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Meet Investor, Entrepreneur, and Startup Enthusiast: Anirudh Damani

By on Feb 14, 2014 in Startup Gang | 14 comments

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Anirudh-Damani-ProfileI have known Anirudh Damani for a couple of years now. He is a fellow member at Mumbai Angels and we take active interest in some of the same startups. Executive Director of the K Damani group, Anirudh has had an early start to his role as an investor and lender. What I especially like about Anirudh is the fact that is able to rapidly distill down to the most important aspects of a deal, and not get mired into the nitty gritty. If you get the opportunity to meet Anirudh, one of the first things that will strike you is his energy and affability. Recently Anirudh talked to StartUp Gang and shared his experiences about the startup space. Here are his thoughts

Indian Entrepreneurs Are Weighed Down by Shackles. It is Time to Break Free.
In my honest opinion the Indian entrepreneur is like a beautiful dove that has its legs tied with a 100-meter rope to a 100 kg weight of bureaucracy, poor infrastructure and an oppressive tax regime.  So while they are allowed to fly a good distance and look pretty, they aren’t allowed to touch the sky! Even after all these hardships, Indian entrepreneurs build companies that compete with the best in the world. Indians are respected worldwide for their intelligence and “jugaad” thinking. With this we have managed to build our economy with a 6-7% average growth rate over the past 10 years. That is something we should all be proud of.

I Look for Complete Commitment and Some Traction in Startups
A start-up team that has discovered a niche in the market, has innovated a USP and is willing to bet everything that they possibly have, those are the ones that I find very easy to invest into.  As a long-term strategy though, we avoid investing into very early / pre-seed stage companies.

Required Reading for all Entrepreneurs
Read the book E-Myth — the lessons given in that book are vital to any entrepreneur’s success.

Success Formula = Hard Work + Planning + Opportunity
It is my belief that all start-ups give it their best effort. However there is a bit of “luck” required in success. To me “luck happens” when hard work and planning meet with opportunity”. So while there are a few companies that have done exceptionally well but have found themselves without adequate opportunity (and vice versa), there are a handful that have hit the nail on the head. Some examples:

Entrepreneurship Is a Cultural Movement and India Stands to Gain Tremendously From It
The momentum in the start-up space, has allowed a lot of what were otherwise “reluctant” entrepreneurs to finally take the plunge into entrepreneurship and they have made their, their employees, investors and customers’ lives a lot richer. India needs a very vibrant and growing start-up culture if we are to get close to the 9% growth rate that will lift millions of Indians out of abject poverty.

This rapid growth has created its own set of problems, which are primarily — the over exuberance on e-commerce start-ups and the rise of multiple “me-too” start-ups. Another peculiar trend that I have seen over the past few months is the emergence of excellent engineering teams that are pigeon-holing themselves into areas that cannot do justice to their talent. A lot of these tech teams have and are building great software/apps but while they are willing to innovate with their skills, they aren’t willing to innovate with their target market. This is something that drives me crazy, especially since we definitely see the large market that the team isn’t capitalizing on!

If You Have a Viable Startup in These 3 Spaces, I Am Interested in Hearing More
I have 3 pet ideas that I have wanted to invest into:

  1. Location Based Video Advertising sold via “Live” Auction
  2. Booking a cab at my destination when I check-in
  3. (And this was something that came to me this morning) A power search engine that can give a timeline map for a specific search keyword (like the name of a company/person/product/etc) which allows me to see and build a story

But do not contact me with any business idea that takes 40 PowerPoint slides to understand!

The India Story Is Real and We Are Already Seeing it Unfold
I am a believer and continue to believe that India was, is and will be the greatest country in the world. It is unfortunate that we are better respected outside our country than by our own countrymen. So while there are and still exist various challenges and impediments for Indian entrepreneurs, these too will crumble, what speed will we grow at then? The industry has just burst out of the protective seed and the toughest part now is to sustain this momentum to break out of the ground and the day we break through the weight and limitations of the current system — the sky is the limit!

I Am Glad to See That Several Startups in India Are Focusing on Solving a Problem
We are starting to see a lot more “problem” solving based start-ups now, some eye-popping manufacturing startups and a lot less “consumption based” start-ups – all of which are good for the ecosystem.

Anirudh Damani is very helpful to startup entrepreneurs. You can contact him online at Twitter, LinkedIn, or view his business pages at: Artha Venture Partners and Artha Energy Resources. Disclaimer: Anirudh and / or I may have an interest in one or more of the companies mentioned here.

14 Comments

  1. Ashlee Agnihotry

    September 14, 2013

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    Global markets and businesses need manpower in huge amounts and the country serving to their needs is the superpower in the coming ages.India, a country with excessive talents in each field is often neglected due to the oppressive powers taking birth within the country.Agreeing with Mr. Anirudh Damani, Indian entrepreneurs should find a way out of these problems to excel in their own start ups and making our country a better place to work in where new and innovative ideas are valued.

    • RAHUL THEKDI

      September 22, 2013

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      The website is really good but it needs more innovation, it needs some out of the box ideas. If these are implemented you will have a smooth way ahead.

  2. Prateek Raghuwanshi

    September 14, 2013

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    Heartly thanks to Mr. Ajeet, featuring Mr. Anirudh on StartupGang. Its a pleasure to learn and work under Anirudh guidance. He loves to mentor and guide startups.

  3. Sharmiladevi

    September 14, 2013

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    Brilliant and inspiring interview of Anirudh Damani .The metaphor(pigeon) he used for Indian entrepreneur is realistic.Best wishes to Anirudh to bring more entrepreneurs in light .

  4. Divija Kothuri

    September 18, 2013

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    India is definitely has a great potential for investment and development. But as Mr. Anirudh has rightly pointed out, we need a proper system with immaculate political ideologies. One can easily be lured into the dark world of politics in the name of business and the ultimate goal is never achieved. But, we also should realize that in order to receive gains on our investments and be encouraged to become successful entrepreneurs, we need support from an educated and a responsible population. Hence, it would be wise on the investors part to choose people who can contribute significantly to our nation’s progress.

  5. Vinit Balani

    September 18, 2013

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    A very nice interview indeed. Issues bang on target and Mr. Anirudh Damani providing apt answers. Its right that in India is a land of opportunities for enterpreneurs but there are many shackles. I also agree with Mr. Damani on that we are respected outside our country of jugaad thinking but now we need to make it happen here. The example of dove with rope tied is very much realistic. I also hope that more and more enterpreneurs make their way through to success.

  6. Mudita Sonar

    September 18, 2013

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    The way Mr. Damani talks about the strategy startups should opt is very encouraging. He makes it better with suitable examples, which lead a person to research on them and learn the necessary tips and lessons. The Indian youth needs somebody who can narrate her/his own success story because this way, the young minds will be pushed to think, “If she/he can do this, I too can.” Mr. Damani, in some way, is creating many startups with his inspiring tone of talking.

  7. Amiya Kumar Pati

    September 18, 2013

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    The insight given by Mr. Anirudh is very well described and it has brought a very wide scope about the relevance of startups in our country. His interview will inspire many peoples, especially youngsters to come out of their cozy bed and try on the heels of an entrepreneur and get on the task of becoming a new mode for a startup. His idea is very clear about the startup in our country and the need for it. Thanks to Mr. Anirudh for enlightening may younsgter out here in this wonderful website. I am sure that this article will move many minds to a new startup level.

  8. Anirudh Damani

    September 19, 2013

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    Thank You so much for your encouraging words. I feel humbled by the support that you have shown. I’m glad you liked the interview and I hope to continue sharing the knowledge with budding entrepreneurs.

  9. Suriya Madhan

    September 19, 2013

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    His flow of idea with the start-ups are really good. He has clearly pointed out the facts of start-ups. He has totally explained without any need for clarifications that speaks of his experience. And his idea about India would surely be cherished. Congrats!!

  10. Antriksh Garg

    September 22, 2013

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    Mr. Damani, as any entrepreneur I would like to know more about, fuels the spark of the budding entrepreneur in me. As the righteous analogy of a pigeon and an open sky to the Indian entrepreneurs and the vast market, perfectly dives into the real world situation; I myself being a pigeon yet to open its wings can see the wide sky where I definitely see a Googol of opportunities and Space for new start-ups.
    Though I myself firmly don’t believe in any success formula, but would absolutely agree that its more about the ‘Choices’ rather than the ‘Chances’.
    And, for the Start-ups to evolute, its not just about turning all the stones but turning them at the right time and the right way, to capture your market.
    Quite correctly quoted is the fact that the boom and the rapid customer-reach in the e-commerce domain may bring a lump of not so planned ventures, launching just to be a part of the e-nexus into the market. But definitely nothing can be better for an entrepreneur than a developing nation, and for that case a developing and an emerging India.

  11. Divyanshu

    September 29, 2013

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    After reading this, what I think is that Mr. Anirudh Damani is instilling the zeal to achieve success by expressing his ideas and connecting it with real life situations.His way of thinking truly inspires us.Most of the problems faced by a new entrepreneur is mentioned here with it’s solution.He also gave some relevant examples.

  12. Priyank Agarwal

    November 3, 2013

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    “In my honest opinion the Indian entrepreneur is like ……………. ………………….and an oppressive tax regime.”
    The same thing always has worried me. Never thought about the second side of it as expressed by
    Mr. Anirudh Damani.. Seems it’s encouraging me to work harder on my B-Plan.

  13. Rajvi Mehta

    December 7, 2013

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    I think you are always a right person to start an entrepreneurship. one should always be self aware….know your positive and negative. and yes…government policy and rules should be followed honestly.

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