The Manthan Awards 2012 played out yesterday to a huge gathering at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi. The awards that were inaugurated in 2004 have grown in stature each year and have now become a much awaited event. The details about the winners can be found here. YourStory was the outreach partner for the event and also conducted a session with the Digital Empowerment Foundation on "Success Strategies for Technology Startups". Gracing the panel were Siddhartha Chandurkar, Founder of Shephertz Technologies; Pallav Pandey, Co-founder of Knowlarity; Shailesh Vikram Singh, Managing Partner of Seedfund; and Eittee Gupta from FICCI. The Panel was moderated by Shradha Sharma, the founder of YourStory.
The conversation revolved around the importance of funds, fund raising experiences and how to keep going when the odds are stacked against you. Siddhartha, the founder at Shephertz Technologies laid forward a few very good points:
1) One should not start a company to get funding. This is a trap some of the entrepreneurs in India are falling into.
2) Funding is not bad. It accelerates you to a place where you'd never be able to go alone. "Would you take 1% stake in Pepsi or a 10% stake in a lemonade company," asked Siddhartha.
Pallav Pandey is the co-founder at Knowlarity and he took the audience through their fund raising experience. Knowlarity had a very tough time initially when conventional methods of fund raising were not working out. They hustled a lot and looked at alternative ways to raise money and generate revenue. Their grit took them through the initial stages and eventually raised money from Sequoia Capital; they have managed to scale up tremendously now.
Shailesh Vikram Singh from Seedfund was the investor in the Panel, and shared his experience as an entrepreneur himself and his angle on success. As a VC, he threw some light on the thought process of an investor. 'Team' has been in the priority list of every expert while evaluating a company. Expanding on the importance of teams, Shailesh says,:
1) If you're building a tech company, I would like to see the founders to be developers themselves. It's okay if you don't have a marketing guy but the core team has to have techies.
2) Speed is of essence. The team needs to move really really fast!
3) VCs usually don't invest in service companies because scale is an issue. Investors are usually looking for returns in 3-4 years after they put in the money.
And Eittee Gupta from FICCI brought a different angle to the panel. She spoke about avenues which weren't being explored by entrepreneurs and ways in which they can leverage it. Read about the India Innovation Growth Program.
All in all, it was a great forum for discussion and we thank Manthan Awards for giving us an opportunity to be a part of the event.