Meet Vani Kola : Managing Director at NEA IndoUS Ventures

Source: TiE Bangalore

Published on 4th September, 2012

Vani went from India to the US, built successful companies that were eventually valued at billions, created a great deal of wealth for many and is now back home to do it all over again. Vani Kola, successful entrepreneur and role model, has returned to India after 22 years in the US, in a new role as venture capitalist with NEA-IndoUS Ventures (NEA-IUV), a Bangalore-based firm co-founded with Vinod K. Dham. 

Below is a short interview with Vani on the entrepreneurial eco system and more.

  • Could you share with us some of the current trends you see in the entrepreneur eco system?

More and more entrepreneurs are ready to take the plunge and start companies. This is very encouraging. I also see strong co-founding teams. Friends from college or colleagues working together. Earlier there was a large gap in capital available to seed these companies. But now many more high quality mentors are available. and many seed groups are willing to invest in ideas quiet early. I think this has enabled a vibrant entrepreneurial eco-system today.

  • As a VC what would be the three most important factors that tilt you towards making your investment decision?

The size of the potential opportunity : Is there a large market? If it is a nascent market, can it become big quickly.
Quality of the entrepreneur : Our comfort and chemistry in working with them. The maturity and our conviction that the founders can make pragmatic decisions along the way, and have the leadership qualities to build a strong team.
The business model : its unique differentiation and approach to capturing market share.

  • Could you share trivia about where entrepreneurs could go wrong when trying to find investment?

Pushing an investor to make a decision pre-maturely : For example, when an entrepreneur says, “I want to close funding this month and I need your decision this week.”
Unrealistic valuation expectations : Over aggressive business plans without any backup to build confidence that they can deliver such aggressive results.
Reaching the wrong investor.
Unpreparedness for the meeting.

  • What key learning would you like to share from your journey as an entrepreneur?

Always introspect on your goals : What are you trying to achieve in building this company? For me, creating an employee culture, that focuses on performance and ensuring that employess feel rewarded is critical. It was important,  that we stood by our promise made to our clients,  to deliver the products on time. Personally growing as a leader was important. Building the largest business we could, regardless of dilution, valuation considerations was important. So on and so forth.. But at each step, I think entrepreneurs need to step back and answer for themselves, what am I working for and why am I doing this? This creates alignment and clarity to execute on key goals.

Fleet-footed with a Fantastic team : Entrepreneurship involves the capacity to make quick decisions, make compromises, be objective and have fierce determination. It is also important to surround yourself with people who are knowledgeable and are willing to support you. In reality this journey is really a personal journey of choices and learnings, and it can be the most enriching and rewarding path.

Source: TiE Bangalore

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