If you are an entrepreneur and by any chance were hanging out at Gateway of India last weekend, then chances are you would have run into VCs from top firms in Mumbai. A good number of members from the investor community in Mumbai were sailing at the Gateway of India, courtesy Aquasail and Finsec Law Advisors. The occasion was the book launch of Sandeep Parekh, founder, Finsec Law Advisors. The book is called ‘Fraud, Manipulation and Insider Trading in the Indian Security Markets’.
Former chairman of SEBI M Damodaran was the guest of honour at the event, and released the book as well as shared his thoughts about the state of the Indian security market. “Indian security law is still very nascent compared to the West and we have a long way to go. We have already seen Satyam in our country, and it is important to have a robust mechanism both within and outside the organisation to safeguard investor interests,” he said. He also pointed out the connection between steering high performance boats on choppy waters to helming and managing companies through turbulent market cycles.
Following the book launch, the VCs went sailing aboard world class yachts, organised and assisted by the Aquasail team. The members were divided into three batches and after some casual sailing, the teams raced against each other as well. The firms that participated in the event included Tata Opportunities Fund, Tano Capital, Seed Fund, New Silk Route, Norwest Venture Partners, Gaja Capital, CX Advisors and Aditya Birla Capital Advisors. Gopal Jain of Gaja Capital, Rajeev Agarwal of Ambit Pragma, Shishir Jain of CX Advisors, Ashish Chugani of Centrum Capital and Darius Pandole of New Silk Route were among the many who were present.
“It was wonderful to meet people I work with in such a different environment,” said Sandeep, promising that this was just one of the many such regattas to come.
Founded by Shakeel Kudroli, Aquasail has been in the business of sailing for the last seven years. The company offers many courses for people interested in learning sailing, as well as leisure sailing activities. Talking on the occasion, Shakeel, MD, Aquasail, said, “It’s been a great journey so far. Aquasail in its period of existence has taught sailing to a variety of people, and this is yet another first to our credit.”
Aquasail recently opened its facility in Goa and will be introducing sailing holidays by the end of the year. They are also looking to raise funds to help scale and grow further.
YourStory spoke to M. Damodaran on the sidelines of the event about his thoughts on entrepreneurship and starting up. Here’s what he had to say.
“India has always had a great history of entrepreneurs. We lost the attraction to entrepreneurship somewhere in between and started seeking the safety of a job. But now there is a resurge. IT sector, which has been a big driver of employment in the country, is not hiring for some time now, and that has also forced many people to look at options.
“I think there always existed the latent need to be an entrepreneur and now the market situation has just given it a push. Economy-wise we have reached a stage where it cannot get any worse. And when there is adversity there is always a solution. Political situation of the country will have an impact too. However, even as a nation we are discovering the need to work harder.
“Today, sources of funding have improved greatly, unlike earlier, when even people with good idea didn’t get enough financial support. Investors are today looking at the value of the idea over the credit worthiness of the entrepreneur. Funds with an appetite for failure exist today. Options of crowd-funding exist which help raise small amounts of money from large number of people.
“Due diligence of the entrepreneur has to be evaluated. No problem if s/he has failed a couple of times, if s/he has the ability to recover and start again, then that’s great. And such entrepreneurs will continue their pursuit of excellence because of the self-belief – it is valuable.
“We are an economy with a huge demand for services and products. There is a lot of purchasing power in the hands of young people. Entrepreneurs are in a good position to make the most of it.”