Kumar Aniket

Kumar Aniket is a finance and legal wizard associated with various startups and innovative companies. He is a competent professional with experience of startups across industry spectrum He has over 15 years in various positions in Finance & Legal Functions with expertise in International Taxation and Transaction Processes. Aniket is a member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (2002) and a Legal Professional.

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Rise of Middle Age Entrepreneurs

Investors need to realize that the actualization of true potential of an idea needs experienced hands at the helm. And it requires Middle Aged Professionals who know the in and outs of execution.

This year has been tough on Indian Startups. Indian Startups have raised approximately $2.1 billion in 2016, which is down 40% as compared to funding in H1 2015 (data given at Yourstory site). Some big names, some of the Unicorns have lost their shine and there was a time when everything was looking bleak for Indian Startup environment. Intense Competition and Profitability concerns have slowed the funding for Indian Startups. Now, It seems that the time, when Investors were willing to bet big bucks on Young Entrepreneurs is on the ebb and the young entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to get funds for their projects. However, now, the startup system is showing signs of recovery as the much needed market correction has started to happen. Indian Startup landscape is slowly but firmly evolving and showing signs of maturity. Investors have paid for their smartness of trying to masquerade their bad investments as good ones by forcing the good investees to acquires their bad investments at premium. Now, they seem to have learned their lesson with exception and few smart ones who are not willing to learn. These enlightened Investors are coming back but with a different game plan.

Some of the enlightened investors are looking at options other than young management or technology graduates. These young graduates have only their predecessors to blame, some of whom have lost steam after good start. Some of them have lost good amount of valuation and were forced to roll back their expansion on account of unsustainability of business model. The blame for loss of valuation for funded startups lies with both Investors and Entrepreneurs. In their zeal to get valuation and topline, they forgot to keep the bottom-line in control and most of the business models have become unsustainable overnight. Most unfortunate was the fact that these companies lost steam after getting repeated funding. Companies like Dazo, DonebyNone, Talentpad, Spoonjoy, Townrush, Lumos failed after promising starts and getting backing of investors. The common reason behind this failure is failure of go to market strategy. An idea may be good but will lead to failure if not implemented properly, whereas a stale idea may lead to astounding results with good execution team.

Now, realization of the truth behind good old adage “Devil lies in detail” has forced the Investors to rethink their investment strategies. Investors have rediscovered the importance of experience and they are now focusing on projects with experienced team members. At a time, when Investors are putting new investments on hold, the startup by Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori. Accel Partners, IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital have valued the venture Curefit around $50 million and pumped in $15-million round, including $3 million by Bansal himself. Indian Investors are learning about betting on horses with winning track records. Young Founders are good as majority of tech startups are founded by younger generation. But what is needed to build on that idea is experience and that is where the middle-aged entrepreneurs come from.

The Middle Age Professionals or employees used to prefer safety of a fix job to taking the risk of starting their own projects. Some of them are now taking the plunge to startup on their own and Investors seem to love them because these middle age entrepreneurs have the experience of making a normal idea into a success with their experience of implementation and execution. Middle Age Entrepreneurs have an edge in the areas relating o management of team and products and implementing go to market strategies, thinking on their feet and coming up with realistic solutions. Most important experienced founders have their own networks and rely on their phonebook and friends for funding solutions to any problem rather than relying on Google for everything. experienced founders tend to have their own networks which they can effectively use towards building a support system for their startup. Experienced Founders also better than burning all their money on marketing and understand the importance of bottom lines.

Investors need to realize that the actualization of true potential of an idea needs experienced hands at the helm. And it requires Middle Aged Professionals who know the in and outs of execution. Some of the Investors have realized the importance of experienced and these enlightened investors are already shifted their priority to experienced entrepreneurs. It seems that 2017 will be the year of Middle Aged Entrepreneurs and a different kind of Startups, which will focus more on improvement in delivery models and customer rather than plain technology innovation. I am dealing with several middle age entrepreneurs who have left cushy jobs to startup on their own. These Middle Age Entrepreneurs are young at heart despite their old Age. Our NCR is a promising venture started by my friend Mahmood Akhtar from PayTM background, which is focusing on location based services for the residents of Delhi. Similarly, Bincom ( ) is a Media Startup of my friend Deepankar Majmudar, who is a Media Professional. Similarly, another person Mr. Dhindsa is coming up with a Startup in Cab Services by the name Garuda Cabs ( ). My Friend Ajay Jha is coming up with new concept in Media under the name and style of “Hindi Media) ( )and so on…..

As a Consultant, I am suddenly surrounded by these Middle Age Entrepreneurs who are willing to bet their hard earned money to start up a new project. This is something new, which has made me change my perspective about our average Indian Middle Class Employees/Professionals. These guys are choosy about funding and Investors and are not willing to take funds from anyone and at any value. These Entrepeneurs are different from young turks from technology colleges they have no intention to part with control/ownership of their baby, which is their startup. Rise of these middle-aged entrepreneurs have shifted focus from funding to bootstrapping. These Middle Aged Entrepreneurs are changing Indian startup landscape with their focus on execution and single-minded drive to make their products successful. These Middle Age Entrepreneurs represent good opportunities for investors are these entrepreneurs are not willing to take risks and most of the time is focused on their strengths. The Investors can make relatively safer investments by investing in the Company started by these Middle Aged Entrepreneurs. It is true that they are difficult to manipulate but they offer relatively safer investment opportunities and sound returns in thus uncertain investment climate. Their focus on long-term sustainability and leveraging their own skill sets makes up for these middle age entrepreneurs. In the end, I want to say that rise of these Middle Age Entrepreneurs is good for Indian Startup eco-system.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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