This one came highly recommended and with a buzz around it. Who doesn't want to read more about the irrational exuberance of today's times.
The book's been written in 4 parts. If I were to rate the book only on the basis of the last 30-40%, which would be from somewhere in between Part 3, I'd rate it very high. But what about the first 60%? The first 60% sounds more like an autobiography than an "Inside Story of Hyper-Funded Indian Start-Ups". I get the rationale behind including the topics that make it look like an autobiography, which is basically the author establishing his credentials, or so I gathered. The first 60% took me a lot of time to finish and I felt that these parts could have been more succinctly put.
Now that my cribbing is out of the way, the last 40% makes up for the first 60. Seriously. I have been reading about the entire current funding scene which basically started somewhere around 2014, peaked in early 2015 and then disappeared. I had seen media articles celebrating funding as if that's the primary aim of any startup. But nobody really talked about making a business sustainable. How do you run your business when the funds dry up? Till when can you keep paying your customers, literally, to use your service? Is getting acquired the only exit possible in India? If it is then more your valuation, more difficult will be an acquisition, especially if it's still a loss making business. IPO in India is out of question because of the rule of 3-year profitability before listing, leaving a foreign IPO as the only option in this path.
Quite clearly, there are a bunch of issues in Indian startup scene, and the author has captured them very well. Instead of celebrating funding stories, he puts forward a word of caution because funding != successful business. The author also points out the trend of startup founders focussing more on funding as a goal than making a business. I have had such doubts for some time now, but the clarity with which author presented these points made things very clear for me.
Coming to the investor side of things, this books is a good summary of Tiger Global's investing strategy and how the VCs responded through partnering or inviting other global funds to compete. The this-and-that strategy of Tiger has been explained very well through participation of Tiger in various startups.
Overall, I think this book is worth a read. You might want to skim through the first 60% if you are short on time. In any case, the last 40% will make it all seem worth it in the end.
This is a phenomenal book on the start-up ecosystem in the country. The author is an entrepreneur and tech geek who has summed up his personal experiences into a book.
It is more about his experiences in starting internet-based companies and selling these off to corporates at a profit. However, he has described the world of internet e-commerce companies, private equities and venture capital funds accurately. In-depth research matters in a non-fiction book and you have loads of it in this book for which I need to credit the author, some with exact dates. The footnotes in the book were really helpful. Lots of name-droppings in the books that you actually feel awed by the fact that the author has had the good fortune to meet and be friends with some of the biggest names in the e-commerce industry.
However, the drawback is that, throughout the book, one gets the feeling which we all secretly abhorred that millionaires and successful entrepreneurs are all product of IITs, IIMs, Stanford, Yale et al and there is there is no place for commoners or people with average education from second-tiered institutions. It also pays a tribute to IIT Bombay and its hallowed precincts, the author and most of the people featured in it being its alumni.
It was interesting to read how the author's Indian friends / mentors missed the bus in investing (how someone missed out investing in Facebook during its early days of incubation), rivalry between Snapdeal, Amazon & Flipkart and the detailed investment figures.
However the title needs to be tweaked a bit with the word "Inside" being removed since it appears to be misnomer. There is no inside scoop about the industry or some of the founders of hot internet companies which I expected. Considering that the author had access to people who are considered stars in this corporate world, he could have dwelt some more "gyan" on the more well-known companies and its origins, successes and failures. But still a very interesting read for someone who is curious about the start-up ecosystem and how it works.
In the last couple of decades, flurry of start ups mushroomed across India. For the bright and energetic ones emerging from premier institutes, becoming an entrepreneur was the next big thing. Now, starting a company and running it over a period is easier said than done. To start a company and then sustaining it , an entrepreneur requires cognizance and also worry about the product to be launched, market potential for it, hiring of manpower, office at right location , regulations applicable to the country where the business has to be done and last but not the least, the funding. From where these Indian start-ups get the funding? Who funds them? How global investors are coming into the picture ? What are the rationales behind the funding? Do the investors make money out of it ? Do these companies ever make profit or the series of funding belies the actual picture? The answers to these questions form the crux of the story. The author here has chosen a wonderful subject that drew my attention towards the book. Has the author done justice to the subject? Let’s find out at the end of the review.
In the last 25 years , the financial and economic ecosystem has undergone changes on the basis of introduction of new ideas, product and technologies . This has also created bubble of enthusiasm and huge influx of money , sometimes defying conventional logic. This bubble had also been busted in the recent past. The author’s narrative on the aforementioned has coincided with three waves, which defines a time period. The first is Internet wave(1994-2002), which begins with the Public internet and ends disastrously with the busting of dot com bubble. The next is Globalization wave(2003-2009), where Silicon Valley VC and New York PE funds are helping setting up offices in India and ends with major economic crisis- a big fiasco, which also resulted in either elimination of some leading financial institution in USA or they survived by government intervention. The list includes Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and AIG. The last is the Smart phone wave (2010-present) , where e-commerce has gained a major prominence.
There was a time when it was speculated that Internet would dislodge every industry from every corner of the world. There were myriad number of Internet companies who had gone public during later stages of the Internet wave. What finally happened? The dot com bubble resulted in nosediving of stock value, thereby companies ended up making huge losses. During the Globalization wave, there were influx of money flowing inside , pumped by investors. What spurred investor’s enthusiasm has been debated with skepticism by very few experts. The primary reason is increase in price which is spread by word of mouth publicity and thereby amplifying stories, which justifies the price increase. Albeit , some investors do have doubts regarding price value but still plunged into it.
There are instances where the investor’s money was judiciously used by a company. There are also instances where the investors after initial investments were exterminated. Those were the testing times, where few newbies survived and most just vanished from the scene. Let’s touch upon the journey of three companies who beat the odds by bootstrapping during initial years, enabling them to lay a solid foundation. In the later years , these grew in leaps and bounds. Apart from companies no technological ventures that were funded during the globalization wave had gone public. Also none of the companies were acquired by any public company for any reasonable amount.
The travel portal MakeMyTrip.com was founded in year 2000 by Deep Kalra with funding from a company called eVentures. More investment was promised but the investors itself disappeared. Deep Kalra then bootstrapped the company in 2001. It helped him to build the real funding team and the company. In 2010, it went IPO in the US market. In the process, it also has the distinction of becoming the first Indian Internet company to cross a billion dollars in value in any public market.
The job portal Naukri.com was founded by Sanjeev Bhikchandani in the year 1997. He raised money with investments from ICICI Ventures in 2000. Given the wobbling financial climate at that time, he chose to be over protective. He kept the money in fixed deposit and bootstrapped the company. Over the next five years, he managed to run the company profitably. He also launched matrimonial portal- Jeevansaathi.com, real estate portal- 99acres.com and education portal- Shisha.com. Sanjeev Bhikchandani’s company became the first Internet company to go IPO in Indian markets.
Justdial is the company which was profitably run by Mani. During the internet wave, an entrepreneur named Raj Koneru intended to acquire the company in return of his company’s stock. Mani could neither ignore the offer made to him nor link the fate of his company on someone else’s stock. He agreed with the offer but not for entire company . Instead only a portion of it. Furthermore he asked the payment in cash. This made him a millionaire in dollar terms. Opting for cash also turned out to be a smart move as the dotcom bubble consumed Koneru’s company and it’s subsidiaries.
The subject of the book is interesting because of the novelty factor. He could have done wonders with the subect. However he has squandered it. It’s an enfeeble and disingenuous attempt and the book ended up as a rudimentary product. It turned out to be more gibberish because the author continued to highlight himself , his alma mater and the companies founded by his alumini , rather than focusing totally on the subject. Why did the author consider for appearing in IIT? What was his opinion on the girls and co-education? He has got single digit JEE rank. He was the poster boy of IIT Bombay. He was considered trailblazer , dynamite rod and later on known for his fiery speeches. These were self glorifying narratives used by and for him . These were superfluous and impaired the quality of the subject matter. He is a brilliant student and successful entrepreneur but I am extremely skeptical about his merit as an author. I was completely mislead by positive reviews here. He did show flashes of brilliance here and there and in later stages , and subject matter related to e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon was interesting. However , overall the outcome is latent which hardly holds your attention.
A very slickly written narrative of the Indian Startup ecosystem starting in the late 90s to 2015. The book is written by the author (who is a serial entrepreneur) in an autobiographical style from the early days of the Indian Internet startup ecosystem to the booming 2010 where hyper-funding and irrational exuberance was the norm.
The book is an insider account which is a refreshingly honest account of his entrepreneurial life with both the highs and the lows, the triumphs, and the misses documented really well. Growing up and being part of the startup ecosystem, I could relate to some of the events and know some of the personalities involved in the narrative. I also found the perspectives on the differences in the Indian and US startup ecosystem quite interesting. The book ends with a sad note about the missed opportunities of current Indian Unicorn startups none of which have gone to IPO and the lack of systemic interest in sustaining them from both the government and the entrepreneurs themselves. The successful ones have sold themselves to external investors by massive dilution or been bought tby foreign conglomerates.
India’s contribution to global trade consisted of spices, textiles and jewelry for a long, long time. Even when the West picked up momentum through Enlightenment and industrial revolution, India continued with the same product mix. We could add software and IT services to the basket in the early 1990s. This newly added item rapidly earned the country rich dividends in the newly globalized economy. As the world shrank further with the growth of enabling technology, capital flowed into India. The glittering success of many startup companies in the IT sector, most of them owned by young entrepreneurs from IITs, caught the imagination of a nation that was used to seeing a person acquiring enough wealth to live peacefully only at the end of a long career of back-breaking work. Fresh college graduates becoming multimillionaires in just a matter of a few years was something the nation watched in wonder. With the dot-com bust in 2000, it seemed that the edifice might come crashing down, but the agility and adaptability of the Indian businessman patiently tapped availability of capital from overseas. Indian startups found the international investors to be a golden tap through which the elixir of Indian startups flowed in. This book tells the inside story of hyper-funded Indian startups. There are only a very few books written about the Indian startup ecosystem and this one is especially noteworthy as it provides the perspective of an insider. Kashyap Deorah is an entrepreneur and investor who started his first company while studying in IIT, Bombay. After it was acquired by a Silicon Valley company, he started Chaupaati Bazaar, a phone commerce marketplace, and then merged it with India’s leading retailer Future Group. In 2012, he co-founded mobile payments company Chalo and sold it to another American company. Evidently, he is the ideal person to give us a feel of the industry.
The growth of Indian IT services industry can be split into three periods – the Internet wave (1994-2002), the Globalization wave (2003-2009) and the Smartphone wave (2010-present). There is a pattern to how the industry gets going. After a young entrepreneur starts, he issues a part of the shares to some angel investors. With the money thus obtained, the company grows and attracts the attention of venture capitalists (VC). More funds flow into the system and the company grows still further. It is then either acquired by a high-caliber US company or it goes for an IPO in the US, getting more money. How can this Win-Win system continue for so long? What makes VCs invest in startups even though most of them are loss-making? Deorah provides a clear answer to this riddle of venture capital philosophy. Only a few investments gave phenomenal returns, and most gave no returns at all. Suppose a VC firm splits its capital of 100 million into 20 investments with 5 million apiece. Out of this, the VC could get away with their money even if only a single investment could fetch the entire 100 million. If two firms returned the fund, it would be a hit and more than that would be a blockbuster. VCs saw the American scenario in which specific startups made a splash and thought that the same strategy may play out in other countries after some years. Just as the US was the time machine for VCs to predict India’s future during the Globalization wave, China became the time machine for global funds to predict India’s future during the Smartphone wave. Unicorns, as the companies with a net worth of $1 billion was called, proliferated in India, but no technology venture that was funded during the mini gold rush between 2005 and 2008 had gone public till now, because in India, you need to be a profit-making company to do so. Deorah states that none of them had been as much as acquired by a public company for any meaningful amount.
The author dwells on the specific features e-commerce has acquired in India and how the bureaucracy is strangling it with hefty regulations. Cash-on-Delivery is the preferred mode of payment in a county where the economy is still powered by over-the-counter cash payments. But the government is still throttling the financing channels of e-commerce companies by denying FDI to them. The administration remains silent while e-commerce companies restructure their entities to somehow get past the regulations using loopholes. Every time the company raised a round of funding, financial sleuths descend upon them with threats of a probe and subsequent prosecution. However, FDI was allowed in this sector in 2015 after a long wait. Deorah wants only minimal assistance from the government like ease of doing business, clarity in regulations, a favourable IPO environment and swift law enforcement to protect from fraud and piracy. These factors make India unique. India will not be the next USA or the next China. It will only be the next India.
The brightest students in India join IITs and there is no contention to the argument that they are the premier educational institutions of India. However, they enjoy an unfair clout among financiers which is guaranteed by the presence of many of their alumni in the topmost VC funds operating in the country. Deorah mentions the academic background of an entrepreneur only if he had studied in an IIT. Most of the companies these IIT-ians founded have fallen by the wayside, but they continue to thrive on the liberal patronage extended by their college mates. Deorah himself remarks that the confidence in IIT entrepreneurs was transforming to hubris en masse. It is seen that the JEE rank of an applicant decides the fate of his request for money from potential investors who have developed the stereotype of a North Indian Marwari boy with single or double-digit JEE rank as the ideal entrepreneur. Obviously, they end up with a lot of money, but the author cautions that excess funding kills accountability, customer focus, the necessity to innovate, organizational discipline and everything else that is needed to make a profitable, long-lasting company. The author himself is not immune from unnecessary boasting like his claim to have foreseen the US recession of 2008 a year earlier! But when VCs tightened their purse strings subsequent to it, Deorah fumes at them for the funding denied to his company. The IIT hangover seems to persist even after long years since Deorah left it. In one instance, he makes a statement in his chain of reasoning as something ‘seems to deny the laws of gravity as if they are in outer space’, but immediately butts in with a footnote saying that the author understands that gravity applies in outer space too, but felt differently. The author misses no opportunity to prove his IIT pedigree!
Most of the cases in which the founders found themselves millionaires do not represent a vindication of the business model put forward by them. Almost all of them are loss-making, but the pioneers could get away with it as they could off-load their shares for a huge sum to other investors eager to get into a much fabled startup. The book is not enjoyable for lay readers as many pages appear to be little different than copies of financial journals. As a whole, it looks like reading about five years of financial articles in one go. If you are still left breathing after this experience, you’d find that it has too many characters, names and numbers to be attractive to ordinary readers. This book is not at all suitable for general-purpose reading.
As a young, first-time entrepreneur myself, following Kashyap Deorah for a while, I was looking to forward to reading his book “The Golden Tap”. Having started up in early 2013, I have been through the different phases of the recent startup phenomenon in – the beginning of the hyper-growth phase, the peak and now what is increasingly being recognized as the bust, or at least a correction. I had initially not been able to wrap my head around some of the same questions that he talks about – why are these companies valued so high, why are investors putting in such huge amounts of money in them, and what is the possible future of these startups in the Indian economy.
It had taken me a long time to get to some perspective on these myself, but if someone is looking to understand this phenomenon thoroughly, I could not recommend a better book than this. Starting from the beginning of the internet in early 1990s, it takes you through an amazing journey of the tech industry in India. From early days of the 2000s to the beginning of e-commerce in India and the current hyper-growth phase, this book will give you a thorough understanding of how this industry has taken shape, and what is the possible future from here. There are some really insightful sections which explain how the VCs and global hedge funds operate, especially for those who are not in this industry, and more insights from Kashyap’s own experience of building and selling companies in both India and US.
If you are an Indian entrepreneur today, specially in the internet/smartphone industry, I think this is one of the books you absolutely MUST read in the next 1-2 months, because it can shape your understanding and perception of the global tech and VC industry in so many ways. The only way to predict the future is if you know the past really well, and this book does a really good job of explaining that.
Unlike their US (and even Chinese) counterparts, very less literature is available on Indian startup world. I instantly bought this book after catching the phrase "Hyper Funded" and was expecting the book to be around same phrase.
The good: Though the book takes too much of time to start discussing funding, revenue and growth of Indian startups, the discussions are quite insightful. Author accurately catches the mentality of young entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs and big shot investment firms. Author's concerns about startup's focusing on top line without caring much about bottomline are genuine.
The bad: Author has wasted a lot of pages narrating Author's personal entrepreneurial journey which I, personally, wasn't interested in reading. This wasn't supposed to be an autobiography. At least not with this catchy title. Also author spends quite a time writing about history of the likes of Yahoo, Amazon and Netscape which is available on Internet and doesn't fit into advertised category "The Inside Story". Author doesn't really discuss about Indian startups beyond Ola, Flipkart and the three founded by himself.
The ugly: Whenever it comes to write about something which has conflict of interest with author, he gets too emotional. Come on dude. While you enjoy working at FutureBazaar.com and having immense praise for Kishore Biyani, you keep bashing Flipkart which essentially has similar business model as FutureBazaar by saying that it is not going to work in India. You keep criticising Ola, Snapdeal and Flipkart for having high valuations in spite of burning so much of cash. But you call Pantaloons the "most profitable asset" of Future group. Have you ever gone through the historic balance sheets and valuations of Pantaloons?
3 stars - all of them for the latter half of book.
The first part of this book reads slightly like an autobiography. However, it soon becomes clear that this is just a setup to explain the wider game. The author explains the current scenario in Indian startups with brevity and clarity. Sometimes, the details get too much, however, I guess they are required.
Moving on, the later parts of the book explain how with each wave of technological advancement, what changes have been wrought in the startup environments and what would be their impact.
In the final part of the book, he explains the difference between the American way of doing business and the Indian way of doing business. Along with that, he states some markets which he thinks are ripe for plucking.
This is an informative read and I would put it in the required reading list of every entrepreneur.
Full of insights and perspectives of current scenario worldwide, impacts and what lead where we are. Author talks about the Internet Period, the Globalization wave and today's smartphone wave and the startups, trends and companies evolved during these times. The personal journey of 3 startups of the author, the teams, the operations and lastly their acquisitions good. Most importantly what actually happens inside the hyper funded Indian startups, their culture and first-hand interactions he had with their founders shed light on what's actually happening in the startup world. Recommended for those who want to get into startups and in general for all the curious junta about the Great Indian startup story !
A very well-written account of internet technology startups and the investors playing out in India and abroad. Kashyap is a natural at weaving exciting stories into an insightful narrative spanning 2 decades - from the internet wave, into the globalisation phase, followed by the smartphone wave. A candid review of his own career, with the global technology and financial trends as the backdrop helps the reader understand it much better. Towards the end, he also takes up some 'mythbusting' and offers his take on what lies next. A must-read for budding entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and technology enthusiasts alike.
This is a cracker of a book! First, it is very well written and well paced. Kept me glued to my Kindle. Second, it presents an intimate portrayal of the Indian startup world. Also, as far as I can make out - it is a very good portrayal. I have met several of the people described in the book and the description is very true to what I know about them. For eg, the incident of Ashish jumping ahead to open doors brought a smile to my face. Very very Ashish!
Read this book to get locker room access to the Indian Startup League. It is a rare and candid account of rare people in a rare time.
Coming from Kashyap, I had high expectations from this book, and it lived up to them and more. The way he supports everything he says by facts and events makes it a very believable and reliable read. His experiences are enviable, inspiring and very interesting; it's great to have them being narrated by the man himself. Overall a great book to understand businesses in general and Indian startup scene in particular, though if you are not familiar with either, you might have to repeat read certain parts (maybe google some things up as well) to understand what is being said.
An eye-opening read for anyone interested in the startup ecosystem. The best part about the book is its storytelling - the way Kashyap has created an interesting climax along with his personal experiences. To be able to startup and exit in each of the waves as described in the book - the Internet, Globalisation and Smartphone wave - sounds electrifying in itself - an envious experience. I particularly liked the honesty of the author in sharing his achievements and embarrassments alike - with great humility.
This a great book to give insights into how India responded to the Internet wave (1990s), Globalization Wave (2000s), and Smartphone wave (2010s). The book was written in 2015, so we get the updates till that time period. It shows how things happening in US and China used to trickle down to India's startup ecosystem and how India turned out to be on its own path rather than following the exact same routes as followed by US and China as expected by many people and institutions.
It particularly gives a deeper insight into the retail market (unorganized, organized and e-commerce) and explains the challenges that it poses for a new startup to enter it. Kashyap walks us through the journey of his three startups: RightHalf.com, Chaupati, and Chalo and provides a in-depth details of the challenges that he faced while building them and the nature of the Indian startup ecosystem while they were built. The last few chapters were the best, they how Global funds had opened up their golden taps on India and how it started a funding frenzy in the Indian startup ecosystem, and completely deviated the ecosystem to move towards building things that solved Indian problems with a sustainable and profitable business model. The analogy of India's ecosystem being a banyan tree and the US being a Sequoia tree was to the point.
Best thing out of this book for me: India is not going to be the next US or the next China. India is going to evolve uniquely and transform into the next India. Indian entrepreneuors who are confortable in their own skin with their own devices will stand the test of time. If Indian companies choose to innovate and solve a large problem that is unique to India, they would have an asymmetric advantage over foreign products in teh same space, this will also be true if they join hands with foreign companies and combine the technology leadershiop of foreign companies with the operational capabilities of the Indian companies. Over funding kills the business, a blind chase to raise next round of funding will pull you in a vicious circle of chasing higher and higher valuations rather than creating a sustainable and profitable business model.
For someone who has spent almost a decade in the PE/VC industry and whereabouts, I found the book extremely informative about the entry of VCs in India and their rationale. The book provides illuminating insights into the functioning fundaes / investment techniques of certain VCs in a global and domestic context. There are some questions you'd want to ask yourself- for example - How does FDI in e-commerce matter if the companies are being hyper valued and set up abroad? The book takes you through the eyes of the author, who is an entrepreneur through his trials and tribulations. The book essentially documents his unwavering spirit in startups, noting his failures and successes. That's an endearing quality, and very hard to admit. However, while the background material was stupendous, the chronology seemed mixed up and there was no overall connect in the manner of presentation. For anyone in this industry, this book provides a good introduction. Just ignore the literary bumps.
This book was a little out of my comfort zone. I liked the effort to try and link the startup scenes in India and the US although it seemed quite weak. I could be wrong about this. (It is also uncritical about the way IIT-based networks work. For example, when he gets fired from his first company for sexual harassment, he argues for a page and a half that it was a mistake because the complainant was from his hostel, and therefore, can be convinced it was a little joke, and how could he - holder of a single digit JEE rank - be fired and sent back to India.) Ignoring the self-congratulatory prose, this book is rich in detail about how the hypermobility of capital affects those in the upper tiers of a business.
The Good - An exciting and informative chronicle of Indian startups starting from 1990s, not captured to this extent by any other book in my knowledge - Earnest account by author of his entrepreneurial life, very interestingly woven with US and Indian perspectives
The Bad (Wishlist) - B2B startups could have been given more space (B2C got more prominence probably to reflect the general funding bias towards B2C in India till 2015)
The Beauty - Fantastically told acquisition deals (Author was part of 3 unique M&A deals) and how 'it all falls apart before it all comes together' - Most interesting was to see how author, his friends and mentors started their journeys together and then went on to create well-known ventures or lead various funds
The Golden Tap - The Inside Story of Hyper Indian Startups by Kashyap Deorah. Very interesting and factual account of times and companies from the birth of the internet till the times and companies in the smartphone era. The funding theories and stories through the years. The fine details of the ecosystem in the US, China and India. A must for anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship, Kashyap gives a fantastic account of his journey over the years and that of the ecosystem. A golden nugget this book. #BookLovers #LoveToRead #atozentrepreneurship #dntjbookclub
A fairly interesting read, about the authors life as a serial entrepreneur... It is quiet myth busting, the specific myths which are bolstering the indian copy-cat startups on steriods... The book ends with Kashyaps' fourth company and his vision for entrepreneurs in India. "India is not going to be the next china or the next US, India is going to be the next India " His vision for India is very hopeful and he is himself turning it into a reality inspiring the reader to do the same.
A fantastic ring-side view of the story of Indian start-ups in the last few years. The author has wonderfully captured the happenings. There are many lessons to learn for an investor as well as an entrepreneur. I especially loved the last two chapters of the book. If you are a student of business, you cannot keep the book down before you complete it.
Got lost in the details sometime but Kashyap managed to help me see the big picture with clear summaries and insights. Good read for anyone even casually interested in the life of an entrepreneur, definite read for someone wanting to be one.