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AwareMonk , Official account of AwareMonk Nov, 24 2016

AMA with Alok Mittal


Alok Mittal: CEO of Indifi, Founding member and Angel Investor at Indian Angel Network. Ask Him Anything


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Ok guys, time for us to bring this session to a close! Thanks very much for coming over - some great questions in there. All the very best as you build your companies!


Akhil Singh , Co-Founder at Awaremonk.com Unlearning all th Nov, 24 2016


Thanks Alok, for taking time out and interacting with Awaremonk community.

Will like to see you here more often :)



Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Thanks and look forward!


Rahul Sharma , Data Scientist at MuSigma Nov, 24 2016


I have seen this question on AMA of Kashyap Deorah and Sanjay. Coz on one has asked yet let me ask, What do you think about Awaremonk?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Honestly, using them for the first time, but I have loved this session!


Rajshekhar , student at BITS goa. I am here to learn. Nov, 24 2016


Amazon Vs Filpkart and Ola Vs Uber

Who will win the fight?



Rahul Sharma , Data Scientist at MuSigma Nov, 24 2016


This is an interesting one


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Can I say all four :-)


On ecommerce side, I do not see it as a winner takes all market. Flipkart's new found focus back on customer service is a great one. On the transportation side, there are real network effects - my sense is both these companies have critical scale now.


So unless the capital imbalance becomes too wide, I would think they can all thrive

Can I say all four :-)On ecommerce side, I do not see it as a winner takes all market. Flipkart's new found focus back on customer service is a great one. On the transportation side, there are real network effects - my sense is both these companies have critical scale now.So unless the capital imbal


Rahul Sharma , Data Scientist at MuSigma Nov, 24 2016


You can say all 3. Ola has to die in front of Uber. Difference between the quality of service is huge now.


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I think Ola has overinvested in scale, and that might hold them in good stead.


Nupur Agrawal , On a spiritual journey of solitude. Nov, 24 2016


What is the best way to approach you for raising angel investment?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


At this point, given my time commitments to my own startup, I am unable to solicit plans and spend time on diligence etc. So largely I am confined to investing behind teams I know, or come recommended from someone I know well (and they are investing).


Sakshi Sharma , Freelancer Designer Nov, 24 2016


Nupur Agrawal this is a disappointment :(


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Sorry. Entrepreneurs build companies, not investors. Best wishes!


Rahul Singhla , Thinker, Blogger, UPSC aspirant. Nov, 24 2016


Purely from economics point of view I have been studying how much these startups have burnt in last 5 years. Overall balance sheets of almost every company looks funny. As a nation is it good or bad for us.

PS: I am a UPSC aspirant so I look at things from analytical perspective.




Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I agree with looking at these analytically. The frame of reference for that analysis might have to be different.


I would urge you to look at Infoedge balance sheet when it went public in 2006, and value it basis that. Then see what has happened to that company and stock. And this is the challenge - many of these startups work on a market dominance and operating leverage model that is not conventional. So as long as you analyse them with that framework (and associated risks), I would think that would be a fair approach.


I also think that many of these startups would start to justify their valuations when we do that - for many people to say the least. And yes, I do expect there will be many detractors - the lack of consensus is what makes startup investing fun!

I agree with looking at these analytically. The frame of reference for that analysis might have to be different.I would urge you to look at Infoedge balance sheet when it went public in 2006, and value it basis that. Then see what has happened to that company and stock. And this is the challenge - m


Ahmed Azab , Interested in history, Political science and Nov, 24 2016


I have been trying to invest. Real estate is a bad sector but i have no real understanding if tech businesses. Should I be investing in startups, if yes what are the right channels?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Normally, my belief is that you should invest in areas that you understand well. Even within startups, you may invest in startups in areas you have familiarity.


The second way is to "follow" initially - i.e. work with other lead investors to see deals, make investments. Then start doing your independent investments as you feel comfortable. One channel to do these is through angel investments like Indian Angel Network.


And then it depends on why you want to invest in startups. If you are looking to do this purely for investment reasons, and not for involvement, I would suggest you might also want to look at possibility of investing in some angel/VC funds, rather than doing it yourself.

Normally, my belief is that you should invest in areas that you understand well. Even within startups, you may invest in startups in areas you have familiarity. The second way is to "follow" initially - i.e. work with other lead investors to see deals, make investments. Then start doing your indepen


Mayank Wadhwani , 4th year student at VIT university. Geek. Col Nov, 24 2016


I am a computer science geek, and a lot of ideas keep popping up in my head. People are saying its a bad time to do a startup, I am in my 4th year. Shall I take up a job or go for my calling


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


You are going to go for your calling, regardless of what I say :-)


Whatever you do, my one advice will be that don't take yourself too seriously. Be open to experimenting - that is the fun of youth. If you do a startup and it doesn't work out, you can find a job. If you do a job and feel bored, go travel. If you are done with travel, get back to a startup. My own belief is that careers are not planned, they happen when you do what you want to do next.

You are going to go for your calling, regardless of what I say :-)Whatever you do, my one advice will be that don't take yourself too seriously. Be open to experimenting - that is the fun of youth. If you do a startup and it doesn't work out, you can find a job. If you do a job and feel bored, go tr


Nikhil Dua , BITS alumnus, Market research analyst at Cred Nov, 24 2016


How do you see fintech coming up in near future?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Needless to say, I am excited and that's why I am there :-)


One layer deeper, Fintech is many different areas - alternate lending, payments, wealth management, remittances, ... And each of these space are subject to different trends - so partly it is about picking what one believes is at inflection point. On the alternate lending side, the investments that have gone into the infrastructure (like eKYC, UPI etc) as well as in enterprise systems (hence making more data available electronically) are some of the key drivers I am excited about.

Needless to say, I am excited and that's why I am there :-)One layer deeper, Fintech is many different areas - alternate lending, payments, wealth management, remittances, ... And each of these space are subject to different trends - so partly it is about picking what one believes is at inflection p


Vivek Rao , I am. Nov, 24 2016


I had been a user of BiteClub, I loved the concept why do you think it failed?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Would like to excuse myself on this question since it pertains to information held in confidence.


Rajshekhar , student at BITS goa. I am here to learn. Nov, 24 2016


What would be your next investment bet, AI? IOT? or anything non-tech?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


My investment decisions are more bottom up than top down. So will depend on where I see a good idea and a good team. I don't go top down in terms of specific sector/idea focus.


Non-tech - has not been as successful for me. So that one will take some convincing.



Kanika , IITian Nov, 24 2016


Have you ever invested in any overseas company? If yes, how has the experience been? If no, why not?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I have through Indian Angel Network. Just the overhead of doing it directly seems too high


Akshat Rao , Junior Scientist at BARC, Trying Awaremonk. Nov, 24 2016


Entrepreneurs like Kunal Bahl have been investing not more than 5 lakhs on the name on angel investing, wasn't that wrong to present to delude aspiring entrepreneurs


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Nothing wrong with it. If they are saying the invest 1 cr, and actually are investing 5 lacs, then there could be a challenge. Having people like those helps in multiple ways beyond the money, and their ability to pull in more money for the company is real. I think that's a great contribution to the startup ecosystem.
Nothing wrong with it. If they are saying the invest 1 cr, and actually are investing 5 lacs, then there could be a challenge. Having people like those helps in multiple ways beyond the money, and their ability to pull in more money for the company is real. I think that's a great contribution to the


Malik , An engineer turned into a student of conflict Nov, 24 2016


How has your experience in investing been in India? What are your learning?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Overall it has been good - both at angel and VC level - in terms of making returns. That is the acid test of investing. It has also been good overall in terms of quality of entrepreneurs and their genuine passion and integrity, apart from 2-3 issues I have had in about 50 investments.


Some learnings:

- India is a "white space" market rather than disruption. Businesses hence can take longer to build

- Indian entrepreneurs like to own large spaces rather than excel in a part of that market. Hence what we are seeing built today qualitatively are still mediocre businesses on excellence scale

- I would bet on some experience in founding team. I have not had great success backing teams just out of college - perhaps, my own shortcomings, but nevertheless


I am sure there are other learnings, which would take time to list down.

Overall it has been good - both at angel and VC level - in terms of making returns. That is the acid test of investing. It has also been good overall in terms of quality of entrepreneurs and their genuine passion and integrity, apart from 2-3 issues I have had in about 50 investments. Some learnings


Vikram Gupta , Exploring, learning, believing Nov, 24 2016


Will the demonetization lead to an increase in FDI?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


To the extent that demonetization strengthens the formal economy, capital routed through FDI will be one of the beneficiaries. Equally, domestic formal capital (equity and debt) will strengthen.


Aditya Singh , Starting up. Just learnt before launch its ca Nov, 24 2016


Do you think bad investment decisions have been made in the past for individual gains or do you think this is the way evolution happens?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Not sure I understand the question Aditya. Are you saying that people may have deliberately made bad decisions because they had a kickback or something? Am not really aware of any such case personally.


Aditya Singh , Starting up. Just learnt before launch its ca Nov, 24 2016


Alok I am talking about investment bankers who bubbled up industries like food tech then hyperlocal etc.


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


That's their job. They are representing their client. Investors have to take the onus of diligence and convincing themselves that they are making the right bets.


I don't think most (reputed) investment bankers misrepresent - they understand that their credibility with investors will keep them in business.

That's their job. They are representing their client. Investors have to take the onus of diligence and convincing themselves that they are making the right bets.I don't think most (reputed) investment bankers misrepresent - they understand that their credibility with investors will keep them in busi


Rajshekhar , student at BITS goa. I am here to learn. Nov, 24 2016


Softwares in India haven't yet created a powerful legacy of big businesses. Do we need to have more patience or we have already lost the race?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I think the fundamental reason has been that India has not been a big software market. Hence companies that have targeted only the Indian market have often lacked scale (Tally has taken a long time, Quickheal is another interesting one, and then some of the BFSI software companies). As the market for software products in India increases, I would expect more startups to thrive in that area.


Of late, there has been more emphasis amongst Indian startups to create software for the world. I think that is an interesting opportunity, especially if the founding team has strong globally-relevant product management skills. Companies like freshdesk are good examples.

I think the fundamental reason has been that India has not been a big software market. Hence companies that have targeted only the Indian market have often lacked scale (Tally has taken a long time, Quickheal is another interesting one, and then some of the BFSI software companies). As the market fo


Sakshi Sharma , Freelancer Designer Nov, 24 2016


The plague of investing in just IIT/IIM has impacted the growth opportunity for many talented entrepreneurs too


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I honestly do believe that this is a bit of a perception issue. I have invested in about 38 startups over time. I am an IIT alumnus, so one would imagine a large proportion of these are IIT (for affinity reasons, but also just purely for network reasons). Only 14 of these are IIT founders, of which 6 are personally known to me. So from an external dealflow standpoint 8 of the 32 investments I have done are IIT founder led.
I honestly do believe that this is a bit of a perception issue. I have invested in about 38 startups over time. I am an IIT alumnus, so one would imagine a large proportion of these are IIT (for affinity reasons, but also just purely for network reasons). Only 14 of these are IIT founders, of which


Nikhil Dua , BITS alumnus, Market research analyst at Cred Nov, 24 2016


Hi alok you haven't been investing in last few months, what's the reason?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I have slowed down over past year or so, purely due to my preoccupation with my own startup, and hence relative inability to spend time on due diligence etc. I am still investing in teams I know, or ideas/teams that come recommended from friends.


This year, some of my investments include Lifcare, Realbox, Xprime, Hyperfluc and Lawrato - so not really stopped :-)

I have slowed down over past year or so, purely due to my preoccupation with my own startup, and hence relative inability to spend time on due diligence etc. I am still investing in teams I know, or ideas/teams that come recommended from friends. This year, some of my investments include Lifcare, Re


S. Venkatesh , Student at IIT-D Nov, 24 2016


As an insider of the industry, do you feel the Startup India initiative by the current government has made a positive impact? If so, then how?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Yes, I think the most positive impact of this has been to raise the level of visibility of startups. Second, it has paved the way for further incentives to flow to startups, driven by the need to create more jobs. A more comprehensive post on this here http://www.venturewoods.org/2016/01/time-to-startup-india/
Yes, I think the most positive impact of this has been to raise the level of visibility of startups. Second, it has paved the way for further incentives to flow to startups, driven by the need to create more jobs. A more comprehensive post on this here http://www.venturewoods.org/2016/01/time-to-sta


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


I must add though that like any other headline initiative, the incentives that have been announced need to reach those startups. Otherwise there will be risk of dissonance and loss of credibility


S. Venkatesh , Student at IIT-D Nov, 24 2016


Very true. On a personal level, have you felt a tangible positive influence?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


As I mentioned, in terms of energy in startup ecosystem - yes. Ours is one of the "certified startups", and I am part of a group that includes many others - this "recognition" has given startup entrepreneurs something to anchor around.


Vikram Gupta , Exploring, learning, believing Nov, 24 2016


Sir, what is the way to get this accreditation?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


There is a process on startup india website. See http://startupindia.gov.in/startup_registration.php


Rajeev Gutpa , BITSian Nov, 24 2016


What is your view on the impact of demonetization on the investment trends in startups?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Startups, as conventionally interpreted to mean "angel/venture backed startups" should not see an impact in terms of equity infusion prospects. However, depending on the category of business, the overall dynamics of that business will apply. For example, the liquidity crunch in some of the high end distribution oriented businesses may be a short-term dampener to investments in that area.
Startups, as conventionally interpreted to mean "angel/venture backed startups" should not see an impact in terms of equity infusion prospects. However, depending on the category of business, the overall dynamics of that business will apply. For example, the liquidity crunch in some of the high end


S. Venkatesh , Student at IIT-D Nov, 24 2016


Agreed. But won't the impact on such industries have a trickle down effect on the angel backed startups?


Alok Mittal , Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. Passionate abou Nov, 24 2016


Yes, to the extent their markets are affected... It could be a very positive effect in some areas like digital ecosystems.