Updated: Apr 23
TABLE OF CONTENT Don't be a Martyr to your own cause Give your family a seat on the board Beware of Certain Professions There is no need for an investors validation Its just You and Your customers
Ashneer Grover, the favourite and misunderstood poster boy of Start-up India, has written a raw and gut-wrenching book that tells his unfettered story. From growing up with a "refugee" tag in Delhi's Malviya Nagar to becoming a rank-holder at the pinnacle of academic excellence in India, at IIT Delhi, and later doing an MBA from the hallowed halls of IIM Ahmedabad, Grover has surpassed his circumstances to become a successful investment banker at Kotak Investment Banking and AmEx. He has also played a pivotal role in the making of two unicorns, Grofers (Blinkit), as CFO, and BharatPe, as co-founder. However, things take a turn when he becomes a judge on the popular TV show Shark Tank India, and his life is plunged into controversy, media spotlight, and garrulous social media chatter that make it hard to distinguish fact from fiction. In this book, Grover shares his story of triumphs, challenges, and lessons learned along the way, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the Indian start-up ecosystem.
1. Don't be a Martyr to your own cause
Always put yourself first! Don't feel shy of liquidating your stock at every secondary sale opportunity. Do not give any angel more to any investor more than there original investment round in any secondary before the IPO. Also, make sure that all the secondary sales happen through you - never make the mistake of letting them sell in the open market.
When it comes to your employee's, do not offer them liquidity worth more than one year's salary or 50% of their vested shares, whichever is lower.
For every hard work you do for your business, do not forget to ask the investors for more shares whenever you deliver a milestone beyond their expectation to cover for your dilution. And always plan for tax payout.
2. Give Your Family a Seat at the Board
Business is business, and relationships, just a relationship. Do not be afraid or apologetic for working with an individual from your own family. The added benefits of working with a family is that they may work on a lower MOQ ( Minimum Order Quantity).
Loyalty is tested and needed in bad times. To expect loyalty from your employee's or investors in bad times is to set yourself up for a heartbreak. Every single one of them is only driven by paycheck. That being said, you have to be extremely careful in choosing the right people - It is very worth noting that Ashneer's downfall has everything to do with his wrong decisions regarding hires. In bad times, the only people who will be standing beside you are your family members. You cannot even rely on your friend of twenty years - All friendships are driven by self-interest but that is a separate matter.
You should invest in your family by virtue of their capabilities. They will be together with you - during times of both success and failures.
3. Beware of Certain Professions.
Now this third title may sound controversial for a lot of you but that does not stop Ashneer from sharing this - there are certain professions which suck value from you with nothing to show for it in return. At the extreme end of value-destroying professions are drug peddling, prostitution and pimping, banking, journalism, and legal professions.
It is very important to be extremely wary of them. At their best, these professionals will try to offer your false comfort, that may numb you momentarily. On a fundamental note, spending too much time with them may end up destroying you.
4. There is No Need for an Investors Validation.
While as a founder, you can deliver scale, it is the investor who delivers valuation. In your bird to run behind valuation, you tend to make two critical mistakes: One, you tend to think of the investors as someone above you in this food chain; And two, you tend to lose sight of the fact that the story is between you and your customer.
It is worth noting, that the Investor is just another vendor, only he deploys capital as someone deploys technology or labor. Founders tend to give them God-like status, which is a huge critical mistake. Since we live in a capital-deficit economy, this type of thinking may be harder to implement but we must not lose the sight of it.
5. Its just You and Your Customers.
The brass of running a business is understanding that the only two important players are your customer and you. You offer a product or a solution to the customer and the customer is paying you for it.
Everyone else: Your co-founders, investors, regulators, employee's, third-party vendors, competition - come between you and your customers. Before allowing them to join you- you must ask yourself:
Are you okay carrying them along? Are you ready for all of them to take a piece of your earnings? Are you excited enough by what is left and the overall uncertainty?