Deep Kalra represents the early Internet entrepreneur folk who waited and watched, went through the dotcom bust, survived crises, waited for customer adoption in India and focused on the U.S. market to start with, built a team that is an envy of other startups, and finally went IPO. MakeMyTrip was built not on its strength of a niche of online travel but on the sacrifices of Deep Kalra and his team early on and their belief they will eventually pull it off. Turning an investor and mentoring entrepreneurs is a natural course that Deep Kalra has chosen to take after his success as an entrepreneur. In a quick tete-e-tete with YourStory on the sidelines of TiECON Delhi, he spells out those important.On Indian Startup Ecosystem Evolution
There has been a lot of change since 2000 (the time I started MakemyTrip ), on facets of entrepreneurs finding good mentoring opportunities, funding opportunities, and there are multiple forums out there providing good entrepreneurial advice to startup entrepreneurs. Back then in 2000 incubators, angel groups and seed funds didn’t exist. Today there are many like Mumbai Angels, Indian Angel Network, Kae Capital, Blume etc. The ecosystem has certainly improved, and will continue to.
On Challenges of Startups Today
Talent acquisition is harder. People are expecting market salaries along with ESOPs. Also, the scaling up bar has become tougher for companies, while starting up has become easier in any industry, scaling has become harder.
On Exits & IPOs
We are beginning to see some of those. Recent IPOs have been JustDial and Rediff. We will see more of those.
On Trends & Opportunities in Travel Industry
Lot of MNCs are now coming into this space. I would say starting a full service OTA is hard now (I would not say impossible, it is just difficult), but there is a lot of scope for disrupting cab space, bus space etc., which might align with the larger OTAs
On Angel Investing
I have some in personal capacity largely in Internet and B2C spaces. But, I am going to cut down on that and stick to institutional players like IAN, and the only reason for that being time constraints.
Advice to Entrepreneurs
If you start a business focussing on exit, you will never get exit. Don’t start a business because it might be cooler or you will make more money, get in because you will build value. Also, remember that players who are best while starting up might not be the best ones while scaling up, you need different horsepower at different stages, and I am a big believer of that.
We would certainly like to believe Deep especially on his prediction about seeing more exits soon and we also wish MMT all the very best and hope they keep bettering themselves.