Rakhi Sawant ka Swayamvar and Indian Startup Events – How similar are they!

[Ground reality portrayed by Vishal Gondal, founder of Indiagames. We resonate with this article and stand by each and every word of it!]

As the dates for India’s top startup showcase event proto.in is nearing I can see a lot of buzz and activity around the event on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Boot camps are happening and 15 startups are busy preparing their presentations and speeches to be made to a select group of ‘investors’ hoping that their idea is the one which gets picked up by their dream investor.

Now lets compare this to the biggest show on Indian television Rakhi Ka Swayamvar on NDTV Imagine, where men wishing to get married to Rakhi have to register themselves with the show. After selecting the 15 grooms of her choice, Rakhi is staying with them under one roof.
During this time, she is giving her prospective grooms various tasks to perform. The ones who fail face elimination every week. The final week will see Rakhi marrying the groom of her choice. While millions of viewers are watching the show everyone have doubts in their minds if at all Rakhi will actually marry.

There is news that Rakhi Sawant is not going to get married to any of the contestants. The whole thing is a sham. Rakhi is no fool to get married to a reality show contestant. While the speculation is still on this really got me thinking that how similar or different are Indian startup events from the TV Show?

rakhi ka swyamvar
Rakhi Sawant ka Swayamvar

In both cases there are passionate contestants all trying their best to impress their future ‘partner’. In both cases its the long term prospects and not the short-term sexiness which is being considered, in both cases there is a lot of due-diligence going on and finally in both cases there is a lot of trust and mis-trust.

However IMHO one BIG different in both cases is the credibility and track record of Rakhi Sawant and Mr. Venture Capitalist. And I believe that if past data has to be believed that the probability of Rakhi Sawant getting married to the winner far outstrips Mr. Venture Capitalist actually investing in the ‘hot’ startup.

The answer is simple for Rakhi – this is about her personal credibility and future trust with her fans and audiences when she agreed to come on the show (it was with an explicit intent that she is going to get married to the winner). Not honoring the same will in the future make the people stop trusting her and her word.

Now lets compare this to Mr. VC after many emails and phone calls by the organizers, they finally agree to attend the start-up event, almost in all cases they crib about travel outside their home city, they know that they cannot invest in deals less that $5m. Even though their website say they fund startups, they don’t believe that Indian startups are as matured as silicon valley startups and finally do they really care as they believe that a good startup will ultimately get funding from some angel and they will look at it when they need $10m.

Then when do they even attend these events when they really have no intent to fund ?? Simple, its for the free publicity, ego massage and reporting back to HQ in USA that they actively tracking startup space.

So what is my suggestion to organizers to these events ? If you are calling VCs take a $100k escrow-deposit from them which they will commit that they will fund to a startup in next 6 months as as soon as they fund you release that money that’s the only way to make sure that only the ’serious’ one attend.
And finally I think its better to call family & friends of each of the startup,angels, people who spend money on social causes, High Net Worth Individuals in partnership with banks who handle premium clients portfolio, Top Government Officials 🙂 , Senior Banking officials the chance of they putting together $20k- $100k is far higher than Mr. VC and will be able to add far greater value as they will be investing their personal money and not belonging to some pension fund in America!

Finally only time will tell if Rakhi Sawant will marry the winner of the reality show or Mr. VC will fund a startup at proto.in ! my money is on you Rakhi!

[Reproduced from author’s blog.]