Seed India - How to navigate seed capital in India by Sramana Mitra - A review

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recently, I had an opportunity to read this book.

Sramana, starts by comparing India business scenario in early 90's with recent times about availability of capital. In early 90's venture capital was totally unheard and was pretty much restricted to couple of leading banks. My father been an entrepreneur himself those days in 80s and 90s, I used to keep hearing about VC in India and about couple selective banks which offer VC in early 90s. As far as I know, have not come across a 'start up' or small business funded through VC those days, though there might have been very few of them. In 80s and 90s, only option to fund the gap in working capital is through bank debt finance, which had interest ranging from 16 to 18% per annum, even though small industry was a priority sector lending those days.

It is pointed out that situation has changed in last few years and there are select angel investors who are intensely passionate about technology and have started funding some of the 'start up'. Having said that, one cannot expect VC to tap on doors of entrepreneur as soon as one starts the venture.  To me, apart from funding, there are challenges for a start up for their business to be successful, couple of them being,

  • If the start up is promoting a product unique of its kind, however unique and beneficial it might be for buyer, one cannot expect buyer to buy the product on the first look itself, it always difficult for any one to accept a new product when there is tried and accepted approach to a business process, even though the existing process has many gaps and challenges.
  • Complexity, opportunity cost and price, reliability of product plays a critical role in success of 'new' product. To break even - takes time and till that time one has to sustain.

Its interesting to read about Sramana's lucid interview with various successful entrepreneurs.  Few of them being first generation entrepreneurs. Interview with Phanidra Sama about his Red bus venture and Sachin Bansal about flitkart are really good and the rest are interesting as well. The book could also be pretty useful read, particularly for those, who just ventured as entrepreneur or about to take a plunge into entrepreneurship.

As a matter of fact e-commerce in retail is catching up fast. In last few months, there seems to be competition even amongst retail e-commerce sites. Not just Flipkart, now, there are few other retail sites like Jubong, Snapdeal etc in India. The increased acceptance of these site in India is, particularly due to offerings  like 'cash on delivery' and 'customer returns' if not satisfied, make it more 'friendly' for Indian buyers.  I believe process like  'cash on delivery' or handling 'customer returns' may not be easy, but once the process is set to handle it efficiently, I am pretty sure it would going to pose a greater challenges to shopping malls and physical store which has real estate overhead and they being location centric. The real estate overhead already being high in Indian cities, physical retail stores could find it difficult to compete with e-commerce retail site on price. It might be so happen that, e-commerce in retail could bring price correction in commercial retail real estate space in cities and there by other dependent ones as well.

Even though, India still faces many challenges in many front. As pointed out in the book, the technology and low cost man-power could still be an advantage for an Indian entrepreneur !.

In all enjoyed reading this small book of 140 pages.

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