Speaking at the GES in Hyderabad, the founders shared their thoughts on what they look for in an entrepreneur before investing.

Make an impression in first few minutes MakeMyTrip Ola founders tell entrepreneurs
Atom Startups Monday, December 04, 2017 - 12:28

Deep Kalra, founder and CEO of online travel aggregator Make My Trip, and Bhavish Aggarwal, founder and CEO of cab aggregator Ola, are both entrepreneurs who turned angel investors, having invested in a few startups. Kalra has invested in startups such as Scripbox while Aggarwal in MadRat Games and more.

Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad on November 29, both entrepreneurs shared their thoughts on what investors, and they in particular, look for in an entrepreneur before investing.

Conviction and resilience

Touching upon the main characteristics an entrepreneur should have, Kalra said that conviction is one of the most important things for him. Entrepreneurs need to be able to stand strong despite how tough it gets.

“Some of the best businesses might not have seen the light of the day because some entrepreneur gave up too early. There’s a lot to be said about resilience and just hanging in there when the chips are down, because people tend to panic too early. In India, it still takes a long time to build a business… So I tell entrepreneurs, don’t look back for the first 4-5 years,” he said.

But for Aggarwal, while it is important to be resilient and push one’s way through, an entrepreneur should not be too emotionally connected to his idea. “Because an idea can be wrong, or you may be barking up the wrong tree, or the business model is wrong. Being an entrepreneur is about managing two sides of the same coin and no side is the right answer perpetually,” he added.

Self-esteem vs. ego

Kalra says that there is a fine line between self-esteem and ego. And that he looks for those who can balance that. “People who have self-esteem, it really takes a lot for them to break and say I give up. People should say – failure is the last thing, I’m going to try and try – and yet have the humility to admit that they may need to change their business model since tech is constantly evolving. That’s a fine line and is difficult to keep,” he says.

Ability to sell

An entrepreneur should be able to make an impression in the first few minutes to get the investor interested. It’s not about saying something good but about fundamentally focusing on what problem you are solving. Then an entrepreneur should look at how they are going to do it better than competition. Here Kalra adds that competition is now global because everyone is looking at India as a market.

“As strange as it may sound, the idea is less important because ideas can be copied pretty soon most of the time. It’s the execution that’s really important and that’s where conviction comes in,” he says, adding that it is also equally important to have intellectual arrogance, something that doesn’t come from having a degree.

Aggarwal agrees. An extremely important quality in an entrepreneur is the ability to think in abstract terms and the ability to think in detail together. And no degree can teach that, he says.

“You have to be intellectually honest without the cover of your past experiences. Learnability is also a great determinant of success, which co-relates to the ability to take strong bets, change direction or invest in an area not thought of before. These are core ingredients of success for not just someone in a management role, but also in an entrepreneur,” Aggarwal adds. 

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