With more than 100 investments and 8 exits under his belt, Abhishek Rungta advises investing in founders more than business models

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Abhishek Rungta, Founder of Seeders VC and Indus Net Founder talks about the joy of angel investing as well as lessons that missed opportunities have taught him.
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Abhishek Rungta revels in the joy of angel investing. More than a decade after founding Seeders, an angel fund with Pallav Nadhani of Fusion Charts, Abhishek has backed over 100 startups and has made eight exits. 

He says that the best lessons in the segment came from mistakes and missed opportunities. 

In a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, Founder and Host of 100X Entrepreneur, he recalled meeting OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal at a conference when the startup was operating like an Airbnb. 

“We discussed and I could not make up my mind on why would someone sleep in another person’s house. But obviously, he pivoted and that was an interesting learning: if the founder is great, they will pivot and build a great business. It’s not the business model that you invest in, it’s the founder. And I didn’t invest because of the business model but as you see today, he has grown into an iconic entrepreneur for which I have a lot of respect,” he shared.

In November 2021, Seederswas announced as an early-stage startup investment network of syndicate to invest in 24 startups annually while Abhishek continues to write personal checks for which the strategy is more founder-driven.

After investing in startups, Abhishek says the good ones will take five to seven years to yield results while others fail in two to three years. Investors then bear a long wait period which he calls the “valley of despair” before their investment decisions see the results. 

“If you start deploying your capital too quickly, then you kind of get into this valley of despair much, much faster,” he said, adding that he strayed away from investing for some time and missed many promising opportunities. 

In around 2018, he discovered the US network for investing, connected with the founders overseas, and learned about the syndicate lead concept. By building relationships with lead investors, he invested in 70 odd startups in one and a half years.

“I try to see what trends are emerging, how the world would evolve and how people would start living in that world…and then that kind of gives me enough energy to look at companies who can be playing an important role in that,” he added.

Building a tech company in Kolkata 

Abhishek is no stranger to entrepreneurship and has built Indus Net, a tech-enabled digital strategy consulting and offshore outsourcing company providing services to digital agencies, enterprises, and governments.

Bootstrapped since its inception in 1997, the company has more than 200 clients across banking, financial services, insurance, retail, publishing, media, government, healthcare, and entertainment sectors in five continents.  It also boasts an ARR (annual recurring revenue) of $11 million at present.

Both entrepreneurship and investment has shown him the value of long-term vision and made him more empathetic.  “There is nothing right or wrong in any business. It is very easy for you to judge people and a company but more often than not, will be proven wrong. The whole journey has made me less judgmental about company and people and that has definitely helped me as an individual,” he said.

To know more, listen to the podcast here

01:07 – Family business background – Jute Trading

03:48 – Acquiring a global client base from Kolkata

06:50 – His journey in Angel Investing

12:13 – Valley of despair in investing

15:14 – Thesis: Investing in 2nd time founders

22:05 – Diversifying your investments

33:01 – Learnings to intake as an LP

35:11 – Investors’ whose thesis he looks up to 

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti