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Jan 02, 2021
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Direct to consumer models will grow on the back of digital adoption - Hemendra Mathur, Bharat Innovation Fund

Hemendra Mathur, Venture Partner at Bharat Innovation Fund

We interviewed some of the top Investors from across the world on their venture investing journey, startups, and India. Here, Hemendra Mathur, Venture Partner at Bharat Innovation Fund shares his responses.

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

    Ans: 

    Venture investing is next best to entrepreneurship from a learning perspective. The challenge of crystal gazing into the future and picking right teams to build businesses, as a venture investor, keeps you on toes. Working with entrepreneurs day in and day out also helps you to re-imigine, re-shape your thinking and re-skill.

     

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

    Ans: 

    The lines between work and leisure day are blurred and have become more osmotic in the covid era. In general, a 12-14 hour work day is common. Yoga, jogging, stretch exercises, cycling, writing blogs and microwave cooking are some leisure time activities for me.

     

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

    Ans: 

    India is the market for the future. It will become more homogenous across consumer classes and regions; in terms of aspirations, access and affordability which will be a big booster for demand creation.

     

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

    Ans:
    1. Invest in entrepreneurs who have passion to go the extra mile, take risks, have courage to accept mistakes an- d ability to attract talent (not just capital).

    2. Behave like a cofounder once you invest.
    3. Keep an eye on the bottom line and cash burns
    4. Sectors I am most excited about are agritech, food, retail, consumer goods and deeptech applications across sectors.

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

    Ans:
    1. Don't follow the herd
    2. Never take shortcuts in diligence
    3. Consensus building in investing is not the right approach
    4. Don't loose the track of companies you don't invest in
    5. Respect and celebrate entrepreneurship at all times. Success or failure is secondary.

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

    Ans:
    1. Direct to consumer models will grow on the back of digital adoption across the value chain
    2. Digital technology will be all pervasive in underserved areas like agriculture
    3. Big opportunity areas - alternative protein, millet based foods, healthy snacking, immunity building foods

    4. Sustainable business model will attract more capital than GMV / scale driven models
    5. Improving adoption of deep-tech will drive investor interest

       
  7. Top 5 advice you would give to startup founder

    Ans:
    1. Chase customers first before you chase investors
    2. Get mentors on-board early
    3. Hire slow, fire fast
    4. Don't be a perpetual fund raiser
    5. Be frugal

       
  8. How do you support your portfolio companies?

    Ans: 

    Technical validation, customer connect, fund utilisation and raising, hiring talent 

     

  9. When you started your career what were your ambitions?

    Ans: 

    I had absolutely no clue how it would pan out, The career so far has seen multiple pivots - starting with market research to consulting to corporate / investment banking to private equity to venture capital to entrepreneurship. Loved every part of it and look forward to at least five more pivots before I retire.

     

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

    Ans: 

    Two things: The sheer size of opportunity that we are sitting on to make a change and the mountain of entrepreneurial energy in the market

About Hemendra:

Hemendra has over 24 years of experience in venture capital, private equity, management consulting

and investment banking.

 

Hemendra in his career has invested in several early stage agritech and mid-sized companies in the

agricultural supply chain. He is a mentor, investor, board member and adviser in many food and agritech

start-ups working on innovations in areas such as agri-inputs, market linkages, mechanization, food

nutrition and value chain financing.

He is currently working as Venture Partner with Bharat Innovation Fund –investing in early stage deep-

tech start-ups across sectors. Hemendra is also co-founder of ThinkAg – a platform for accelerating the

adoption of innovations in agriculture space. He also is the Chairman of FICCI Task Force on Agri Start-

ups. He is also an advisor to a few Foundations, Multilaterals and Funds with interest in Indian food and

agribusiness sector.

He has authored many papers on the subject and speaks regularly at conferences pertaining to food and

agribusiness sector as well as start-up ecosystem. He is a management graduate from IIM (Ahmedabad)

and Agricultural Engineer from Rajasthan Agricultural University.

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