Desperation is the Name of the Game

If all things are equal between two candidates that want me to be their mentor, what would be the difference, that would make all the difference? No, it’s not how equity you will give me or how much respect you have for me… The correct answer is – desperation.
I am not referring to the desperation to get time, money or references, but the desperation that burns through the eyes and words of the prospective mentee to succeed. The desperation that cannot be dissuaded by failure, drowned out by rejection or simply because they didn’t get an immediate response from someone they attempted reaching out to for help. I am referring to that desperation that will make a person turn the world upside down to get what they want – yes that desperation.
In a world of unlimited opportunity, this is the kind of desperation I look for, to decide who I should devote my limited time (a precious resource) to. A person must innately want to achieve the skill he is seeking my mentorship for, and not only be attempting to achieve it because he ‘has to’. This distinction leads to a visible difference in the amount of passion and desperation a person exudes.
The lack of this type of desperation and conviction in the importance of achieving that skill doesn’t bode well for my ROTI (Return on Time Invested).
So, if you think I’m being arrogant, standoffish or aloof to your call for help, I am only checking to see if you are as desperate as you are making it out to be.
29/2018

Fluff Metrics

An interesting phenomenon has been noticed in startup presentations over the past few weeks. Founders have come up with innovative ways of showing large numbers that have nothing to do with what counts as revenues to the startup.
Let me share a few examples with the explanations as provided.

  1. Gross Transactional Value: this the value of the transaction that is taking place because of the service provided by delivering the service. Therefore, a simple example would be that if a truck delivers 5 MT of steel the GTV is the value of the 5 MT of steel which has no correlation to the revenues of the trucking company since that is dependent on the route or no of kms
  2. AUM (Assets Under Management): the value of the videos that have been uploaded to sell to customers. This has no correlation to the revenues as they are made on a pay per click model. How the videos are being valued and by whom – I have honestly no idea
  3. MRP Sold: the sticker prices of the items that were sold. These were very different from actual revenues as there were coupons and discounts that were given. So, if I stick the price tag of a Mercedes on a Maruti the MRP sold would be ginormous but the actual number would be a fraction. These MRP’s are set by me so MRP sold is also in my hands. Do you feel fooled just yet?

Do founders really want to attract investors that are awed by such numbers? Of what use will those investors be who themselves don’t understand that these numbers are useless?
My sincere request to founders is to have the courage to tell me the real numbers. They may not be as awesome as the fluff metrics, but I’ll respect you for your honesty and I’ll work with you until your actual metrics look like the fluff metrics that your peers are showing me.
Just remember this immortal quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
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24/2018

6 Books I’d Recommend to Every Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur’s primary role is to sell. At any given point the entrepreneur is selling whether it is

  1. Selling himself on why he is pursuing this idea.
  2. Selling his employees on why they should join or stay at this venture
  3. Selling his friends and family on supporting him in his new (and often crazy) endeavour
  4. Selling his customers to try out the new product or service he has developed (and to pay for it)
  5. Selling his business as an investment opportunity to potential investors
  6. Selling mentors on why their valuable time will be well invested in him
  7. Selling to investors to continue supporting his business

The list of selling activities can go on for pages… and I still would not have even scratched the surface of the number of selling activities that an entrepreneur is actively involved in. Therefore if there a skill that an entrepreneur should learn is the skill to sell.
I have found that the following 6 books made the maximum impact on my sales, investment and entrepreneurial careers as well as the careers of people whom I have mentored and helped to grow in their respective sales and entrepreneurial roles.
Ideally, you should read these books in chronological order since the level of complexity increases as you progress down the list.

  1. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  2. How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard
  3. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  5. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger
  6. Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

Have any books helped YOU shape your entrepreneurial career? I would love to know so do share them in the comment section!

11/2018

6 ways a founder can get our attention

On a given day there are at least 10-15 investment proposals in my inboxes at LinkedIn, Facebook and Office365. Dhiral and Nikheel have almost the same (or more) flooding their inboxes and in fact even our recently added superstar, Apurva, has her hands full with sifting through the proposals in our pipeline. The team tries very hard to give due justice to each application and each founder wants their venture to be looked at with priority.
If we made everyone a priority, then no one would be a priority! So, until now we typically screened and sorted the applications using an internal scoring system but the flood of proposals has made that system redundant.
I would like to provide some method to the madness by making it open to everyone how we rank for priority the applications that come to us for funding so a founder can help us help them.
A referral/recommendation is the best way to walk into a sale whether you are selling widgets or shares in your company as the buyer is warm lead instead of a cold call. A warm lead brings down the customary wall of distrust and makes the job easier for the seller.
Right below, you will find (in order of preference) the referral (or recommendation) waterfall to get our top priority.
 

  1. Founder referral

A founder’s referral is gold to us… we take them very seriously!
When we have backed a founder to buy shares in their business and then they vouch that you are the next big thing, we are going to give you a priority pass to the top of the pile. With 51 investments (and 3 in closing) there are over a hundred founders that know us. The founder ecosystem is small so find out how you know them and get them to write an email introducing you to us and why they recommend you.
Our list of investments is updated regularly at this link
 

  1. Co-investor referral

The next person we trust after our founders are our co-investors. These are the people that been with us on multiple safaris of the startup amazon where we were the hunted or the hunters so we trust their opinion of you and your venture idea.
Our co-investor list runs into the hundreds so there is a good chance that the investor you are speaking to knows us and all you should do is convince them to write an email introducing you to us and you will make it to the top of the pile!
 

  1. Incubator/Accelerator Referral

Incubators and Accelerators play an important role in our ecosystem by nurturing napkin stage ideas into coherent business models. We respect their opinion and are in regular touch with many incubators and accelerators. If you were part of one of their programs, then you should ask them to recommend you to us and we will be all ears!
 

  1. Fund Referral

There are many funds that find ventures that do not fit their investment mandate because they are too early or too late for them (or a host of other reasons). In my opinion an entrepreneur is a salesman selling shares so he/she has to make a close at every sales call.
Therefore, if a fund gives you the shaft, ask them to give you a recommendation to Artha… we will gladly nurture you till you are ready for the big boys!
 

  1. Business Partner or Family referral

Within our extended family and their various businesses, you may find a link to get through to Artha. Be advised that coming through such a referral puts all three of us (you, the referrer and us) in a very awkward situation.
Whilst it isn’t the most preferred avenue for approaching us, it isn’t the least preferred road. If you cannot find favour amongst the top 4 options, you can always bank on our extended family and their business partners! J
 

  1. Come through an angel network

There was a time where a deal recommendation email from an angel network would make me drop everything. The proliferation of angel networks, the conflict of interests in their recommendations and founders opting to stay away from networks have reduced our reliance on angel networks for deal discovery.
There are still a few good angel networks who we trust so get a good network to recommend you to Artha… it is better than coming in cold!
 
If you don’t know any (really!) then you can apply to us directly by clicking “Apply Now” on our website but when you claim that no one knows you (or will recommend you) then you can imagine how difficult it would be for us to take you or your sales ability seriously.
Getting a referral is a big deal so take it seriously, get your sales cap on and get someone to recommend you to us!