The Rise of Baba-ism in Indian Startup Ecosystem

These babas carry a heavy (social media) clout (or klout scores) and are extremely well connected. They have followers who call them ‘sir’ and won’t take anything against their ‘god’.
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Scene 1.
But, we had decided on the tranches to be paid as per the milestone/timeline
Yes, but I don’t think I am interested anymore
We crossed the milestones (in fact by 2X)!! So why are you not transferring the rest of the promised amount?


Scene 2

Hey! I can help you with my rolodex. Are you guys raising angel round?
Yes sir! We are. Can you help us with angel round?
Sure man!
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Hey! Why don’t you add me as an investor in your angelist profile?
Mmmm…but, you haven’t yet invested?
Right now, just approve. I will ensure you have your angel round asap.
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See! I can mentor you guys. And spend 2-3 hours/week with you.
Would love that, sire!
In turn, I will charge 10Lakhs.
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3 months and the person hasn’t even mentored this startup and neither cared to return the money.


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What’s really happening?

Think of the fledgling startup ecosystem as a country – suddenly, there are general elections being held to ‘own’ the country, form parties and expectedly, create new religions.

These new religions are also creating new babas, who are adding up to Entrepreneurship porn in the country.

What’s with babas?

Here is it : These babas carry a heavy (social media) clout (or klout scores) and are extremely well connected. They have followers who call them ‘sir’ and won’t take anything against their ‘god’.

Most importantly they DO NOT have any accountability and “build” their own histories. E.g. most of them claim having had massive exits – but no one knows about them.

Most people do not know the pedestal that these guys stand on itself is shaky / nonexistent

So?

Imagine the plight of the girls who stood against Asaram Bapu or Tarun Tejpal.

It’s literally impossible for an average soul to take a public stand against these *babas* who have a strong network. You are risking everything – your life, your family’s life and yes – your entire career!.

In short, if you don’t win the battle, you lose everything (important: winning doesn’t guarantee anything, though).

That is, taking people head-on is for the bravehearts who are ready to risk it all. And there are very few of those in the society.

It’s the same issue with India’s startup ecosystem. Entrepreneurs are getting duped by babas, but hesitate in talking about it in public. One *wrong* move and the babas will ensure that you can’t raise funding/get customers.

We wish things weren’t so. We wish we could tell the hay from the chaff. We wish we (including entrepreneurs) could say things without fear.

Role of Media

Media has gotten crazy about covering entrepreneurship – definitely good to grow it/take it mainstream; the focus is on people (and not product) making it easy to BS around/fake growth to get media attention.

The haze is making it difficult to separate the noise from the signals. But then, babas are all about Purple haze – isn’t it?

If you’ve such strange encounters with these babas, we’d love to hear from you!


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