Insights from the Gurus of Start-Ups

Ram Shriram and Sharad Sharma, two of the most hallowed names in the start-up world addressed the start-up community in Bangalore at two separate occasions in November. Names whispered with great reverence in the corridors of co-working spaces and start up offices. I had the great fortune to be present at both events on a live-tweeting assignment.

RamShriramRam Shriram, Managing Partner at Sherpalo Ventures, better remembered as one of the first investors in Google was in Bangalore last week to address the start-up community at [24]7, where he is a lead investor and founder member. Starting the hour-long session with comments on the start up ecosystem in India, Ram Shriram lamented the lack of infrastructure, the biggest hurdle on the road to innovation and progress. Infrastructure, for him, is not just the quality of roads, basic transport systems and stable Internet connections. It’s also the foundation of every individual – education.

Hiring, an increasingly big challenge in the start-up world, stems from the fact that India doesn’t have good universities to channel the country’s talent. We’ve been relying far too long on the IITs and need to produce more centres of quality education if we wish to move faster into the future.

Answering a question on the qualities he deems the most important while investing in a start-up, he spoke about the challenge in evaluating teams.

People that haven’t succeeded before are hungry for success, take risks and are eager to take the leap…[to innovation] It was amazing to hear Shriram talk about the importance of accepting failure as a stepping stone to success, much like the philosophy of many educators.

Ram Shriram ended the session with a final comment on the importance of a good team – one that doesn’t just gel on the personal level but on the larger professional level.

 

SharadSharmaA week later, cut to the launch of Season 1 NUMA Bengaluru’s Accelerator programme, Sharad Sharma, co-founder and Governing Council member of iSPIRT, veteran techie and well known venture capitalist was the VIP speaker. Addressing an eager audience of entrepreneurs, newbie entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs, as well as mere mortals (like me), Sharad struck a chord with the audience when he spoke about the importance of being a “punga” start-up as opposed to being a “dhunda” startup. Disrupt and innovate, don’t just generate revenue, urged Sharad.

Like Ram last week, Sharad applauded the innovation in the start-up space in Bangalore.

A city leading the movement towards a cashless and paperless India, Bangalore has the highest number of punga start-ups, ready to take the risk and disrupt the world as we know it, paving the way to an innovative future.

Over the course of the evening, listening to each start-up present their idea, I was reminded of Shriram’s comment on the equal presence of clones and innovators in any start-up ecosystem. An exciting evening, nevertheless for the energy and vibe created by the presence of so many start-uppers was quite catching. I could see why so many VCs are eager to jump on the start-up bandwagon!

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