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Sudheer Kuppam
Managing Director -Intel Capital
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Sudheer Kuppam is a Managing Director at Intel Capital overseeing investments in Asia Pacific (India, Japan, Australasia and South East Asia) region. Intel Capital is Intel’s global investment arm that makes equity investment in innovative technology startups and companies worldwide. Since 1991 Intel Capital have invested more than $10.5 Billion in over 1,200 companies in 51 countries offering hardware, software, and services targeting enterprise, mobility, health, consumer Internet, digital media, semiconductor manufacturing and cleantech. In this timeframe, 196 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and 291 were acquired or participated in a merger.

Focus Areas for Investment

For us the most important thing to accomplish is acceleration of broadband penetration and PC penetration in the country. This has been the strategy for all the emerging markets where technology adoption is on the lower end. Last year alone, we made an investment worth $56 million in 17 different verticals. the key area of focus for us is healthcare and education. By healthcare, I refer to technology enabled healthcare services such as record keeping, serving delivery and others.

In education space, we want to enable computing and other infrastructure usage in delivery as well as testing and the preparations. Consumer Internet is another area that has picked our interest. India has seen a tremendous boom in the e-commerce segment and consumers too are no more hesitant to use these services. The idea here is that we want to evangelize technologies such as Internet so that there is an increased adoption of devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.

In enterprise IT, trends such as software-as-a-services and mobility is what we are looking to invest on. The reason being, India is a strong market for software and IT enabled services.

Mistakes Entrepreneurs Do

With the years of interaction I have had with entrepreneurs, I can share several stories but every failure or impairment teaches new lessons. Many a times, the numer uno reason why companies tend to fail is because the market did not pan out as expected by the management. In that case, the trick lies in how quickly the management or the board reacts to the situation? In most cases, it is not fast enough, causing their downward spiral.

Next, after the initial spurge of revenue and customers, most startups tend to hit a plateau. In a typical Indian startup, this would be after the company reaches a revenue of $2-3 million, beyond which they are just unable to scale up. In the long run this results in the entrepreneur losing his interest and the VC, his investment, a no-win situation for both.

Advice to Entrepreneurs

One advice to entrepreneurs would be ‘Think Big’. One has to really look at the bigger picture and target markets that are big enough so that even if there are multiple players already operational, your product or your service still has some edge and scores a place amongst clients/consumers. Markets trends tend to change at a very fast pace, so only the entrepreneurs who think ahead of times or are able to keep up with the changing trends can really succeed. Having a vision for one's startup is another critical factor. One must attacking the market from the very beginning and continuously innovate because however ahead you might be, competition will always try to catch up with you. Make sure you have sufficient tricks in your bag to stay ahead of competition.

(As told to Vimali Swamy)
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