Why India? Decoding the thesis for Indian startups
It's no revelation that India is the new destination for global startups and investors alike. At TechSparks 2015, we picked the brains of three investors from Japan to find out what makes them invest in India. We had Hiro Mashita from M&S partners, Teruhide Sato from BEENOS and BEENEXT, both having around 20 investments in India each. We also had Nathan Millard, CEO - G3 Partners, Asia's first and only dedicated Startup PR Agency. The panel was moderated by Vallabh Rao from GWC group.
Here are some of edited excerpts from the panel discussion.
Vallabh: What brings you to India?
Hiro: The Indian market is really attractive and I am trying to get involved more at a transactional level. I decided to be active this year, and have invested in 20 companies over six months after investing in US, Japan and China.
Teruhide: I am an Internet entrepreneur and started my first company in 1997. It was a payments company. My second company was in 1999 and it went public. I have made about 20 investments in India since I started three years ago. I believe in marketplace model. Marketplace is the king and payment is the queen. Without payment, you cannot build any transactional model.
Nathan: - I have investments in South Korea. BeSUCCESS is the YourStory of South Korea. I am looking to support Asian entrepreneurs in expansion to Northeast Asian markets when it comes to PR and marketing activities.
Vallabh: Why India?
Nathan: I have always wanted to come down and witness the growth for myself. I am quite amazed at the excitement of the people here wanting to expand outside the country.
Hiro: India is big and I specialise in finance and mobile internet. I came here as there are a bunch of exciting things happening. I decided to get into the Indian market quite deep. I am fascinated by the growth in China and I would love to support the same in India too.
Teruhide: I love India; it has everything: population with penetrations, lots of problems to solve and good engineering growth. And finally they have the heart. India's population is a good thing!
Vallabh: How do you compare India with the Southeast Asian market?
Hiro: India is similar to China, where there is a huge difference in economy and environment. We should learn a lot from history and go local to learn consumer and business behaviour. India is an open market and the fundamental similarities are vast.
Teruhide: I have done about 20 investments in marketplace, and we get similar information. If we talk about the differences, the momentum varies. Indonesia is a big wave, but India is a typhoon, and I think our difference is in tens of orders of magnitude. We as founders can learn from each other.
Nathan: We are working with the Indian market. We are savvy with market and smartphone. Korea in some ways is a few years ahead in terms of smartphone market. It can offer an interesting test market if you want to take your services global.
Vallabh: Why do you think Indian startups should look outside?
Hiro: I have a lot of experience working with different people in 20 years. My investment thesis is whether I can contribute to it. If this tech works then I can promote it abroad. If I find a good company, I talk to my friends outside and help in every way I can.
Vallabh: What are the things you are looking at when you invest?
Hiro: I invest in fintech and B2B, B2C and mobile app space. B2B can be applicable in US or China. I see people looking at hyperlocal at present.
Teruhide: I look at passion while working with a founder.
A big shoutout to TechSparks 2015 sponsors – Sequoia Capital, ICICI Bank, Money on Mobile, Microsoft, Signal Hill, IBM Bluemix, PwC, Atom Tech, Teamchat, Govt. of Karnataka, Intel, Rabbler, Dailyhunt, Reverie, Loginext and PayUBiz; Partners – Duff&Phelps, Taxmantra, Dineout, Exotel, 360ride, Yoga Bar, Chai Point, GWC; and our Media Partners – TV9, Fortune India, RedFM and Deccan Herald.