Sid moved to India in 2001 to found Evolv, a vocational training company. Evolv was funded by Singapore Technologies - their first early stage investment in the sub-continent. Over the next 6 years, Sid grew Evolv to 300 employees training and assessing over 20,000 people a year across 200 cities in South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East. In 2007, he sold Evolv to NIIT - Asia's largest training company. Sid worked with NIIT for the next 3 years, heading Evolv, as well as Litmus - NIIT's foray into assessments and Uniqua - NIIT's joint venture with Genpact. In 10 years of leading Evolv, Sid became a master in education technology (and continues to explore advancements in this market at Lightbox.)
An entrepreneur at heart, Sid left NIIT to get more involved in the start up community in India. Over the next few years, leading up to Lightbox, Sid advised several startups, angel funds, and a very special NGO called Magic Bus.
As enterprising at play as he is at work, Sid recently launched a new restaurant, The Hungry Monkey. Brown Paper Bag says "one step in and we realised, this was a hipster kid, the kind who'd look good on our Instagram feed." Check it out if you're in Delhi.
What does failure mean to you? Failure is inevitable. I accepted that early in my life. Luckily, over time, I've seen it's also the only path to success. And that's what failure means to me - a path to success. But to travel that path, you must recognize your mistakes, handle them psychologically, learn from them and then act accordingly.
What’s your super power?I'm a reader. I love reading. That's my super power. The more I read, the more perspective I get, the more curious I get and that makes me a better investor and a better person. It's a habit I picked up from my grandfather. He read anything he could get his hands on. He read to me all the time. I'm proud to keep the tradition going. Speaking of reading, here's one of my favorite quotes from Charlie Munger: "In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time - none, zero." I agree. Which is your favourite city in the world?I always fall in love with the city I live in - and at the moment that's Mumbai. And it's pretty amazing. I love the sea. I love the energy. I love the people. I love our office. This is where I want to be.
Favourite books this year Bad Blood by John Carreyrou and Becoming by Michelle Obama
If you weren’t a venture capitalist, you’d be? Hands down, a theatre actor. I still might do it...one day. Being on stage, in front of a live audience is one of the most exhilarating experiences I know.
Ireena Vittal has spent over 30 years helping both conglomerates and startups grow their businesses in India, her story and career trajectory are absolutely remarkable, and we’re hoping to relive a lot of the lessons she's learned along the way.
With 300MM+ Monthly Active Users, and 28MM+ paid subscribers accounting for over 30% of Disney's entire customer base, Hotstar is arguably the most popular OTT platform in India, and that too by a margin. In this episode with Ajit Mohan, we dive deep into Hotstar's meteoric rise, starting right from ideation to building it into what it is today, and learn from Ajit's experiences of building a massively successful company, ground up.
Mr. Banga is a partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, one of the oldest PE firms in the world. He’s also had a tremendous and a very successful stint as part of Unilever – first at Hindustan Unilever, India’s premier FMCG company and then as part of the global leadership team at Unilever. A man who has seen it all in India and knows a great deal about building businesses and consumer brands.
Pivots test your creativity, your persistency, your resiliency, your focus, your passion, and your grit in the best of times. A blitz pivot, especially to prove something to someone else, might be the best way to shut your company down.
Are private equity firms 2 faced? How does the financial service sector deal with challenges? Read on to find out:
Furlenco runs some of the country’s largest refurbishment centers. These renewal and restoring procedures allow them to put a product back to its original condition or in many cases even modernize them. With remanufacturing processes on board, Furlenco reduces materials and energy consumption, compared to the original production. And believe it or not, this actually increases their margins.
Sid in conversation with Pallavi from outlook in the reasons behind the sudden fund rush into India's startup ecosystem and what investors look for in new-age companies. Will this dream run continue?
When Systrom was building Burbn (now Instagram), he kept going back to the drawing board because while he knew the product was fun, he kept asking –
Was it useful? Did it solve a problem most people had in their lives?
Sid talks on growing businesses together and venturing into the unknown with various subscription models
Someone once said, “customer service isn’t about telling people how amazing you are, it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you.” Very few brands understand the value of these stories or even have the internal service culture to cultivate experiences worthy of being retold.
As the initial euphoria of the Walmart-Flipkart announcement settles down, it’s time to start making Flipkart a better and stronger company for shareholders and consumers. India is a complicated market, and acquisitions here are always challenging. Walmart’s next steps will be critical as it looks to create a blueprint for success in India.
How consumers are wooed is going to change in 2017. And a few spaces will have a advantage.
When you invest early in a company’s life cycle, there is such a lack of information available, so much of an investment decision at this stage is based on the founding team and prior investing experience. The earlier you invest, the more experience you need.
Everybody pivots. If you ask anyone who’s run a business in the past, they’ll tell you they pivot a lot. They pivot based on everything from customer feedback, to external advice, to market conditions. And its a good thing….
I spoke to women entrepreneurs I know. Did they feel they were being unfairly judged? The short answer: Yes! “How much time will you take off if you get pregnant?” asked one investor. “Are you planning on getting married?” asked another.
There’s a belief globally that we have a burgeoning middle class in India – and we’re following in the footsteps of China’s massive change from immense poverty to a stable middle class. But that’s really not the case.
India doesn’t lack funding, at least in technology. We need people – smart people, educated people, motivated people. Let’s teach coding. Let’s teach innovation and creativity. Let’s teach leadership and teamwork. And let’s make it free for anyone and everyone in the country.
Buying jewelry is as much about the experience of browsing as it is about the actual purchase. After the last year I’ve spent working with Melorra (coupled with 11 years of marriage) I’m slowly starting to understand this phenomena.
Here’s a prediction: tech companies will raise more private money than IPOs. And a lot of that money will go towards (re)educating consumers, giving them access to debt for anything they want, and providing them a whole lot of video.
Droom is the largest series A bet we’ve ever made. And since it was such a big deal for us, I thought this was an ideal opportunity to walk you through how we decide to make investments in general.
We spend a lot of time thinking about the changing nature of ownership. It’s amazing how much “stuff” most of us collect over time. And how little we actually use in everyday life. It makes you start questioning consuming and purchasing habits in general.
2014 was one of the most prolific years we’ve had in terms of the number of startups, fundings, valuations, and user growth in India. In 2015, we should see the fruits of that labor in several spaces – look out for many fledgling companies to mature and grow at a pace we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago, or even just a year ago.
The more I look at the kinds of things that the government wants to do with education, the more it occurs to me how important a role technology needs to be playing in the implementation process.
When we first met to discuss starting a fund, one of the things that we all had in common was that we were entrepreneurs. We had launched our own companies, gotten rejected by investor after investor, produced good and bad products and experienced failure after failure. We were start up warriors and had the battle scars to prove it.
We are at the cusp of creating great technology businesses in India. It can’t happen without the right support from a great board. And a great board needs independent directors.
Profitability isn’t a switch you can turn on and off. No business can suddenly decide that it’s time to get profitable and implement a strategy. If businesses aren’t structured to be profitable, the only real strategy an entrepreneur can implement is to cut costs, almost always at the expense of growth. Profitability at the expense of growth doesn’t last.
Product evolution plays a crucial role in the decision on how best to monetize. And that’s the Embibe story.
This is now the fourth year I’m writing my predictions for Tech in Asia. I’m more excited about this coming year than I’ve been about any of the last few years has tech is finally reached a tipping point.
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