While the world is giving away a lot of (useful) advice to Indian startups on how to sustain and grow during the funding winter, I believe the investor community too needs to do some introspection.
As somebody who has seen the startup-investor equation very closely, here are my 2 cents of advice to the Indian investor community.
Accept you are following a herd.
The only way to fix something is to first accept it.
There was no reason to go big on app-only and foodtech business in 2015. Until you saw other investors jumping into it. And then you too jumped into it. And so did others.
While I am not asking you to fix this herd mentality right now, the only way to fix this is to acknowledge that you have a herd mentality and well..read the next point.
Accept your lack of original thoughts. And Fix It!
So you invested in a company. And here comes your detailed analytical piece on why this investment is awesome and is rightly timed. Essentially you are preparing the startup for the next round by attracting others to look at your portfolio.
But sadly, once the reality hits in, you start (again) doling out thoughts on why a certain market isn't prepared for disruption.
The truth is you lack original thoughts. You are running on borrowed insights (from Valley, China) and never cared to actually understand the market/customers.
If you expect your portfolio to do 'customer development', it's also in your benefit to do a bit of market research (not excel shit analysis).
Atleast commit original mistakes?
Don't suck up to media.
Media is a reflection of what the audience wants to read.
The investor community is 80% responsible for all the BS that Indian startup ecosystem has been through. While founders love to get recognition, investor community has sucked up / given in to media houses (hey! take my money and promote my firm's funding news in your newspaper!) and have steered the entire focus on 'mine is bigger than yours' fights around investing.
Foodtech is a classic example where anybody with an IIT degree and a red-coloured logo was raising $3mn series A without even the product. Half of those $3mn never hit the bank, but announcing big numbers were more important than adding value to portfolio.
The fact of the matter is that investors have driven/bought these media stories which has hurt the entire startup ecosystem (and the influential minds).
No. You aren't the center. Accept Feedback.
Let me tell you this - most of you love to be sucked up by founders and media folks. Very few investors, I have seen are open for actual feedback on their portfolio strategy (if there is one).
Most of you are in 'talking mode' and not 'listening mode'.
You need free tickets to attend startup events. Plus, you will attend only if you are a speaker (or a judge). But really don't see a value in being a listener.
Your linkedIn posts and medium posts are a reflection of the gyaan that's hidden inside you (which you couldn't even implement in any of your portfolio company).
Lack of adult supervision?
If Indian startups need adult supervision, I'd argue that Indian investors too need some.
Otherwise, how can you explain the emergence of fancy metrics in their presentations, the lack of depth in understanding Indian models; and importantly, inability to help portfolio with a clear strategy.
How many Indian investors can claim to have built / run solid businesses? How can they provide adult supervision to the young founders?
The investor community in India is still evolving (just like the startup ecosystem), but unless investor-operators start getting less strategic and more operational, l really don't see why their gyaan is of use to any serious entrepreneur.
In good faith and summing up with a gif,
Ashish/ NextBigWhat founder.
PS : We heart startups (and investors).