[Year in Review 2020] Idea, implementation, investment: 50 quotes by investors on startup opportunities and founder relations

In this annual quotes compilation, we share investor insights on business shifts, growth strategies, and startup founding teams.
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Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a regular feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our past articles. Share these gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

Drawn from our comprehensive coverage of India’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, we present 50 quotes from investors. What’s the outlook for entrepreneurs in the post-pandemic era? What kinds of new markets are opening up? What are the success factors for a good founder-investor partnership?

We have divided these 50 quotes into five categories: founder strategies, pandemic era, the India story, investor tips, and trends (see last year’s compilation here).

See also YourStory’s annual picks of Top 10 Books, Top 10 Turning Point stories, Top 20 Author Interviews, and Top 10 Heroes of the Pandemic. Make it a habit to check out our Daily Capsule, Weekly Founding Roundup, and Book Review section.

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

YourStory wishes all founders and investors a Happy New Year, and with much success and scale ahead in 2021!

Founders and teams

Apart from looking at prior experience, track record, and background, the investors also want to see if the core leaders have enough skin in the game. - Kashyap Chanchani, The RainMaker Group

The pitch deck is not main course, it is the side dish. The main course is the founder. - Sanjay Nath, Blume Venture Partners

Pitching is more about having a conversation or telling a story, as opposed to going through a deck. - Karan Mohla, Chiratae Ventures

Above all else, in early stage investing, it’s the founding team that really matters. People are mostly investing behind the grit, vision, execution capability of the founders. - Vishal Chaddha, Xelp

Mental toughness is one of the most underrated qualities for startup teams. The best founders are able to rightly balance between perseverance and adaptability. - Karan Mohla, Chiratae Ventures

You need to have an open mind, but also a prepared mind, one which absorbs things that are important by thorough research and understanding. - Prashant Prakash, Accel India

The most enduring companies gain dominance because of their unique understanding of market asymmetry or inflection point. - Pieter Kemps, Sequoia Capital India

As much as it is the founder’s job to tell the right story, it also is the investor’s job to elicit the right things in a pitch. - Rajat Agarwal, Matrix Partners India

The founder-investor fit is a different metric altogether. - Arjun Rao, Speciale Invest

The employee stock option is not to give economic benefit only, but to really give that emotional feeling of ownership that we are all equal and we count. - Rashesh Shah, Edelweiss Group

Startups didn’t just want money, they wanted pedigree investors. - Atul Hegde, Rainmaker Ventures

Founder tips and challenges

Don’t get caught up in valuations as a milestone. Nobody goes to the Hall of Fame for multiple different rounds of funding. - Anu Hariharan, YC Continuity Fund

It is not necessarily the depth of the moat that matters. It’s the width. It becomes harder to cross. - Avnish Bajaj, Matrix Partners India

Founders should ask VCs the type of investment risks they are willing to take, and how patient are they on those risks. It could be a business model risk, product risk, cash flow risk, or market risk. - Amit Somani, Prime Venture Partners

The bar is higher now, so your pitch has to sing. And make sure you have some proof points/traction to make the case. - Deepak Gupta, WEH Ventures

A growing company attracts new and big investors who would be willing to buy out the early-stage investors, along with funding the company for fueling further growth. - Nisarg Shah, BigSpoon

Early-stage startups are prone to failure despite sound business ideas due to lack of access to funds, but more importantly, mentorship and networks. - Rajiv Bathla, The Circle.Work

There are huge gaps and lack of opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs — especially when it comes to accessibility to network, mentorship, and fundraising. - Shweta Rajpal, Sequoia Capital India

The pandemic era

There has been a series of global trends that began long before the pandemic. The pandemic just made it disruptive. - Chandresh Nigam, Axis Asset Management

The pandemic was a great test of leadership for the startup ecosystem. Businesses that were negatively affected had to re-evaluate and re-engineer their business models. - Ankur Bansal, BlackSoil Capital

The lockdown had the unintended consequence of accelerating the country's up-and-coming agritech ecosystem. - Accel Partners and Omnivore report

While the world is reeling under the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, India has seen tech investments crossing over $38 billion in the last five or six months. - Amitabh Kant, NITI Aayog

Despite the global economic climate, India’s startup and VC ecosystems continue to thrive as investors take a long-term view based on the country’s growth potential. - Arpan Sheth, Bain & Company

The India story

The startup and venture capital ecosystems have become more mature. Businesses that have come in after 2015 are operating very sensibly, in terms of unit economics, burning cash, and more. - Pankaj Makkar, Bertelsmann India Investments

We are ranked number three in the world in the (total) number of unicorns. - Deepak Bagla, Invest India

India has $2 trillion of wealth in private hands. Less than one percent is invested in the startup ecosystem. We need High Networth Individuals (HNIs) money going into startups. - Kris Gopalakrishnan, Axilor

A decade ago, the Indian startup ecosystem had less than 50 angel investors, whereas it boasts of angel investments from more than 2,000+ angel investors today. - Monica Mehta, Wadhwani Foundation

Early-stage VC investment volumes in India are markedly lower than VC volumes in countries like the US and China. - Jun Zhang, IFC

Indian founders have the confidence and ambition to make a global impact. Investors are recognizing this and are funding them. - B.J. Arun, TiE Silicon Valley

The time has come for us in India to make a huge leap in investing in startups, using globally successful models that will lend depth and scale to the VC industry. - Sanjay Mehta, 100X.VC

The Indian SaaS landscape is on the cusp of a transformation. We now have a thriving ecosystem of enablers comprised of both domestic and global SaaS investors. - Arpan Sheth, Bain & Company

There is an exploding trend of short video consumption and content commerce in India. - Mitesh Shah, Inflection Point Ventures

The Indian startup ecosystem has a growing appetite for entering the capital market. Now more companies want to raise capital from a broader set of investors with a public listing. - Varun Sridhar, Paytm Money

Sectoral outlook

Estimated at $112 billion, the Insurtech market in India shows great potential for startups and investors alike. - Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Venture Catalysts

The popularity of online gaming has reached a stage where it is challenging traditional entertainers i.e movies and music for consumer eyeballs. - Pranjal Kumar, Bertelsmann India Investments

In the next five to 10 years, we will see multiple $5 billion and $10 billion revenue educational companies coming out of India. - Pratik Poddar, Nexus Venture Partners

The most attractive thing about fintech is that one has the ability to marry the best of technology with scalability of ecommerce. - Siddarth Pai, 3one4 Capital

The connected mobility solutions market is one of the fastest-growing ones in India and presents huge potential to investors. - Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Venture Catalysts

India is ready for the next leap in great consumer brands. - Vinay Singh, Fireside Ventures

Investor tips

The biggest mistake venture capitalists make in guiding companies is preparing them for the next round rather than long term success. - Naren Gupta, Nexus Venture Partners

It’s time for investors to have a more aggressive outlook in terms of investing and enabling innovations operated by disproportionately mission-driven founders. - Rohit Goyal, Windrose Capital

Being passionate and emotionally attached to the business makes one a good entrepreneur. But, it is imperative to at look at experiences and situations objectively for an investor. - Mohan Lakhamraju, Great Learning

Social investing is a great merger of the “Head and the Heart” -- it thinks with the head and takes decisions with the heart. - Ratna Mehta, Wadhwani Foundation

You’re here for the long haul. It’s not a sprint, it is a marathon. You need to stay here to actually reap the benefits of your investments. - Sushma Kaushik, Aavishkaar Capital

Don’t go at it alone; co-invest with experts or experienced people who have had a few investments and exits, and also with domain experts from the sector the startup belongs. - Mahavir Sharma, TiE India Angels

Venture capitalists follow the Pareto principle – 80 percent of the wins come from 20 percent of the deals. - Raj Kumar and Manu Sharma, ‘Venture Capital Investments’

In investing, nothing is given. There’s no perfect right or wrong answer like there is in math. Instead, it’s a complex chemistry of decisions you make on a daily basis. - Ishaan Mittal, Sequoia India

The road ahead

The bar for Series A investments and above will definitely go up, and a lot of focus will be on unit economics rather than ideas of wild scale. - Sanjay Swamy, Prime Venture Partners

The bar has to be reset from valuations to revenues and profitability. - Sanjay Nath, Blume Ventures

Investors across the world have become more aware than ever of the importance of balancing their portfolios among different assets. - Robert Cortright, DriveWealth

Now, more than ever, the spotlight is on the diversity and inclusion across every sector of the industry, and the technology and investment ecosystems are no exception to this. - Ruby Nimkar, GreenHouse Capital

Lack of awareness in founders and lack of funds via debt funds are prime reasons why debt funding is still not that popular. - Ishpreet Gandhi, Stride Ventures

The world is seeing failure very differently from how it saw it two decades ago. - Vishesh Rajaram, Speciale Invest

Success is common, but enduring success that can last for decades is rare. - Shailendra Singh, Sequoia Capital

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

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