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7 Mantras shared by Phanindra Sama (Redbus) and Shiju Radhakrishnan (iTraveller) at Letsventure Open House

LetsVenture first Open House session was conducted on 22nd of May with an objective to disseminate the knowledge around early stage startup equity funding in India & to facilitate a deeper conversation around it.

LetsVenture first Open House session was conducted on 22nd of May with an objective to disseminate the knowledge around early stage startup equity funding in India & to facilitate a deeper conversation around it. LetsVenture has enabled 30 startups to close their angel round on the platform, with a median ask of $ 250 K. Our largest fundraise has been $ 1 m on the platform.
 
At the open house, we witnessed about 30 Startup founders keen to know and dig more about the startup funding ecosystem. We had Shiju Radhakrishnan, Founder CEO of iTraveller (who has raised 6Cr round on LetsVenture) and Phanindra Sama, Founder CEO of Redbus (now an active angel investor & lead investor) over panel discussion.
 
The open house discussion brought up 7 Mantras from their own experiences :
 
Q : Share your experience of raising fund on LetsVenture.
Shiju: A point came when we were burning of cash, and we were looking for investors. We created our Startup profile on LetsVenture signed up on LetsVenture. The user interface gave me the feel of Linkedin networking where people come and visit your startup profile and then you ping them back to see if they are interested in your profile. The same way, investors used to see our profile and every second visit indicated their interest. 
The fundraising process at LetsVenture has been a cake-walk for me without much hustle and efforts. At the end, the product matters but this platform has certainly eased the way to reach out to the investors.
 
Mantra #1 :  Sign up on LetsVenture and connect with investors at your ease!
 
Q : How important is the team strength while you ask for funding?
Shiju: I owe credits to my team for being there with me throughout the entire fundraising process. I have tech geeks and a marketing professional who constitutes my team. 
I would recommend to have your team around you and keep them aware of the happenings. 
 
Mantra #2:  Having the team by your side, instills the confidence to investors and compel them to believe in your execution.
 
Q :  As an entrepreneur turned angel investor, how has been your co-investing experience?
Phani: Well, giving a successful exit and then turning into an angel investor has been a great experience so far. I have co-invested with Girish (Freshdesk) and Kunal Shah (Snapdeal). My first investment went good and that built up the trust for other angel friends. When other angel friends ask for my investments and recommendations; it validates the potential of the startup.
 
Mantra #3: Co-investing with recommendations validates the potential of the startup.
 
Q:  What is your decision factor while choosing to invest in a startup?
Phani:  Angel investing is a very personal intuition driven decision. I do look for the team background and execution. I met an entrepreneur whose startup belongs to merchandise e-commerce sector. He was able to explain the minute details about his product and could explain everything in detail. I believe the entrepreneur has to have that extra passion and previous life experience to attach himself to give birth to a particular idea.
 
On the other side, I visited a Startup profile on LetsVenture. My entrepreneurial background asked me to visit that Startup’s home page. The user experience didn’t please me and there were certain bugs which were clearly visible. If the Startup does not put much efforts in giving the seamless experience, the product at the end will not fetch interest. 
 
I don’t choose to invest in a startup whose idea resembles an existing idea in the market. I believe it is harder to take market share from an existing competitor. The essence of investing lies in supporting an entrepreneur’s vision and execution.
 
Mantra #4 : Chances of getting investors’ interest are higher when you are solving a “Unique Pain Point”
 
 
Q ) How important is cold email when the founder is not much into networking at startup event?
Phani : As per my personal experience, I changed my email id after exiting from red bus. I have not checked my facebook messages and linkedin messages from a long time. I do receive a lot of cold emails but not all cold emails catch my eyes. Having said that, it does not mean that cold email does not work. But, if someone refers or recommends a Startup ; I do give a thought. So, if you are not that outgoing and not a believer of Startup networking; do fetch a reference and write a cold email. Will work 🙂
 
Mantra #5 : Cold emails do work! If you can fetch a reference, it adds to the credibility. 
 
Q : How do you see Startup funding in hot sector?
Phani: These days, hot sectors like hyperlocal search are sprouting in a good number. So, when there is a strong competition in the market; I would suggest you catch hold of a VC and block the investment. Hot sectors require money. Hence, focus on capital, raise money and execute fast.
 
Mantra #6: If your Startup belongs to any hot sector, it is recommended to raise money from a VC at an early stage.
 
Q : Is it important that a founder should have “IIT Background”?
Phani: Hmmmm…..not exactly. But, if I have to look on my portfolio; all the startup founders have IIT background except one Startup. It means the startup which comes under exception has proved the worth with the product and execution. It all depends on your vision and execution at the end.
 
Mantra #7 : IIT background does catches eyes but ultimately execution matters.
 
We are conducting Open House every 3rd friday of the month. If you would like to attend and wish to receive updates, please subscribe to our Open House mailing list :

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