Flintoclass @Home
Flintoclass @Home
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One thing to ponder is what would small kids consider ‘normal’ education when this pandemic is over.

As a parent of a kid who’ll enter pre-school soon, I wonder what would start of that journey be for a kid who doesn’t yet understand what a school means. And how smooth would the transition be to a physical school when this ends? What about sensory experiences, social skills & overall development?

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Are Venture Capitalists deforming capitalism?
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Earlier this week, The New Yorker wrote a scathing piece on the VC industry with the above title (link in comments), looking at VCs through the WeWork debacle. If you were a cynic, you could write it off as cherry-picked writing in the “tech Vs media” battle that’s plaguing the Valley.

But it does highlight some issues with VC pretty well. Yet it isn’t saying anything new. The problems in VC are quite apparent — concentration of big capital with fewer funds, a power shift towards maverick founders, VCs becoming less confrontational to be seen as founder friendly, lack of principled & authoritative boards, a growth-only gospel, and an undying hope that continuous scale will trump everything else.

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Are you really fit to be a founder?
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Firstly, a Happy Dhanteras! Today it makes sense to talk about the “money” side of entrepreneurship. Many people have the needed skills, experience & passion to be great founders. Yet they’re unfit to be one. Why?

It’s to do with “founder financial viability”. While there’s an appreciation by most founders for a need to bootstrap & work without market salary for some time, usually they grossly underestimate this duration to be a few months till first round of funding arrives.

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News: Rezolve.ai announces $0.5M fundraise
News: Rezolve.ai announces $0.5M fundraise
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Rezolve.ai (Actionable Science), one of our portfolio SaaS firms, announced a $0.5M fundraise yesterday.

We backed Saurabh, Manish & Udaya, stalwarts in the enterprise technology space, over 2.5 years ago at Globevestor when global SaaS out of India wasn’t a big theme. This team had that solid mix of domain expertise, sales experience & tech chops for us to instantly get excited about the problem they were attacking.

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Is your belief in meritocracy the reason for your failure?
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As a pre-seed/seed stage startup investor, the most frequent gripe I hear from Indian founders is that they had a better product, competent team & better numbers, yet the investors funded their competitors. This makes them confused & dejected, and they lose faith in VCs & angels. A fair number of founders have remarked to me that “VCs are dumb”.

My honest answer to this is that the competition is simply selling a “better story”. But the founders are never satisfied with this response. And I believe the problem stems from a belief in pure meritocracy.

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A case against the maverick unicorn founder
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Recently, the founder of a very well-funded startup got angry on a call because he heard a colleague drink water. His comment – “If what I’m saying is less important to you than drinking water, we shouldn’t even have this call”. Stop for a moment & let this behaviour sink in. Unreal.

Over the past few years, we’ve really glorified the ‘maverick’-ness of successful founders in India. It is widely believed that it takes a unique vision & an aggressive, win-at-all-cost mindset for a founder to achieve big wins. However, this gospel has percolated extremely bad culture at a number of unicorns/soonicorns. We’ve all heard stories of some leading founders who are known to instantly explode on their team, run a foul mouth, always blame others for failures & have zero empathy.

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Failure: Y Combinator
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To all those founders who haven’t received an interview call from YC today & are feeling rejected, don’t feel down & dejected. Thousands of founders have been in the same place as you, before they figured it out & made their venture into a big success. Some of the more successful founders in our portfolio have been there as well.

It reminds me of my own experience ~7 years ago, when we pitched the idea of Globevestor to YC. We sat in Paul’s living room, being interviewed by the trio of Paul, Jessica & Sam. You couldn’t get more YC than that! Our pitch was that the time for India was here & we were on a cusp of a big shift in early-stage ecosystem in India. But none of them even knew about Flipkart or Inmobi, the two unicorns we had then.

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Failure is hard
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Failure is hard. But a lot of times founders make it harder for themselves by not being open about their & the startup’s struggles with their team till it’s too late. By nature founders are ever-optimists about overcoming their challenges, so wouldn’t like to spook the team needlessly. And they also would like to project an image of being in control. A feeling of being judged isn’t great. But an opaqueness about the startup’s fortunes slowly gets ingrained in the culture and the ‘team’ turns into ‘employees’.

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News: Springboard raises $31M Series B
News: Springboard raises $31M Series B
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Springboard, one of our portfolio startups, today announced their $31M Series B funding led by Telstra. With this, Springboard has raised over $50 million till date.

Started in 2013 by our long-time friends, Parul Gupta and Gautam Tambay, Springboard is building a new-age university with a focus on upskilling professionals. It matches each student 1:1 with a personalized mentor, alongside a core curriculum and project work. They’ve witnessed 330% student enrollment growth from June 2019 to June 2020. It’s a rocket ship!

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