Apurva and I visited the office of a startup that we are co-leading the investment into with a global angel network. Their packed office was hot & stuffy due to the lack of airconditioning on a sweltering summer day in Bangalore. As we walked through the office the signs of an early stage venture in business was self-evident – staff huddled close to each other as the office was packed to overcapacity, the rooms and common areas were filled with inventory stacked upto the ceiling and the makeshift conference room table had another purpose yesterday.We grilled the founders for close to 3 hours but unbeknownst to them I too was sweating bucket but it was hidden due to my sport coat. The ambience was messy, smelly, noisy (and even scary) but I loved every minute of it. It reminded me of the times when my ventures were going through the most exciting part of their journey – the messy, smelly and noisy, start.
Later the founders graciously took us out for lunch. Faraway from the pressure of the conference room table, the conversation centred around glorification of entrepreneurship in the mainstream media and how different real entrepreneurship looked. For example the two founders I met did have MBA degrees from a top ranked UK university, they worked in well paying MNC jobs, had wives working for some of the most innovative companies in the world. These companies that provided perks like subsidised crèches and paid leaves for vacationing with family but these two guys chose to make the business world a better place (and they are!).
These two were slogging (and sweating) it out for new business, grappling with vendors, customers, employees, families and even their own confidence but refusing to give in to the temptation of abandoning their quest for greener (and cleaner) pastures. Their grit and determination was laudable and the burning desire to win was clearly visible.
Such people are rare and for such entrepreneurs I can throw out the my rule book of early stage investing because these guys are the warriors and when you back warriors you always end up on the winning side.
As Apurva and I took the Ola Select back to our hotel she summed how we both felt
“I think we should visit the offices of our founders more often, it will break the glorified images of their lives that they present to us and we believe in when they come to our offices ”
Amen to that sister…