Vikas Verma has one of the most interesting profiles you’d come across. From coffee and paints to IT , Media and Entertainment he’s seen it all. With over 20 years of experience as an Intrapreneur with the giants of Indian Industry including Asian Paints, Barista, CNBC TV 18 and Marico Industries and as an Entrepreneur himself, Vikas makes it quite difficult to put a finger on what makes him the perfect mentor.
Meet Vikas Verma, the Corporate veteran, the Pro-preneur, the Angel Investor, the mentor, as he talks about his latest love, The Colour Factory and shares his valuable insights into the market, MBA, Entrepreneurship and more.
Vikas is an Angel Investor who is very open to investing in new and innovative business ideas of budding Entrepreneurs. If you want to get in touch with him, mail in to email@example.com
- Could you tell us how you started your journey of Entrepreneurship?
I very distinctly remember the birth of my first ever venture of my own. I was then heading the Marketing Department at Bharti BT Internet Ltd.. While I enjoyed my work, I just couldn’t be satisfied. The urge to have a venture of my own was too strong to be ignored. So khulja simsim opened.
- Could you brief us about The Colour Factory Experience? The rainbow times, the dark phase, etc?
Like every entrepreneurial Journey, The Colour Factory also has had very colourful times as well as cloudy days. But the highs certainly outweigh the low tides. The Customer satisfaction has always been our constant motivation and has made our good times good. When we see people enjoying themselves at The Colour factory, it feels really good. There have been times when we have made mistakes, for instance, we moved too fast in expanding geographically without enough support in other areas like logistics. So we had to retract. Customer Delivery logistics was another area which we had some initial hiccups with. But those were also the important points of the learning curve.
- How relevant do you think is a Masters in Management when it comes to real life Entrepreneurship?
- MBA doesn’t teach you the HOWs of running a business. It doesn’t give you a mathematical formula which you can apply in real life entrepreneurship. But it builds your personality, attitude and moulds you to be an Entrepreneur. It’s the discipline, the mindset that it creates which are very valuable. I think a Masters is not necessary but desirable.I believe in what I call opportunistic or Seasonal Entrepreneurship. You seem to be a Seasonal Entrepreneur. What’s your take on that?
I am what I call a Propreneur. What You call Opportunistic or Seasonal Entrepreneurship, I call Professional Entrepreneurship. Cross Industrial Entrepreneurship involves a lot of effort. The positives include never ending challenges so if you are the kind of person who needs constant challenges then you will enjoy it. It’s very stimulating. But like I said before, it’s not easy to manage such a switch or expansion. Sometimes it works better to establish oneself in a particular sector and gradually expand over areas that are extensions of your core business.
- How favourable is the Indian climate for young entrepreneurs who start without much experience or financial backing of their own?
It’s definitely better than what it was 10 years ago but certainly not what it could be or should be. Encouraging Entrepreneurial activity within the country has to increase at least 10 fold is indispensable for the Indian economy to realise its dreams of International leadership.
- What do you think is the success ratio of Entrepreneurial Ventures by young Entrepreneurs in India?
The success ratio of Entrepreneurial Ventures in India is unfortunately pretty low. The reasons are many. While the number of B-plans I encounter is huge, the percentage of people who are serious about their ventures is again very low.
The Entrepreneurial ecosystem in India has not yet matured, be it access to funding, expert guidance or infrastructure. Some of the existing big players in this arena having their origin in the Silicon Valley are focussed on the IT sector. There is a lack of a system that reaches out to the grassroots level Entrepreneurs. With the advent Angel networks, this scenario is changing.
- On Business Incubators In India:
The Business Incubators should go beyond offering space and may be a computer. Their responsibilities must include support in all aspects – legal support, mentorship, networking, access to technology, strategic support. There are issues like copyright and IP rights which are very important but ignored by many entrepreneurs because they don’t realise that. The Business Incubators need to offer support in such areas.
- Do you think there is an Entrepreneurs favourite industry?
In India maximum Entrepreneurial activity goes on in the IT industry. The number of start-ups that come up in the IT sector is far higher than those in other sectors. It could be the effect of the popular IT boom.
- Can merging be healthy to a start-up?
Merging can certainly be healthy to a start up but it has to be done after careful and thorough analysis. For instance, a start up can benefit from the technological advantages of the Merger. But firstly one needs to be very clear about the reasons for merging. Secondly, prepare for the worst; expect dilution and conflicts. One very important factor you should look for in the other company is synergy. If the companies are synergistic the journey will be much smoother.
- Generally, young entrepreneurs are wary of issuing equity to VCs as their financial dependency well as lack of experience renders them insecure. What do you have to say about this? How much do you think is an optimum amount of equity that one can safely part with?
While one should choose a VC who is sensitive to the aspirations of the Entrepreneur, the Entrepreneur himself has o understand that the VC will want return on his investment. This is something that both have to work out. Personally I think one should, if possible, avoid going for VC funding at a very early stage. The amount of equity one needs to part with dependent on the stage of the start up. On the other hand, if the venture is established and demonstrated some amount stabilization and success and seeking financial support for scaling up, then you will be in a good position to negotiate on the equity. You could also consider other options of funding like family and friends.
- In India, Legal awareness among the common mass is low compared to its western counterparts. Legal consulting is also not easily affordable and accessible to all. What are the easily available sources of legal help for young and budding entrepreneurs who start small? What is your advice to young Entrepreneurs like us in this regard?
Legal help is available and affordable, only you need to know where to look for it. I’d recommend you have a mentor who will help you connect with such sources.
- As an investor what do you look for in a start up?
I’d like to offer support to budding entrepreneurial ventures, in terms of seed fund as well as mentorship. What I look for in a start up is the potential of the idea and the commitment level of the team as these define the success of the venture.
covered by Nithya Nagarathinam for YourStory