With more than two decades of experience with entrepreneurship and India’s startup ecosystem, Indiagames (currently known as UTV Indiagames) founder Vishal Gondal has seen the ups and downs of the country’s startup journey, their victories and losses and has a knack to pick up their worst as well as the best.
After setting up Indiagames in 1999, Gondal has been a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, hustler, podcast show host, and much more in the span of last two decades.
After running the company for more than 13 years, Gondal sold Indiagames to leading global entertainment company Walt Disney for $100 Mn. In 2014, Gondal launched GOQii, a smart wearable that helps people track their steps, sleep, and other physical activities, and then does more.
To supplement the health tracking function, GOQii enables goal-setting by the user to keep them motivated and also provides a remote coach (a human, not AI generated), who guides the user towards his or her goal. The GOQii app can be integrated with 35 major fitness bands including Jawbone, Fitbit, Garmin, Moov, Misfit, and Sony.
As an angel investor, Gondal invests in startups from Tier II and Tier III cities and enables them to compete at a global level. With his understanding and experience of the startup ecosystem, Gondal has valuable lessons and an interesting perspective into the mindset of today’s entrepreneurs.
During the 22nd episode of Inc42’s Ask Me Anything (AMA), we talked to Gondal, about his point of view and about the hustles and challenges faced by today’s entrepreneurial generation.
One of the big changes according to Gondal is that the current crop of entrepreneurs are not willing to put in the same amount of effort as founders did in the past.
On Doing Your Homework
He explained, “If I ask someone who has gone and raised money, how many pitches have they gone and made, the answer is 2, 3 or 5. And the reality is that for getting startup funding or for getting any kind of conversion, I give to them 1 or 2% tool, who have to make 99 or 100 pitches, and then say that one person has got interested in investing in me.”
Vishal Gondal noted that the problem is that most of these startup founders go to the top five VC funds and then give up, lamenting that “no one is funding my startup.”
“But the reality is that they need to do a lot more homework, they need to approach and go do a lot many pitches (sic), because the supply is also very high.”
“If it’s a decent fund, previously they would be looking at just 10-20 companies a month, but now they are looking at 10-20 companies a day, so you are competing against so many other companies who are also trying to make money,” Gondal shared.
On Having Realistic Expectations
The other aspect according to Gondal is that people’s expectation is that they are equating more money spent on marketing as a sign of the startup’s success.
“What we are noticing is the company is prematurely spending hugely(sic) on marketing without figuring out the unit economics or anything else. And that’s when the whole thing breaks because that’s when the model is more dependent on raising more money,” he explained.
Speaking about the struggles of being an entrepreneur in good as well as bad times, Vishal Gondal thinks that most of the younger generation of entrepreneurs have not yet seen the downswings, so people only see or read that this company has raised this and that much money.
“I think the tougher part is not when there’s a good time, but the bad times,” Vishal Gondal explained.
Gondal cited the example of his journey at Indiagames, where they had to go through two cycles of layoffs and then rehire people.
“I think now we are at a place where we are not seeing all of this, but soon, because all the hundreds and thousands of companies, who are getting Series A/early stage funding, not all of them will be able to reach to Series B or Series C. So, I think you are going to see a lot of those challenges too in the next 18 or 24 months,” he said.
Stay tuned for our next article on Vishal Gondal’s Ask Me Anything!