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Dec 03, 2022
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Confident of India’s transition to a developed market.

-Pearl Agarwal, Founder & Managing Director, Eximius Ventures

Team 100X interviewed some of the top investors across the globe about their venture investing journeys, startups, and India. Here, Pearl Agarwal, Founder & Managing Director, Eximius Ventures shares her responses.

 

Q1. What is your motivation to be in the venture investing business?

I grew up in a micro-business family. When I began observing the unwavering zeal with which entrepreneurs operate, I developed a keen passion to help them, and the entire ecosystem. It is this passion that prompted my return to Indian soil, after a decade-long investing career in the US.

My crusade to bolster the Indian start-up landscape commenced with DotReview, which was a platform that finally allowed founders to learn more about their prospective investors before fundraising, and share their experiences anonymously with the community. During DotReview’s incipient stages, I had to interview over 100 founders. It is then that I was acquainted with the chief deficiencies that plagued the system – lack of a seamless fundraising process, and a severely inadequate emphasis on transparency during the same. Realising how adversely founders are affected by the aforementioned deficiencies, I transitioned to the VC world, to use my faculties for uplifting them.

 

Q2. Describe your workday and leisure day, how does it look like?

A VC role is all about being able to effectively multi-task. There are several dimensions of a VC role including developing an understanding of innovation happening in the market, working with emerging founders and portfolio founders to help them brainstorm on the trends, and ensuring that the ship runs effectively.

A regular workday usually entails catch-up calls with our portfolio founders to understand how we can help them accelerate their operations, interactions with new founders to help them brainstorm on emerging trends, and pertinent discussions with the team to instil greater clarity in our mission.

While being a VC is indeed a full-time business, I always set aside for rejuvenation on weekends. ‘Leisure’ would typically involve meals with friends and family, and keeping up with the house of the dragon.

 

Q3. What is your view on the future of India as a market?

The next decade (and probably decades to come) will belong to India. India has over 800 million people with access to smartphones and a working class population of over 400 million. With huge demographic dividend and increasing acceptance to technological innovation, it is an unstoppable wave.

Additionally, the sheer perseverance with which Indian entrepreneurs operate is rather inspiring. It is this grit that gives me great confidence in India’s transition to a completely developed market.

My hope is that this transition will also be accompanied with the wisdom to do away with stigmas which hinder a few high-potential industries in the country like gaming.

 

Q4. Help describe your investment thesis and ideas you would like to back?

At Eximius we always look to become a part of companies whose premise is based on reinventing the wheel. We love to back entrepreneurs who adopt a customer-centric approach, and move away from the tried and tested. 

The ability to utilize the vastness of the ecosystem through partnership & collaboration to create new categories is the sweet spot for  us.

For more information, do visit our website -

https://eximiusvc.com/

 

Q5. What are your 5 key learnings from your experience as a venture investor?

1) Being able to control your emotions and not let FOMO drive you is a moat.

2) Consensus is not always right in this market and hot deals are not always the highest return generating ones.

3) Every second invested on Due Diligence is totally worth it. 

4) Whitespaces and internal thesis is important to be conviction driven, and the default state is to be conviction driven as the market moves really fast 

5) Faster TAT and quality of investments should never be mutually exclusive.

 

Q6. Mention top 5 consumer/industry/technology trends in India and globally

  1. Fintech solutions utilizing India Stack to improve access to financial services across Tier 2+ cities.

  1. Comprehensive platforms that utilise the Healthcare stack to extend comprehensive healthcare services to every citizens in the country

  1. Meticulously designed games centred on Indian themes specifically

  1. Second layer Infra solutions in web3 emerging from India

  1. Companies in India buying SaaS tools that directly/indirectly help in retaining talent.[Ma3] 

 

Q7. Top 5 advice you would give to startup founder

  1. Execute first then raise. Execution doesn’t mean the product needs to be ready, but the problem statement should be validated before an MVP is planned.

  1. Work on your tonality to convince people of your vision

  1. Chase market product fit over product market fit 

  1. Establish a culture of seamless cooperation in your team

  1. Learn to filter advice and survive like a cockroach.

 

Q8. How do you support your portfolio companies

When it comes to supporting our portfolio founders, our philosophy is centred on three pillars:

1) Founders’ First: - For us, the founders are always paramount. We seek to help them with their pertinent life problems before assessing their metrics.

2) Community Led: Community is the new MOAT. We assist our portfolio founders in finding their GTM through community led avenues.

3) Global Network – To help expand the founders’ horizons, we connect them with global thought leaders in numerous sectors like gaming, fintech, healthtech, etc. This helps them gather a more in-depth understanding of the target market.

 

Q9. Which of your portfolio company you are very excited about and why?

While we are rather[Ma4]  enthralled with all the companies we’ve associated with so far, Jar, Ekacare, and Stan are very special to us.

Jar: Jar is a micro investing app that incentivises the inherently Indian habit of saving by investing the savings in digital gold.

Ekacare: Ekacare aims to digitise the entire healthcare industry. It allows users to build comprehensive health profiles, and utilises the same to extend comprehensive services that cater to all the needs of a patient.

Stan: Stan revolutionises the entire spectrum of the fan engagement market. It allows users to create NFTs of their favorite influencers, trade them, and use them, all in pursuit of exciting perks and rewards.

 

Q10. When you started your career what were your ambitions

Since the very start of my professional journey, I wanted to bring a real change in the lives of entrepreneurs. My experiences in Investment Banking, Private equity investing, Angel Investing, and the VC ecosystem have made me acutely sensitised of the founders’ woes, and the possible solutions we can bring about to help them.

 

Q11. What inspires you in life and what keeps you awake at night

When our portfolio founders speak highly of us, it keeps me pumped up and motivated.

The fact that there are a lot of first time founders who are misguided in fundraising and are struggling to raise now, fighting each day to keep the ship from sinking, and I am not able to help them keeps me awake at night.

 

Q12. Books or Blogs you would recommend entrepreneurs

Hard Thing about Hard things - This book keeps on evolving with you at every stage of entrepreneurship

Lenny Newsletter - Talks about product and growth with hands on example 

First 1000 - Talks about GTM strategies of top companies during early days

A huge part of my responsibilities is to converse with other sector leaders and assimilate their understanding in my repository. The folks at 100X.VC have been very insightful, and always generous with their knowledge. They have been a phenomenal force in bringing solid, first-time founders to the forefront.

 

About Pearl

Pearl Agarwal founded Eximius Ventures in March 2020 to build a thriving and equitable startup community in India.

Through the micro VC fund, Pearl aims to enable startups in the pre-seed stage to build and scale their businesses by supporting them with capital and growth opportunities. She also recognizes the need for women to become equal participants in the ecosystem and eliminates accessibility gaps by giving precedence to female founders.

During her decade-long journey in the investment landscape in the US and UK, she worked with companies like UTIMCO ($40bn endowment fund), Merrill Lynch and Global Infrastructure Partners ($70bn PE fund), and comes experienced in helping businesses raise capital, facilitating multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions, and more.

Pearl is an active angel investor with 10 companies in her personal portfolio across edtech, fintech, and gaming, among other sectors. Her notable investments include Trell, Exprs, BluSmart Mobility, GroMo, Redwing Labs, Nexweave, Lattu Kids and Infeedo. Pearl has a dual degree in Economics & Finance from the University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business).


 

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