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At TiEcon2008: Exits, Motivation And Speed; Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

On Startups And VCs
Exits: On the first day, one VC said that many Indian startups are really don’t help the VCs who’ve given them money – once the VCs start talking to startups about an exit for the VCs, they act as if they’re being betrayed and tell them to figure out how to get the exit.
Motivation: The most significant challenge for Venture Capitalists right now is in keeping entrepreneurs and startup employees. At the same time, VCs feel there’s a feeling that this is the perfect time to hire the riht people, and the suggestion for startups is – look at your team, and figure out whom you need to hire.
— Opportunity for entrepreneurs and companies that are adding value is still there. There’s opportunity in transformation in India – in transforming schools and colleges, who are still very open to evolving.
— There needs to be a clear path to profitability, but we (VCs) really need a road to revenues. Need to build a base of loyal customers.
— Entrepreneurship is more about speed than perfection. If you can get the timing right, you can change the story.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

Deep Kalra, CEO of MakeMyTrip
“IBM has a cut its travel spending by around 75 percent – all executives below the CEO are going to travel Coach. AOL has cut all travel for a while. ICI, and Indian company, has cut all travel except sales related travel. So there’s going to be a huge impact on travel. Aviation in India is down 17 percent. We’ll have to brace up. I think it’s acid test time. I don’t think it’s as if no one will do well, but it’ll separate the boys from the men. In spaces where there are too many players, you’ll see a shakeup.

It’s deja vu for Me. We started MMT in 2000. I think that’s going to help us now. We run a really tight ship, but we’re benefiting from the diversification which we started 18 months ago – we make money from things other than just airline ticketing. In fact, when we began shopping, we went against the entire board, apart from one independent director, Sanjeev Bikhchandani. We weren’t cutting any ice on holidays, and we set up 12 lines of business, including small holidays. Domestic holidays is making up for us. You don’t want to be exposed just to Airline tickets.”

Shantanu Prakash, Founder of Educomp
Important to reinvest cash and reinvent customer value propositions. Our business has a core proposition, and businesses like concentric circles around that core proposition. We will still be impacted, because of cost of debt has gone up. We’re building schols, and it’s capital intensive. Also, financial capital isn’t everything. You can build a business around intellectual capital, over financial capital.

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Some comments on the Economic Crisis
— We’re seeing a time that we’ve not seen before; It’s almost like capitalism is being questioned. We’re entering territory where we’ll be questioning how capitalism works.
— The reality is that at the same time India started growing to 9 percent growth, there was a credit boom in the US. It was as if someone just printing cash, that spilt over to the rest of the world. We are going back to reality. As a country, we’ve only reformed when we’ve had a crisis.

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