It is important to feel connected with the founder, says Vani Kola, Managing Director at Kalaari Capital

In this episode of 100x Entrepreneur Podcast, investor Vani Kola talks about the need to build a long term connection with the founder and the importance of having clarity of thoughts.
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For Vani Kola, Managing Director at Kalaari Capital, it is important to feel connected with the founder while investing. Due to this, meeting them and getting to know them, along with allowing the founder to get to know the VC firm, is an important process before investing in them.

“I need to feel a connection with a founder, because the only thing any of us have is the asset of our time and how we utilise it. I want my time and my relationships to be constructive, positive, and encouraging for both, as much as possible. For me, the connection with the founder becomes very important. That is why meeting them, getting to know them, and opening the door for them to get to know me and get to know us as a firm is important because life is too short for us to be in a place where we are not right for each other,” she tells Siddhartha Ahluwalia in an episode of 100x Entrepreneur Podcast.

Vani Kola, Managing Director at Kalaari Capital [Image Credit: Kalaari Capital]

According to Vani, the business plan is secondary, but having business insight is very important. She emphasises that the entrepreneur’s vision and insight are what forms the business.

Venture capital firm Kalaari Capital has made a total of over 188 investments and counts names such as Dream11, Myntra, Cure.fit, and Snapdeal among others as its portfolio companies. It has also achieved about over 23 exits, with the most notable of them including Workday, Milkbasket, and Simplilearn. 

Importance of clarity on insights

 Vani reveals that she gives more importance to the potential of the founder than the team’s background or pedigree.

“The wrong thing to do, while giving me presentations, is spending 15 minutes talking about the team background. While it is good to know about the team, it is not that important for me in the scheme of things. I am assessing for the potential, not your past as it is a small indicator of your future. Most successful entrepreneurs do not assert that they were SVP at Google or something like that, not that there is anything wrong with it. But you need to have a certain quirkiness to see the world from a sort of a different data point, a different vision – and that is your biggest asset. Your language skills, background and pedigree don’t matter to me,” she explains.

According to Vani, founders may sometimes confuse storytelling with clarity of thought. She explains that one need not always be a great storyteller but needs to have a deep understanding of what they want to do.

She reveals that one can achieve clarity by opening up themselves to diverse views, being questioned and challenged, and being willing to listening intrinsically.

“Don’t spend time with people who tell you everything is great. You learn more from people who disagree with you. Be that active listener. During my first company, I was probably rejected by 100 investors, a combination of angels and VCs, and all of that. I think for close to 18 months, I bootstrapped for myself, and it was hard to get any investors. But I think those were the greatest months for me to grow,” she says.

In this episode of 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, investor Vani Kola talks about the need to build a long-term connection with the founder and the importance of having clarity of thoughts.

To know more, listen to the entire podcast here

Notes – 

02:50 – “What you can’t dream, you can’t achieve.”

10:32 – “What didn’t work can give you an actionable insight.”

18:09 – Assessing a founder’s potential vs pedigree

23:12 – Having a depth of clarity rather than just being a good storyteller

38:54 – Balance to life: Meditation & Yoga

41:05 – CXXO Initiative: $10 million fund for women founders


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Edited by Kanishk Singh

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