Interview

Anupam Rastogi of Nokia Growth Partners: “There’s scope for mentorsor advisors who may not have financial interests”

Team YS
10th Mar 2012
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Anupam Rastogi

In this short ‘n sweet piece, Anupam Rastogi of Nokia Growth Partners provides his views on entrepreneurial ecosystem and feels target market, bootstrapping and a great team are crucial to building a good company.What, according to you are the three major challenges that early stage technology ventures in India today face? And what do you think this ecosystem can do to help solve these challenges?

Traditionally, the challenges have been around funding, information, mentorship and also first-time entrepreneurs need people to guide them. I’d say over the past 4–5 years the ecosystem has actually been coming along pretty nicely. There is an evolution process, because a lot of great institutions, including yours, and not only media but also incubators, mentors, angel investors are getting involved in the ecosystem.

I think investments at early stages are becoming easier. In terms of information, there are a lot of media outlets which help bring out stories of starting and successful entrepreneurs.

Also mentorship, which is relatively slow, but is still growing, in my view. In our country mentorship is associated with funding, so the mentors are people who have invested in your company, either angel investors or eventually VCs, but I think there is also scope for mentors or advisors who may not have financial interests, and we will see that happen over time, as there are more and more entrepreneurs who are successful and they go on to become mentors and angel investors. We’re starting to see that first set now, which is building to a critical mass. So I think it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in India.

Advice to entrepreneurs . . .

If someone is just starting off, then the first piece of advice would be to be crystal clear about your target market. And focus on the problem that you’re solving rather than the solution that you have. It’s both from a communication perspective outside and also in terms of refining what you have to do. Because you have to make tough decisions on keeping your venture bare-bones but at the same time solve a customer need. Second would be about bootstrapping. Delay external funding as much as possible, to a point where you have a few customers who can vouch for you and some level of traction. Because having an external investor on board is a responsibility and it should come at a later point where you’ve figured out the market fit. Third is the team, which is very critical. Get the best people at the earliest possible time because they pay off much more in the longer term compared to how much it would cost you to get them on board.

We thank Anupam for his valuable inputs and time. Do visit http://www.nokiagrowthpartners.com/

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