CBA, the first international investment network & a part of the Capital Division of the San Francisco headquartered Scaale Group, launched Dave McClure Founded Silicon Valley's Marquee event - Startup2Startup in India, last month.
Started in 2008, the original co-founders of Startup2Startup were Dave McClure (500 Startups) and Leonard Speiser (Clover, Trinity Ventures, Yahoo, Ebay). Its current Partners include CBA, Josh Becker (New Cycle Capital), James Cham (Bloomberg Beta, Trinity Ventures), Peter Sauer (Lyft) and Greg Szoke (Full Circle Fund). The forum brings together Silicon Valley entrepreneurs & investors dedicated to educating and helping the next generation of internet startups grow and create value in their ventures. Some of their past speakers include Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Chad Hurley (YouTube), Mark Pincus (Zynga), Bradley Horowitz (Google+), Matt Cohler (Benchmark, Facebook), Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com), and Max Levchin (PayPal).
CBA officially launched Startup2Start in India on 16th January 2015 at Taj Land's End with a mix of select 50 entrepreneurs and investors. The theme of the evening was Building Value to Exit and the event took off with a Panel Discussion on the subject, followed by Round Table Interactions between the audience.
Akash Sureka, Founder & CEO of Hoopz Planet who exited to Persistent Systems, set the tone of the panel discussion by sharing his journey. "What I have always believed is - what you start, defines your exit. For me, it was clear that we wanted to build a great world class global product which could be used to build, in the longer term, a multi-billion dollar business by may be another bigger competitor player". He added, "For many entrepreneurs, what matters is whether they choose to build a great company or a great product to nail down vision in right ways and plan for future on that vision with stakeholders involved". While speaking on the apt timing for an exit, Kaushal Chokshi, Chairman of the Scaale Group and one of the panelists for the evening shared, "The timing of exit and market in which the business is operating, defines the value which can be unlocked by the entrepreneur. An entrepreneur in an extremely competitive market should look at exiting sooner."
The Panel also featured Mr. David Costa, CEO, Everis UK, who had travelled from London for the evening. On investing in an exitable venture, David Costa said, "As an investor, you should know where to invest. You plan not the exit, but the resources that you need to make it happen (sic). As a mentor to early stage ventures, what I look at is, 'If they like what they are doing and they understand the market'. Nived from Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), which invests in innovative EdTech companies that are affordable to the large mass, gave a fund's perspective on exit, "From our perspective, we are a long horizon fund, 5-7 years, so it's more the idea/ technology/ entrepreneur/ team that we invest and back. We focus on strategic investments and, when the fund invests in ideas or at seed stage, we first allow the venture to reach a specific stage and then look at the roadmap towards exit"
Post the panel discussion, the audience at the round tables deliberated on angel investment practices that have evolved from the West and how they are becoming increasingly exit oriented.
Manish Shah, Founder, Big Decisions that exited to News Corp recently, shared the importance of tying up with the right partners, "The right strategic partnerships go a long way in deciding the fate of a venture, for the investors & potential acquirers too". Arvindra Kanwal, Co-Founder, BindaasParty believed that the focus should be on building value and exit follows naturally, while Ruchita Dar Shah of First Mom's club felt that the focus should be on building the correct product, as the global applicability would then depend on the nature of the same.
The experience was refreshing for startups who were at the growth stage & for angel investors, new to the ecosystem. Gaurang Chandarana, Co-Founder at 14 Squares, shared "Everybody has the same questions about their ventures, but each one answers it differently & knowing how they do it, is a great learning experience".
Pankaj Krishna, CEO, Chrome DM, who is also a CBA Investor, shared "It was refreshing to hear ideas round the table and a pleasure to see globally scalable business models being built using technology as a backbone to address consumer needs".
The general view of the evening was that ventures in India are also moving away from the IPO route towards an exit via an acquisition. The key take away of the event was building startups with an eye on exit.
However, in all cases, timing is key, as Kaushal quoted "If I knew when to Exit, I would have made Billions!"
The event Startup2Startup draws inspiration from Round Zero, Silicon Forum, and numerous other Silicon Valley entrepreneurial events. The format of the Mumbai event was identical to the ones in the Valley, where the group comes together for an informal wine and dinner to discuss emerging trends & best practices in technology, investing & entrepreneurship and network with select entrepreneurs & investors. The takeaways of the gathering is to take the learnings from the Valley to businesses globally, look at emerging business models & marketing & share the latest opportunities in technology & business.
As per the partnership with Startup2Starup, CBA will hold these events in different parts of the country, to instil these best practices from the Silicon Valley in India's startup eco - system.
President, Scaale Group
Head at Persistent Systems
Everis UK CEO in Everis Group
Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF)
"It was genuinely selective and great even and hats off to you guys to pull it off !"- Akash Surekha, Founder, Hoopz Planet – exited to Persistent in 2014 (Panelist)
"It has been great to come down and attend the event. It was refreshing to see entrepreneurs with niche ideas having carved out a way of their own!"- David Costa, CEO, Everis UK & Angel Investor (Panelist)
"For Exit, Timing is the key. If I knew, I would have made Billions!"- Kaushal Chokshi, Chairman, Scaale Group & Angel Investor (Panelist)
"It was a meaningful event due to the informal nature of the structure. The round table discussion was a great idea and made it interactive & allowed everyone to contribute. I liked the fact all the panel speakers were very relevant to entrepreneurs and start-ups. The food and wine was a definite heads up. The event also helped to get some useful leads for our venture"- Gaurang Chandarana, Co-Founder, 14-Square
"Particularly liked the subject as personally I always believed that for any venture, focus should be on building value and exit follows naturally."- Arvindra Kanwal, Co-Founder, Bindaas Party
"Glad to be a part of the event and share my inputs on the right strategic partnerships that go a long way in deciding the fate of a venture, for the investors & potential acquirers."- Manish Shah, Founder, Big Decisions that exited to News Corp recently
"It was a professionally organised event and it was a pleasure to meet CBA and Scaale executives and promoters. Kaushal and his colleagues are very knowledgeable and seemed to have a missionary zeal in creating the Entrepreneurial Eco-system. Your deal flow managers were actively steering the discussions and they helped in making interactions with other entrepreneurs and Scaale representatives interesting."- Anil Srivastava, Director, Systems Dynamics (Software) Pvt. Ltd
"It was a pleasure to hear ideas round the table and see globally scalable business models being built using technology as a backbone, to address consumer needs"- Pankaj Krishna, CEO, Chrome DM & Angel Investor