A part of Mumbai Angels, an investor based firm from Mumbai, Prashant had recently been in Pune to be a part of Proto.in, an event which showcases the top fourteen Start up businesses of the country. Seemingly impressed by the quality of the Start ups in the event, Mumbai Angels announced that they will provide finance to two of the Start ups namely; Touchmagix (an Outliers Start up) and Vrixx (an Education Start up). Among the busy schedule of the day, Prashant found some time for a quick session of Q&A with Viewspaper.
VP: What effect has Proto.in had on the Start up space in India?
Prashant: An event like this helps raise awareness for the investors, for the entrepreneurs as well as for the general public. It gives a sense of vibrancy to the whole Start up space which is very nice. It also helps in connecting. Like how we have come over here for the event now. We are meeting entrepreneurs who are connecting with us face to face, informally. The inhibitions of interacting with an Angels investor, reaching out to them, goes away from the entrepreneurs mind. It gives a lot of clarity of thought to the entrepreneurs. In India, I believe, only entrepreneurship can elevate besides education and poverty. Thus entrepreneurship growing continuously and getting encouragement would be a great help.
VP: What are your reasons behind attending such an event? Are there any other events which you attend besides Proto.in?
Prashant: Angel investors have been in existence for the past three years. We have been associated with Proto for two years now. We come to such events to understand the mind of entrepreneurs, what are they asking, what the new beat of entrepreneurs are which are coming up, what are the new beats they are venturing into etc. We get only incoming information from mails and letters. If we go out there then we get to understand what other beats are there which we should look at. As far as other events are concerned, we attend the event at IIT, Eureka and a couple of others. We go there as judges which helps us to explore their ideas as well. Proto, however, is specific to the cause of receiving ideas which makes it better suited for us.
VP: Most events have web based Start ups dominating the field. Do you think there is a need to pay attention to other fields as well?
Prashant: Yes. Only the technology and web Start ups are gaining importance today. Reason behind this is the scalability and accountability issues. Also, sometimes other start ups like technology are out there but the buyer does not have the sense to know what to buy. As we progress forward I think we will make it there. Mumbai Angels has also made its first investment in a technology business which is away from the traditional idea but it is going to take time.
VP: What do look for in business models generally? Do age and experience of the entrepreneurs figure in your search?
Prashant: The team is the most important. The idea definitely attracts you but once that’s done then you look at the team. The first thing is the idea but then you look at the team once you decide that there is something in the idea. Their passion, skill sets whether it can become successful – the attitude of the team is extremely important. Being young works in your favour in the Start up space today. Without experience does not mean that they do not have the intellectual capability. Being older with experience does not mean everything. You are also looking at somewhere down the line they have to put in the required amount of energy. We generally fund in entrepreneurs who are in between the age group of 20 and 45.
VP: What would you like to say about today’s start ups?
Prashant: The start ups we saw today were very new and very different. Some of the Start ups were extremely innovative as well like Touchmagix. They are some different Start ups which are ready to bet on their passions which is great.