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Dr. Bino Pathiparampil — Doctor Turned Angel Investor

By on Mar 6, 2014 in Startup Gang | 18 comments

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binopathiparampilBino is a friend and contemporary angel investor. One of the first things that strike you about Bino is that he is a doctor who gave up the world of medicine and moved to the investment arena. A healthcare industry analyst Bino advises clients on listed stock. Bino sits on the boards of several companies such as Carve Niche Technologies and PickMe eSolutions. I have worked closely with Bino in several of the sticky situations that angel investment often gets one into. At all such times, I have been amazed by his amazing analytical ability. Here are his thoughts about the startup space in India:

I Respect Entrepreneurs a Lot — I Want to Be One Too
Passion for entrepreneurship and respect for entrepreneurs have kept me glued on to the start-up eco system right from very early in my career. Early on it was very informal through friends, relatives and contacts that ventured into their own enterprises; later I decided to get more formal about it. That was when Mumbai Angels came up as a great option to get actively involved without committing my whole time to it. Through my earlier informal channels and later through Mumbai Angels, I have been an active investor in early stage startups and an active mentor to several of the invested ones. Jumping myself into the shoes of an entrepreneur is very much on my mind — the plunge could happen any day.

The Early Stage Is Where the Real Excitement Is
Earlier the start up, the more exciting the investment opportunity — in my opinion. However, the concept behind the business needs to be proven by the entrepreneurs before approaching strictly external investors (friends and relatives could be considered not strictly external). Ensuring that the market is accepting the product or customers are appreciating the service goes a long way in enhancing the confidence of the entrepreneur and the investor. The clarity of prospects that exists can lead to better negotiation and better goal setting at the time of fund raising.

Entrepreneurs: Do Not Dilute Yourself Too Much Too Soon
One basic fact: the original business plan almost never turns out to be the right one and to keep maximum value of the venture with oneself, one should go for external funding as later as possible.

To put to practice the above advice, one needs to be agile and accommodative and should be willing to bear the opportunity cost of entrepreneurship for an extended period of time. Also, one needs to be extremely cautious of cash burn in the business — that significantly increases the staying power and multiplies the chances of the venture emerging successful.

Thinking original is good, but not always necessary — a real entrepreneur makes money where there is an opportunity — if it is in copying something else so be it.

The Startup Space Does Seem Overheated, But This Is Not Cause for Concern
Nothing in the real world stops at where it is ideal to stop — look at stock markets, real estate prices, religious affiliations or whatever. Hence, I think the fact that there has been a heating up is a great thing to my mind. There could be pockets of excesses, or may be the whole space is overheated, but I would be only be cautious and not stay away from the space. From a macro perspective, I think the overheating is much needed for the space — it will establish angel funding as another mainstream investment avenue in India.

But one needs to be careful when looking at this from a personal investment / portfolio management perspective. Staying away is not wise; in fact, the best returns in the world are made in bubbles though one may lose part of it when it bursts. Of course, wise investment strategy is called for; else a burst will completely wipe out one’s portfolio.

Entrepreneurship Is About Having a Dream and Then Going Out and Making it True
I often think — those who understand their dreams become entrepreneurs and those who are lost in their dreams become angel investors. So when I understand my dream for sure, I’ll invest myself into it and not my money.

The most important quality of an entrepreneur is being down to earth and having clarity of thought. Startups that are based on superficial thought process and only macro level analyses and planning are destined to fail. A start up should have clear ideas about where the first revenue will come from and well defined plans to capture secure it.  But every rule has exceptions — hence this one as well. If those who funded Google or Facebook played by this rule, those companies may not have seen daylight.

In a Sense, India As a Nation Is a Startup
India story is not different for start-ups and other assets — it is a big promising opportunity based on the purchasing power of a billion-plus population. However, this is not going to be a straightforward story, as we are realizing today.

India story is not a simple economic growth story — it is a story of social change; economic growth will be part of this social change. Social change is something that happens across generations — not necessarily years or decades. Better education, better healthcare, better infrastructure or simply better governance is something that is needed for the evolution to accelerate; and these things come only through evolution of the society. Thus the India story will unfold only over several decades and those who build their business patiently will reap the benefits. I would not base my investment on simply the India economic growth story.

Beware the Startup Bubble
There is a trend of acceleration in the India start up space — the trend is quantitative rather than qualitative. It is not in any specific area / style. This may, in some way be because of the over-heating of the start up ecosystem that we were talking about earlier. This is good from a macro perspective — lot of excesses will throw out something that is good. However, as an individual investor or entrepreneur, one needs to be careful about this — most of the excesses are bound to die down some day.

~ Bino has invested in several startups such as: Carve Niche, PickMe eSolutions, Palet.ly, We are holidays, and i-couch. He can be reached on LinkedIn.

18 Comments

  1. GAURAV DIXIT

    September 16, 2013

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    There are certain musts that are required to be successful in a chosen activity. To legally operate a vehicle on public roadways, one must have a driver’s license; to excel in sports, one must train and practice; to retire comfortably, one must become an informed investor and actively invest for retirement. If your goal is success in business, then the formula is no different. There are certain musts that have to be fully developed, implemented and managed for your business to succeed. There are many business musts, but this article contains I believe to be some of the more important musts that are required to start, operate and grow a profitable business. Like ” I’ll invest myself into it and not my money. ” says it all.

  2. Sanjeev

    September 18, 2013

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    Its really great to know people behind the success of any startup. Investors who precisely select where to invest. Thoughts of Bino are inspiring and especially this one for entrepreneurs: “Do Not Dilute Yourself Too Much Too Soon”.

    Its a culture that you are creating here by sharing values from great people aka angel investors.

  3. Sayan Ganguly

    September 18, 2013

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    An exact portrait of the Entrepreneurial scenario by the doctor-turned-investor, sketched both from the point of view of the investor and the entrepreneur, thereby attributing a 3-D characteristic to the portrait. As an entrepreneur myself, I understand my role as a driver of development of a specific portfolio that affects the society, and perceive my potential to share the responsibilities of policymakers to drive the development. Now, in order to have a major stake in that engine of development which is known as an “enterprise”, I should be able to: (1) Create an impression over a wider ratio of the beneficiaries, (2) Retain a major stake in my engine to be able to drive the development according to my vision, which is always developed as an aggregate of my personal vision and the vision of my co-stakeholders, including the honourable investor, and (3) to keep the growth and operation of the engine sustainable and eternal, with a guaranteed flow of fuel (finance) and an efficient output. This is stated by the author, in the words: “do not directly approach absolutely external investors unless you have the satisfaction and the endorsements of your informal, but close circle (rephrased the sentence: “However, the concept behind the business needs to be proven by the entrepreneurs before approaching strictly external investors (friends and relatives could be considered not strictly external)””.
    Further, the portrayal of India as a start-up nation, is, from many angles, acceptable, and also is a stimulant for the corporate stakeholders to run this start-up as a start-up of their own. Corporate society possesses a vision to run a project or a business that adds to the development of the nation. For all the development of the concepts that fall relevant to this discussion, it is necessary that every start-up develops a strategy that upkeeps its self-esteem, self-respect in terms of finance, and tries to establish a competition or enter into one. Today, I still see umpteen number of opportunities in the interstices if I stitch education and technology together, which can be exploited for completely new ideas for starting. The first necessity is to establish a system of Knowledge and Intellect Engineering, so that whatever concept comes in the mind, is first engineered properly and then managed for a desirable output. Competition, for the sake of competition would be the first detrimental step for any enterprise. Competition, for the sake of perfection of the system is the actual driver of development, because growth is not subject to any external factor completely. If there is a competition, then there would definitely be an accelerated output of innovations which shall serve the society and the enterprise itself, so competition is always welcome. It is just like 2 students competing in the same examination, which is not objective. Perfection is the factor that speaks for greater.

  4. Divija Kothuri

    September 18, 2013

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    How often do we see responsible professionals turning into investors? Dr. Bino has indeed set an example for all the younger generations to come. He has very aptly outlined the important aspects of investment and its significance in a country like India. Money is not everything and so one must have clear idea about what kind of an entrepreneur he or she wants to become. With appropriate planning and a fixed goal in mind, we can easily cross the initial hurdles in the world of entrepreneurship. Dr. Bino is completely right in saying that we must prepare ourselves for all kinds of adverse situations in a business. Hence, clarity of thought and a tough action plan can go a long way to help build a strong business.

  5. sravanthi

    September 18, 2013

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    It is all about Passion.One who is passionate about their own dreams will surely get in to be successful.To some, the entrepreneur is one who is willing to bear the risk of a new venture irrespective of profit. Dr.Bino is a perfect role model for the people mentioned. As everyone has their own dreams, they should look forward in turning them to realities. The most important and inspiring line “those who understand their dreams become entrepreneurs “, should be taken into consideration for those who aspire.

  6. Sakthy

    September 18, 2013

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    Now this is really an interesting and aspiring content what i just read now.
    There are many ways by which one can reach goal. Here Dr. Bino Pathiparampil has proven himself that following what you wish could also bring success in life.
    Here he is an angel investor who is pretty successful and is helping other people about how to invest and why to invest.
    The future generation should follow that and do proper investments since the current and the upcoming generations don’t know the meaning of saving or safety of life in future.
    I would also like to go ahead with such plans and interests.

  7. Shirish

    September 18, 2013

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    “Entrepreneurship Is About Having a Dream” . I totally agree to what Dr. Bino has said here. Entrepreneurs come up with — revolutionary jumps that change the way we think about the world, or small incremental ideas that make us relearn everything we know about friends, work, or even coffee. But this also a thing of concern that most startup entrepreneurs have is the distorted ideas about customer service. Now if you are a garage startup trying to change the world,the very important and the first thing that should be taken care is Traction and staying alive. Most startups linger on servicing customers until they have gone mainstream. And to no surprise these so called startups don’t survive for long. The startup should have the concept of winning traction. No matter how brilliant ideas or products you have,but you can’t have a business until you win your first 10 customers. The best bet is to provide every customer with an experience that keeps him asking for more — right from signup and on-boarding, all the way to customer service and beyond. :)

  8. Sameeya

    September 18, 2013

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    Very Inspiring and Interesting. In this fast and neck-to-neck competitive world of today, It is really difficult to get out of something you are already doing to something that you ‘Really’ want to do. Hats off to Dr.Bino. From the noble profession of a Doctor to an investor and a mentor to many he has set an example. In our society no parent will want their child to grow up and be an investor- they talk about the risk. They want to play safe, but this is what the Indian Society lacks- dare to dream different. Dr. Bino has very rightly said that ‘Over heating is much needed’. Apart from making this amazing move into entrepreneurship, he has helped, encouraged and mentored many in nurturing their dreams. And also the startup gang.com team has done a great job in highlighting Dr. Bino story.

  9. Sayan Ganguly

    September 18, 2013

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    The words of the doctor-turned-investor is the accurate portrayal of the scenario that we expect out of the current entrepreneurial scenario today. In a way, by presenting the points of view which stand common for both the entrepreneur and the investor, he has attributed a 3-D presentation of the same which is really commendable. A start-up should not treat itself as a mere start-up, but a driver of national growth at its own scale, and therefore, the promoter of the start-up should take care of: (1) His vision about the operation and (2) His ability to retain his grip over the vision and the endeavor which houses the vision. In the words of Warren Buffet, “one should not put too many eggs in his basket”, or else they would both make the basket heavy and there would be no space left for anything else. A start-up can drive a sustainable growth at all scales, either by direct investment of effort or by taking the support of someone who holds the eligibility to support someone financially and otherwise. For that, the entrepreneur should be cautious enough regarding its model, and more than that be satisfied enough from all possible aspects that his model is efficient, and for that an informal endorsement of his friends and well-wishers is necessary, lest he should get the terrible shocks of his life from an external investor, as it (1) either opens pathway of the investor taking up majority stake, and/or (2) plays a detrimental role towards the enthusiasm of the entrepreneur, and the nation loses an enthusiastic developer. Further, I would better like to be a saprophytic developer rather being overly parasitic, because a saprophytic developer would definitely find a wider opportunity to establish itself honourably.

    Competition is something which is worth being welcomed. It both helps in constructive transformation of the business model, and also it enhances the quality of the production in the sector. Competition is somewhat akin to two students competing on same exam paper, the one with perfect attitude, standard presentation and quality of the answer wins it. Let me give an example. Today education sector looks crowded, but still, as every sector is an output of education, if we stitch education with different sectors, in the interstices there still do lie opportunities which still remain unutilized, and can be utilized provided the promoters engineer their thought process towards utilizing those interstitial opportunities. It is just like utilizing the dark energy of the space which goes 5.5 times the energy and the matter we see in the space.

    Further, his portrayal of India as a start-up nation, is something which is true in many senses, further the portrayal stimulates the start-ups to stand up and work for their stake in the start-up. So, in all, this is the article which every entrepreneur seeks as an advice for starting up.

  10. VINAY BIHARI

    September 19, 2013

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    Dr. Bino Pathiparampil-about entrepreneur
    1st stage- amazing analytic ability
    2nd stage-Passions and active
    3rd stage-the early stage where more opportunities and excitement is their.
    4th stage-think practically.
    5th stage-at first it would be overheat work for entrepreneur but one should come up with strategy.
    6th stage-dream big achieve big but with clear thoughts.
    7th stage-need and understanding of social change and economic growth of a country.
    8th stage- understand the start-up trend and its acceleration.

  11. priyanka goyal

    September 19, 2013

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    i think that whatever views Dr Bino has are exactly what an entrepreneur should have.He has explained some crucial aspects regarding startups.I liked the one regarding finance the most.He explained with ease that how financial risk is inevitable .

  12. Priyank Agarwal

    September 20, 2013

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    “if it is in copying something else so be it”
    Its too truthful to be admitted openly…Nevertheless, its good to know that there are some people in the world who believe in speaking what they feel…
    People realize their dreams at different times of their career. Most people suppress it. Only few have the dare to make it true..Sure Dr.Bino belongs to the rare species.

  13. Umang bansal

    September 20, 2013

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    “EVERY DREAM STARTS WITH A DREAMER” so if there’s a true dream behind you to be an entrepreneur and if you are working on it with constant efforts then you are going to get that dream fulfilled for sure.

    it doesn’t depends on the time it only depends on the thought behind it.

  14. Liane

    November 2, 2013

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    In a sense we are all entrepreneurs. A few of us have the wish to make it known.
    When ideas run ahead of you, this is when it happens !

  15. Antriksh Garg

    November 16, 2013

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    Hello,
    A great interview done here. Dr. Bino, your step towards entrepreneurship, after being a doctor is much appreciated. And your views really inspire the awe out of all wanna=be entrepreneurs. Totally agree that the startup space is getting heated, but let’s just enjoy the heat coz’ it has been a long winter for India.
    One thing I would differ on is to choose what makes profit even by copying. Here I differentiate my definitions of an entrepreneur and a business-man.
    Hope we both get into the entrepreneurial shoes soon!

  16. Anu

    November 28, 2013

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    I am managing a medium growing 3.8 year old web development company in Bangalore. The company has done nearly INR Rs, 4,500,000 revenue during the period and has got goodwill and good client list includes internationally. The company has a good potential to generate good revenue in the coming days from it’s already developed and launched solutions in SaaS model for hospitality and educational sector across globe. We are expecting a good revenue in the next 10-12 months from the solutions which we have launched as it is competing from others in concept, features, ease of use and price. The company has 6 people working currently.

    We are looking for investors who can do the funding to take the business to the next level. Please let me know your feedback .

    Thanks
    Anu


  17. Vikas

    December 4, 2013

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    Hi,

    I am from Mumbai and visited the web site for B2B, however, its was really exciting to read the post. However, anyways I am a CA from Mumbai and into setting up business such as VAT, Service tax, bank OF/ CC factilites, income tax return etc.

    Anyways because of the lovely post above have become a member of the group.!!!!!

    Vikas

  18. Rajvi Mehta

    December 7, 2013

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    A highly recommended article to the start ups who are trying to figure out the ecosystem. Dr. Bino says the truth in a crisp yet in a straight way. The start up bubble is getting bigger now and so are the risks along with it. Beware of not being typical.

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