It has been over 15 years that I have been evangelising the product/startup ecosystem in India. A decade and a half! Over this period, I was fortunate enough to build and support some amazing programs and initiatives for India’s product ecosystem at NASSCOM and then at iSPIRT (Read my blog on iSPIRT).
I have now reached a stage in my career where I find the need to switch tracks and move on to something new and different, preferably something that will play to my strengths and simultaneously enable me to continue contributing to the ecosystem.
Over the course of my career, one thing that I have always missed is the opportunity to work with companies in a deep fashion beyond merely interacting with them periodically. Walking step to step with startups in their journey from inception to product-market-fit to scale and beyond sounds like a fulfilling activity to me in more ways than one. While my North Star continues to be building communities, this time I wanted to take up a role where I also learn some new skills and go One Step Deeper with a few companies.
Towards this end, I am happy to announce that I have taken up a role at Accel Partners as Community Platform Evangelist. This is a new role which has emerged in the VC ecosystem around venture firms going beyond merely contributing money and connections and striving towards building “Platforms” that their portfolio firms can plug into in a meaningful manner.
I am very excited about this new role as it plays to my competencies. I will be building on top of the existing community and research infrastructure which has been already created by the Accel team in India and hope to add some new elements of my own into the mix.
I have known a few folks at Accel for some time now and I definitely could see that I could connect with their values around humility and the spirit of how they help founders, #FoundersFirst.
There is lot of goodwill that Accel has built in the Indian ecosystem and I’m hoping to take it further to the next level by creating, institutionalizing and growing new initiatives to strengthen the platform.
The timing couldn’t be better because the product ecosystem is now at a different stage of maturity and there are more tailwinds than ever before.
Most importantly, the Accel platform will simply allow me to continue doing what I really love — helping companies to grow and being around inspiring product leaders.
About Accel in India
Accel is one of leading venture capital firm that invests in people and their companies from the seed stage. Some of the companies that Accel has backed in the early stages are Flipkart, BookMyShow, Bluestone, Freshworks, Blackbuck, UrbanClap, Swiggy, Mitra Biotech, Portea and so on. Accel is also one of the firms in India which has made maximum healthcare investments and some of the partners have also supported the mission of TeamIndus in their personal capacity
Accel is a very founder friendly firm and always motivates the founder to follow their dreams. They offer a lot of mentoring so that the founders can execute and realise their dreams fully. I have validated this after speaking to some of the founders who have been backed by Accel.
My role would be to engage and build a community for Accel portfolio companies and also facilitate peer-to-peer sharing and cross-learning to happen across different teams. I would be working closely with the Accel leadership team and we will be contributing to different initiatives in the ecosystem.
Some Initial Observations…
It has been over three weeks for me at Accel and while it is still early days, I am already impressed with the efforts that Accel put towards helping their portfolio companies. I have sat through a few pitches and like how the leadership team helps founders in thinking through the market fitment and other product/market/business-model specifics that are often overlooked. Here are a few more observations:
- My fellow entrepreneurs don’t prepare enough for the pitch. I used to think that “a pitch is a pitch” — important but not critical. But now I understand that it is not as simple as that. Few founders seem to prepare for their pitch meeting, they don’t do enough homework about the market, competition, etc. Will share more on this later and also probably try to do something to solve this problem.
- The partners are very focussed and busy people. They are always trying to help their portfolio companies and if you, as a founder, are getting 30 minutes of their time, you should leverage it to the maximum. If the conversation goes well, I can bet that you will get more time from them.
- It is always good to talk to a few trusted founders who have raised capital from a VC firm because they know what they like and the kind of questions that they would be asking.
I don’t want to be preaching here…but I just made some observations and I thought I could share it here and will be happy to help my founders-friends who are pitching to Accel :)
I will continue to have my base in Delhi, but will be spending more time in Bangalore. If you are someone who has benefitted from the stuff that I did, let’s catch up for a cup of Masala Chai or Kaapi as the case may be! Looking forward to this next chapter.
Wish me Luck and I hope I can continue to be grounded :)