Nuggets from Karthik Reddy
Venture Investing - What does it take
Karthik talks about what it takes to become a successful Venture Capital Investor. He also discusses the nuances across Angel Investing, Venture Investing and Private Equity Investing. Each of these often requires a different set of skills and strengths. People often club all these Investing roles into one large umbrella but there is a significant difference in the type of person that would enjoy and flourish in one versus the other.
Scaling up the leadership muscle
Scaling up the leadership capability of the entrepreneur and the top team needs to go hand in hand with the business scale up for sustainable growth. Karthik talks about the role of vision, purpose and culture in the early years of a start-up.
Settling effectively into Venture Investing
The first 30-60 days in any profession are often quite tricky. Hairline cracks can quickly turn into fractures if not handled carefully. Karthik talks about how he works with the incoming members and thinks about the early passage of play in the organization. He also talks about how he pre-empts the derailment risk by suggesting to interested individuals to seek certain prior experiences before venturing into Venture Investing.
Pie chart of time in Venture Investing
In any profession, it is important to understand how to spend time on the right priorities. People often get consumed by the urgent and miss out on the critical. That pie chart looks different across professions. Karthik talks about how he spends his time as a Venture Investor and as an entrepreneur at Blume Ventures.
Transition pitfalls - Banking/Consulting to VC
Transitioning from one industry to another are always fraught with uncertainty and risk. Leaders are straddling several sub-transitions - settling into a new organization, flourishing in a new space which requires a different set of skills and mindsets. Karthik talks about the common derailers that could come into play when Consultants or Bankers are transitioning into Venture Investing.
IIMB, Wharton & path to Venture Investing
In a world with an exponential increase in career paths and complexity around opportunity, it can be unnerving to make key decisions around Stay in India Vs Go overseas, specialize in a field Vs Get a degree in Management etc. The multiplicity of options also makes career decisions complex when people graduate from the best of the programmes. Karthik talks about how he thought about going to Wharton after IIMB and his choice to do I Banking, Corporate Development etc till he got into Venture Investing.
Dealing with hyper-growth and scale-up
Organizations often outgrow the entrepreneur very quickly. Unless the entrepreneur is proactively thinking about scaling up himself/herself and proactively getting the right people who can drive scale, the start up can very quickly taper off. While 1 out of 10 startups succeed at a Venture stage, he talks about the patterns from the other 9 that don't "make it"
Articulating culture and hiring for it
Articulating the organizational culture is often treated as one of those fuzzy things that large organizations like GE and HUL do. But it is arguably more critical in a young and small organization where the cost of a wrong hire hits the organization much harder than when you have 10,000 people. Karthik talks about how he thinks about culture and how he hires for it.
Picking Founders effectively
Backing the right founders is a combination of a science and an art. How do you back an entrepreneur who has the conviction arond his idea but is also amenable to input. At the stage of Venture Investing, a big part of value creation is often around getting this judgment right on the Founder. Karthik talks about what he looks for during investing.
What they don't teach you at B-School
Business Schools (especially in India) often taken in students without prior work experience. Several students that work hard to get into elite business schools often assume that they are job-ready when they graduate. Karthik talks about some of the key elements which are not taught which can have a profound impact on your effectiveness in the work-place
In Summary - Playing to potential
For people to play to their potential, people should have clarity around what they have potential for. Karthik talks about the importance of the process of reflection and self-awareness that could significantly increase the odds of people playing to their potential over the long run.
Backing an entrepreneur
Apart from being an academician, Kartik is also an active entrepreneur and invests and mentors start ups. So who better to ask, how does one pick an idea to back? Kartik elaborates on three main skills he looks at before deciding to support an idea or a person.
Picking the first job after IIM
Campus placements are often a pressure cooker situation with significant sub-optimality in how students end up making career choices. Prakash discusses how one should pick the first job after campus based on some reflection on what they like doing.
Venture Investing – Supporting without intruding
As an entrepreneur who has built a business, how do you engage with an entrepreneur when you are an investor. Avnish talks about walking the tight rope of providing input while holding back as appropriate.
Misconceptions around Venture Investing
Avnish talks about the realities of VC investing as a profession and debunks some of the common myths around a "cushy lifestyle" that some people associate with the profession.
Sharpening investing skills
In Venture Investing, several years can pass before you realize the returns on your initial investment. Avnish talks about how investors can create a feedback loop in the interim and learn from the journey without having to wait for that long.
Backing the best founders
Success of a Venture Investing firm is inexorably tied to the fortunes of the investors they back. Avnish talks about the science and art of how they pick investors and engage with them to drive value.
What Consulting doesn't prepare you for
Management Consulting often provides a whirl-wind exposure to multiple problems across industries and topics. However, one needs to significantly adapt the style while moving from a consulting environment to the Industry. Pramath talks about some of the adjustments consultants have to make when they enter the corporate world.
What it takes to compete at the top
Vishy talks about how players need to adapt their style in a world where machines are makin the games longer and more nuanced. He specifically talks about the declining relevance of a dogmatic approach due to the machines suggesting more and more combinations which are possibly outside the realm of comprehension of the average human mind. He also refers to the crucial role of fitness to be able to make sound judgments deep into a game that has only gotten longer with the increasing role of machines.
Dealing with failure
Confused about listening to your heart or your head? We all face those crossroads in life and Amish did too, especially while facing initial rejections from publishers. Dealing with failure, enlisting support, recognising what works for you and ultimately making it work for you: Amish touches upon these important themes in this nugget.
Perspectives on Resilience
Vijay discusses how he has dealt with challenging moments when he was on court. He talks about navigating forks in the road where you often have to choose between low risk and decent outcomes and high risk with a potential of making it big. He shares an insight from Billy Jean King who says “Every challenge is an opportunity and pressure is a privilege”. He discusses the frame of mind with which one could approach such crucial moments.
Grit can be defined as ‘courage and resolve; strength of character’- something we all need to live our lives and face successes and failures. Raghu says, “We all have the DNA to create that reservoir of strength.” Hear him talk about the elements of grit and how an organization can create an environment to foster it.
Stand-Up: Unknown Unknowns
Think you need to know all about a career before you dive right in? Not necessarily! Papa CJ talks about how the world of stand up was a blank slate for him and all he had was his excitement and eagerness to pursue it. Sometimes all it needs is the drive and the resilience. Hint: Look out for what makes stand-up comedy the one profession where ‘failure is the only way to succeed’ according to Papa CJ.
Building the Grit muscle
Viren talks about where he (and some of the athletes OGQ works with) gets his strength during difficult times. There is enough and more research (if interested, please look up Angela Duckworth’s book Grit) on the role of Grit and performance. He specifically alludes to the need for having clarity of why people do what they do in the context of building that muscle.
There is a lot of literature around how entrepreneurs should demonstrate resilience when hit with failure or tough times. Avnish talks about the role of preparedness in navigating choppy waters.
Harsh realities of Entrepreneurship
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. Avnish talks about how the need for resilience is intellectually understood but not fully internalized till events happen. He talks about how entrepreneurs could build that capability. He also talks about how he has been influenced by Rudyard Kipling's poem IF.
Being tenacious through the transition
Transitioning from one path to another is not easy. We often celebrate individuals after they have demonstrated success. But we often miss the iceberg that is below the sea surface. Atul talks about how he persisted through multiple hurdles when he transitioned from studying Chemical Engineering to pursue photography.
Building an anti-fragile culture
Dheeraj talks about the parallels across the fragility spectrum (that Nassim Nicholas Taleb refers to in his book Anti-Fragile) and the Honesty spectrum (that Mike Robbins refers to) and talks about the similarities across the two. He discusses how he has gone about building authenticity and anti-fragility in every aspect of the business.
Dealing with losses
Vishy discusses his approach to dealing with losses. He candidly talks about how his approach to dealing with losses has not changed significantly over time. He talks about how he tries to clear the baggage of the past to ensure that he is fully present on the Chess Board at any point in time. He also discusses about how Chess is like other disciplines such as Science and History where you are often standing on the shoulders of giants in the context of discovering the next breakthrough.
Picking leaders to invest behind
One of the many hats Ravi wears in his professional life is that of an investor. He is a venture partner and invests in young companies. In this nugget, he talks about the five main qualities he looks for in any entrepreneur before backing him and how he goes about deciphering whether those qualities exist in the individual or not. Hint: It is much more to do than your academics or career record!
Current portfolio of time spent
Nandan talks about how he organizes his time currently and more importantly, the design principle behind how he prioritizes his time. He also talks about his journey through Infosys and Aadhaar to the current portfolio of initiatives that includes India Stack evangelization, EkStep, Philanthropy and investing in & mentoring select start-ups.