Rehan Jalil is a venture advisor to Mayfield Fund, a 42 year old venture capitalist firm. With $2.7 billion investment fund, Mayfield invests primarily in early-stage companies in the Enterprise, Consumer, Energytech, Mobile/Telecom, and Semiconductor sectors. The firm fosters global entrepreneurship by investing in India-based companies through its Mayfield India fund and directly in China-based companies. The firm, till date, has invested in more than 500 companies, resulting in over 100 IPOs and more than 100 mergers or acquisitions.
At Mayfield, Jalil contributes to social entrepreneurship projects, is on the board of OPEN and Koshish and is a charter member of TiE.
Trends driving Investment
On the infrastructure side, new opportunities are created by hybrid enterprise and cloud networks, over the top networking, software defined networking, efficient content delivery needs, faster and optimal storage needs, big data analysis needs, security needs and internet-of-things.
As Mobile will be the predominant way of accessing internet globally, new opportunities continue to arise on how to use the connectivity, location, camera and sensors to change the way we currently live, work and do commerce. Use of voice and NLP as a user interface is taking off towards mass consumption. Innovations are needed to increase the utilization of the under utilized personal or corporate assets.
Migration of traditional internet transaction oriented models to social, local and mobile continues to give life to new ideas and companies. The archaic healthcare systems are getting transformed to take advantage of internet and mobile technologies.
In essence there are many challenging problem that need to be solved and those all are great opportunities for the right entrepreneurs.
Advice to Entrepreneurs
Use your right brain:
Be empathetic towards your customers. Creatively solve a real problem that has significant value to a large number of potential customers and a problem that is not easily solved by your possible competitors. Build deep insights into your customer needs and get validation of your ideas by your prospects.
Break the rules:
Break the rules established by the incumbents. Break the rules with your innovation and execution and gain high ground.
Run super fast and adapt:
Run super fast while adapting towards right direction. Agility is your key advantage against the giant incumbent.
Team, Culture, Team, Culture:
You get the point. It’s a team sports and you can not win if all team members can not play their roles and a culture that enables every team member to enhance other team members’ outcomes. Bad team members destroy culture and bad culture destroys good team members and companies often go down with it.
Use your left brain:
Pay attention to the business models from the get go. Get a good understanding of the market size. Take a longer term view and focus on where the puck is going and not just what is fashionable today.
Misers may live longer:
Companies die mainly because of lack of cash, so conserve cash even if money looks easy to raise and/or valuations look sky rocketing. Make sound judgments with cash.
Do the right thing!
The author is a venture advisor to Mayfield Fund.