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Apr 18, 2023
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The most successful funds don't just provide funding; they add value beyond the money.

-Aditya Vargante, Investment Analyst, Gemba Capital

Team 100X interviewed some of the top investors across the globe about their venture investing journeys, startups, and India.Here,Aditya Vargante, Investment Analyst, Gemba Capital shares his responses.

Q1. Describe your workday and leisure day, how does it look like.

Working in the Investments Team, a typical work day for me revolves around sourcing startups and speaking to founders. Other responsibilities include conducting due diligence on prospective investments, preparing investment memos and conducting market research. Additionally, I attend networking events to stay up to date on industry trends and identify potential investment opportunities. Apart from work, I am regular at the gym and end my day with some reading.

Q2. What is your view on the future of India as a market?

My view on the future of the Indian markets is positive. India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and a large, tech-savvy population that is increasingly embracing digital solutions. The country has a young demographic profile, with over half of the population below the age of 25, which bodes well for the long-term growth of the market. I believe great things will happen in India in the next decade.

Q3. Help describe your investment thesis and ideas you would like to back.

I am extremely bullish on the rising consumption story in India and Indian SaaS companies catering to the global markets. As a sector agnostic fund, we have a few focus areas we are really excited about. To be specific in fintech, we are excited about embedded finance, insur-tech, alternative lending, wealth-techs and vertical lending. Other spaces which excite us across sectors are vertically focused B2B marketplaces, diagnostics and pharmacy (health-tech), infra layer and causal category in gaming, semiconductors, AI and robotics in deep-tech. These are some of the spaces we believe have a huge potential for disruption.

Q4. What are your 5 key learnings from your experience as a venture investor?

My five key learnings working in the venture investing space are as follows:

a. It’s about the people: In the venture capital industry, the most important factor is the people behind the business. One needs to look beyond the idea and focus on the team's ability to execute and adapt to changes. Investing in strong teams with a proven track record of success is crucial.

b. Building a network is crucial: Networking is critical. Developing strong relationships with other investors, entrepreneurs, and industry experts can help one identify investment opportunities and gain insights into emerging trends.

c. Patience is a virtue: Venture capital is a long-term game, and successful investments can take years to come to fruition. Working in the investing business, one needs to have the patience to wait for returns and be willing to support the portfolio companies through their ups and downs.

d. The best investors add value beyond funding: The most successful funds don't just provide funding; they add value beyond the money. Whether it's providing strategic guidance, introductions to potential customers or partners, or helping to recruit top talent, the best investors actively support their portfolio companies to help them succeed.

e. The market is constantly evolving: The technology landscape is constantly changing, and new trends and disruptions can emerge at any time. It's important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and be open to new opportunities and business models. Flexibility and adaptability are crucial in the fast-paced world of venture capital.

Q5. Top 5 advice you would give to startup founder.

My two cents for founders are -

a. Focus on solving a real problem: Make sure your product or service is addressing a real pain point or problem faced by your target market. Understand your customers' needs and build a solution that solves their problems effectively.

b. Build a strong team: Your team is your biggest asset, so make sure you hire the right people with the skills and experience needed to drive your business forward. Build a culture of collaboration, communication, and innovation.

c. Be adaptable: Startups need to be agile and able to pivot quickly as the market evolves. Stay open to feedback, iterate on your product, and be willing to change direction if needed.

d. Be patient and persistent: Building a successful startup takes time, so don't expect overnight success. Stay patient and persistent, and stay focused on your long-term goals. Stay committed to your vision and keep working hard to make it a reality.

e. Measure success: Set clear metrics for success and track your progress against them. This will help you stay focused on your goals and make data-driven decisions. Make sure to regularly review your metrics and adjust your strategy accordingly. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things to find what works best for your business.

Q6. Which of your portfolio company you are very excited about and why?

HighXP is a mobile phone gaming studio building in the social casual space.

  • Why we are excited about the casual gaming space?

We have been bullish on the casual gaming space in particular for multiple reasons - game development time is low compared to mid-core & core genres and in case the game does not get popular, the developers can scrap it and work on other ideas without much opportunity loss. 

Casual games offer much higher retention rates compared to hyper-casual. If a game becomes popular, it typically runs for 8-10 years with 40% gross margins making it a cash raking business for the studio. 

  • The India Story

Till now, majority of the gaming studios have come from North America and in the casual space, Turkey is leading the space and is known as the world leader of casual games. A small country like Turkey has 400+ gaming startups whereas a country like India which has a population of more than a billion is lagging behind.

We have strong conviction that large global gaming studios will come from India over the next decade. With access to a world class talent pool, capital and technical expertise, the country has the right ecosystem to build world class products and scale them globally.

  • Founder Market Fit

Shankara and Raghu have a combined experience of 18+ years in the field of gaming having been part of 20+ mobile phone games. Being engineers first and then handling the P&L side of things puts them in a unique position with a deep understanding of the gaming business.  

One more thing which gave us great comfort was their past leadership experience in Zynga as the gaming giant has produced a number of successful gaming founders & executives as teams were trained to act like startups in the giant organization.

We believe that the gaming business is highly metrics driven with global established playbooks. We believe it is important to back founders who have done this before so that the learning curve is minimum. 

Q7. When you started your career what were your ambitions?

I started my career in 2019 and my ambitions vary depending on personal interests, skills and long-term goals. I started my career working in the founder’s office of a leading startup, then I transitioned to an investment bank where I looked at consumer and technology. Wanting to explore the buy-side, I joined Gemba Capital in Jun’22. My career ambitions revolve around gaining expertise in the venture investing business developing a niche in a few sectors. I also aspire to advance to more senior roles within the firm. 

Q8. Books or Blogs you would like to recommend entrepreneurs.

Zero to One by Peter Theil 

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Scaling Up by Verne Harnish

 



 

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