Recently got to meet a leading investment fund in Bangalore for our startup Paydeck. I was quite thrilled about the whole upcoming experience. And would like to share about the same here.
I got a call about meeting up there in next couple of days and out of high interests, I was like, I am ready to come down tomorrow itself. Well, it got a yes & I was on my way to Bangalore. I packed my bags with all the required stuff and a packet of Sandesh, the Bengali sweet, to offer them. (They actually had discussed about Sandesh in one of our 4-5 calls)
And soon the flight boarding was announced, it was like the sand slipping out of hand thing for me. I just wanted to reach there in the next minute. The whole journey was checking back again the numbers prepared by Shiv Bhargava, the finance expert for Paydeck on projections, revenue etc. And I didn’t want to miss a single thing out of it.
Our meeting happened the very next morning and I was there like the student on roll call one, saying present sir!
May be the FOMO! Fear of Missing out! Yes, that same feeling!
With the exchange of pleasantries, and while I was about to take out the packet of Sandesh, the first question was:
So why Bengal? why Kolkata? And I was like… Paused for a moment, rolled out my hand from the sleeve of my bag, leaving the packet there, adjusted myself looking towards the person.
I was like, “cause i have studied there. Started my first venture there when I was in second year of my college and have seen lot of stuff in a decade in Kolkata. I can make out most of it in terms of operations, management or social well being, while staying in Kolkata, over anywhere else in the country.” I didn’t want to mention more on the same, rather wanted to hear them further.
The guy: Yeah, its ok, we can understand that. But You know how things are leading there? Development is not a chance out there. And once someone will put some money into a company, would like to see that their investment is secured enough. Isn’t it?
Hmm… True! I agree with the last part. Security of investment is prima facie for any investor. Whether being a mutual fund investor or a startup investor, security is the prime concern. But in our case Paydeck, we have tried to keep the team very lean & not only that, everything almost is being kept on automation, so least human intervention is required into it. More over if we stay there in Kolkata & work on stuff from there, for me being the CEO, managing things shall be easier. I shall be able to gather work force easily, with better costs & shall be able to communicate in depth with guys.
The guy: Agree! But don’t you think, these strikes, and the political words always coming up against ecosystem is not right?
There are guys opening up shops in the name of incubation center and we have heard there is a software company, whose CEO is projecting himself as an investor, but actually he is trying to just get hold of the whole ecosystem and has been buying startups and demoralizing guys more than appreciating it? Any idea about what I am saying?
I honestly knew where this was going or being turned to. But rather respectfully had to pull the conversation to a rather constructive direction.
“I can understand about the ecosystem not being there in place. But either in Bangalore or Gurgaon the ecosystem was built upon the involvement of infrastructure, entrepreneurial approach, risk appetite, investors involvement and the availability of brains! And honestly speaking, Kolkata does have all the brains and all the rest of the stuff which is required, the only thing which is missing is the way investors look towards it. The government always comes second, and it could be taken out from the history of Bangalore ecosystem or from Gurgaon ecosystem.
But in case of some app based cab startups, government across the country are creating trouble even in Bangalore or in NCR. And that should not be the actual case of not looking towards the things!
Only one place where I really feel government has actively tried to build up the ecosystem is at Hyderabad, where the minister himself took initiatives to create the place like T-Hub!
Things are growing in Kolkata and we are sure, if we can club investors into the same, things will grow. Let’s leave the government angle for the time being.”
Out of this conversation and then looking back at Kolkata from the flight while landing same evening, I felt so proud about choosing Kolkata as my workplace, which can’t be explained in words.
Though apart from personal feelings I must state, that we need more focused approach towards building the ecosystem, rather than getting puzzled with couple of syndicate operators who are actually killing up the whole process.
Kolkata will have to come out of the words like Our Culture, Our heritage & Our this/that. We will have to work towards the mainstream to stop the brain drain happening from the city. We need to let the risk takers grow & will have to appreciate what is being getting done. Until we don’t actually put things in right perspective from here & don’t showcase our talents on the PAN India platform, its not going to yield any results.
Things are taking place in Kolkata Startup Ecosystem and it shall grow. All we need to do is contribute towards building up and taking things in the right direction.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying the last bite of the last piece of Sandesh, while I wrap up my write up! It’s delicious, as always!
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