Andy Pandharikar of Tall Idea Labs wasn’t always an Angel. His successful foray in entrepreneurship includes the sale of FITIQUETTE — a technology Startup allowing the fashion industry to create an online boutique with a virtual fitting room. In some ways, the fitting room is an analogy for his career journey, which has included a few wardrobe changes. From a humble Mumbai childhood to corporate America techie to startup founder to sage Silicon Valley investor, here are some insights that he’s gained along the way:
- While most of the world will pressure you into being either a tech provider or an implementer, there are advantages to pursuing both. And while you don’t need to chase the big deals, it’s nice when they come knocking!
- Even if you can survive on friends and family funding, it is helpful to see how you are benchmarked by the VC community. This is especially true for consumer products.
- On choosing partners — “You don’t want to be in the club that already wants you.” Pandharikar takes the position that you should always aim higher.
- While Pandharikar acknowledged that e-commerce can be a difficult business, there are ways to improvise. For example, avoid inventory challenges by using Zappos!
- “Startups don’t get sold, they get bought.” When you’re ready to sell, it’s up to you to architect multiple offers, and even feign indifference! Turns out that playing hard to get is quite effective.
- Angels and VCs are two different beasts. Whereas VCs evaluate based on pattern recognition, Angels are there to support the cause. Pandharikar is driven by personal stories — “why” someone is building something.
- Where startups are spending their money is an important indicator of success. Key question: are the spending priorities adding value?
- Free press is better than paid press. Find the unexploited channel and maximize exposure.
- What are the “no-no’s” in approaching angel investors? Avoid cold calls and don’t forget that Angels are motivated by emotion, not the market.
- Competition is not the enemy. Don’t be afraid to talk to your competitors. View them as “friends who are building similar stuff.”
Kumar will share advice on what it takes to grow a company from the ground up.
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