Mahesh Murthy is an endearing VC. If you Google the word endearing, the Google Ngram Viewer would tell you that the usage for this word has gradually declined over the last 200 odd years. However, if you Google the phrase endearing VC, the Ngram Viewer gives you a cold stare as if to say – that phrase has never existed. The exact error it throws is “Ngrams not found – Endearing VC”. I will come back to this reference later in this article.
Dazeinfo had a chance to catch up with the Founder and CEO of Pinstorm and pick his brains with regards to the Indian start-up ecosystem and the growth of social media in India, among other things.
Social Media Growth In India
Unlike most other Indian entrepreneurs who take social media growth for granted, Mahesh is actually quite sceptical of social media growth in India. He points out that if social media is to achieve its real potential in India, then the industry needs to bridge the regional language barrier and add to the English-speaking market, which as he rightly points out is limited at about 200 million. Maybe there is a case here for Indian entrepreneurs in the social web space to learn from their Chinese counterparts – Ren Ren and Sina Weibo.
E-Commerce Potential In India
Mahesh believes that the conversion factor (doing a product research and then going ahead to buy it online) in Indian e-commerce suffers because the process involved in carrying out a transaction is cumbersome. He sights reasons such as an OTP (One Time Password) as turn-offs for consumers who wish to perform online transactions.
Mahesh, the former country head of Channel V, widely credited with turning the ailing channel’s fortunes around, believes that the growth of the e-commerce industry in India, which promises to be a $1.2 trillion dollar opportunity in 2013, will only see the light at the end of the tunnel when mobile e-commerce finds a simpler method of transaction where the seller doesn’t have to pay a hefty transaction fees to the telecommunication companies.
With the explosive growth of smartphones in India and an Internet penetration rate which shows an upward trending graph, it does seem that m-commerce could be the new e-commerce for Indian consumers in the near future.
Despite the recent success of Flipkart, Mahesh points out that the Indian e-commerce start-ups need to stop copying US business models if they are to find any success in the long run.
The Start-Up Culture In India
Being a college-drop-out-success-story himself, Mahesh emphasizes the need for inculcating a start-up mindset in youngsters. Not a big fan of the IITs and IIMs, Mahesh feels that if parents in India would just let their children take control of their careers, then the Indian start-up culture can surely produce more Mahesh Murthy and Bharati Jacobs. Forcing children to study still eternity and break into Ivy League colleges to guarantee a fat paycheck is not his idea of an ideal entrepreneurial society.
This Co-Founder of Geodesic believes that the times are changing and the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs are likely to start companies that make a difference.
IITs and IIMs are factories for producing employees. We don’t have factories for producing employers!
The Art Of Entrepreneurship
This is the endearing part about Mahesh Murthy.
Mahesh is a successful VC, make no mistake about it. He is the Managing Partner at Seedfund and a Founder and Principal at Passionfund. Some of his most notable investments include Webdunia, Doolally, Carwale, Vaatsalya and RedBus and yet in a widely cited presentation on Slideshare he refers to VCs as the second best option for raising funds. The best option, he honestly accepts are customers. He wants Indian entrepreneurs to build profitable companies from the ground up with or without VC support. Now, how many Indian VCs do that?
He also endorses the view that learning by failing is the best approach to the entrepreneurial journey and in a market where a new start-up is born every second day, creating companies that are truly worth a billion dollar valuation might be a difficult proposition now but not an improbable one, a few years down the line.
Check out this free-wheeling interview in which Mahesh Murthy tells Dazeinfo exactly how he feels about the Indian start-up scene and the idea of entrepreneurship in India.