Home
Portfolio
Class 09
About Us
Team
iSafe
Investor Hub
arrow-icon
Founders' Hub
arrow-icon
CVC
Partners
arrow-icon
News and Views
arrow-icon
Contact Us
photo
100X.VC Team
Written by various collaborators within Team 100X.VC
Recent Blogs
Jatin Desai, Managing Partner at In...
Read more
Ankit Kedia, Founder, Capital-A (Ma...
Read more
Shailesh Ghorpade, Co-founder and M...
Read more
100X.VC organized the Founders Dati...
Read more
image
calendar
Oct 21, 2022
Topic
Have the courage to back your gut; Never borrow conviction

-Alok Goyal, Partner, Stellaris Venture Partners

Team 100X interviewed some of the top investors across the globe about their venture investing journeys, startups, and India. Here, Alok Goyal, Partner, Stellaris Venture Partners shares his responses.

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

I had harbored the dream of being an entrepreneur since my early 20’s and made some feeble attempts at being one. As I grew older, I realized that I do not have it in me to be one. Being an early stage investor gives me the closest experience without being a founder myself. Founders have a very special DNA - they not only dream, but also have the courage to pursue their dreams. It is a privilege to be in a profession where you get to spend most of your time with this special breed of people. 

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

Each day is different. If I look at a monthly view, my time is split across four areas: Meeting new founders; Conducting diligence on companies where we see a potential to invest; Working with portfolio founders to help wherever we can, and finally, spending time with our investors (i.e. LPs). 

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

My answer will be biased - if I was not highly bullish, I would not be in this business. I am long on the Indian market for the next several decades, driven by a number of factors - young and educated population, high internet penetration, one of the best digital public infrastructure in the world, a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and a relatively stable geo-political environment. India has a secular opportunity to deliver 8-10% annual real GDP growth, and to build an incremental $1T market value through startups in the next 10 years.

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

As a firm, we are bullish on the consumer internet, SMB networks & digitization and the growth of global SaaS from India. Each investor in the team, however, focuses on a specific sector, and my focus has been primarily SaaS. Within SaaS, I am very bullish on “intelligent apps”, i.e. reimagination of most processes through use of AI as well as on developer tools and micro-vertical SaaS.

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

  1. It is important to have a POV on the future, even if you not always right
  2. Have the courage to back your gut; Never borrow conviction
  3. Be prepared to make mistakes, repeatedly
  4. Find your own investment style, i.e. figure out what enables you to build conviction
  5. Remember that the company is built by the founders, not you - you are an invited guest to the party, so do not overplay your role

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

  1. Very difficult to say what are the top 5, but here are some that I am excited about:
  2. Transition from automation to intelligence led by democratization of AI/ML
  3. Explosion of live video creating richer online experiences
  4. Growth of web3 economy, with India in a pivotal position
  5. Emergence of the “organization of one”
  6. EV adoption at an inflection point

Q7. Top 5 advice you would give to startup founder

  1. Build what you are passionate about and believe is the right thing to do, not what investors think you should
  2. Ask yourself every year if you are the best CEO for the company, or would you and all shareholders be better off with a different CEO
  3. After the PMF and initial scale, the only thing that will separate the great and the good is your ability to hire, nurture and retain exceptional people; Not strategy
  4. Much like everything else e.g. talent, IP and other assets, cash is a critical input to building a company - it is your job to think ahead of time the fuel stops you need to add cash to the balance sheet

  5. Failure can happen quickly, but success takes a long time. Building anything meaningful takes 10 years. Be patient!

Q8. How do you support your portfolio companies

Every founder(s) and company is different, and where they need help also changes with the stage of the company. Our biggest role, outside of capital, is to be an intellectually honest sounding board to the founder. In addition, we work with our portfolio companies to help recruit their leadership teams and expand the size and reach of their network.

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

This is an unfair question to ask - we are both monetarily as well as emotionally attached to all our portfolio companies.

Q10. When you started your career what were your ambitions

I wanted to do a PhD and be a professor :-) As you can see, nothing has happened as per my plan. Like King Richards says “if you fail to have a plan, you plan to fail”, I have constantly failed because I had a plan :-)

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

Builders/ creators of all kinds inspire me - these can be people who compose music, create an original painting, write a book, design a building or build a company. 

I am a deep sleeper in general, so not the variety that is awake at night. That said, as a person, my energy comes from being with people. Therefore, the only situations I am up at night are when I am consciously or subconsciously aware of improper conduct on my part with anyone. This is in addition to caffeine in any form after noon! 

Q12. Books or Blogs you would recommend entrepreneurs

Personally I am fond of historical fiction as a genre. Not very fond of business books - I read to be transported into a different world or thought process. Reading business books does not give me that energy.

I read blogs and listen to podcasts. I like SaaS blogs from Bessemer Venture Partners, and podcasts from a16z, SaaStr and Invest Like the Best.

About Alok : 

Alok Goyal is a partner at Stellaris Venture Partners. He focuses on investments in SaaS, Dev/ Infra software, and cleantech companies. On behalf of Stellaris, Alok is on the board of Whatfix, LoadShare, Signzy, and several others. Alok’s interest in venture capital stems from the energy he derives in meetings with entrepreneurs. Moreover, he strongly believes that in order to be an entrepreneur, one needs to be a dreamer, and indeed be foolish (read courageous) enough to pursue the dream. According to Alok, the ability to pursue one’s dreams in an unfettered way is what makes entrepreneurs truly special, and so, he believes that there is something to be learned from every entrepreneur.

Prior to Stellaris, Alok was a Partner at Helion Ventures, where he led enterprise software and services investments. Before his career in venture capital, Alok was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SAP India and had been associated with SAP since the year 2004 in various leadership roles in the United States and in India. Before SAP, Alok also worked with Siebel Systems, The McKenna Group, McKinsey & Company, and Cadence Design Systems.

Alok has completed his MBA from INSEAD (France), MS in Computer Sciences from the University of Texas, Austin, and his B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT Delhi.

Alok is also a Founding Trustee of CAPED (www.capedindia.org), an organisation dedicated to raising awareness and prevention of cervical cancer in India, and also a founder of Plaksha (www.plaksha.org), an upcoming university to reimagine technology education and research.

Related Topics
blog-trending-dollar
watch-logo.svg3 min
Gut feel on founders and business model is as important as the data based diligence
Jatin Desai, Managing Partner at Inflexor Ventures shares his responses.
Read morenext-arrow
james100X.VC Team
Nov 25, 2022
blog-trending-dollar
watch-logo.svg3 min
The investment opportunity will never be perfect, especially at early stages
Ankit Kedia, Founder, Capital-A (Manjushree Capital Advisors) shares his thoughts.
Read morenext-arrow
james100X.VC Team
Nov 23, 2022
blog-trending-dollar
watch-logo.svg3 min
India is a beacon even in these times is testimony that it is a resilient and a fundamentally strong market
Shailesh Ghorpade, Co-founder and Managing partner, Exfinity Ventures shares his thoughts.
Read morenext-arrow
james100X.VC Team
Nov 18, 2022
logo-footer
100X.VC is the first Venture Capital firm to invest in early stage startups using founder friendly India SAFE Notes.
Send Your pitches to us at:
100x.vc/class09
For other queries, please contact us at:
[email protected]
Portfolio
Class 08
About Us
Team
iSafe
Partners
Investor Hub
Founders Hub
News and Views
Contact Us
© 2000-2021, All Rights Reserved