Sameer Guglani, The Morpheus – Looking to fund 10 early stage startups

Morpheus

Sameer Guglani is the cofounder of The Morpheus. He speaks about the Morpheus Batch for startups.

1) Tell us more about the Morpheus Batch

  • We work with 2 Batches of startups every year
  • Each batch consists of upto 10 startups and duration of the batch is 4 months
  • During these initial months our role is very hands on, almost like a limited-founder.
  • Startups get access to our time / knowledge / experience / network / ideas etc.
  • Since we have worked with 27 startups at Morpheus and done 3-4 startups of our own . That means we have experience of working closely with 30+ startups and we have all that data in our heads, which we are able to apply to each new startup that we work with
  • For startups who dont have product the first step is to sit with the team and understand “Where are we? and next step is to figure out together “Where do we need to be is 3-4 months?”
  • This means working with the team on identifying the large problem they plan to solve and most importantly getting the team focused on building the V 1.0 of the product and making it ready for launch
  • After that we work with the team to create and execute the customer acquisition plan V 1.0 and get the initial traction going
  • This typically means identifying the pockets of traction and building on them and also keeping the team charged up during the initial period of low traction / response
  • So by the time 4 months are completed the teams have made significant progress with product / have launched the product with some intial traction / been covered by some good media or blog / have a got a very strong direction to continue working on / have built expertise & contacts in some of the important areas that were not their strong points before 4 months interaction

2) How do you help the entrepreneurs in this programs

  • covered in the answer to the previous question

Morpheus 3) How to prospective startups get in touch with you?

Startups can come in via a reference from someone whom we already know or just drop us a mail : neo AT themorpheus DOT com. Or they can follow us on twitter – @guglanisam, @nandinih, @1ndus

4) Do you work across all sectors? Are there specific sectors you are looking for?

We work across all sections. Some sectors which we are bullish on are: SaaS solutions for Indian SMB Market /ecommerce for India / Clean technology / Rural markets / payments / mobile applications / Hardware based startups / Cafe & Resturant concepts

5) Would you compare this to to Y Combinator?

I think comparison is not really a good idea. YC is been around for 5 yrs, they were the first one to pioneer this model and has done really amazing work.

3 years ago, myself and Nandini started this as an experimental idea of working with many super early stage startups with promising founders. We would offer them dedicated time per week for 4-6 months, give them access to our experience, contacts etc. In return take small equity and opportunity to participate in building of many startups from different domains.

We were not sure how will it work out. We started with 4 companies from our network and learnt about YC 2-3 months later. hYC was already 2.5 years old and had done more that 80 companies, that was a big validation for our idea. What we were doing in a fairly rudimentary form they were doing in an advanced form – so we read all information we could find about them – understood the model in details and adopted all that made sense to us. But India has a different startup ecosystem, the founder mindset is different and we are a different market. So we have evolved our model quite a lot so while core purpose & style of Morpheus is similar to YC we are different in some important ways.

  • Our program runs remotely with interactions taking place over – Skype / Phone / mail / once a month face to face meetings. YC on the other  hands gets all companies to shift to Silicon valley
  • India is a developing market and one of the fastest growing economies – there are opportunities to building startups almost in every domain – so as a result we work with startups across all domains – automobile / healthcare / apparels / internet / mobile / robotics / real estate / accounting. YC only focuses on Internet / Mobile ventures – which is because most of the fundamental problems have beeb already solved in India
  • Choosing the right investors is one of the important areas where YC helps its companies. Where as in India there is ALMOST NO CAPITAL available for early stage or super early stage startups – so one of the most important role Morpheus plays is to get the startups focused on bootstrapping / early revenues / turning cash flow positive and so that they can a be successful with or without external investments