Entrepreneur Panel at Headstart 2009

Panelists for the morning include Jay Pullur from Pramati, Giri Krishna from Sylvan Learning, Sujai Karampuri from Sloka Telecom. It was moderated by Srinivasan from Amagi.

Pullur opened with a topic on what an entrepreneur should do in these days. He outlined the challenges that entrepreneur faces everyday. He said “95% of the profits goes to only 3 companies – IBM, Microsoft and HP. The other 7500 companies are fighting for the rest 5%. He said that plenty of companies have also been cornered out by the larger operators – Siebel was one”

“Consumer products is a completely new game. There are, perhaps, million different offerings. The market is much different in consumer arena and it is much easier to make profits. But then, those are not necessarily technology products unless you are a large company. Things like Tell-A-Friend from Pramati has been very well appreciated.”

Sujai talked about “Why are VCs failing in India?”. He said “The problem is that VCs are looking at entrepreneurs in a different way than what entrepreneurs want them to look at them. The VC in Silicon Valley normally fund entrepreneurs who do not have capital or are first-time startups. They fund ideas which are not clearly developed and have a lot of risk associated, as with most (all!) ventures.”

He showed a box and said “In my hand is the cheapest base stations, which is 6 times cheaper than the closest competitors and yet we have failed to secure funding from Indian VCs”. Excel sheets are the safety nets. VCs should also show homework beyond the excel sheet. We failed to be taken seriously. There is a GOD syndrome with the VCs. When many tech entrepreneurs are thinking of being the Google, VCs are thinking that you should many-many stores. Just don’t do anything else, replicate the model”

“They don’t want to make it big because that would imply dilution. They would rather have a 60% of a kirana store than have a 1% of Google. They don’t have the analysis, accessing or anything. The sad reality is that Indian Tech Companies are not getting funding! We (Entrepreneurs) would like to know why is it that you have passed it. Can you please put your rules to a side and look at more people in a more subjective manner? With Great Power comes Great Responsibility. Indian VCs wield great power, will they show more responsibility?”

Giri Krishna talked about the three things ahead of a technology entrepreneurs – Drive techbology, drive strategy or build organizations. Indian companies do not have the opportunity to drive technology or strategy. I have a group of ex-TI people who have all faced similar kind of dilemma and have taken the destiny in our own hands rather than being handed down the decisions.

Srinivasan himself spoke about the issues ahead of all entrepreneurs. He first asked how to make your company a better bet for VCs. Sujai answered saying that ex-entrepreneurs joining VC firms have had only a small value-add. Investment is only a discipline. VCs should be most aware of what would make the best business. He does not need to be an entrepreneur himself.

He further talked about exits. He said there could be several sources of exit: IPO, M&A or just being happily run profitably. Exits typically happens when the valuation is expected to have peaked – typically when the growth stagnates or competition is fast catching up.


  1. The problem in India is almost everywhere outside of the US, those VCs think that you can not make big outside of the US, India is still not on the edge of innovation, VCs prefer copycat/clone, but many great entrepreneurs went big without VC 🙂

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