13 years & 10,000 plans: what works and what doesn't for startups in India

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by Mahesh Murthy on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Section
Entrepreneurism

Session type
Lecture

Technical level
Beginner

Objective

I've been looking at business plans since 1999 in India, and I estimate I've seen over 10,000 of them.

I've funded some 40 companies out of these. At the grand average of 3.5 a year. Some have been dogs: bet you've never heard of Siliconspot, Sonalisa and Uhuroo. And for good reason.

But by the same token, bet you've heard of Red Bus, Car Wale, Geodesic, Vaatsalya and the SMS search engine 55444. (If not, you should have!)

My talk will be an attempt to try to tease out what I figure in retrospect about what generally works and what hasn't. Of course , with the caveat that past performance is no promise of future returns.

The talk might be interesting to all with an entrepreneurial gene, figuring out if and when they should venture out themselves, and how.

Description

(Copy pasting from above)

I've been looking at business plans since 1999 in India, and I estimate I've seen over 10,000 of them.

I've funded some 40 companies out of these. At the grand average of 3 a year. Some have been dogs: bet you've never heard of Siliconspot, Sonalisa and Uhuroo. And for good reason.

But by the same token, bet you've heard of Red Bus, Car Wale, Geodesic, Vaatsalya and the SMS search engine 55444. (If not, you should have!)

My talk will be an attempt to try to tease out what's generally works and what hasn't. Of course , with the caveat that past performance is no promise of future returns.

The talk might be interesting to all with an entrepreneurial gene, figuring out if and when they should venture out themselves, and how.

Requirements

A brain. A heart. A backbone.

Speaker bio

Mahesh has spent 29 years helping big brands with marketing counsel, and 13 years helping startups with marketing counsel and funding too. 19 of these years have been in digital media.

Mahesh dropped out of college, sold vacuum cleaners door to door, worked with Grey in India and then Ogilvy in Hong Kong, where he won notoriety and awards as Creative Director on Unilever, The Economist, Pepsi and MTV for whom he wrote and shot a series of top award-winning commercials.

He then moved to a Silicon Valley agency, CKS Partners as CD, GM & Partner, where he helped create the first graphical UI for Yahoo in 95 and the now-classic Earth’s Biggest Bookstore campaign for Amazon in 97.

After a successful NASDAQ IPO, Mahesh moved to head marketing at iCat, an e-com firm in Seattle later bought by Intel.

He returned to India in 1999 turn around Channel V, a rival to MTV, till its sale to Newscorp in 2000, then founded Passionfund to invest in startups. His investees include Geodesic, WebDunia, EBS, Inkfruit and Doolally.

Mahesh has penned somewhat infamous columns in Business Today, Businessworld and WSJ. On TV, he's played the Donald Trump-like role in Business Baazigar in 2007, and the Dragon's Den-like role on ETNow's SuperAngels in 2011 & 2012

In 2004, Mahesh found a need for a digital-first brand management firm and set up Pinstorm. With over 100 people across offices in India, Singapore & Malaysia, it is now among South Asia's leading digital brand management firms, creating award-winning work on the region's largest telecom, banking, FMCG and retail brands.

Mahesh has a passion for early-stage investing and set up Seedfund with Pravin Gandhi and Bharati Jacob, voted in 2010 as India's best VC fund. Seedfund has 25+ investees including Carwale, RedBus, Vaatsalya, Innoz and MyDentist.

LinkedIn named Mahesh in "Power Profiles in India 2012" - indicating the most visited Indian profiles among 15m+, and he also ranks in the top 100 Indian influencers list.

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