An advisor with Mentorsquare, a Global Business Network of highly successful entrepreneurs and business professionals who are actively committed to the business success of Start up entrepreneurs around the world, Venkatesh Ananthanarayanan is a chartered accountant with 20 years experience in Business Planning, Finance, HR and General Management. He set up India Operations for MNCs and raised angel / venture capital in India and USA. Representing his firm at Proto.in as mentor partners he took out some time to Venkateshwer a quick Q&A session with Viewspaper.
VP: What exactly happens at Mentorsquare?
Venkatesh: Basically we work under two hats. The first is the hat of a mentor. Under this role our company provides mentoring to Start up entrepreneurs from experienced professionals from around the world. This helps the entrepreneurs to be better prepared of the field they are stepping in. The second role of our company, though not yet a fully acquired one, is that of an investor. We are slowly trying to step into this aspect of the business world.
VP: What are the major points you keep in mind, as an investor, while looking at Start up businesses?
Venkatesh: There are a lot of factors. For example, the founding team of any business is extremely important. It lays the foundation of the success of any business. Following this are other factors such as scalability, innovations, barrier to competitors, progress shown by the business in the previous years, the revenue model of the particular venture as well as the disruptive quotients as perceived by the entrepreneurs. Since we are just entering the field as investors we are being extra careful with our investing ventures.
VP: Have you been a part of Proto.in previously? What is your exact role in the event?
Venkatesh: We were a part of this event last year also. In Proto.in we again have two major roles. The first one is to short list the top fifteen Start up businesses which would be a part of the main event. The second role is to provide mentoring to those fifteen Start ups. This is done with a view to prepare them for the final day so that they are able to pitch their business in the best possible way in front of the investors. At the end of the day we want these start up entrepreneurs to get a little closer to their dreams and this can be achieved if they can get funding from this event.
VP: Any comment on the businesses which you came across during the selection process? Are there any major changes from the last year in the start up space?
Venkatesh: This time there were a total of 93 businesses out of which we had to shortlist fifteen. Though there is a definite increase in the number of start ups which were entered this time, there is a change in the trend of businesses from last time. Previously there was a majority of IT based businesses. This time there were almost no ventures based on that sector. Although the IT popularity could have been because the event took place in Bangalore last time which is the Indian IT hub. Also, though as advisors though we are promoting the Green sector, there are hardly any people venturing into that area. HR recruitment space as well as mobile ventures saw an increase.
VP: Why is Proto.in important for the Start up space? Any advice to Start up entrepreneurs?
Venkatesh: Proto.in provides an excellent business opportunity to all up and coming businessmen. You get a chance to get noticed and create a network with the right set of people for the good of your business. All I would like to tell Start up enthusiasts is that investors today are looking for leaders and not followers. Do not follow a general trend but make one of your own.
[Image courtesy: http://collaborat.co.uk/Images/Mentor%20Square%20Logo.jpg]