Pop Quiz, Monday with Hemendra Mathur

I work with multiple teams. To me fun part is more about sharing and working upon new ideas, trying and failing together and enjoying the stroke of luck in between.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Hemendra Mathur

Hemendra Mathur
Photo credit: Hemendra Mathur

What is your job role?
I wear many hats which include – investing and mentoring agritech / food tech / deep tech startups and advising investors, corporates, government and foundations with interest in these areas.

Tell us about your company?
I work as Venture Partner with Bharat Innovation Fund (http://bharat.fund/) – an IP-driven early stage fund housed at Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

I have also co-founded a platform in 2018 called ThinkAg (https://www.thinkag.in/) – to connect agritech startups in India with corporates, mentors and investors.

What do you love most about your job?
Almost everything from – scanning, evaluating, negotiating, closing deals to working with like-minded partners to build a start-up ecosystem in India.

But if you ask me what gives me a kick – it is working directly with entrepreneurs as – mentor, guide and co-founder – to scale up businesses. Working through ambiguity, making mistakes, course corrections, multiple pivots, sales pitches, investor search, head-hunting and constantly re-scripting your plans are all part and parcel of motions that you go through while working with founding teams in scaling ideas from scratch.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Learning about a new idea, meeting high-quality entrepreneurs, working with young, motivated teams and cracking deals. There is so much happening in the start-up world, that a 15-hour workday feels like 15 minutes.

I also believe that we are at the cusp of some transformational changes in India. For example, the tech-driven innovations that I see in the agritech space in linking farmers to market can fix the age-old broken food supply chains in India as well as other parts of the world.

I am confident that in the next decade or so these innovations can change the way food is grown, stored, processed, transported, distributed and consumed in India. Two critical beneficiaries in this process will be farmers and consumers. Each part of the food value chain in India offers billions of dollar worth of market opportunity for such innovations.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I mostly work with guys who are younger than me. Their energy, diversity, creativity and tech orientation is quite infectious and inspiring.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
I work with multiple teams. To me fun part is more about sharing and working upon new ideas, trying and failing together and enjoying the stroke of luck in between.

People with integrity, intellect, crazy ideas and sense of humor is all you need to have fun at the workplace. Fortunately, there are plenty of them.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
As I mentioned that I work many startups in the food and agritech space. The number of such startups is 500+ in India and is growing enormously.

I find it challenging to keep myself updated on their progress. They also keep coming with tough questions, and I do not have answer all the time. They also seek help in chasing customers, investors and talent. Sometimes I deliver but I sometimes I don’t. I sincerely hope to improve upon my success rate.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Each investment teaches you something whether it is a success or not. Some of the lessons from my last ten years of investing experience are:

  • Early stage investing is all about one’s ability to identify trends and look for teams who can deliver on it. Spotting trends and top-quartile teams require building right networks with people coming from diverse backgrounds, not necessarily from the investor community.
  • Value creation after investment – irrespective of the stage of investing – is about rolling up your sleeves and working with entrepreneurs day in and day out, more like a co-founder. Capital is vital but so is your sweat in building teams and businesses together.
  • Building a culture of merit, performance, and governance in portfolio companies from day one is critical. An investor job is to keep pushing for it.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
My advice is for the investors who are looking at an early stage investing in food and agri space in India. I will say it is a perfect time to enter the sector but have patience and capital (at least for a couple of rounds) to reap the returns.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Twitter: @hemendramathur

Pop Quiz, Monday with Peter Cowley

As an early stage investor, back people and not tech nor markets. Walk away from an entrepreneur that doesn’t listen. My book (Invested Investor) gives many many other examples.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Peter Cowley

Peter Cowley
Photo credit: Peter Cowley

What is your job role?
Numerous – Dad, entrepreneur, very active tech investor, President of the European trade body for early-stage investing (EBAN), non-exec on nine startup boards, etc.

Tell us about your company?
I have co-founded a company with my younger son: The Invested Investor to share my and many other entrepreneurs’ and angels’ war stories to help startups may less mistake.

What do you love most about your job?
People! I meet and learn from so many passionate, driven, knowledgeable people from all over the world — most younger than me. All are intending to improve something somewhere.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
People! And the learning that goes with meeting and helping them. But I don’t class my life has anything to do with “work” – I am lucky enough to enjoy everything I do, although I am pretty over-committed. For example, I am writing this at 8 pm on a Sunday night whilst vacation in Central America. But I wouldn’t swop my life for anything.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
Apart from my son, I really don’t have co-workers.. I “work” with hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors every year. I learn so much from interacting with them

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Again, with 23 distinct roles and the fact that I don’t “work” I don’t need to create fun – life is fun, anyway!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Struggling to say no. I love helping people and have a soft spot for helping novice entrepreneurs. However, I have cut my incoming deal flow from well over 1000 business plans a year to less than 100 (I invest in less than 10/year) by asking all leads to me to come through someone else – a trusted colleague. It may seem a little arrogant, but I have never invested (out of 67 investments) in a deal that came in the cold, and if the entrepreneurs can’t hustle to get at me, they will they make a good team?

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
As an early stage investor, back people and not tech nor markets. Walk away from an entrepreneur that doesn’t listen. My book (Invested Investor) gives many many other examples.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Whether an entrepreneur or an angel, learn from others – by reading, using podcasts, by networking. But in the end, the real learning comes from trying and making mistakes.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Publishing project: https://www.investedinvestor.com/
My website: https://www.petercowley.org/

Pop Quiz, Monday with Gagan Gulati

Healthy debates about customer problems and their solutions and lively conversations about deep technical issues are what continues to inspire me every day.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Gagan Gulati

Gagan Gulati

What is your job role?
I wear two hats on a daily basis. One, where I work for Microsoft owning the Azure Information Protection product, and second, where I act as the Angel Investor investing in Seattle based startups

Tell us about your company?
Microsoft is well-known :). Our product, Azure Information Protection, stay both secure and compliant by labeling and protecting their most critical data. My role, as Head of the product, includes what you expect of a CEO of a company — everything from understanding customer requirements to building the product to evangelization, marketing, and sales.

I participate in Angel investing via Alliance of Angels (https://www.allianceofangels.com) where around 150 active investors come together and invest in the best startup companies in the northwest region.

What do you love most about your job?
At Microsoft, I love being part of a passionate team looking to make a difference in the data protection world. We hear about data leaks almost every day now, and it is almost a duty now to help organizations become more secure against these leaks.

As an angel investor, just the entire process of learning about how entrepreneurs approach customer problems and generate new ideas, and seeing their dreams coming true is an outwardly experience.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Working with passionate people with strong opinions – doesn’t matter which job I pick.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
Healthy debates about customer problems and their solutions and lively conversations about deep technical issues are what continues to inspire me every day.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Pranks and leg pulling, caring for each other, going out for lunches and team events – there’s never a dull day.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
At Microsoft, customers love our product but are demanding too. Escalations do happen, so do live site issues – those are real challenges and part and parcel of the game.

As an Angel investor, finding the right entrepreneur-startup mix is a hard job. You are going to trust in the founders, and put in your hard earned money as well – that’s a very hard job.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Be passionate about the field of your choice and work hard to make a difference.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/information-protection/

Pop Quiz, Monday with Cody Jung

The belief that my advice, mentorship, or money will be able to bring someone closer to achieving their dreams or having a lasting positive impact on the world

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Cody Jung

Cody Jung
Photo credit: Cody Jung

What is your job role?
Mentor/Advise Early Stage Startups, Unaccredited Angel Investor

Tell us about your company?
I am an independent mentor/advisor and angel investor, as well as a mentor/advisor for FasterCapital.

What do you love most about your job?
Getting to talk to really smart people who big missions and visions

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
The belief that my advice, mentorship, or money will be able to bring someone closer to achieving their dreams or having a lasting positive impact on the world

What are some of the challenges of your job?
As someone who is relatively new to the mentor/advisor/investor side of the startup world, it is often hard to establish credibility until I am able to have a call or “skype” with a founder.

Another challenge is not being considered an accredited investor due to my personal income/value not meeting the requirements. I understand where the requirements come from, but they block people from deal flows, who are very knowledgeable in the investing space. Thankfully there has been some compromise with unaccredited investors now being able to participate in crowd equity fundraising.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Don’t be scared to pivot and don’t be scared to quit. Life is a balancing act of time management, and you need to know when to quit in order to start on your next big idea or adventure.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Just do it. A lot of people get ideas, but almost none of them execute on it. The simple act of vetting your idea is a solid and important start to any startup endeavor.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
https://startupguide.tumblr.com/
https://fastercapital.com/mentor/cody-jung.html

Pop Quiz, Monday with Chris Smith

The investment team at Playfair is outstanding – hard-working, insightful, smart, experienced – but what really inspires me is the way that we bring out the best in each other

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Chris Smith

Chris Smith
Photo credit: Chris Smith

What is your job role?
Partner

Tell us about your company?
Playfair Capital is a London based seed stage venture capital fund.

We invest in exceptional founding teams tackling big opportunities or problems matched by big ambitions.

We are UK focused but have invested elsewhere when we’ve seen a compelling opportunity. We are sector agnostic but love deep tech (AI, ML and computer vision), B2B SaaS and marketplaces. We typically write initial cheques of £400k but will invest smaller amounts at the pre-seed stage for the right team.

What do you love most about your job?
All of it!

Firstly, I get to spend time researching and understanding markets and the latest technologies to identify areas that make the most sense for venture capital investment. Trying to think about what might happen in the next 5-10 years is a fun intellectual challenge.

Second, I meet hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs every month. Hearing their stories and seeing the opportunity from their point of view is incredibly stimulating. I certainly learn something from every interaction with a founder.

Third, I get to fund and build long-lasting relationships with a select group of founders and be a part of their journey. I find it very rewarding to help founders when they need it, whether that’s with contacts and introductions, strategic planning or just acting as a sounding board drawing on my own experiences.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
The opportunity to meet with amazing founders and potentially get involved with their companies as well as finding ways to help our existing portfolio. I love that no one day is the same and that I am always learning something new.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
The investment team at Playfair is outstanding – hard-working, insightful, smart, experienced – but what really inspires me is the way that we bring out the best in each other; at our investment committee meetings (actually, every day) we have full and frank conversations that challenge each other to make data-driven and validated decisions and reach the best outcomes. Of course, they’ve also made a load of great investments too!

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We all enjoy what we do so pretty much every day at work is fun. We often end up debating the latest company or market trend at one of the local street food markets! We also like to get together for a meal once in a while.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Saying no to founders. I’m very conscious of the fact that founders have poured their lives into their business, but our model means that we have to be selective and we fund less than 1% of the companies that we see.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Probably the most relevant lesson for readers of this site relates to the challenges of scaling a business from the founding team to 50 then 100 staff. When this happens, it’s impossible for everybody in the team to have personal relationships with each other and communication can suffer. As the founder, it’s your job to make sure you clearly communicate your vision, strategy, and objectives so that everybody on your team is aligned. As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said, “When you are tired of saying it, people are starting to hear it.”

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
There isn’t one obvious way into the venture capital business, and my career to date hasn’t been linear (founder of a telecoms business, a corporate lawyer, operations at a fast-growing telecoms business and a litigation funding provider, angel investor). I would, however, thoroughly recommend John Gannon’s Yet Another (ex-VC) Blog as a good starting point.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

http://www.playfaircapital.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/cdgsmith/
https://twitter.com/ChrisSmithPF

Pop Quiz, Monday with Jason Kraus

Being part of something bigger than myself, helping people realize their dreams and watching the startups I work with “grow up” and become successful.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Jason Kraus

What is your job role?
CEO of Prepare 4 VC

Tell us about your company?
We are a startup consulting firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs through the fundraising process from an investors perspective. Our team consists of VCs, investors, experienced entrepreneurs and MBAs ready to assist our clients.

What do you love most about your job?
Working with exciting new founders every day and being on the forefront of technology, adding my team’s expertise to see it come to life.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Being part of something bigger than myself, helping people realize their dreams and watching the startups I work with “grow up” and become successful.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I learn from everyone I work with, and we focus on an environment where every voice is heard and taken into consideration. Startup environments should foster creativity and out of the box thinking, and we model ourselves as a startup helping startups.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Trying out all the cool apps and products we work with and going to or organizing some of the amazing startup events around Boston.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Balancing project work, team management, and marketing/outreach as new projects come and go.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Timing is critical in the startup world and simply following up and staying in touch has led to new clients, partners and investment partners.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Find a pilot project first to help out with and model your consulting firm off of the value you find you add to their business.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
Http://prepare4vc.com
Http://facebook.com/prepare4vc
Http://twitter.com/prepare4vc

What is an Angel Investor

The purpose of an angel investor is to provide initial funding for a business. The angel investor is looking for opportunities to invest in a young company that can deliver adequate returns to the future.

An Angel investor is a person who is financially wealthy that provides capital to a startup. A person is considered to be an angel investor if they meet the guidelines of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) definition of an accredited investor. The rules specified by the SEC is that a person must have one million dollars as their net worth. The person must also make a minimum of two hundred thousand dollars per year to be a qualified as an accredited investor.

Angel Investor

Where in the world did the term Angel Investor originate

In the world of Broadway theater, producing a play does not come cheap. There are a lot of components that need to be put together to have a successful production. You need to have a fantastic script, actors, director, venue, costumes, and most important is money. You need to have money to get everything started. The term angel investor originated from Broadway. These are wealthy people who provided funding to get the theater production off the ground and going.

What role does an angel investor play in a startup

The purpose of an angel investor is to provide initial funding for a business. The angel investor is looking for opportunities to invest in a young company that can deliver adequate returns to the future. The angel investor helps infuse capital into the company to provide growth. The angel investor offers better terms than getting a small business loan. The angel investor will take a percentage of your company based on the investment amount and valuation of the company. The angel investor has strict requirements that a startup must meet for them to invest. The angel investor is using their own money to buy a stake in a startup.

The angel investor plays an integral part in the ecosystem of funding for a startup. These are the first people that startups seek to help them fund their salaries, development, marketing, and business goals. The angel investor can be very hands-on in how their money is being spent, or they can be very silent. The relationship between an angel investor and the founding team of a startup must align adequately to make sure that business goals can be obtained with little distraction.

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