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Interview of Rajesh Dembla – Ex VP Just Dial

An investor in several startups (Technology, Food, Logistics, Gaming) along with being founder of 3 startups – Pacific Gaming Pvt Ltd, World Trade Bureau (Launching Feb 2020), Fotographer.in Launching (March 2020)

Work history:

Prior to 2015, worked with 3 startups – Getit Infomediary Ltd, Indya.com, Just dial Pvt Ltd and 2 out of the 3 startups became household brands in India. Always wanted to join a startup, even when the word startup was not coined. The idea was to join a company nobody knows and help it to become a corporate.
Better be a big fish in a small pond and grow the pond into an ocean.

Early Life:

First part of life was very challenging as I was not much educated, homeless, slept on railway platforms for 3 months at the age of 16, did all kinds of jobs for about 5 years – office boy, waiter, washed horses at the Race Course, worked night shifts in factories while doing day jobs, etc.

What is your investing philosophy?

Entrepreneurs matter more than the idea.
Invest in startups that are disrupting and changing an existing industry rather than changing habits.

Back Entrepreneurs who are coachable.

Pick start ups that are ahead of the curve and aware of how to use the changing trends in the ecosystem.

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

Everything that glitters is not gold
And follow your gut along with data

Which has been your best investment till date?

Dunzo and Pacific Gaming. However, it is just like asking a parent your favourite child. The company struggling today may be successful 3 years from now and vice – versa so all the companies are favourite.

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

Not following due process and paper work before investing.

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

Julian Robertson – Founder “Tiger Global Management”

Marshall Goldsmith – Author “What got you here wont get you there”

Chase Coleman – current founder in Tiger Global Management

What would be your advice to Entrepreneurs seeking funds?

Know very well that an investor is also a business man and expects returns. Do not believe that you are entitled to investors money.

You must have the capability to grow multifold and provide exits, so do not ask for funds unless you have a scalable business model.

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

Agnostic, look for next big thing and new trends in the market.

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

Never as good as it is now. Because now funding is based on merit rather than just ideas.

Also government has understood that startups are where the next growth wave is coming from.There are tax benefits and grants.

Microsoft has couple of initiatives (Highway to a Hundred Unicorns).

The ecosystem with innovation in payments and telecom advancements in both hardware and spectrum are fostering the ecosystem.

Great time to start today, so excited to see the future.

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

Team

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

If the product is ready for pilot or have done pilot with decent results. Also late stage startups successfully running  and require funds to scale up.

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

I am a passionate and hands on investor and mentor. Not just look at an investee company as a portfolio, but take responsibility to make it a great success. I contribute in strategy, network, and non linear growth aspects, in short – greatest result at lowest cost.

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

Wholesalebox – amazing team,  customers across 5000pin codes, USD 15million topline sales, and true disruptive technology for retailers in tier 2 and 3 cities.
Rapidor – mindblowing product ,100+ customers, product is robust. Founding team is solid.

Answer in one line:

Share your  original quote: If you are living then you need to be alive.

First 3 slides that you look in a Pitch Deck (in serial order): Never look at pitch deck. Look for entrepreneurs capability to pitch the business.

How would you define Startup: solve a problem or pain point using tech in most efficient manner at least cost, funded or not does not matter.

What are the attributes of an Entrepreneur:

A strong reason why they are doing, what they are doing.

Must be passionate, building a huge business not valuation.

What are your views about StartupLanes?

StartupLanes is a useful platform for the ecosystem.

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