Indranil Deb

Indranil Deb

Principal, Mobius Strip Capital Advisors

About Me

Mobius Strip Capital Advisors(established in December 2008) offers Corporate finance advisory services for entrepreneurs and mid-sized businesses seeking to raise capital and for investors, institutions and banks seeking to invest in high-quality assets. I have been in the industry for close to two decades. Personally, as a Mentor/Trainer associated with MentorSquare and Nurture Talent Academy, I’ve had the opportunity of conducting training workshops and mentoring hundreds of entrepreneurs and young startups. In my capacity as founder of Mobius Strip Capital Advisors, I have evaluated over 300 Business Plans as a Judge across some leading BPlan contests such as The Power of Ideas, Eureka, Conquest, M-Power, Confluence and Intaglio. In the past 3 years, I have also mentored atleast 30 of these at a one-on-one basis. As MSCA, so far we have not been mandated by an early-stage company for fund-raising. However, we have provided mentoring and hand-holding advise to a few start-ups and early stage companies (Dr. Ramesh Menon-developing a Clinical Chemistry Analyser-an Import substitute; Greenway Grameen Infra; and about 4-5 others who have approached us) on a gratis basis. The experience has been mixed. The level of enthusiasm for students and young professionals to start-up their own ventures is fairly high. However, we do not see too many original ideas or ideas that are path-breaking or have the muscle to run a long distance. Many of the plans are based on half-baked ideas and clearly display mental laziness and lack of sufficient home-work.

Common Challenges Startups Face

The biggest challenges that start-ups face are inherent or intrinsic weaknesses. Many of them are not willing to think beyond the boundaries of what they are used to or might have “heard about”.

Investors want to see that there is a distinct possibility of them getting a fair return on their investment over a 3-5 year horizon. A majority of the early-stage entrepreneurs are unable to communicate as to how they will realistically be able to first get to break-even and then deliver returns to investors in 3-5 years.

In my view, the biggest hurdle for an entrepreneur to make any progress is that she/he unable to carry out a realistic assessment of their own ventures or are simply blind to constructive criticism or feedback.

My Advice If You are Starting Out
My advice to entrepreneurs is be to be totally transparent, honest, and realistic while writing the Business Plan.

Are you personally, honestly convinced that the business you’re operating is significantly scalable? Have you exhausted all the financial capital at your disposal(including angel investments) to invest in the venture? Have you made a fair assessment that if funded now, you can generate a significant amount of sales and profits in the next 3-5 years?    
In the Services sector, I entrepreneurs often confuse between a product, technology and an application.  They sometimes get obsessive about “something” they have done simply because they were fixated on that activity and become fixed in their thinking. They don’t accept the fact that they are “off-track”… and remain inflexible … and do not understand and internalize pivoting.
Some entrepreurs are “casual” and float a business plan with the motive of raising equity capital from a “Willing” Investor- to fund their “joy-ride” on “Enterprise Avenue”. They do not have a long term vision or plan and will escape at the earliest signs of obstacle, pressure or possible failure.

Your fund-raising plan could be suffering from any other these “symptoms”. This will make fund-raising difficult.

3 Piece Advice
a)If you have a great idea, spend a majority(more than 65%) of your time in product development, business development and sales. Do not spend too much(more than 30%) time in seeking investments
b)Bootstrap, for as long as you can
c)Be honest with your motives
Message for Entrepreneurs
If an entrepreneur is single-mindedly focused on raising money, chances are that she Won’t.
A few of the most important things that an entrepreneur would have start getting used to are milestones and targets. The infusion of venture capital is the start of a phase of “high-pressure growth”. Let’s say the entrepreneur’s original plan was to raise twenty-five lacs, which would help her achieve a total revenue of 1 crore by the end of 2 years. The VC could very well offer you rupees one crore  in investments with a target of achieving 4 crore rupee revenue-target by the end of 3 years.
Entrepreneurial characteristics investors are drawn towards are a visionary optimism, tremendous self-confidence, a huge passion for an idea or a phenomenon that drives entrepreneurs and desire to change the game-so much so it changes the world.