his high school assignments. The company is a service provider of data visualization products and owing to its success it was included in NASSCOM EMERGE 50 leaders in 2009.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from University of Calcutta in Bachelor of Commerce(2002-2005) and Post Graduated from University of Edinburgh in Computer Science(2007-2008)

Startups Invested In: Plivo, Azoi Inc., iDubba,, Eduora, CarSingh, CapricornGifting, Cropex, Eduora Technologies.

Industries: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Cloud Computing and Ecommerce

Aloke Bajpai

aloke bajpaiAloke Bajpai is the CEO and co-founder of which he founded because of his love of travel, history and culture. He started his career at Amadeus in Europe, where he was part of the team that built the world’s first web-based travel agency booking tools. He is a guy who loves to do everything and travelling across the globe made him a big time foodie. His love for  Internet products and Croissants has never ebbed since then.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from IIT Kanpur in Electrical Engineering (1997-2001) and did his MBA from INSEAD (2004-2005)

Startups Invested In: Sourceeasy, SilverPush, HackerEarth, Overcart, Little Eye Labs,iimjobs, Azoi Inc., Autowale, PlayCez, BlueGape, Pokkt,

Industries: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Mobile and Ecommerce

Bhupen Shah

bhupen shahBhupen Shah is the co-founder and CTO of Sling Media which is a technology company that develops place shifting and Smart TV solutions for consumers and set top box manufacturers. Prior to Sling Media, he co-founded Emuzed Inc. which was focused on mobile multimedia. Furthermore, he was the VP of Product and Technology at RealChip Communications. He also worked at Philips, IBM among others.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from University of Michigan in Computer Engineering (1979-1981)

Startups Invested In: Sift, Doublie, Shoe Lovers, Giraffic, CultureAlley, Woxi Media,Whodini, PowWow, Hachi, Frrole, Vapore, Vuemix, Qikwell, Tydy,, Snap-Networks

Industries: Invests in Online Startups

Zishaan Hayath

zishaanZishaan Hayath is a tech entrepreneur from Mumbai and co-founder of He also runs an angel investment club called Powai Lake Ventures. Prior to this, he co-founded Chaupaati, a phone commerce marketplace, that was acquired by Future Bazaar. Earlier, he worked with management consulting firm Opera Solutions in Delhi and New York and FMCG major ITC Ltd in Bangalore.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from IIT Bombay (2000-2004)

Startups Invested In: Olacabs, AdPushup,, SquadRun, Shopsense

Industries: Ecommerce, Travel, Mobile, Real Estate and Education

Manish Singhal

manish singhalManish Singhal was the founding member at LetsVenture, which is an online platform for startups to raise early stage investment. He is a serial entrepreneur and an angel investor. He is also an active mentor on the CIIE Mentor Edge Panel, Startup Village and Venture Labs. Before starting LetsVenture, he spent years at Motorola as its project manager. He joined Ittiam & Sling Media in their initial stages and helped build world-class products.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from IIT Kanpur in Electrical Engineering (1988-1992)

Startups Invested In: AdPushup, Freshersworld, Apartment Adda, FlipClass, AdSpark, Frrole, Ecosenseworld, India College Search.

Industries: Education, Consumer Internet and Enterprise Software

Sanjay Mehta

sanjay mehtaSanjay Mehta is co-founder and CEO of MAIA which is a business intelligence firm and is a well known name in entrepreneur circles. This is Mehta’s third venture; his first venture Bespoke Software Consultancy was a successful business in software but later ventured into other areas when he realised it was not scalable beyond a point. He also founded app development firm Globalware System & Software Solutions and steel trading exchange firm He is an investor member with Mumbai Angels and Venture Nursery.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Shah & Anchor in Electronics (1988-1993) and is an alumnus of Indian School of Business

Startups Invested In: OYO Rooms, PrettySecrets,, Talview, Unbxd, OrangeScape, Consure Medical, FabAlley, EcoSense Sustainable Solutions,

Industries: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software and HealthCare

Indus Khaitan

indus khaitanIndus Khaitan is a senior director at Oracle. He exited his co-founded company Blitzer Mobile in late 2013. Previously he was a part of the seed accelerator The Morpheus where he got hands-on experience in starting companies, product development, technology evangelism and marketing & sales. Prior to Morpheus, he was the CTO of SezWho Inc., a social media infrastructure tools startup. He has held senior management and technology positions at Symantec, Outride (acquired by Google), Guru Worldwide, Mindware/NEC and VeriFone.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Birla Institute of Technology in Computer Science(1992-1996)

Startups Invested In:, CirroSecure, Interviewstreet, Sourceeasy, GrexIt, 99tests, Emo2, Practo, Sarga Eco-Fabrics, Phitesla

Industries: Mobile, Ecommerce, HealthCare, Information Technology and SaaS

Anirudh Damani

anirudh dhamanoAnirudh Damani is the owner of Artha Energy Resources which is an advisory firm that is focused on bringing new investment into the renewable power generation industry in India. The company has successfully added over 2Bn kWh worth of energy. He also co-founded Pioneer Energy Resources and exited it in 2012.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Austin College in Economics and Business Administration (2001-2005)

Startups Invested In: InVenture, OYO Rooms, Mobilewalla, Exotel, Rolocule Games,, Paletly, Carveniche Technologies, Maximojo,, NowFloats

Industries: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software and B2B

Vikas Taneja

vikas tanejaVikas Taneja is a partner and  managing director with Boston Consulting Group and a leader in BCG’s technology, media and telecommunications practice. Earlier, he worked with the Information Technology Group of McKinsey & Co and as a venture capital associate with Arch Development Corporation where he was involved in assessing and funding early-stage organisations.

Educational Qualifications: Did his MBA with Honours in Economics and Finance from University of  Chicago and received his Bachelors from Stanford University in Computer Systems Engineering.

Startups Invested In: Rapportive, PubNub, Disconnect, Founders Co-op, Coderbuddy, 500 Startups, Modria, Mashery, Refinery29, Inside Social

Industries: Analytics, Social Media, Information Technology and Clean Technology

Ajeet Khurana

ajeet khuranaAjeet Khurana is the CEO of IIT Bombay’s SINE from past 5 months. He was a Member of the Board of Directors of Carve Niche Technologies. An active member of Mumbai Angels and also a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he is known for overcoming financial and operational challenges of running education business networks and can wear the investor’s shoes as well as the entrepreneur’s hat. He is known to invest about ten thousand dollars in eight startups every year.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from University of Mumbai in Computer Engineering(1987-1991) and did his MBA from University of Texas at Austin in Business(1991-1993)

Startups Invested In: Rolocule Games, ShepHertz, Avaz, Carveniche Technologies, Maximojo, United Mobile Apps, Karmic Lifesciences, Carve Niche Technologies Pvt. Ltd., PickMe eSolutions

Industries: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Ecommerce and Education

Anand Ladsariya

Anand Ladsariya is the CEO of Everest Flavours Ltd. . He is also involved in various social activities. He is ex-Chairman of CHEMEXCIL, an export promotion organisation established by Ministry of Commerce. Being an active Angel Investor with both Mumbai Angels and Indian Angel Network, he has invested in over 35 startups till date and actively mentors and guides the promoters to reach the next level. He is also a part of the  “Committee on Angel Investment and Early Stage Venture Capital” which is guided by the Vice Chairman of Planning Commission.

Educational Qualifications:  Graduated from Bombay University and did his MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad.

Startups Invested In: Traffline,, Aurality, Dexl, Speakwell, Framebench, Serial Innovation, Asiatic, Morpheus Tritya, Mobiquest, Algorhythm

Industries: Location Based Services, Customer Support Tools, Content Discovery and Web Design

Utsav Somani

utsav somaniUtsav is a young tech and startup enthusiast. He is currently working in his family business and looking after it’s African expansion. He is looking out for new opportunities in Consumer Internet, Robotics, Fin & Edu-tech, Pharma, FMCG & Hi-tech Manufacturing. Startups with high-growth potential, driven by a dedicated team, addressing under-captured market excite him.

Educational Qualifications: Bachelors degree in Information Systems Management from Singapore Management University and a Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship from ESADE Business School Barcelona.

Startups Invested In: Testbook, AdpushUp, Zippr, FabBag & Shephertz.

Industries: Consumer Internet, Robotics, Fin & Edu-tech, Pharma, FMCG & Hi-tech Manufacturing.

Steven Sule

steven suleSteven Sule is currently a partner at Naste Advisors, a Mumbai-based advisory firm. Prior to this, he worked as an associate Vice President at Euromax Capital. He started his career as an analyst at Yes Bank and went to London in 2011 where he worked in the same profile but at a larger scale.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Finance(2000-2004) and did his post graduation from Cass Business School in Banking & International Finance(2010-2010)

Startups Invested In: AdPushup, Kwench Library Solution, POSist, Aureus Analytics

Industries: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet & Enterprise Software

Arun Venkatachalam

arunArun Venkatachalam is the head of strategy & business development at Murugappa Group, a business conglomerate which is owned and run by Murugappa family. Arun always had an eye for witnessing cataclysmic events related to business which landed him first at Axis Capital where he worked as an analyst. Later, he worked at Lazard as an analyst in Mergers & Acquisitions which made him realise his inner calling and he went on to join the family business.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Lancaster University in Business Studies(2007-2010)

Startups Invested In: Zoom, AdPushup, POSist, Aureus Analytics, Yourbus, Ridgecrest Asia

Industries: Consumer Internet, Health Care, SaaS and Enterprise Software

Sandeep Goenka

sandeep goenkSandeep Goenka is the co-founder and Jt-CEO of Zebpay, which is a Bitcoin mobile wallet that enables bitcoin transactions using mobile number without any hassles. He started the company with the aim of making bitcoin transactions as easy as instant messaging. He is also an active member of Indian Angel Network. He also co-founded Blynk Systems. All his jobs strengthened his inclination towards technology and software which puts him in an apt position as to where he is now.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from NMIMS in Commerce(1994-1996) and also has an Engineering Degree from De Montfort University(1996-1998). He did his MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management in Entrepreneurial Studies.

Startups Invested In: Fab Bag, Wishberry, Aureus Analytics, POSist

Industries: Consumer Internet, Big Data and SaaS

Subhinder Khurana

subinder khurabaSubhinder Khurana is the founder and CEO of  Bank Smarts Solutions, which enables banks to plan, manage and analyze cash logistics for optimal cost and customer service.

Previously, he started marketRx India, before it was acquired by Cognizant in a $135Mn transaction in 2007. He served as VP at Cognizant for 4 years. Before joining the VC industry, he was the founder and CTO of EZPower systems, which was acquired in 1998 by Oracle.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from IIT Delhi in Electrical Engineering(1983-1987) and did his MBA from A.B. Freeman School of Business(1987-1989)

Startups Invested In: He has advised/mentored several startups including Druva Software, JustMyNeighbour, Authbridge, and Power2SME. He was also managing investments for the first early stage fund in India, Infinity, which created companies like IndiaBulls, India Games and Avendus.

Industries: Consumer Internet

Ajay Lavakare

ajay lavakreAjay Lavakare serves as Managing Director of Risk Management Solutions. He co founded RMSI Private Limited in 1992 and served as its Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. He also served as Senior Vice President of RMS Data Solutions at Risk Management Solutions Inc. Prior to co-founding RMSI, he worked for two years as a software engineer with Kumagai Gumi Co. Ltd., in the company’s Information Systems division and in its Overseas Construction Contract Management division..

Educational Qualifications: Graduation from IIT Delhi in Civil Engineering(1983-1987) and has an MS from Stanford University in Structural Engineering(1987-1989)

Startups Invested In: InnovAccer

Industries: Big Data Analytics

Bhanu Chopra

bhanu chopraBhanu Chopra started his career at Deloitte Consulting serving several Fortune 500 companies in Chicago. He is currently the CEO of RateGain, a company he founded in 2004. Prior to setting up RateGain, he co-founded Riv Consulting. He started RateGain in response to the increasing popularity of Online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz in the west, when he identified the business need of these OTAs to compare rates across their competitor websites.

Educational Qualifications: Has a double bachelors degree in Computer Science and Finance from Indiana University

Startups Invested In: Interview Master, HotelsAroundYou, Mozio

Industries: Travel Technology, Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing

Girish Mathrubootham

girishGirish Mathrubootham is founder and CEO of Freshdesk which is a cloud-based customer support platform that enables companies to provide customer service. The company was inspired from a comment on a Hacker News Post in 2010 which made him leave his job at AdventNet where he worked for 9 years.

Educational Qualifications: Did his Engineering in Electronics from Shanmugha Research Academy(1992-1996) and MBA from University of Madras in Marketing(1996-1998).

Startups Invested In: ChargeBee, Kaalibi Technologies, Turing Research, ShieldSquare and Advises Niche Video Media, NicheTrainings,, Flourish, Frilp

Industries: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software and SaaS

Amit Somani

Amit SomaniAmit Somani is an Advisory Board Member and Chief Products Officer for MakeMyTrip, heading the online product portfolio along with User Experience and Content. He has worked with Google and IBM where he was the head of Mobile Products for Google in Asia-Pacific region and Director for the Enterprise Search and Discovery business at IBM based out of California.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from IIT Varanasi in Computer Science(1989-1993) Engineering and did his MS in Computer Science from University of Wisconsin(1993-1995)

Startups Invested In: Advises Phone Warrior Inc, Qikwell Technologies India, MindTickle, and

Industries: Consumer Internet and Mobile Companies

Niraj Singh

nirajNiraj is the founder of OutBox Ventures and an active angel investor. In his previous role Niraj founded and sold Locus Educational Pvt. Ltd.

Educational Qualifications: IIT Delhi Passout (2007)

Startups Invested In: ShaadiSaga, Tripoto, Grownout and others

Industries: Consumer Internet

Vivek Bihani

vivek bihaniVivek Bihani is the CEO at Bedrock Ventures. Earlier, he worked at ICICI Ventures which included generating deal flow, evaluating business plans, structuring deals and making equity investments; adding value to investments by helping investee companies recruit senior executives. As an entrepreneur, he has helped drive the growth at Magic Software Private Limited, an eLearning company that helps global publishers build education software products.

Educational Qualifications: Graduated from Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Chemical Engineering(1983-1987) and did his MBA from IIM-Bangalore in Business Management(1990-1992)

Startups Invested In: MyRefers, Nearify

Industries: Mobile

ankur warikooAnkur Warikoo

Ankur is the Head of Groupon India and an angel Investor in Internet and Technology Startups. He was also co-founder at Accentium Web (

Educational Qualifications: MBA Graduate from the Indian School of Business and Master’s of Science from Michigan State University

Startups Invested In: Targeting Mantra, Limetray among others.

Industries: Internet and Technology Startups

This list is compiled on the basis of the details of the investments and investors that were publicly available and that surfaced in our research. We will keep on updating this lists with more investors as we get inputs from the ecosystem.

If we missed out on any, do let us know in the comments below.

We’ll keep adding more to this list


The Biggest Roadblocks Faced by Startups in India

It is of common knowledge that a lot of VC and angel investors from India and abroad are actively investing in Indian startups. However, we have been observing that despite having raised good investments, many startups struggle to survive the competition and are eventually forced to shut down their businesses.

It is extremely important to find out and resolve the factors that are preventing growth and sustainability of startups in the country. Below are the 8 key things, influencing the failure or success rate of startups in India, according to founders and mentors of various startups.

Right Talent Acquisition

India is known for its affordable pool of talent, especially when it comes to technology. However, when one is starting up, talent acquisition becomes a pain, given that not everyone is flexible enough to work in a startup.

Upon being asked about the major deterrents on Indian startups’ path to a faster growth, Chirag Garg, CEO, HyperDell, exclaimed, “I see a lot of roadblocks actually! One of them is the fear of failure.

Affordable talent, and the right time for the required talent is another challenge.”

Failure to Mitigate the Gap Between Burn Rate and Revenue

Of late, it has been observed that once VC-popular food delivery startups, are now running low on cash. Amidst the growing competition, it becomes imperative for startups to scale up fast, and this is where external funding comes in. Startups and Investors go hand in hand, several Internet companies delay putting in efforts for revenue generation and focus more on raising investment. When fundraising comes to a halt, troubles start.

Chirag maintained, “I think the right management of your burn rate is really a big concern”. Citing an example of Local Banya which shut its operations a couple of days back, he said, “Many a time, we observe that as soon as a startup gets funded, it loses its conscious approach to the burn rate and goes haywire.

Third Party Growth Decelerators

Similarly, when I approached Sneh Bhavsar, CoFounder and CEO, OoWomaniya with the same query, he asserted, “It is really interesting how the problems are evolving along with the evolution of  startups in India.” According to him one of the major issues is “the influence of external organizations” that is -businesses, incubators, institutes and all such organisations which are trying to control, manage, take advantage for their events, brand or just numbers, be the daddies of the start-ups and entrepreneurs in the name of helping, mentoring etc. He added, “In Ahmedabad, I have seen the most innovative, fast growing startups which also started making profits – they all were self-dependent, never incubated or mentored. Yes, they may have grown slower in early stage but on any day it is better as they are profitable, sustainable. There are more daddies than kids in india’s startup ecosystem.

Lack of Mentorship

Lack of proper guidance and mentorship is one of the biggest problems that exists in the Indian startup ecosystem, believes Milan Hoogan, Vice President -Sales and Marketing at Erfolg Life Sciences. He is of the opinion that the current startup ecosystem consists of a lot of young talent coming out with some very unique ideas. These ideas have enough fuel in them to propel most of these start-ups to great heights. But, one of the biggest factors that slows the growth of these companies, is the poor quality of mentorship they get. Most of these organizations are good with their ideas and/or products, but have little or no industry, business and market experience to effectively get their products out.

Lack of a Good Branding Strategy

Absence of an effective branding strategy is yet another issue that bars startups from flourishing speedily. Giving insights into the subject, Hemant Arora,  Business Head – Branded Content, Times Network, said that branding is one of those areas in a business that demands paramount attention. However, given the question of affordability, many startups struggle to build a good branding strategy for their businesses. Arora maintains, “branding has to be a commitment. In fact, almost like a spiritual commitment for entrepreneurs looking at pacing up their product’s long term commercial success. Branding starts at the same time as the business does…it’s like a baby being born and given a name so that people can identify it with that name. Then comes the process of making it popular which is what advertising is all about and that is completely objectivised.”

During his session on the subject, Arora gave a very lucid yet striking definition of advertising- the essence of advertising lies in the ability to influence your target audience positively towards your brand.

Fragmented Market and the Dearth of Domain Knowledge

The largely unorganized and fragmented market in India stands as one of the biggest hurdles for startups on their way to success. Umesh Chhikara, CoFounder and CEO, Inkhorn Publishing India is of the opinion that before foraying into any business, one must cultivate a strong domain knowledge. “Consumer behaviour changes every 30 km in India, which makes it a highly complex, diverse and unorchestrated market.” Chhikara opines that it’s very easy for startups to bag capital these days. However, what is not easy is building a strategy to move ahead and capture the larger market. Only a few have managed to spread their footprints across the country. Most of them usually get stuck in stagnancy and eventually, shut down.

Silicon Valley Replicas Topped by Infrastructure Deficit

Emulation of ideas and business models is a common tendency that startups in India need to get rid of. Koushik Shee, Founder and CEO, Effia, questions Indian startups’ infatuation with Silicon Valley models. He stated that most of these business models have been replicated from the West. Hence, few are profitable despite raising fortune. “One must understand that ours is a very different scenario. Hence, we should build our models based on our market. India has a huge potential given that most of the market is still untapped due to the lack of internet penetration in rural and suburban areas owing to the issue of affordability and infrastructure deficit.” Nevertheless, Shee hopes that with Digital India initiative, things are going to change for good.

Struggle to Reinvent Constantly

Last but not the least, Namrata Garg, Director, SendKardo,  opines that customers today are very adaptable to change. “The biggest challenge is the need to constantly reinvent yourself and come up with a service to be able to match up customer expectations. Having said that, I would also like to add that this ‘roadblock’ could as well be converted into a big opportunity. Also, certain services provided by earlier applications have become pre requisite for customer today. So, you need to be providing something over and and above constantly. It’s all about providing the wow factor.”

What according to you are the biggest challenges startups face in India? Share with us in the comments below………………………………….

Create a Mission Statement for Your Startup that Sticks

Few areas in business are as ever-changing as the mission statement. Originally, this statement served as a humble summary of what your organization plans to do in the short term and long run. Today, the definition has branched out beyond simply defining your purpose in business. It’s also supposed to inspire your team members, make good on its promises and use inclusive language to connect everyone to your brand.

This statement wants to be everything to everyone; however, businesses just getting started may find it daunting to create one of their own and figure out what all should be in it. We’ve rounded up the dos and don’ts for crafting a mission statement that delivers while remaining consistent to your brand’s voice.

DON’T try to take on the world

Skip loading up your statement with buzzwords and focus on your specific purpose. Whether that means giving customers a meaningful shopping experience, striving to make everyday life better or giving back to the community, stick to what your brand narrative and its objectives are rooted in.

DO make it easy to remember and understand

One of my favorite mission statements also serves as its company name: Life is Good. Since 1994, this apparel brand has been serving up optimism sunny side up on clothing, accessories and home décor for men and women. It’s short, specific and sweet, with site commentary that expands more on how positivity empowers individuals to live a life of purpose, growth and fun.

However, not every mission statement is this succinct! If you find that your own is in danger of sounding like a vague run-on sentence, break it up into a few sentences. This is a statement that you want everyone, especially your employees, to adopt and understand, so focus on making it tangible and concise.

DO be meaningful

Time to let your brand’s personality shine! Consider your body language at a networking mixer when you meet someone new and tell them more about your company. It’s a safe bet that you speak confidently about what you do, use hand gestures to illustrate points and have a genuinely enthusiastic demeanor.

Dip into this kind of behavior when defining your mission statement. Skip the jargon and focus on transparency and authenticity to better build trust in your brand. Watch your language with the words you use and how you want your business to be reflected within them. If you want to appeal to a younger demographic, opt for words like “rebellious” and “conscious” to play up your brand’s values. “Together” unifies everyone and feels accessible, while “pure” is the perfect adjective to drive home any brand that emphasizes clean eating.

DON’T be lofty

This is a controversial point to make because many sites will say that a bit of loftiness is a good thing in a mission statement. However, lofty words can often translate to being pretentious which may make the statement feel less inclusive and alienate some audiences.

Instead, place your focus on four key elements: inspiration, plausibility, specificity and value. Clearly define your purpose and its vision, how you plan to help others, and establish a call to action to encourage others to work together and get involved.

The importance of rolling out local but planning global for startups

In today’s connected world, don’t restrict your customer base to a specific region, but also don’t spread yourself out too thin. ‘Think global’ is the mantra for startups today.

The technology in today’s world has enabled many avenues for everyone, including entrepreneurs and startups who are thinking of going beyond local. Nowadays, there are so many business ideas that could cater to many different geographies, and the problem statement could be a global one for sure. It is mandatory for startups, then, to think with a broader horizon and not restrict themselves to focusing on a business idea that can only reach a scale within a specific geography, country, or continent.

Many entrepreneurs think global, but while their aspirations are great, their growth doesn’t reflect their ambitions. What is the best way to go about building and marketing your startup in such a way that you start targeting a particular audience and expand towards a global horizon?

Many entrepreneurs who have a long-term goal usually think globally and focus on acting locally right from day one. Designing and delivering global solutions and work quality that will appeal to global customers but also be relevant to local entities is the ambition of many entrepreneurs. However, how does one go about achieving this? Here are some aspects that would help entrepreneurs be global while rolling out locally.

Start with the small steps

Of course, you can’t just become global overnight. Yes, we all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. But the key element for startups to focus on when they start is to take small steps is to keep in mind a lot of aspects not just locally, but also globally.

One key agenda would be to ensure that when you start making the business plan from scratch, you factor in the strategy such that you don’t fail to address the future needs of going global, while at the same time you don’t overshoot yourself so much that you forget to solve problems that your product aims to figure out in the local context.

Branding is key

So, while you begin divining your messaging and building your startup, one of the essential factors that will help you to be recognized globally as well as locally is what brand name you choose for yourself, and how much you identify with the branding aspect that will keep you global in the future. It is important to recognize and take into consideration aspects of language, culture, regional motivators, and what makes your customers tick overall.

You don’t want to choose a branding now and then pivot later, when your realize that you want to go global. That would burn a lot of your funds, and you’d probably have a lot of problems in brand recall and many other aspects as well. Pick your company and product names carefully. Don’t choose a name with a negative connotation in some other language. Anticipate emotional quotient of your customers, and play on it to reach out better in terms of the overall solution.

Focus on emerging economies

Today, there is huge growth in markets all across the world in emerging economies. A lot of it has to be attributed to the fact that it’s not yet saturated; however, the sheer volume of these economies and countries adopting newer technologies should give you a drive to target them at the onset. Of course, not all markets could be your thing. But identify which of the emerging markets your product would fit into. Tailor your branding, solutions, and strategy accordingly. Start building every aspect of your marketing, as well as advertising to reach out to this audience.

It is important that you drive your brand in international markets, as it will have higher prices and additional customer value. At the same time, do maintain the balance between different regions, and identify when to look for newer markets in other locations to make up for the saturation in one market.

Customer language is key

Of course, no matter how much we try, we cannot overstate this aspect when it comes to global planning. If you have a demand with specific language requirements, then cater to them, don’t ignore it. Certainly, a multi-lingual product page and website can help in increasing growth of local online businesses for sure. Reciprocating with the customer in his or her own language not only adds a personal touch, it also gives your customer a reassurance that you’re there for them. Hire local resources in the geographies you want to touch. They are in the best position to actually reach out to your customers and help you drive your sales a lot better than someone within your own team in your country.

At the end of the day, a lot of new-age entrepreneurs need to delve into many aspects of driving service, building product, and making sales on a global basis. But at the same time, to make sure that you start off right, you need to go step by step. Start planning out locally and expand globally. You will not only achieve the scale you require, you’d also maintain consistency in achieving your goals, and your burn rate will be the slowest if you plan this way.

How Survivorship Bias Distorts Our View of Successful Entrepreneurs

This bias may be leading millions of young entrepreneurs down the wrong path entirely.

The best way to learn is by studying the successful people who came before you . . . right?

When you first start thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, it’s natural to look up to and model yourself after the radically successful entrepreneurs who came before you. You may even idolize them, to a degree. But while these successful and popular entrepreneurs certainly offer valuable lessons all of us can learn from, our views are dangerously distorted by what might be called “survivorship bias.”

In fact, this bias may be leading millions of young entrepreneurs down the wrong path entirely.

Survivorship bias — in a nutshell

So, what is survivorship bias? The gist is this: When you focus too heavily on the “survivors” of a given population, you ignore important qualities about the rest of the population. It’s usually demonstrated with an example of planes in World War II. The British military had access to a bullet-resistant material that could cover some, but not all, parts of each plane.

The original approach to determine where to place the armor focused on the bullet holes in the planes that “survived,” meaning they came back to base. Since these bullet holes showed the most frequent places planes were getting hit, it stood to reason that these were the best places to put armor.

However, this was a fallacy of survivorship bias. Instead, the ideal solution turned out to be placing armor wherever the surviving planes weren’t getting hit. In short, you couldn’t study planes that were shot down, so you had no bullet holes that showed you the most vulnerable parts of the planes.

The cult of successful entrepreneurs

So how does survivor bias relate to entrepreneurship? The answer is that we tend to gravitate toward the most successful entrepreneurs in the world when we study examples — think of Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban. We tend to note that these entrepreneurs have standout qualities that surely must have led to their success.

Those qualities?

  • Rogue thinkers. Entrepreneurs like those named here did something different. They didn’t take the “average” path to success, and they didn’t follow a formula. They kept going when they were told they were crazy, and they ended up on top of the world. This makes people believe that going against the grain is always a good thing—but it often isn’t.
  • Risk=takers. You’ll also notice these name entrepreneurs’ common tendency to take risks. Risk-taking behavior can lead to more rewards, but don’t forget that there’s another side to risk-taking — and one that doesn’t make nearly as many headlines. You never hear about the millions of people who lose playing the lottery — just the few people who win.
  • Extremists. These people aren’t middle-of-the-road types; they prefer a polarization: having people who love them and people who hate them, rather than having everyone feel neutral about them. Stirring up such strong feelings can make you more successful than your average counterparts, since you’ll attract more attention — as long as you end up with more positive relationships than negative ones.


Whom are we missing?

Most of the time, we don’t get to study examples of entrepreneurs who demonstrated the above qualities, but instead ended up failing. And there are probably a lot in that group. The above qualities aren’t guarantees of success; they offer a flip side that can actually be devastating:

  • People who ignored advice. Rogue thinking is great — in small doses. Standard business practices are standard for a reason, and ignoring the advice of people who came before you can actually lead you to ruin. You might get lucky and stumble on a revolutionary new way to view the world, but it’s more likely that you’ll simply be ignoring some sage wisdom in the process.
  • The unlucky. It’s fun to look at all the risk-takers whose gambles ended up paying off, but this view ignores the millions of entrepreneurs who took big risks and failed. You don’t hear many news stories about the business owners who ended up in financial ruin.
  • Offenders. When it comes to polarizing an audience, offense is just as likely as attraction. New entrepreneurs who grow to be too bold may alienate investors and early clients, ruining their chances of attracting initial momentum.

A balanced approach

None of this is to say that you should ignore the most popular and successful entrepreneurs in the world: Clearly, they’re doing something right. Instead, the point is to demonstrate how survivorship bias makes us ignore the potentially devastating downsides and consequences of these behaviors and outlooks.

The key, then, is to take a more balanced approach; instead of trying to emulate your favorite entrepreneurs directly, draw some key takeaways and come up with your own way to incorporate them into your business.

The takeaway here? Instead of taking advice as law, take it as one of several considerations. Only with a balanced approach will you be able to find your own path to success.

5 Ways to Keep Grinding Even When You Aren’t Motivated

Building a business requires doing a of less-than-thrilling tasks, day after day. You need to work whether you’re inspired or not.

No matter what kind of work you do, you’ll always have days you don’t feel motivated. Running a business is exciting and challenging, but also boring and mundane sometimes. It’s human nature to get distracted, frustrated and disappointed now and then. The key is knowing how to get back on track so your business doesn’t suffer.

Your professional success and personal happiness both depend on staying motivated. Here are a few ways to give yourself a boost when you start to get bogged down.

1. Make a schedule.

Not reporting to an office every day or punching a clock can be an amazing thing. It also can pose a tremendous challenge. You can wake up when you want, take breaks when you want, eat when you want and stop working when you want. With so much autonomy, it’s important to discipline yourself by setting a daily schedule.

The thought of sleeping in or taking a two-hour lunch every day might be tempting, but neither will help your business. Set an alarm so you’ll wake up at the same time every morning — and start early. Studies show people who are proactive in the morning are more apt to be successful long term. Determine your standard lunch break and your typical end of day. You might not be able to follow precisely the same schedule every day — things do come up, and some will need your immediate attention. Still, working on a schedule can help keep you on track and productive.

2. Take breaks throughout the day.

Design your daily schedule with short breaks in mind. Limit each to 10 or 20 minutes, or you risk getting swept into a sucking hole of unproductivity. These breaks are particularly helpful if you’re struggling with a problem. Take a step back, focus on something else, and come back with fresh eyes. Consider taking a quick walk outside or engaging in some other form of activity. Get a glass of water, meditate or surf social media to shift your mindset.

If you find yourself constantly being distracted during your work hours, consider devoting your break time to whatever activity is occupying your mind. Just make sure to schedule those breaks so you know when they start and end.

3. Consider the alternative.

What did you do before you decided to start a business? What do your friends and family do? Chances are, at least some of them report to a cubicle every day and work the same 9-to-5 job all year round, with only two weeks of vacation in the mix. While being an entrepreneur definitely isn’t easy, it’s not boring, either. You can make your own schedule and set your own goals without a boss breathing down your neck. You probably don’t have a very long commute, and you certainly don’t have to dress up every day (unless you want to).

Still not convinced? Visit one of your friends at work and spend a little time in the square box she or he calls an office. My guess is you’ll be running back to your business with a new sense of appreciation for the lifestyle it makes possible.

4. Take advantage of flexibility.

Nowhere is it written that you have to stare at a computer screen in your own home or workspace every day. Try changing it up: Work from a coffee house one day, a library the next and a park the day after that. Changing your scenery will keep you on your toes and might even pique your creativity.

Once you’ve established good habits with your standard schedule, you’ll see it’s OK to deviate from the norm every once in a while. Take a longer lunch break and meet a friend at a fun restaurant. Break early one day to catch a drink with friends. Or go out late one night and give yourself permission to sleep in the next day. These all are perks you can enjoy as an entrepreneur. Realize what a gift that is and exercise that flexibility in moderation, of course. In the long term, it’s only going to help your productivity.

5. Think about the future.

You set goals when you first started your business, and you know you must continue to adapt those objectives as time goes on. If you feel yourself procrastinating or getting distracted, ask yourself how meeting those goals will affect your future. Where do you want your business to be in six months, a year, or five years? How will your daily work help you achieve your ambitions? And how much better will your personal and professional life be once you reach each milestone?

Why Startups Fail: 11 Mistakes Founders Keep Making

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Over time, you can look back on something and see exactly where you went wrong. This prevents you from making the same mistake again.

Unfortunately, more than half of startup founders reach this place of enlightenment when it’s too late.

From working as a consultant with dozens of startups over the years, I’ve witnessed the mistakes that slow startups down or cripple them completely. In this post I’ll discuss those mistakes to give you a better chance of avoiding them.

While making a few of these mistakes is inevitable, making more than a few is hard to come back from. Many of these mistakes fall into the category of “basic startup knowledge” for a reason.

1. Choosing a bad location

There’s a reason certain cities are known for startups: Austin, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Boston to name a few. By being in these cities you can grow your immediate network of colleagues, mentors, and like-minded friends much faster. You can also take advantage of incentives and tax breaks these cities offer new companies.

On one of the most popular episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show, Naval Ravikant, the CEO and co-founder of AngelList, said he moved to Silicon Valley because it was the natural place to go if you wanted to grow a tech company. (Ravikant was an early investor in Twitter and Uber, and AngelList just acquired Product Hunt, so he knows a thing or two about startups.)

2. Not leaving your day job

While you may hear stories of startups that crash and burn, the most common fizzle out before anyone ever really notices them. Often this is because entrepreneurs aren’t 100% focused on the business. While a terrifying choice to make, not quitting your day job can really spell the end of your startup.

If you ever watch Shark Tank, you’ll notice that Mark Cuban passes on opportunities right when people say they have another job. In his eyes, if you’re working somewhere else, you’re not committed to working on growing the business to its fullest potential.

In an interview with Business Insider, Cuban said that “when the needs of the company demand your full attention, it’s time to stop hedging your bets.”

3. Taking the leap all by yourself

According to Josh Hannah, founder of Betfair, there are more successful startups founded by two or more people than one. In a survey he conducted with some of the most successful Internet companies, he found that 20% of startups have one founder and 80% have two or more.

With a partner and co-founder you can share the workload. You can avoid mistakes that are hard for one person to see and share the burden when things go south. While it’s great to have someone to share the high points with, not being alone at low points is just as important.

“My favorite analogy for one founder vs two or more,” says Drew Houston, cofounder of Dropbox, “is that it’s possible to raise a child as a single parent, but vastly more challenging and personally taxing to get the same outcome [as two parents do].”

4. Not having enough money

Starting with too little and spending too much will derail a startup. Whether you bootstrap your startup or get funding, make sure you have enough. You need to make sure you have enough “runway” so you fly rather than crash and burn.

Danny Carberry of Food Tech Connect knows this all too well. He has seen his own startups fold under the weight of his own poor planning. “I remember burning through my loan prior to opening day,” he said in a blog post.

The point is: You need to know exactly how much cash is needed to create something tangible. To do this you need to have an itemized plan of what each part of the project costs.

5. Being stubborn

While it’s important to have a plan, you also need to be open to change. You need to see better ideas and processes when they’re in front of you rather than focusing on your first idea just because it’s yours. Change can be the thing that puts your business over the top and makes it a roaring success.

Gaming giant Nintendo is an excellent example of this.

Created in 1889, it was originally a company dedicated to making playing cards. After several failed ventures into taxis, TV networks, and “love hotels,” the company finally found its footing. It went into the video gaming industry in 1974 and never looked back.

A little bit of fear is healthy. It keeps you on your toes. Stubbornness, on the other hand, is a disease that makes you stumble.

6. Being too slow to launch

While you may seek utter perfection before releasing anything, releasing nothing will get you nowhere. Focus on one thing you can release. Set a date that forces you to finish it. And when that date comes, launch it – even if everything isn’t how you expect it to be.

This Baremetrics interview talks about a startup “failing slow.” The business owner being interviewed admits his company failed because he allowed himself to be handcuffed to bad decisions when starting out.

Letting bad decisions drag on is another way of making failure inevitable. If it’s not right, fix it or cut it away. Then move on.

7. Being too quick to launch

You can be the opposite and be too quick to launch.

How can you tell if you’re going too fast? Judge your release by its utility. Is what you’re releasing useful? Ask some friends and do a beta test to find out. If it’s not useful, don’t launch it.

Geode is an example of a business going too fast to market. It could have been a success but they made the mistake of being tied to another company. Their product was designed to work with the iPhone 4, but just after release, the iPhone 5 was released.

The lesson? Keep timing in mind (the when), as well as utility (the what).

8. Having a poor hiring process

When your budget is tight, an economical option is to hire freelancers from places online. You can also hire contractors instead of full-time employees. Whatever you do, make sure you have a hiring process in place. You don’t have to create this process on your own when starting out. You can steal a process from another company.

The application development company Messapps has a remote team and a hiring process in place used for every candidate. If you need a developer, you can steal their hiring process here.

Whether you need to hire a developer or other professional, start with another business’s process and adapt as you move forward. This makes things much easier.

9. Not having a problem-solving mindset

You’re developing a business to make money, but don’t put profit before the goal of solving people’s problems. Look at profit as the result of your goal: to create something useful. Don’t let profit be the goal itself. This speaks to the idea about utility in point 7.

10. Not outsourcing

Trying to carry out every single part of your business is impossible. If you try to do it, the quality and speed of your startup will suffer. While you might not be in a position to take on permanent staff, there are plenty of low-cost freelancers who can help you out. (You can find these freelancers on the freelance marketplace Hubstaff Talent.)

In his book The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss says you should outsource anything you think someone else can do 80% as good as you. This approach will free up your time for the 20% of things only you can do. These are the things that will make your startup succeed.

11. Fearing competition

Some startups seem to focus on small, obscure niches in order to avoid competition. Finding an untapped market is a strategic approach, but it can limit your growth if you’re doing it out of fear. The truth is that there will be competition in virtually all circumstances.

If you’re worried about your competition, you need to have a long, hard look at your product/service. Is it as unique as you think it is? Maybe there’s someone already doing what you’re doing, or making something similar that actually does the job better.

Which mistakes have you made?

These are just a few of the thousands of reasons half or more startups don’t make it. Whether you’re an outlier that’s made one of the mistakes above and has still made it, or have made a mistake not listed here, I’d love to hear from you.

Go ahead and share your story with everyone in the comments.

5 Mistakes Every Startup Founder SHOULD Make

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure”                                                                                                    

– Bill Gates


Much digital ink has been spilled trying to caution startup entrepreneurs against making mistakes. Type “mistakes entrepreneurs make” into Google and you’ll find thousands of articles, sternly forewarning against the most prevalent pitfalls and errors that stand between you and your startup’s success.

But wait a second. How many times have you heard “We learn from our mistakes”? As an entrepreneur and investor, I’ve definitely made some doosies – and if my experience is any indication, not only do we learn from our mistakes, but we learn much more from our mistakes then from our successes.wrong-decision

Then why try so desperately to avoid them? Call me contrarian, but I’d argue that well-positioned mistakes can be quite worthwhile, and should even be encouraged.

So here’s an initial list of mistakes that you SHOULD make as a startup founder. Mistakes that are bound to happen anyway. Mistakes you will learn so much from that you’d best make them as early in your entrepreneurial journey as possible. I’ve also included some recommendations about what to do after you make each mistake.

1. Get Screwed

It’s inevitable. Someone – your partner, co-founder, employee, investor, or any other character in your unfolding plot – will mess you over. Someone will break your trust, violate a verbal or even written agreement, cut your compensation, or try to steal your equity or destroy your whole company (or all of the above, if you’re me). Someone will do something stupid to scuttle your grand plan.

Accept the inevitable, steady yourself now for the oncoming blow, and just hope it doesn’t hurt too much or cause too much damage. A startup is usually an odd mix of people (idea people, tech people, investors and others) thrown together by fate and circumstance in pursuit of a distant, moving target. As clearly as you think you see that target and the path and steps toward it, somebody else will see that path differently or may have a different set of scruples or incentives. That will create friction, and depending on the power balance between everyone involved, can result in someone – maybe you – getting screwed.

Post-Mistake Action: You’re thinking, “Why is getting screwed my ‘mistake?’ I didn’t do anything wrong.” Look in the mirror. Upon reflection, you’ll likely find that what enabled your misfortune was something you did or didn’t do. The screwer-screwee relationship requires at least two people, and there are two sides to every story. Even if you clearly weren’t “at fault” – you encountered a terrible, crooked person who did you in – you still need to ask yourself how you allowed yourself to do business with that person. Was the person’s action foreseeable? Did you do your due diligence on your partner/employee/investor? What did you do or not do that exposed you? As George W. Bush famously said: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… shame on…. we can’t get fooled again!” (cue The Who). Having been burned once, you’ll be much more careful in the future about compromising your principles or allowing yourself to do business with people who may take advantage of you later on.

2. Seek Revenge

This is an adjunct to the above mistake. Once bitten, your natural impulse may be to bite back. You’ve lost something – tangible, emotional, some future upside or all of the above – and you want to deny the perpetrator those same things or at least the satisfaction of having caused you that loss. You’ve been wronged, and your reflexive urge is to right the wrong by wronging back.

Go ahead, try it once. I predict that not only won’t you be successful, but most likely nothing will happen at all, or worse, it will bounce back at you. If you got screwed, that probably indicates you don’t have the leverage, power or ability to exact meaningful revenge anyway. You’ll just feel immature, cheap and dirty and the lingering recollection of that bad feeling probably will be enough to prevent you from playing the revenge card again.

Post-Mistake Action: Look forward, not back. The objective of the startup game is to win, and two losses don’t equal a win. Rather than dwell on the past, “Revenge it Forward.” Your best revenge is going to be your own success. Use what happened to you as an additional driving force, a motivator to prove to yourself, the person who messed you over, and the world, that not only do you deserve better, but that you can achieve better.

3. Tell People Your Venture is in “Stealth Mode”

It’s natural to want to keep your cards close to your vest. Perhaps you’re afraid someone will steal your idea, or you lack confidence that you’ve developed it well enough to convincingly describe it to others. The tech industry has even provided you the gift of a cool-sounding cover: “Stealth Mode,” which makes you sound more like a covert spy shrouded in secrecy than an unsure rookie plagued by insecurity.

Saying you’re in “Stealth Mode” is almost certainly a mistake, for many reasons. First of all it can easily be interpreted as either pompousness or insecurity, which is bad for your credibility. You’re also signaling that you don’t trust that person, creating a negative feeling that will likely persist even after you’re able to elaborate later on. Most importantly, though, you are missing out on potentially invaluable opportunities to use your own network to shape, develop and advance your product or venture. Every person you know, meet or speak with can be a key to your venture’s ultimate success.

Post-Mistake Action: Switch to “Get Out There” Mode. You never know who may be a potential customer or investor for your awesome new product, or more likely, who may know someone who could be a customer or investor. There are ways to plant the seeds of curiosity, to scout out a territory, to indicate what market you are targeting, without giving away the store. As Steve Blank advocates, it’s critical for the founder to “get out of the building” (physically or virtually) as early as possible, and to start getting feedback from live people very early on and keep iterating based on feedback. By keeping everything a closely-guarded state secret, you are squandering opportunities to connect with people who might ultimately help you achieve Product/Market Fit, partner with you or invest in your venture. Come up with a “teaser” line that tells people enough about what you’re working on and who you’re targeting to pique their interest, generate confirmation of market problems and pain points, and generate future interest or relevant contacts.

When I founded EverMinder I was happy to discuss it with just about anyone long before it was fully developed. I got great feedback that led me to our first three angel investors, all via referral, all before we launched.

4. Believe that “If You Build It They Will Come”

The problem with the movie “Field of Dreams” is that it planted the phrase “If you build it, they will come” firmly into the common parlance and specifically, into the heads of countless, impressionable startup founders. The popularity of the phrase (and its confirmation in the movie, when Costner builds “it” and “they” magically come) leads some founders to believe, and predict to investors, that they, too, need only to build their amazing new thingy, and the users will come running until the rest looks like a hockey stick.

The problem is that as opposed to ghostly baseball players in Hollywood movies, I can assure you that if you just build “it”, “they” will almost certainly not come. In startup theory the “coming” of “they” is called “Market Pull” which almost never happens by itself, even among early adopters. Market Pull needs to follow an intense and iterative period of product design, customer development, Product/Market Fit and hands-on “Technology Push” into the target market, which only if successful begets the glorious Market Pull. You’ll have to work hard to make the market notice and care, and probably personally engage your early users individually, and that’s fine. If you’ve hit Product/Market Fit squarely, “they” will eventually come, but only after you’ve very actively recruited and engaged your early adopters.

Post-Mistake Action: Stop believing stupid movies. If you’ve quoted “if you build it they will come” then you don’t understand enough about Technology Push and Market Pull, customer development, and developing your Minimum Desirable Product. Instead of watching movies, read. A lot. You need to learn about these concepts by immersing yourself in the writings of Steve Blank, Sean Ellis, Andrew Chen, this very blog, and the other great proponents of effective product and customer development, and get up to speed fast.

(Ok, if you’re still looking to be inspired by a movie, then watch The Pursuit of Happyness. Listening to voices in a cornfield will get you nowhere. Perseverance in the face of adversity, hustle, understanding and caring passionately about your product and customers, and relentlessly pursuing your goals will give you a shot to win.)

5. “My Favorite Mistake”

This mistake is probably my favorite because, like the Sheryl Crow song, it’s complicated. It’s the mistake I continue to commit most frequently.

My favorite founder mistake is not appropriately balancing confidence and humility. There’s a yin/yang relationship between the two and as you pilot your rocketship forward, you will occasionally find that you’ve leaned too hard to one side or the other.

As a startup founder you need to have a healthy dose of self-confidence. Ok, maybe an unhealthy dose. An overdose. You need to passionately believe that your solution is The Next Big Thing. But overconfidence can be extremely dangerous, for many reasons. It can be misinterpreted by others as arrogance, which can cause damaging interpersonal consequences. If overconfidence morphs into false confidence, It can cloud your vision or your analysis. A great founder must have just as healthy a dose of humility, an understanding of his or her relatively small place in the world. But being too humble can hold you and your venture back….

A great Talmudic sage once wrote “Every person should have two pockets, each with a reminder note that he should refer to in the appropriate circumstance. In one pocket should be a note with the phrase: ‘The world was created just for me.’ In the other pocket should be a note that reads: ‘I am like the duct of the earth.’ ”

(Five bucks says that’s the first time Sheryl Crow and a Talmudic sage were mentioned together.)

Post-Mistake Action: Unfortunately I don’t have a clear “post-mistake” recipe for this one. Managing your self-confidence and humility is a push-and-pull balance exercise that you have to keep performing, every day. It’s up to you to gauge each circumstances and determine which reminder note applies.

Now that I’m an early-stage investor, I meet with entrepreneurs eager to convince me that they (and their ventures) are awesome. That’s great. But I don’t want entrepreneurs to sugar-coat their backgrounds. I expect and want them to tell me about their mistakes and failures. I want to hear what they’ve learned (and also that they’ve made those mistakes already on someone else’s nickel, not mine). A good entrepreneur wants to talk about their mistakes as well as their successes, and a good investor wants to hear about those mistake and lessons without penalizing the pitch.

It’s cliché, but nobody’s perfect. You’re not perfect. Mistakes will happen, and you will make your share. Expect them, embrace them, and analyze them, as those mistakes and the lessons learned will become important, lasting building blocks in your personal development and the development of your company.

So get out there, make some mistakes, learn from them…. And win.