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Start-up Ideas We Would Like to Fund

Ashwin Raghuraman
Ashwin Raghuraman
Vice President, 
India Innovation Fund
A spontaneous answer to this question would read "those that would generate returns that would keep us smiling". Deeper thought suggests that would not be a root cause, but merely a symptom. Therefore, if the question were to be broad-brushed, the answer would be – "We would like to invest in ideas that change the way we live our lives today". If this happens, other things follow.

How do we therefore determine if an idea has the potential to change the way the world lives today? If we do not wish to play Nostradamus, the only way to answer that is by evaluating the enablers that enhance the probability of success of an idea.

The enablers we constantly explore when we analyze the multitude of start-ups that we encounter are the team, a compelling value proposition with the ability to scale and the "execution-ability". When we come across start-ups, we often wish that we could pick different components from different companies and put them together to combust – We often wish we had the luxury that the selectors of a World XI have - putting a Sachin Tendulkar with a Wasim Akram in the same team. Add Shane Warne to the mix, and they mere thought of the combination is heady.

The Team

We also often wish that we could merge teams as well. Most often, it is to put together a great set of technologists with a group talented in marketing and organization building skills.

We come across young teams as well as seasoned professionals, sometimes with prior entrepreneurial experience. While we love the young teams because they often have the ability to fail, and have the resilience, flexibility and time to pick themselves up and give it another shot, the seasoned professionals are often preferred for more than a reason. In youth, it is the norm to be hungry. Hunger in a seasoned professional is rarer and tempered with wisdom. The prior success of these professionals also often means that their aspirations are on a far bigger scale.

A compelling value proposition with the ability to scale

The value proposition is often reflected in the idea. The crux of it usually lies in the business model. Is your venture, for example, building water purifiers and selling them, or is it creating a solution that will supply water to a city if it fails to rain for a year. The scale and complexity of the problem and the uniqueness of the solution combine to provide a compelling value proposition.
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