This week we chatted with real estate group scion Apurva Salarpuria of the Salarpuria Group. Before he joined the family business, Apurva worked at KPMG Assurance division in Bangalore. He holds a Chartered Accountant degree.
He firmly believes in “Brand India” and that the India story will continue to remain strong despite global conditions. He aspires to contribute to the India story by investing in creation of Indian brands – something that is very well reflected in his investment portfolio too. Over the past years, he has invested in several consumer companies that have the potential to become big and take the India consumer story global.
With over 15 companies in his portfolio, including Mast Kalander, Hokey Pokey Ice Cream, Epigamia Greek Yogurt, Bonhomia coffee, Designcafe, Dropkaffe and others, Apurva strongly believes that the opportunities in the Indian consumer space are huge.
Besides other recognitions, Apurva also won the Trailblazer award at the India Travel Awards 2014 (supported by Incredible India and other travel bodies).
What is your investment mantra? I want to invest in the creation of Indian brands. I believe that the Indian “brandscape” is witnessing tremendous growth, consumer confidence and adoption. It is inspiring to see the exponential growth in the number of Indian brands and the value they are creating for the Indian consumer. I strongly believe that we will see many more homegrown brands come to the scene, and many more Indian consumer brands go global. I want to be part of this story.
You are an experienced angel investor. What have been your biggest learnings? It is inspiring to talk to Founders who are on a mission to bring value to consumers using technology and innovation. There have been so many learnings from interactions with young entrepreneurs. Learning to plan for exponential growth and the challenges associated with rapidly scaling up have been very interesting.
Your biggest success as an angel investor? In terms of financial success, it was a company called Bira (craft beer) which i exited at 4x in 1.5 years. However my association with Mast Kalandar over 8 years right from when they were a one outlet company to its current status and through its ups and downs has been the most rewarding personally.
What do you look for in a company? I think a strong founding team makes for a strong foundation for a business. Besides how the team addresses fundamental problems andgaps through their venture, they must be willing to adapt to rapidly changing business environment. It is important for entrepreneurs to be able to embrace change and evolve.
How do you work with the startups that you invest in? While I assist my portfolio companies in whatever way I can, I don’t believe in micro-managing. I work with the startups largely at a strategic level and to help open some doors. I sit on the board of some of the companies that I have invested in, and just interact casually with others, either monthly or once in 2 months.
What makes a good angel investor? I think the biggest value that an investors can add to an entrepreneur’s efforts, is help open doors and new opportunities. Another key role an investor must play is of being a good good sounding board. As an investors, one should not try to impose thoughts on the company or get involved with micro decision making.
Your first investment to the most recent, what has changed? Oh, a lot has changed! In general, I feel that I have gained a lot, in terms of learning and experiences. I now tend to stagger my investments in an entity rather than go all in at once. I am able to draw from both, my personal experiences as well as my experiences with a bunch of startups in this period to help startups. These experiences include favorable outcomes as well as learnings, that could work as ‘springboard to success’ for the entrepreneurs.
Talk about the startup/angel ecosystem in Kolkata/India. Is it evolving? Kolkata is still young as far as the startup eco system is concerned. Calcutta Angel Network which I co-founded was the first angel network to come about almost 3.5 years ago. I think there are a lot of new initiatives coming about, which is encouraging to see. As a country also, there is tremendous activity in the startup/angel investing space. We have seen a huge rush to invest in startups over the last few years leading to inflated valuations and too much money chasing too few quality deals. Now weare at the other spectrum where VC money is difficult to come by although angels are still rushing in. I think we will slowly reach a more stable state when quality companies will be fairly valued and the various stages of funding will be more in sync. I am appreciative of a lot that is happening to help boost the startup ecosystem. The ecosystem is growing and evolving. I am very optimistic about what is yet to come!