Nuggets from Avnish Bajaj
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Goldman Sachs versus McKinsey
High performing B School students often get courted by the top jobs in the market and often several people having to choose between Banking and Consulting. Avnish talks about how he made the decision to join Goldman Sachs after interning at McKinsey.
Cross-border transitions are always hard and often involve multiple variables. Avnish talks about the context in which he took the plunge from a lucrative career with Goldman Sachs to return to India with nothing concrete in hand.
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.
Taking stock of life after Bazee sale
When Avnish started Baazee, his financial goal was to make USD 2 Million. When he sold Baazee to Ebay for USD 55 Million, he had made close to 10x of his estimate. He talks about how he took stock of life and moved forward from that point.
Evolving as a leader
Leading a start-up through all the change and complexity can be quite a challenge. Avnish talks about how he grew as a leader when he was at Baazee and shares some insights on how entrepreneurs could scale up with the organization.
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.
What they don't teach you at HBS
A good education provides a strong starting point at best. Avnish talks about how he has evolved over time through the various experiences he has had and the decisions he has made.
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.
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.