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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Abhilasha Of The Venturator On How To Sell Your Idea And Buy The Love Of Investors

  • IWB Post
  •  December 4, 2018

Abhilasha Dafria believes entrepreneurs aren’t really misfits, they are just those who think out-of-the-box, break the protocol and do things differently.

As a kid, she always fancied being the misfit who made a difference and excelled in most opportunities that came her way. Her love for entrepreneurship was ignited when she started working with Your Story. There she interacted with several entrepreneurs and got well acquainted with the startup ecosystem.

This led her to start The Venturator, an online marketplace that connects startups with ecosystem enablers. They aim to solve the most significant problem that comes in the form of connecting entrepreneurs to the right resources in the least amount of time. She was also part of The Global Shapers community that is a network of hubs developed and led by young people. Abhilasha shares with us her learnings that she bagged through her journey. Excerpts:

Walk us through the process of connecting startup founders and investors.

At Venturator, we help start-ups which are beyond the idea stage to raise money. The start-ups that have a market value and need a growth capital to put themselves out there. We look at something between Rs. 25-50 lakh and more. The process is simple, we handpick interesting ideas and meet the founders multiple times to understand how much they have invested. Once we think that it would be beneficial to raise funds for a start-up, we then connect them with our network of investors. Our team is continually working to bring investors on board, and we’re also building an NRI network outside India.

What are the things that lead start-ups to secure funding?

We go by a mantra which is, basically, what is an investor looking for? They are looking for a smart idea/product and a kick-ass market. So, Start-ups that end up raising money are the ones who are addressing a huge market and have market space for them to capture. Investors also look for how much expertise the founders have in the field and also how excited they are about their product.

What can go wrong in such negotiations?

Multiple things can go wrong for entrepreneurs, and it is funny because what I usually see is a business trying to raise funds is typically a business that doesn’t need funding. I also don’t know why we have come to believe that raising money is a validation for building something good. If you’re not able to secure the funding, it doesn’t really mean you’re a terrible business person, or your idea won’t work out. Keep reaching out.

Recently, a VC posted on LinkedIn that Indian start-ups are not capable of creating a market, what are your thoughts on it?

That is absolutely untrue because OLA created a market, Flipkart also did it in that sense. So, VCs are a little biased about Indian start-ups. I think as an ecosystem, we are growing. Having said that, I agree that Indian Start-ups haven’t built a global precedence, but we have definitely tweaked models really well and have created a demand for that in India.

The start-up boom in India is on a decline. What factors do you see behind these negative markers?

Well, it is just a market correction, and that is a fair thing to happen. In 2013-14 you just needed to be an IITian or have a power point presentation to raise money, that doesn’t happen anymore. It is good because we all need to learn that to curate a start-up you need so much more, you need to have a business plan, you need to see through the eyes of an entrepreneur and know that it is not a one-time thing. Entrepreneurs are learning to look at funds with a long-term vision.

Scaling inevitably then becomes one of the most important aspects.

Yes, that is the difference between a business and a start-up. A start-up is pretty scalable, and it can reach out to a lot more people. And scalability is one of the most important things to get funding. In our check-list, as well, scalability is an important aspect. But every company has a different architecture, and it doesn’t mean that all businesses need to be scalable and the ones that are scalable doesn’t mean also need more capital.

How are you planning to scale your business?

The broader vision for Venturator is foreign funds. We are trying to focus on raising money for Indian Start-ups from outside India. There is a lot of potential, but monitoring from a remote location is a challenge. So, we just recently set up in the UK and are currently focusing on India because this is a market we understand, but we’re trying to raise money for Eastern-European start-ups as well. The challenge is to bring foreign funds from developed countries. There is not much hustle in Europe unlike the West or India, so our greater idea is to get investors to take a look at these markets and communicate the risks.

You were working with Your Story earlier, how has your journey with them helped you in your current venture?

I was doing my Masters in foreign languages in Germany. That is when I realized in early 2010-11, there was no buzz around Start-ups in the country and I didn’t even know this actually exists out there. Entrepreneurs have a different kind of energy around them, and I knew I wanted to be on the other side of the table when the opportunity arises. It was because of my tryst with start-up journalism while working at Your Story that I met a lot of entrepreneurs and I understood their challenges. Most of them were struggling to connect with the right people. I though that this was probably a business opportunity for me to explore.

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You were also a part of the Global Shapers Community. Will you continue this association?

Yes, I used to be. I moved to the UK three months ago, so I’m no more a part of the Bangalore Hub.

You are trained in 13 forms of dancing. Is it your way to de-stress?

Yes, I dance a lot. I will also be teaching dance at the London School of Business. I even watch a lot of football, and I travel crazy.

A lot of people vouch for segregating work life and personal life. What is management mantra?

I think you need to segregate things that don’t make you happy. If I had to separate my work, I would have to hate it, and then I would probably not bring work home and everything. I think like a start-up founder, your work is your life, and I think everybody gets that. So just align with your life goals, and everything just sets in.

What is the one advice you would like to give to people who are looking for funding?

The one advice would be to have a vision of building something without funding. Because once you are aligned with the larger picture without external funders, the investors will trust you more.

This article was first published on October 31, 2017.

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