My first & short visit to the valley led me to meet & interact with a lot of people involved with startups. The biggest difference I noticed is people are open to the idea of speaking to a not so popular or well established person, even if it is 2 minutes, they give you a chance. Probably even they don't want to miss a chance of unearthing the next Google. A high percent of them know to ask the right questions early to figure if you are of interest to them and would tell you so clearly if they want to move on.
On the other extreme, the problem we face in India at its ground level is
- the reach to Angels, VCs.
- If you are lucky to have that you need to fight their preconceived notions of the kind of people & companies that would succeed.
- If you do find a VC or an angel you might still be void of the golden touch angels bring and the real support network of VCs.
Who knew a small app on facebook to share books you read would exit with a significantly large deal. And of course when we initially started the idea was just to steer the app to get more students on it and sell textbooks during the fall peak, in focus with what ugenie did then. But our hearts were in it & we passionately worked on it and we saw the bigger possibilities. Of course the company was blessed with "angels" who took the reach very high with potential buyers. Irony is if the same individual had started it as an independent company I am pretty sure no one would have stood by him or her.
For a lot of companies all you need is a little hope, belief to pursue their dreams. And when entrepreneurs are on it, no matter how small and insignificant the idea is and/or the market, you never know what comes out.
Case 2: In fact there was an instance when for a similar execution focused, not so capital intensive idea I heard a potential angel actually say "Oh but you are not a well established company." continued with something more which meant "You might be talented and accomplished good results but you are small. We would rather support a dumber big company than a smarter more efficient small company".
Sometimes i feel, you are better off not wasting your time pitching and selling your idea to angels & VCs. Most of the time they would just try to kill the idea even without prior research or having thought through the possibilities. ( Or may be the Americans & Israeli's are more hopeful beings ;) ) Sometimes its even annoying as to how much they weigh on your past designations & qualification. Then there are others who would want to keep good terms with the smarter first timers but with no concrete helping hand whatsoever. These are more tricky than the non-believers.
The amount of stress most startups go through given the state of support system along with highly coupled financial dependence never lets one operate at their best. I know of startups which almost died but later when they did manage to get deals going on their own, they are highly acclaimed by the very same people who had shot their ideas down. At the core, the product or the founder would not have changed much, a little support early on would have saved the distress & pressure, more the precious time. Even the team could have performed in its superior form.
You as a founder are at loss with the experience a good angel or VC would bring if you decide to go on your own. However, it is also questionable as to how many VCs and angels here have the golden touch. The golden touch to improve your chances of success - to connect you into a strong network, to spend time & strategize with the team, to promote your business. Considering the low hit rates you are mostly justified to find your own way to fund yourself.
In India, you need to come to terms that the support system is bleak or non existent for first timers. It is not deterring anymore, after having been through a struggling startup. But just a wishful thought of how much more can be achieved if only we were blessed with true angels