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Vani Kola, MD of Kalaari Capital, Talks About India’s Startup Ecosystem

  • IWB Post
  •  July 24, 2015

Entrepreneur Vani Kola, MD of Kalaari Capital, speaks on India’s startup ecosystem. Read on…

Nature of entrepreneurship in India:

“One radical shift is, there is a bunch of people who really want to be entrepreneurs, willing to take that risk and fail. Their friends want to do it, very senior guys want to do it. The quality of ideation and innovation has changed significantly. A decade ago, it took three or four years to just prove an idea. Now, within six months, they are able to reach that stage because they are not hesitant about bold execution. They pivot faster too. They quickly realize nobody is interested and they go to a new model.”

Nature of e-commerce in India:

“When we started in 2006, e-commerce was at a nascent stage. This has completely changed now as young graduates want to start these ventures and senior managers want to join these young companies’ board. Some significant ideas keep coming and now large companies are being created. This has all been possible through a combination of quality of entrepreneurs and access to risk capital. More importantly, the changing demographics of the Indian consumers has made it possible to execute these ideas that democratize wallet share. Basically, Indian consumers can now buy anything from anywhere that they like. Besides, an explosion in use of smartphone has played a significant role.”

Digital India:

“Digital India has sort of arrived in the past three years. We now have 300 million internet users and $20 billion digital spend done by 40-million plus consumers. Look at what it can be in five years down the road. All of these are going for exponential growth. That growth will continue exponentially in the next few years and that is where the big bets are happening.”

Online marketing:

“Online has become a way of life. It’s not like the consumer will stop buying if the discounts go. Amazon has Amazon Prime, Uber has surge pricing. Once we are used to convenience, quality, transparency of pricing and selection, we use it. We don’t mind paying extra for that quality service at midnight.”


“Several segments are going to be disrupted when some services go mobile. We are in the food space already. We believe that payments, logistics and other infrastructural enablers will continue to be revolutionized. Some financial services like insurance are still nascent and will continue to be interesting. Health and wellness is a space that will grow. There are a plethora of other consumer services waiting to go online.”

Who can be a successful entrepreneur:

“A person with maturity, common sense and an ability to listen, one who can leave ego at the door. See, you can work for three or four years and still be pig-headed and immature. Or, you can be young and mature. The key is, if you are offered a fortune by investors and the opportunity to lead people, you should go and hire a team that will make you successful.”

Market position:

“There is something we can learn from the horizontal e-commerce space. Many were there, but two have emerged, discounting Amazon, which is not a VC-funded startup of India. If I take that as a good framework, over the next threefour years we will have players with real momentum. At this moment, we can only say that there are companies doing interesting things. They have got traction but it is not clear whether they are established brands or market leaders.”

Sources: TOI & Business Standard

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