#Asia Some startups are just confused about what they’re doing



There is this really worrying trend that I am noticing as of late.

An entrepreneur usually drops me a note asking for a perspective on an idea they are working on. Well, usually its them asking for a time to meet or talk and I ask if they can give me an outline so that I know if i am even the right person. So they do.

And I ask them a few questions, but they dont really answer them. They deflect and they go straight to:

How do I raise funding?

And that bothers me, because as someone who is trying to build the business, shouldn’t these questions be something you should try to find the answer to, before you go talk to investors about what you claim you do?

An example is an email I received yesterday about a venture in the pharma space. We’ve done work with Ranbaxy in trying to setup pharmacies in rural india, so have some insight into that area. The response I got was that, this is exactly like Oyo rooms and if Oyo rooms is raising capital then so should he.

I asked him about the kind of margins the pharma industry has. What an average retailer makes? What kind of documents do you need to have in place to have a license? With new rules coming up with regulating so that you cant buy drugs without a prescription how does it affect things? How do you safe guard against fake drugs that are flooded in the market?

His answer: I’m sure that can be figured out. He worked for one of the hotel room aggregators as an intern for 2 months.


Thanks to some brilliant advisors in my life, I’ve figured out one thing. If an entrepreneur does not have what we call mentorship quotient. You smile, wish him well, and send him on his way. Only reality will teach them a lesson. If we say anything otherwise, we’d look like the bad guys and they’ll go write books about us. Spare advice where it is regarded and considered, not where it isn’t welcome.

So no, he has no answers and I got an email asking if I’d be a mentor. When I asked what it entailed, it seems like he simply wants to use me to connect with angel investors to sell them the story for which he still hasn’t made any effort to understand. I somehow feel I’m getting the short end of the stick. There are some folks who are so brilliant that I learn so much from, where I am happy to help without them asking. And some are just parasitical in nature, who are just chasing a fad.

I guess it takes all kinds to keep the world turning.

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