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Timing, team and TAM: Shark Anupam Mittal’s investment philosophy

On the grand finale of TechSparks Mumbai, Shark Tank India-fame entrepreneur Anupam Mittal revealed the secrets of securing funding from him.

Timing, team and TAM: Shark Anupam Mittal’s investment philosophy

Friday March 01, 2024 , 3 min Read

Long before his stardom and fame from Shark Tank India, Anupam Mittal has been making category-creating investments. In fact, most of his portfolio companies have grown to be successful businesses—Ola Cabs, Bigbasket, Rapido, Whatfix, and AgniKul Cosmos, among others. 

“I don’t think there is any particular formula that has made me succeed in some of my investments. I have been early to the game, [and] that has been a huge contributing factor… I have been opportunistic,” Mittal said, as he addressed the audience at the grand finale of the second edition of TechSparks Mumbai.  

With over 20 years of experience in the Indian startup ecosystem, Mittal—the Founder and CEO of and People Group—believes much like his entrepreneurial journey, his “investing journey has changed” over the years.

During a fireside chat, Mittal revealed his investment philosophy—inside and outside Shark Tank India. The three things, he said, that play a pivotal role in making investment decisions are—team, timing, and TAM (Total Addressable Market). 

For instance, he says, Apple Inc. became the most successful business in the world not because it made the first hand-held device, but because of its timing. “When Apple launched, the internet on telecom networks was ubiquitous. So, it could have an app store, [and] that made Apple successful,” he explained. 

Next, he talks about the three things that make a team great. First, learning agility is crucial. Mittal said the way to figure out a team that will eventually add value is the one that usually returns within three to four days, either to seek more inputs or having iterated the product based on the previous feedback.

This, he insists, showcases the team's adaptability and ability to pivot—a key characteristic for any early-stage startup. 

Second, business acumen. “Bangalore guys build great products, but Mumbai understands asli dhandha (real business tricks)... And, the best product does not always win,” he said. 

The third thing that defines a great team, he said, is long-term chemistry and commitment. Investors, he explained, do not wish to take relationship risks. “In India, it takes about 10 years to build a successful business.” 

Finally, Mittal said the TAM of any startup is crucial when it comes to making investment decisions. For companies that do not already have a TAM, it is crucial to understand what the adjacencies and proxies would be, he added. 

30-secs to win 

“What does it take for an entrepreneur to grab your attention within 30 seconds?” asked Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, during the fireside chat. 

The short answer to it, Mittal said is, “You have to stand out."

“If you came to me and said you have figured out how to make the next big social media company, you probably won’t get any attention. But if you told me that you have figured out the biggest challenge in building the next big social media company, that would get my attention,” he further explained. 

Alternatively, to get the Shark’s attention, “If you told me that you have Rs 2 crore monthly revenue, with 20% EBITDA and you are bootstrapped, I would love you for that, but then you would not need me,” Mittal said.  

Edited by Suman Singh