Interview of Pradeep Reddy Kamasani – Angel Investor

Pradeep Reddy

Startup means uncertain life and be vulnerable, If you run a startup, start liking uncertaintyPradeep Reddy Kamasani

Pradeep Reddy Kamasani did his education in computers (MCA) at Loyola College. Later he worked in the corporate sector across the US, UK, Canada, Australia, India for about 15 years. Overall he has experience of 2 decades in business, tech, marketing, sales, and investment. He founded two companies. One of them is HunterTech, an IT Services and Outsourcing company, which helps small to medium-size businesses with digital transformation solutions. Since the year 2013 he is active in the startup ecosystem across different geographies like India, the US, UK, Africa, Malaysia, and Singapore. Playing different roles as Angel Investor, Advisor, Mentor to few fast-growing tech backed early-stage companies.

What is your investing philosophy?

As an Investor I have gained a lot of experience over the years in evaluating deals. I prefer to invest in people. Also, the founders who can predict the future demand for the problems they are solving. The founders of businesses in solving bigger problems in society, who knows how to run a business and sustainable enough, want to scale up to the next level of the game. I look at these qualities like empathy, values, and perseverance in the team. Investors should spend time with entrepreneurs and learn more about the business, team, product, customers, partners and their aspirations before do any investments. This exercise should be done on both sides and to get on the same level of confidence and clarity.

What has been the most important investing lesson you have learned so far?

The answer is many, But one example I can give is one of our portfolio companies doing well at one point in time, but due to lack of founder experience, the complete venture is gone bad and struggling to keep it alive. The lesson from this one or from early-stage companies, founders need some help with experienced investors, industry advisors to execute the business and scale in the right direction and be vulnerable to face any challenges to make their business successful. Also, I don’t go by buzzwords or where the crowd is going, I see the ground reality of the business and potential of the team, execution, key customers, key partnerships and clear exit strategy for investors.

Which has been your best investment till date?

The best investment is in our own company HunterTech, an IT Consulting and Services Business. It started in the year 2015 and counting, Because we run it on a lean model, and from day one we are profitable and growing our customer base, partners globally. Initially we focused on generating demand and lead pipeline later on the actual business with services execution, built partners, strong vendor base. Our model worked and we see sustainable growth for longer-term due to the demand in Digital Transformation services.

Can you share any investing mistakes that you made and the lessons we can learn from it?

Good question, Investors like great unicorn exits and good ROI. There is no standard framework or rule book which one will click or not from your portfolio. Initial days I was taking help with senior investors, Industry experts, Networks but later a few years, I am making my own investment decisions. One lesson I learned is to closely work with the founders of the companies. If as an Investor you don’t do that homework and expect miracles to happen, won’t work in reality. As mentioned earlier, We are seeing founders coming out of college and starting some app or products with deep tech, saas model, etc They need right people on the team, direction, and support from all different people in the ecosystem (Example: Startup Lanes doing an amazing job to connect the entire ecosystem ).so they can do the job correctly. Founders also should be willing to learn and guide their teams. As an experienced Angel Investor, advisor I see that it is a win-win for business and ecosystem. I can say its collective work and everyone is responsible for the results at the end. Clear communication, transparency from founders at all levels of business is key to winning. Everyone wants to win in the game, so founders should consider the investors or experienced industry leaders as an asset and take help from them to solve any problems to grow the business.

Is there any particular investor or author who has had a significant influence on your investment thinking? 

Dave Mclure, Founder of 500 Startups. I met him only once and was really impressed by his in-depth knowledge, experience on the startups, venture capital investments side. As per my knowledge by 2015 they already made 2000 plus investments globally which is a really notable firm in the industry.

What would be your advice to Entrepreneurs seeking funds?

My sincere advice to Entrepreneurs is to first make sure your business model is working, Test your product-market fit, You should have paying customers, focus on your product differentiation, get constant feedback from customers, partners, shareholders, etc. Once you have basics correct, obviously investors like to hear more and then they will decide. It’s not a good thing to reach investors aggressively and get disappointed. Let’s say if you have already existing seed investors request them to explore for the further round of funding or request to make a known investor connections. Please go by some references, it will give good results for your fundraising process and also shorten the overall time you spend on this activity. Your company culture, values, empathy towards employees, customers is what resembles your brand in the public.so please maintain values, ethos.

Do you invest in specific sectors? If yes, then which are the sectors?

Not really, So far it’s sector agnostic. But I have a personal interest in B2B SaaS, Deep Tech, InsureTech, Enterprise Software Products, and Social impact ventures.

What is your outlook for the present startup ecosystem in India?

Compared to the last one decade or so, The startup ecosystem has matured very well and the Entrepreneurs are coming up with really innovative ideas, good problems to solve and they understand the space, have good in-depth knowledge in the domain, tech, etc at the same time Investors also had a lot of lessons learned and looking for quality, efficient founders to bet on with a long term vision to back them on current, follow on rounds as well. As I see the M & A game started here locally, which is a good sign for the ecosystem and no need to wait for big companies to come from outside and buy it. Overall the ecosystem itself is matured with lots of Accelerators, Central, State govt startups program support, and what we are seeing is the version 2 of the ecosystem now going in the right direction. But still more support needed from the Government of India to help the ecosystem in Tier2 and Tier 3 cities get access to the infrastructure, seed funding, talent, skill development programs, etc. With all kinds of support Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities will generate more jobs, contribute to the economy than what we see now. I see the entrepreneurship culture, innovative thinking mindset risk-taking started from college level, which is a good sign. But its tip of the iceberg, long way to go.

According to you what is more important (Team, Idea, Traction, etc.)?

All of the above them. Along with that, I see the real business potential, the team background, their past experiences, execution capability, bigger vision to solve the problem, Product differentiation, Tech, user experience, customer service and support, etc are a few of them. Last but not least what the end customers, or users feedback matters.

According to you what is the perfect time for a startup to raise funds?

The answer is very simple, Don’t think about funding unless you really need it. The fundraising process itself takes a lot of time from the founders. The best way to build a business is with your own funds and to scale the business to the next level you can start thinking about external funding, If you have already some business traction in the market you are playing. My sincere advice is your business should be able to self sustain even though you don’t get funding quickly. But once you have a clear business model and numbers, Investors like to meet you and recommend for funding as well. It should be a win-win game. Maintain good values, company culture, and ethos at all times during your business journey. That is very important and a key decision factor also.

What is the value add that a founder gets, along with your investment?

Along with the investment, The value I bring to the table is business and tech experience, network, provide the right kind of guidance and direction to upcoming entrepreneurs, investor relations, business expansion. I started my entrepreneurial journey at a very early stage in my life at the age of 18. Since then I am into business directly or indirectly. I have gained real-world business experience and that is key to my success. With my experience, skills I help startups and early-stage companies as a Business Advisor with different skills Certified Hubspot inbound marketing, Marketing Automation, Data-Driven Marketing, Growth Hacking, Digital Marketing, Lead Generation, Business Development, Investor Relations, Partnerships, Networking, Emerging Markets, Hustling, M&A Deals. A recent example is one of the fast-growing B2B SaaS product company into logistics approached me to help with Sales and Business Development.

Would you like to share any of your recent investments and why did you select them?

My recent investment is into the B2B SaaS company at Pre-Series A stage. Few important factors before considering the deal is I know the founder personally for 3years and the company grown during these years, founder keeps me updated regularly with the potential of the business and the progress they are making. The key factors I have considered are team, tech, business growth, Industry vertical, global opportunity, execution on the ground, and good terms for investors as well.

Answer in one line:

Share your  original quote: Our world needs more creators than consumers”

First 3 slides that you look in a Pitch Deck (in serial order): problem, how you are solving, team, traction.

How would you define Startup: Startup means uncertain life and be vulnerable, If you run a startup, start liking uncertainty 🙂

What are the attributes of an Entrepreneur: Innovative, Perseverance, Empathy.

What are your views about StartupLanes?

As per my knowledge, I recently met the SL team in Bangalore. Mr.Shishir and the team are really doing good job for the startup ecosystem. The team has put together all kinds of services needed for a business to run. Startups should make use of them and grow the business. I would like to congratulate you for the good work and keep growing the SL team.